The Hero With A Thousand Faces

J.Campbell, 2012, The Hero With A Thousand Faces, BookCaps Study Guide, KindleBooks


The Journey

The  theme of the Journey is representative of the journey that individuals take throughout life, the journey to spiritual awakening, the journey toward knowledge and enlightenment, and also the journey of the universe. The mythology of the journey stretches to many different cultures, religions, and societies, and, in each one, the journey is manifested differently. while the journey is interpreted different for everyone the language of the journey, represented with symbolism, is a concept that is universal.


In undertaking the journey the Hero is taking the responsibility of attaining a knowledge and enlightenment that not every man possesses. In undertaking this task, the Hero is responsible for spreading the wisdom and teaching others the knowledge which he has aquired. Though the Hero has the option to use his knowledge for evil and tyranny, he can choose to go the responisble route and head back to a place where he may not want to be because he knows that it is his duty to pass on what he knows. He feels as though it is his responsibility to repay those who have supported and protected him.


The concept of duality is central to Campbell’s notion of the Hero’s Journey. According to Campbell there is duality in everything aspect of life which allude to all things being one and the same. For every representation in the world, there is another representation in the world that is both opposite and equal. For example, Campbell uses the mother as the good and nurturing force while the father is the tyrant. He also uses the example that God is separate from all things yet He is also in all things. The duality is also reflected in the cosmogonist cycle of the individual, as well as the cycle of the universe as a whole.


Spirituality is something which is largely presented in mythology. The concept of the spiritual being remains vague in most myths because the story must be universal to transcend various cultures and belief systems, but the idea of a  higher power is always presented. The Hero is on a journey for spiritual enlightenment and truth that he can deliver to his people, which gives the Hero a godlike power that the everyday man may not be receptive to. This is in modern day religion as well; man can be on a spiritual journey and search for meaning and truth though not all men would agree with what is learned.


Symbolism is the vehicle used to rely the message if the journey in mythology. Because different cultures, religions, societies,etc. have varying languages and specific stories of creation, spiritual beliefs, and values symbols must be used as universal representations. For example, to Christians the virgin birth and subsequent journey described would identify most closely with that of Jesus. For other cultures, it may represent the journey of another god or spirit. The symbol of the World Navel is used to represent any significant point of truth and beginning, depending on the culture.


Perseverance is one of the defining characteristics of the Hero. He sets off on his journey and he never gives up, even when confronted with challenges that the mortal man may not be able to overcome. He sticks true to his journey and his goal and does not waver even when tempted with appealing alternatives, such as living a new life in a new place or accepting unexpected power. The Hero knows what is expected of him and what he is responsible for even if it is unappreciated by others. He knows that he will be rewarded for his good deeds by the powers that be.

Many actions, such as that of Oedipus, are grounded in our subconscious desires which are part of the Hero’s Journey. Every society has rituals which are manifested from subconsciously motivated or mythically-oriented belief systems. Campbell also points out that some archetypes appear in dreams which involve a journey, a set of obstacles, and the aid of an elder along the way. This is the same journey the Hero must take, with purpose of the bring his new found wisdom back to his people.

In the section called “Tragedy and Comedy”, Campbell suggests that tragedy and comedy are both equal parts of life. He notes that, while humanity has affinity for happy endings, death is the only real ending to life, and it results in the void of non-existence. Campbell states that tragedy is the sad pain of life, while comedy is the ability to find joy alongside that pain.



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