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Joseph Campbell’s Monomyth Theory… As Explained by Puppets [VIDEO]


Are you familiar with Joseph Cambell‘s monomyth theory, a.k.a. “The Hero’s Journey,” as described in his landmark mythology text The Hero’s with a Thousand Faces? The basic idea is that the same character types and plot beats repeat themselves in story after story. It could be Star Wars or Happy Gilmore: The hero’s journey is there. If you’re still a little shaky, or if you need a refresher course… or, heck, if you just like puppets and/or mythology, Fafa the Groundhog and Mario of Glove and Boots are here to explain it to you by acting out scenes from Harry Potter, The Hobbit, The Wizard of Oz, and more.

(via: Laughing Squid)

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  • Bailey Fields

    I’m going to be obnoxious and say, wasn’t Hagrid the Herald in HP?

    Also, in sequels, do the plots also follow the hero’s journey again, only make it a different ‘Shadow’? Or are sequels better when the steps of the hero’s journey are shared out between the 2 films?? I get the feeling The Hobbit is trying to spread the hero’s journey out over the 3 films, maybe it would have been better to make a separate hero’s journey per movie. Or, you know, just do one movie.

  • Nicole Elizabeth Currie

    It depends on the sequel, because a lot of time a sequel is just a continuation of a hero’s journey, and often time has the same main Shadow, but with maybe a ‘weekly big bad’ being added as well for variety.

  • http://www.according2robyn.blogspot.com/ According2Robyn

    I would say that Hagrid’s archetype varies between the Herald, Ally, Mentor, and even a Threshold Guardian. Characters can have more than one archetype, serving different roles at different points in the story. Vogler compared this to different “masks” that the characters wear, depending on the needs of the plot.

    And yes, sequels usually start the Hero’s Journey over again. As in, say, Empire Strikes Back, where Luke gets a fresh call to adventure from Yoda, learns that he isn’t half as badass as he thought, and so starts a brand new arc. Sequels that don’t retread the Hero’s Journey usually feel incomplete and unsatisfying–you feel like something’s missing.

    However, you can fit individual Hero’s Journeys into a single, more epic Hero’s Journey, like a fractal of storytelling. This is how a lot of television works these days. For example, each episode of Breaking Bad is its own Hero’s Journey, and each season is a larger Hero’s Journey made up of those parts. But of course, not every story is told so skillfully.

    If you want to read a good introductory book on this, I recommend Christopher Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey. It’s derived from Campbell’s monomyth but laid out more clearly, and with significantly less woo.

  • Bailey Fields

    awesome, I’ve been reading dwight v swain’s book that’s been interesting for narrative structure, will look into Vogler.

    ‘This is how a lot of television works these days. For example, each episode of Breaking Bad is its own Hero’s Journey, and each season is a larger Hero’s Journey made up of those parts. But of course, not every story is told so skillfully’

    man, if only the majority of tv writers had a clue with how to do this stuff. Thinking about a show like Glee for example, I just wonder what the hell they think they’re doing with their storytelling, total mess.

  • Seanna Tucker

    Funny you mention Star Wars, since the Hero’s Journey was literally the basis for Star Wars.