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Hero Journey Essay Example

There are many steps of “The Hero’s Journey”. The first step of The Hero’s Journey is the ‘Ordinary World’. The ‘Ordinary World’ allow us to get to know the Hero and identify with him before the Journey begins. This step refers to the hero’s normal life at the start of the story. Next, is the ‘Call to Adventure’ and the hero is faced with something that makes him start his adventure. This might be a problem or a challenge he needs to overcome. Following that step is ‘Refusal of the Call‘; when the hero attempts to refuse the adventure because he is afraid. After that is ‘Meeting the Mentor’ which is where the hero encounters someone who can give him advice and ready him for the journey ahead. In the fifth step, ‘Crossing the First Threshold’, the hero leaves his “ordinary world” and starts his journey. ‘Tests, Allies and Enemies’ means the hero will learn the rules of his new world and encounters new challenges and Tests, makes Allies and Enemies . The ‘Approach’ step is when setbacks occur, sometimes causing the hero to try a new method or approach. The next step is ‘Ordeal’ and the hero experiences a major problem.

‘Reward’ is the step which after the hero survived death the hero earns his reward or accomplishes his goal. The tenth step is ‘The Road Back’; the hero begins his journey back to his ordinary life. ‘Resurrection Hero’ is the step where the hero has a final mission using all he has learned. The final step is ‘Return with Elixir’. The hero Returns to the “ordinary world”, but the journey is meaningless unless he brings back some “elixir”, treasure, or lesson from the “new world”. The “elixir” is the knowledge or experience that could be useful to all that remain. Shrek is an Epic Hero although most people find the film “Shrek” to be just a comical film; it fulfills the requirements needed to prove that Shrek is indeed a hero. “Once upon a time, there was a lovely princess. But she had an enchantment upon her of a fearful sort which could only be broken by love’s first kiss. She was locked away in a castle guarded by a terrible fire-breathing dragon. Many brave knights had attempted to free her from this dreadful prison, but none prevailed. She waited in the dragon’s keep, in the highest room of the tallest tower, for her true love, and true love’s first kiss.”

This is the opening line of “Shrek” and like nearly all fairytales and many Disney movies it starts with “Once upon a time.” The movie Shrek, is an excellent example of Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey because it’s about an ogre going on an adventure, fighting odds and enemies, winning the battles, and bringing home the prize. In short, the Andrew Adamson and Vicky Jenson film, Shrek, is about an ogre who lives in a swamp by himself and is comfortable living in his ordinary world. He wants to be by himself because he is very insecure about his looks and the way he’s perceived by others. In the swamp he has everything he needs to get by – mud for bathing, slugs for food, and a nearby village he can terrorize when boredom strikes. Shrek’s basic stance toward life is one of isolation; he just wants to be left alone.

On the other hand, in the kingdom of Farquaad, many of the fairy tale characters that we all know including the “Three Little Pigs”, the “Big Bad Wolf”, “Snow White”, and the “Ginger Bread Man” are all being banished. One of the others bound to be banished is a talking donkey that goes by the name, Donkey. Donkey really becomes a great friend to Shrek. While eating, Shrek is horrified when his swamp becomes filled by the banished fairytale creatures, all because of Lord Farquaad. Shrek learns that the only way to get his loved swamp back is to go to Lord Farquaad himself. This marks the hero’s departure on the journey. Shrek is forced to leave his comfortable, self-made environment and explore new territory.

Meanwhile, Farquaad has the special mirror that he took from “Snow White.” He uses it to find himself a princess. The mirror gives him three choices… “Cinderella, Snow White, and Princess Fiona. Influenced by his knights, the prince chooses number three, Princess Fiona. As soon as Shrek arrives at the castle, Lord Farquaad tries to have him killed. After watching the ogre defeat his warriors, Farquaad realizes that the best way to get rid of Shrek is to send him on a quest to rescue Princess Fionna from a vicious dragon. Shrek strikes a bargain with the lord. He agrees to deliver the princess, if Farquaad will allow the fairy tale creatures in Shrek’s swamp to return to their own homes. The battle with the lord’s soldiers and his fight with the dragon must be viewed as the hero’s “first tests”. Shrek has no idea what he’s really getting himself into. He notices the final reward as simply returning to his isolated lifestyle, but his journey will not be that simple.

As he approaches the dragon’s lair, Shrek has to leave the protection of the forest, pass through barren, rocky slopes, and then cross a fiery trench before battling the dragon, the second of his tests. The hero’s main trial comes after Shrek rescues Fionna. He falls in love with her on the trip back to Farquaad’s castle. His affection for the beautiful princess forces the ogre to face his innermost demon: a feeling of ugliness. Shrek, Fiona, and Donkey are almost at Duloc and that night Fiona slept in a windmill. When Donkey hears strange noises coming from it, he finds Fiona turned into an ogre. She explains her childhood curse and transforms each night, which is why she was locked away, and that only her true love’s kiss will return her to her “love’s true form”. Shrek, about to confess his feelings for Fiona with a sunflower, partly overhears them, and is heartbroken as he mistakes her disgust with her transformation to an “ugly beast” as disgust with him. After deciding that she could never love someone so appalling, Shrek abandons Fionna to Lord Farquaad and wanders unhappily back to his home in the swamp.

