Monday, March 31, 2014

The Obstacles in a Hero's Journey

By Eliana Lerman
What Makes a Hero
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.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

A Vehicle for the Hero's Journey

We just passed the midway point of the semester in the Hero's Journey class I teach, and what a journey it's been so far.  I have a full class of 20 students, and they've all chosen interesting topics to write their research papers about.  Some of them are using the Hero's Journey model to analyze books and/or movies, and some of them are focusing more on analyzing certain types of hero roles, such as anti-heroes and culture heroes.

One of the assignments I've given my students is to write a brief reflection that in some way relates to the hero's journey stages and/or roles, and/or to intertextuality, and over the next couple of weeks, I'll be posting those.  I would love it, Internet, if some of you out there would respond to these posts.  Why?  Well, because for many if not most of my students, this will be their first published writing, and it would be great for them to get public feedback.

But even more importantly, the Hero's Journey model, because it allows us to see how narrative influences life, can be used as a way of understanding and directing change.  And in the words of author Terry Tempest Williams, "Conversation is the vehicle for change."  So I hope you'll accept this invitation to join us on this journey and jump right into the DeLorean conversation!