The Monomyth

Joseph Campbell's original idea, as adapted by JTK


1. Hero on a journey
-- typically a young male on the brink of manhood
-- classically a literal journey; may be metaphorical

2. 'Impossible' task that occasions the journey

3. Trusty companion(s)
-- somehow 'lesser' than the hero

4. Opponent/Adversary
-- typically the 'enemy' or 'bad guy' but not always
-- may be the person (classically, a king) who sets the 'impossible' task

5. Wise counselor
-- somehow 'greater' than the hero (older, wiser, more powerful)
-- typically a cameo appearance, so as not to upstage the hero in the narrative

6. Talisman
-- special object and/or information (if a material object, may contain or confer magical powers)
-- crucial to completion of the 'impossible' task

7. KATABASIS (Greek for 'descent')
-- classically a literal descent into the underworld and/or death; may be a metaphorical 'death'
-- the hero returns transfigured: resurrected and/or changed

8. Victory and Reward
-- classically the hero receives the hand of the 'beautiful princess' in marriage and/or half the kingdom


9. IDENTIFICATION
-- So what? i.e., Why should we care?
-- Identification with the hero may inspire emulation, but even if not, a 'hero' in such tales is a character who induces us to think about ourselves, our own lives, and what we might do in his/her place.

10. SPLINTERING
-- often seen in the form of TREBLING, i.e. 'splintering' into three: three tasks; three talismans; three companions; even three heroes (e.g. Lord of the Rings)