The video below gives a great synopsis of Joseph Campbell’s book A HERO WITH A THOUSAND FACES. It’s a very interesting topic that suggests that all heroes in literature all tie back to heroes of ancient myths, claiming that they all journey down the same path. That a hero’s adventure is symbolic of our own life experiences toward conquering a fear. A quick summary of the journey is listed below:

  1. The hero is introduced in his ordinary world
  2. The call to adventure
  3. The hero is reluctant at first
  4. The hero is encouraged by the wise old man/woman
  5. The hero passes the first threshold
  6. The hero encounters tests and helpers
  7. The hero reaches the inner most cave
  8. The hero endures the supreme ordeal
  9. The hero seizes the reward
  10. The road back
  11. Resurrection
  12. Return with the elixir

After watching the video, it is amazing to see the oversimplification of a hero’s journey and how they all relate in that context. This has to do with how we tell stories, which is very similar to Christopher Booker’s analysis of why we tell stories, explained at length in his novel THE 7 BASIC PLOTS, which I’ve talked about here.

So, now that we understand how similar stories of today are compared to stories of ancient myth and legend, let’s take a look at the different type of heroes that exist in our stories. An archetype is a prototype or model from which something is based, a framework of sorts. The character archetypes listed below are derived from Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces and are deeply rooted in the myths and legends of many cultures.

  1. Hero
  2. Mentor
  3. Threshold Guardian
  4. Herald
  5. Shapeshifter
  6. Shadow
  7. Trickster

In my novel, The Soul Smith, it has been said that Erador is opposite of the ‘reluctant hero’ archetype – that he is eager to go on the adventure. What archetype is your character?

4 thoughts on “The Hero with 1,000 Faces

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