Presentation on theme: "Literary Analysis and the Heroic Archetype. The three major steps / phases of the archetypal heroic journey are… the Call to Adventure/Crossing the Threshold."— Presentation transcript:
Literary Analysis and the Heroic Archetype
The three major steps / phases of the archetypal heroic journey are… the Call to Adventure/Crossing the Threshold the Tests or Trials, including the Final or Climactic Battle The Return with the Elixir (new knowledge, wisdom, or understanding)
Loss of the ego: the sign of a true hero The transcendence of the ego (acceptance of selflessness) remains the most significant experience of a true hero The journey becomes a search for and a claiming of an idea larger than the self
The hero returns to benefit others the emotional, psychological, and spiritual wisdom gained from the hero’s trials and battles is freely offered to others
The hero’s wisdom This wisdom can be illumination, a revelation, or an elevation to a new level of consciousness. The hero is forever changed by his experience and offers a new way of looking at the everyday world.
The hero’s journey as a monomyth Monomyth: mono means “one” and often refers to the cyclic journey of the hero found in myths or mythic tales. Joseph Campbell refers to the hero cycle as the one singular human metaphor. He believes it to be literally the only story to be told about man and man’s place and purpose in the world and his relation to the world beyond.
This monomythic pattern or archetype is evident in many classic and contemporary works and texts. For example… Star Wars Superman Spiderman The Lion King The Matrix X-Men III Pirates of the Caribbean Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone Forrest Gump Braveheart Hamlet Lord of the Rings
Types of hero journeys Question: Can you think of a monomythic novel or movie to fit the description of the following types of hero? The quest for identity: coming of age story (Bildungsroman)
The journey for knowledge (the quest of the king) King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.
The epic journey to find the promised land or found the good city Moses
The tragic quest: journey to the crossroads Saving Private Ryan
The quest for vengeance and righteousness. Braveheart
The quest to rid the land of danger Superman
The warrior’s journey to save his people Martin Luther King
The fool’s errand Forrest Gump
The search for love (protection of the feminine) Beauty and the Beast
The grail quest (the quest for human perfection) Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Summary of Heroic Journey’s: The Quest … for Self-identity: coming of age story (Bildungsroman) for love, knowledge, and wisdom to right injustices for righteousness sake to rid the land of danger and/or save his/her people for human perfection (the figurative Grail quest)
Literary Analysis and the hero The hero’s journey is the archetypal human monomyth. Literary criticism has classified the four major types of heroes: The mythological hero The romantic hero The reluctant hero The tragic hero
The Mythological Hero is someone… of great physical strength or great courage favored by the gods, and in part occasionally descended from them worshipped after death, becoming someone to be admired for his/her qualities or achievements regarded as an ideal or model.
Odysseus of the Odyssey
The Romantic Hero In the Middle Ages in Europe, wandering storytellers would retell adventurous tales of knights and other noble heroes. Such tales were known as romances. They often recount the heroic deeds of noble knights and celebrate the chivalric code of honor which included these virtues: honor, loyalty, courage, truthfulness, courtly manners, chastity, and the honoring and protecting of women.
The Romantic Hero: Sir Galahad
The Reluctant Hero The reluctant hero stumbles, resists, or is pushed somewhat unwillingly beyond the threshold of adventure. He/she feels unable to take on the role of hero and often lacks confidence in the completion of the task or trial. This type of hero is the basis for what we now term the “underdog,” someone who wins against all reason and succeeds when all bet against them.
The Tragic Hero Aristotle characterized protagonists who are highly renowned and prosperous and whose reversal of fortune and fall from greatness are brought about not by vice or depravity, but by some error or frailty of character (this is referred to as the tragic flaw).
The Tragic Hero Protagonist The protagonist is destroyed physically or emotionally, or is spiritually devastated. Tragic heroes evoke both pity and fear in readers because we realize that the problems, suffering, and struggles faced by the characters are perhaps a necessary part of human life. Because they fail, we may also fail when tested.
The protagonist's inner weakness or inherent error is called the hamartia, taken from the Greek word meaning “to err” or “to miss the mark.” The hamartia often concerns excessive pride or hubris. The Greeks often viewed suffering as a prerequisite for wisdom.
The tragic hero recognizes his or her own flaw and its consequences, but only after it is too late to change the course of events.
Elements of Classical Tragedy: The Tragic Hero … is of noble birth and displays a nobility of spirit that the audience admires is pitted against forces beyond his/her control makes decisions that lead to a “no-win” situation struggles courageously until his/her fall (spiritually and/or physically)
Elements of Classical Tragedy continued: The Tragic Hero … though defeated, usually gains a measure of increased wisdom, self- awareness, or nobility has a tragic flaw or weakness which leads to an error in judgment which effects the fall suffers greatly because of the flaw loses love, life, reputation, or peace of mind
Aristotle and Humpty Dumpty Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall… He’s a noble protagonist set perilously in a high place of power
An incomplete Hero Cycle = the Tragic Hero The Tragic Hero is perhaps most tragic and pitiful because although they have the qualities and opportunities to complete their hero cycle – they do not! Why? They lose the battles, lack helpers, cannot locate amulets to support them, fate intervenes at inopportune times, they lack faith in themselves and their mission…
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall… He experiences a reversal of situation; he falls from greatness. His tragic weakness is his fragility – a thin shell. His error was that he probably wiggled around, showing off on the wall or trying to stand up on it to get even higher. His sin is his pride (hubris); like Yertle the Turtle in the Dr. Seuss story, he tried to rise too high, beyond his natural boundaries.
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men Couldn't put Humpty Dumpty together again. The readers feel pity and terror! The egg is cracked! Poor Humpty! He’ll never sit on the wall again and experience the exhilaration of balancing precariously on a tempting wall. He is dead and gone, irreparably damaged and deprived of his once-high position and enjoyable life.
And the same thing could happen to the reader. One of these fine days if you’re not careful or go a bit too fast, you too will wind up smashed and crushed! Reach for that high- yielding stock and you might end up broke. Overstep the bounds of law and morality in reaching for a high political office and you could be ruined and disgraced, resigning ignominiously from your post, lucky to have avoided prison.
But… It has NOT happened to us! We have vicariously experienced the story and leaned wisdom from the suffering of the protagonist. We leave the story with a feeling of catharsis - emotional release - and a purification of mind, heart, and soul.