Joseph Campbell’s monomyth or the hero’s journey is a quintessential framework that can be established throughout many narratives from around the world. This extensive theory is distributed and best described by Joseph Campbell in, The Hero with a Thousand Faces. The monomyth shows the steps a hero must take to obtain knowledge and control of his or her own lives, in the world they exist. Not all monomyths necessarily contain the typical 17 stages. Some myths may focus on only one of the stages, while others may deal with the stages in a somewhat different order. The hero throughout his or her journey will be able to find themselves and better help the community around them.

They must find their inner selves to become a better individual (Segal). The monomyth, it would appear, is highly social; the hero moves into the unknown only to return with the message that redeems his society. Yet at some point, the hero may drop out of the closed system of the monomyth and, act only as an individual and concerned only with his final relationship to the infinite (Phillips). Campbell’s archetypal pattern is displayed across a vast majority of writings, movies, and poems. Some of these archetypal patterns include hero, mentor, threshold guardian, herald, shapeshifter, shadow, and trickster. In 1875, Carl Jung began the study of the vast amount archetypes in psychology. Jung believed that these archetypes originated from the collective unconscious, where all thoughts were contained.

Each individual’s own collection of thoughts and experiences, aware or unaware of their occurences. The other component of Jung archetypes, consisted of the collective unconscious, a reservoir containing the archetypes shared by all people, that can relate in their own ways. Suspecting when each of us is born, we are infused with these universal images which we are not immediately aware of. According to Jung, the archetypes represent important motifs of our experience as we evolved over time. That is why they evoke a strong emotional response and feature in myths from all over the world (Jung 16).Jung believed that the human psyche was composed of three components, consisting of the ego, the personal unconscious, and the collective unconscious. The first component is the ego, representing the conscious mind. The ego is formed as it were the center of the field of consciousness; and, in so far as this comprises the empirical personality.

The ego is the subject of all personal acts of consciousness.  Another archetypal characteristic that connects to the ego is individuality. The collective unconscious is a unique component in that Jung believed that this part of the psyche served, deriving from a form of psychological inheritance. This component contains all of the knowledge, experiences, and feelings humans share together. The last component is classified as the self.

This psychic phenomena in man is spread throughout a wide range, expressing the unity of the personal, as a whole. In Jungian psychology, created by Carl Jung’s study of archetypes, signifying the unification of consciousness and unconsciousness in a person and humans as a whole. A hero throughout his journey, mentally possess all these components, helping him make decisions. As well, this helps the hero with the people around him or her, being able to share thoughts in the collective unconscious with others during interactions (Jung 7). Following this, is one of Jung’s most famous and well known archetypes called shadow. The shadow represents our most basic, primitive instincts, the life, and sex drives. The shadow is believed to reside the emotional center of our brain, where feelings and emotions are stored.

This system in our brain generates emotions, these include indignation, lust, jealousy, and fear. The shadow is composed of repressed ideas, weaknesses, desires, and instincts, more commonly known as the dark side of our mind. In our own individual shadow, where weaknesses are contained, we can cast a projected shadow of these weaknesses onto others. Causing the distortion of our view of ourselves and others, making them seem unfamiliar.

According to Jung’s analysis of dreams, the shadow is usually symbolized by monstrous characters such as demons. The shadow exists as part of the unconscious mind and is composed of repressed ideas, weaknesses, desires, instincts, and shortcomings. This archetype is often described as the darker side of the psyche, representing wildness, chaos, and the unknown. These latent dispositions are present in all of us, Jung believed, although people sometimes deny this element of their own psyche and instead project it on to others. A hero’s shadow is very prominent throughout his or her journey. The shadow is most noticeable in the confronting temptation stage, where the hero falls for another because of strong emotions. The hero’s shadow may distort the way the hero feels about this temptation, making them fall off course of their journey or forgetting about what their job initially was. Though, the shadow is a strong archetypal pattern, the syzygy shows how different genders play a role in the collective unconscious of each other’s minds (Jung 9).

The combined anima and animus is known as the syzygy or the divine couple. The syzygy represents completion, unification, and wholeness. The Anima is a feminine image in the male mind and the Animus is a masculine image in the female mind. According to Jung, being able to combine our feminine and masculine natures, rather than letting one dominate, leads to wholeness.

The last of Jung’s main archetypes is the Persona, a term which is derived from the Latin word for “mask.” The persona represents all of the different social masks that we put on. This means that each individual’s persona may contain a work mask, a family mask, a friend mask, a romantic mask etc. These archetypal images are based upon both what is found in the collective and personal unconscious. The collective unconscious may contain notions about how women should behave while personal experience with wives, girlfriends, sisters, and mothers contribute to more personal images of women.

In many cultures, however, men and women are encouraged to adopt traditional and often rigid gender roles. Jung suggested that this discouragement of men exploring their feminine aspects and women exploring their masculine aspects served to undermine psychological development (Jung 13). There are of course many more archetypes, some of which are more recognizable and feature heavily in stories around the world. Joseph Campbell, following in the tradition of Jung, would become famous for looking at the different myths, folklore, stories, and religions from around the world and picking out the fundamental, universal elements to them. In his highly influential book, The Hero With a Thousand Faces, Campbell discusses the journey of the archetypal hero. According to Campbell, all those famous stories involving heroes, such as the labors of Hercules or the life of the Buddha, share a basic structure. Campbell called this structure the monomyth.

Campbell seems to justify Jung’s idea that archetypes are something that we can easily identify with and which evoke a strong emotional response from us because they symbolize ourevolutionary experiences. The hero’s journey represents the primitive struggle of our ancestors in entering an unknown world of danger, but overcoming the danger and bringing back to the tribe or group some discovery or treasure that will benefit everyone (Jung 266).The Departure is the first overall stage of the monomyth structure which encompasses, the call to adventure, the refusal to call, the crossing of the threshold, the belly of the whale, and supernatural aids. The person undergoing this transformation, must leaving in order to become greater. This is the hero’s home environment where his friends and family are located (Bray January 10).

The story starts here so that the separation becomes apparent. This is the land of the “mother” where the hero feels comfortable. Note that this does not necessarily have to be a safe environment as long as the hero feels connected to the land, people, and surroundings (Campbell 41).


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