By Eliana Lerman
A person or fictional character is not considered a “hero” unless they go on a hero’s journey. One can not simply go from point A to point B with no obstacles and retrieve the “treasure” and still gain the same recognition as someone else who faced multiple obstacles and maybe even death, before they successfully completed their journey and returned with the prize. A hero can be a real world hero such as Martin Luther King, or a fictional hero such as Superman. Though the two are vastly different, both types of heroes go through similar stages in their journeys.
Obstacles, Threshold Guardians, and Archetypes
There are often many different people or events that stand in the way of the hero from reaching the goal or treasure. Based on Vogler’s version of the Hero’s Journey, Archetypes are recurring patterns of human behavior, symbolized by standard types of characters in movies and stories. Although there are allies and mentors, the shadows, threshold guardians, tricksters, and shapeshifters tend to be more involved with the hero. The mentors give advice and then tend to disinvolve themselves from the hero’s actual journey. Allies are normally on the outskirts of the journey, fighting whatever other threats they can to protect the hero. On the other hand, the “bad guys” are constantly trying to stop the hero from completing his or her journey, and creating obstacles to do so. Without the obstacles that prevent the hero from an otherwise pleasant and easy journey, the hero would not be considered entirely heroic or brave.