How to write Hero’s Journey Essay: What you need to know

16 May 2020

Why is it important to learn how to write Hero’s Journey essay? Have you ever noticed that most fairy tales have almost a similar pattern? In these stories, there is always a protagonist, problems, or even several antagonists. The protagonist always goes out on an adventure and, in the process, encounters various roadblocks.

During his adventure, he makes new friends, fights bad guys, and return to his homes as changed persons. These kinds of stories are ancient, and that is why so many narratives follow this pattern. These kinds of stories are summed up in what we call the Hero’s journey. In this article, we are going to cover everything you need to know about Hero’s journey.

What is the Hero’s journey?

The Hero’s Journey is a common story template or narrative archetype that was coined by an academic known as Joseph Campbell in 1949. The classical or earlier version of Hero’s Journey was called an “epic.” It was usually written in poetic form as Homer’s Odyssey. Nowadays, Hero’s Journey can be found in various types of work, from historical to fantasy films.

Hero’s Journey Stages

Like any other story, Hero’s Journey has a beginning, the middle part, and an ending. Although there are many forms of structure, most writers try to subscribe to one formula. Here are the 3 stages of Hero’s Journey that you need to cover when writing your essay.

1. The departure act

This is where the Hero leaves an ordinary world. This occurs after he has received a call for an adventure. Normally, the Hero is uncertain if he should go for the adventure or not. However, he’s usually convinced and counseled by a mentor figure before following the call.

2. The initiation act

This is where the Hero starts his adventure and navigates to an unfamiliar world. The Hero goes to the “special world” and begins facing various challenges. To overcome the obstacles, the protagonist has to put into practice everything he has learned.

3. The Return Act

This is where Hero returns to his ordinary or familiar land. He now realizes how his adventure to the unfamiliar world has changed his life as a person.

Hero’s Journey Steps 

In a literature class, Hero’s Journey helps you understand the fairy tales you read and also allows students to contribute more during class discussions. In creative writing, it helps writers satisfy their readers by ensuring they understand the message they are trying to convey. There are 12 steps in Hero’s Journey, and all are contained in the 3 Hero’s Journey stages.

Hero’s Journey Movies also follow these steps. Here is a breakdown of the Hero’s Journey by Joseph Campbell:

The departure act

  • Ordinary world
  • The Call to adventure
  • Refusal of the call to adventure
  • Meeting with the Mentor
  • Crossing his first threshold

The initiation act

  • Tests, enemies and allies
  • Going to the inmost cave
  • The encounter or ordeal
  • The reward 

The return act

  • The Road back
  • The Resurrection
  • Return with Elixir

Let’s talk about each of these 12 steps:

1) The ordinary world

This is where we meet the Hero. The journey hasn’t started, and the Hero has not yet discovered a strange and unfamiliar world. This world is a safe place, and there are no crucial details about the Hero. He is just a human being like anyone else, but the writer gets to introduce him to readers.

2) Call to adventure

At this stage, the call for adventure begins when the protagonist receives a call to action. This call to action can include a threat to his family, safety, way of life, or the peace that exists in his community. It’s where a challenge or a problem that can’t be ignored sets in and ultimately disrupts the comfort of the ordinary world.

3) Refusal of the call

After receiving the call to adventure, the protagonist may not be ready to accept this call. This is because he has some fears in him. He feels like he might not be capable of overcoming the challenge he or his world is facing. When this happens, his community may suffer because he has refused the call.

4) Meeting the Mentor

Meeting the mentor is the point where the Hero goes to seek guidance from a mentor who will offer some advice or any other thing the protagonist may need. For instance, he can be given insight into the problem at hand, an object that may be of great importance during his adventure, practical training, or teaching on self-confidence. The advice or object the mentor gives the Hero is meant to dispel any fear and doubt the Hero may be having.

5) Crossing the Threshold

Now the Hero is committed and ready to start his journey to the unfamiliar world. Sometimes, the Hero may need to be pushed before he crosses the threshold and enters the unfamiliar world. It may be an ordinary thing for the protagonist to leave his home (although he has always been scared to do that particular task), or it can be his first time.

6) Tests, Allies, Enemies

At this stage, the Hero is confronted with a series of challenges that test him in various ways. The Hero has to overcome all of these problems, whether they are physical challenges or just tasks that involve the brain. In the process of overcoming these challenges, the Hero has to discover who can be trusted and who cannot be trusted. It’s also at this stage that his powers and skills are put to the test.

7) Going to the Inmost Cave

This cave isn’t an actual cave. Instead, it represents anything or anywhere in the Hero’s story where there is a lot of danger. Before the Hero approaches the most dangerous spot, also known as the “inmost cave,” he has to make final preparations. He may also take some time to reflect on what’s ahead of him in order to find some encouragement to continue with his adventure.

8) Ordeal

The ordeal is where the Hero faces the most task, test, or challenge. It can be a deadly enemy or something that everyone fears. The experiences and skills he has learned along the way will help him overcome this difficult challenge. Sometimes the ordeal may not be the climax of the story. In some stories, the protagonist can face more challenges.

9) Reward (Seizing the Sword)

Since the Hero has been through a lot of problems and has defeated his enemies, he can now reap his fruits of labor. The reword can come in various forms, from greater insight and knowledge, a secret, an object of power, or greater importance to even reconciling with an ally or their loved ones. Whatever the reward may be, the protagonist has to get ready for the last stage of his journey.

10) The Road Back

It’s at this stage that the protagonist realizes the light at the end maybe a little further than he thought. This is because the story is not just over yet, and he has to try to return to his ordinary life. It’s worth noting that the Hero has to deal with the aftermath and consequences of their actions based on their previous acts.

11) Resurrection

This is usually the climax of most stories, where the Hero meets his last test. It’s at this step that he has an encounter with death. Other writers refer to this stage as the final exam for the protagonist. The purpose is to test if he learned something from the Ordeal step and if they are ready to encounter even more difficult challenges. It’s at this point where you’ll find near-death escapes, and if he fails, many others will suffer. Ultimately, the Hero comes out victorious and overcomes his foe.

12) Return with the Elixir

This is the final step in the return stage, where the protagonist returns to his ordinary world. He will return as a changed person since he will have grown in person, faced many dangers, and learned a lot of things. In most cases, his return brings a lot of hope to the ordinary world and also directly solves some of the problems his community members were facing.

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