Luckily, Shrek is accompanied on his journey by Donkey. Donkey serves not only as a sidekick but also as an ally. This ally helps the hero navigate and stands by Shrek’s side the whole way. Upon returning home and having to face his loneliness and despair, Shrek finally notices Donkey’s insistent advice that he listens to his heart and declares his love for Fionna. The ogre’s change of heart and the decision to act on his feelings mark the beginning of hero’s initiation. The ordeal comes when Shrek breaks into Lord Farquaad’s wedding ceremony to rescue the princess, yet again. Fionna, who’s dispassionate about the Lord, declares her love in return and undergoes her own transformation; she becomes an ogress herself. Shrek realizes that true love, not isolation, is his reward. Finally seeing that he is worthy in life and can be loved.

The story ends with a happy return. The dragon bursts in the church along with Donkey and devours Farquaad. Then, Shrek and Fionna move into his place at the swamp, only this time the house is filled with friends and celebration. The transformation of the swamp – from a place of isolation to one of shared joy – is a metaphor for the ogre’s ‘return with the elixir’. The movie “Shrek” is an excellent example of Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey. It has each of the twelve steps that “The Hero’s Journey” has. Shrek is the hero whom had to leave his “ordinary world” and go on an adventure. Then, by the end of the movie, he completely changed. He learned that being alone all the time isn’t always the better way to live.

The story of Cinderella is a magical fairytale that children of all ages and backgrounds are familiar with. It’s an appealing tale because it includes magic and whimsy, oppression, love, perseverance- all of the things that are included in the story of a hero, or in this case, a heroine. As John Campbell explains in his book, _The Hero with a Thousand Faces,_ a hero (or heroine) goes through many stages on their quest for whatever it is they are looking for in life, and Cinderella is no different. She experiences all of the stages on her quest for love and happiness.

At the beginning of the story, Cinderella is the beloved daughter of a wealthy man, leading a happy, normal life. However, as all heroic journeys begin, according to Campbell, so must this one, with “A blunder-apparently the merest chance-reveals an unsuspected world, and the individual is drawn into a relationship with forces that are not rightly understood” (Campbell 42). For Cinderella, the blunder is her father’s untimely death that leaves her under the control of her evil stepmother and stepsisters who, jealous of her beauty, keep her confined to the estate and treat her as a servant.

Campbell states: “The first stage of the mythological journey-which we have designated the “call to adventure”-signifies that destiny has summoned the hero and transferred his spiritual center of gravity from within the pale of his society to a zone unknown” (Campbell p. 48). Cinderella’s call to adventure comes in the form of an invitation, or summons, to the royal ball, from the castle with the intentions of finding a wife for the prince. Cinderella has spent hours day-dreaming of an opportunity like this, and eager to go, strikes a deal with her stepmother: if she can finish all her chores on time, she can go.

It’s at this point in the story where we meet the first of Cinderella’s mentors, or supernatural aid, her animal friends. Because Cinderella is busy trying to complete her chores, she doesn’t have time to prepare anything to wear to the ball. The animals intervene and create a beautiful dress for her, using items thrown away by the ugly stepsisters.

The next stage in our heroine’s journey is the refusal of the call. Campbell says “Refusal of the summons converts the adventure into its negative” (Campbell 49), and we see this happen in Cinderella’s case when her stepmother and evil stepsisters snatch the call away from her by destroying her ball gown. At this point Cinderella is left feeling hopeless and defeated, and what was a positive, exciting opportunity, is now a crushed dream. It’s here though that we meet another mentor, or again, supernatural aid, Cinderella’s fairy Godmother, who “appears and provides her with everything she needs to attend the ball” (_The Hero’s Journey: Cinderella)._ Cinderella is now able to accept the call, and progress on her journey.

Next we see Cinderella arrive at the royal ball, signifying yet another stage of her journey: crossing the threshold. According to one source, “Once the hero has accepted the call, they have to cross from their old world to the new. This crossing is made at the Threshold.” (Langdon: _”What is Crossing the Threshold?_”) Cinderella begins crossing her threshold when her fairy Godmother equips her for the ball, and finishes crossing then she enters the ball; we see the transformation from a servant into the beautiful, mysterious guest.

All good heroic journeys have tests, evil to contend with and danger to avoid, and Cinderella is no different. While she spends the evening dancing in the arms of the prince, she isn’t able to tell him who she is at the ball, and she must leave by the twelfth stroke of midnight when the magic wears off. In addition, when the price sends his servant to find the owner of the glass slipper left at the ball by Cinderella, she watches hopelessly while her sisters try to cram their feet into it. I believe these events are what make the Belly of the Whale for Cinderella, for according to Campbell, it’s at this point “The hero, instead of conquering or conciliating the power of the threshold, is swallowed into the unknown, and would appear to have died” (Campbell 74).

The union of opposites, which Campbell describes as Apotheosis, takes place when Cinderella is discovered to be the owner of the glass slipper and is taken to the palace to join the prince, as his wife. She completes her quest to find love and happiness when she marries the prince. It’s at this point, that Cinderella is officially seen as the heroine; “this godlike being is a pattern of the divine state to which the human hero attains who has gone beyond the last terrors of ignorance…This is the release potential within us all…” (Campbell 127). She made it through the hero’s journey, all its various stages, successfully, and is transformed from a parentless, sad, young woman into the heroine living out her dream.

Works Cited

Campbell, Joseph. _The Hero with a Thousand Faces_. Novato: New World Library, 2008. Print.

_The Hero’s Journey:Cinderella._ Web. 5 Sept. 2014.

Langdon, Matt. _What is Crossing the Threshold?._ The Hero Handbook. 15 Nov. 2010. Web. 5 Sept. 2014.

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