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Hero's Journey 101: How to Use the Hero's Journey to Plot Your Story

Dan Schriever

Dan Schriever

The Hero's Journey cover

How many times have you heard this story? A protagonist is suddenly whisked away from their ordinary life and embarks on a grand adventure. Along the way they make new friends, confront perils, and face tests of character. In the end, evil is defeated, and the hero returns home a changed person.

That’s the Hero’s Journey in a nutshell. It probably sounds very familiar—and rightly so: the Hero’s Journey aspires to be the universal story, or monomyth, a narrative pattern deeply ingrained in literature and culture. Whether in books, movies, television, or folklore, chances are you’ve encountered many examples of the Hero’s Journey in the wild.

In this post, we’ll walk through the elements of the Hero’s Journey step by step. We’ll also study an archetypal example from the movie The Matrix (1999). Once you have mastered the beats of this narrative template, you’ll be ready to put your very own spin on it.

Sound good? Then let’s cross the threshold and let the journey begin.

What Is the Hero’s Journey?

The 12 stages of the hero’s journey, writing your own hero’s journey.

The Hero’s Journey is a common story structure for modeling both plot points and character development. A protagonist embarks on an adventure into the unknown. They learn lessons, overcome adversity, defeat evil, and return home transformed.

Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1949)

Joseph Campbell , a scholar of literature, popularized the monomyth in his influential work The Hero With a Thousand Faces (1949). Looking for common patterns in mythological narratives, Campbell described a character arc with 17 total stages, overlaid on a more traditional three-act structure. Not all need be present in every myth or in the same order.

The three stages, or acts, of Campbell’s Hero’s Journey are as follows:

1. Departure. The hero leaves the ordinary world behind.

2. Initiation. The hero ventures into the unknown ("the Special World") and overcomes various obstacles and challenges.

3. Return. The hero returns in triumph to the familiar world.

Hollywood has embraced Campbell’s structure, most famously in George Lucas’s Star Wars movies. There are countless examples in books, music, and video games, from fantasy epics and Disney films to sports movies.

In The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers (1992), screenwriter Christopher Vogler adapted Campbell’s three phases into the "12 Stages of the Hero’s Journey." This is the version we’ll analyze in the next section.

The three stages of Campbell's Hero's Journey

For writers, the purpose of the Hero’s Journey is to act as a template and guide. It’s not a rigid formula that your plot must follow beat by beat. Indeed, there are good reasons to deviate—not least of which is that this structure has become so ubiquitous.

Still, it’s helpful to master the rules before deciding when and how to break them. The 12 steps of the Hero's Journey are as follows :

  • The Ordinary World
  • The Call of Adventure
  • Refusal of the Call
  • Meeting the Mentor
  • Crossing the First Threshold
  • Tests, Allies, and Enemies
  • Approach to the Inmost Cave
  • Reward (Seizing the Sword)
  • The Road Back
  • Resurrection
  • Return with the Elixir

Let’s take a look at each stage in more detail. To show you how the Hero’s Journey works in practice, we’ll also consider an example from the movie The Matrix (1999). After all, what blog has not been improved by a little Keanu Reeves?

The Matrix

#1: The Ordinary World

This is where we meet our hero, although the journey has not yet begun: first, we need to establish the status quo by showing the hero living their ordinary, mundane life.

It’s important to lay the groundwork in this opening stage, before the journey begins. It lets readers identify with the hero as just a regular person, “normal” like the rest of us. Yes, there may be a big problem somewhere out there, but the hero at this stage has very limited awareness of it.

The Ordinary World in The Matrix :

We are introduced to Thomas A. Anderson, aka Neo, programmer by day, hacker by night. While Neo runs a side operation selling illicit software, Thomas Anderson lives the most mundane life imaginable: he works at his cubicle, pays his taxes, and helps the landlady carry out her garbage.

#2: The Call to Adventure

The journey proper begins with a call to adventure—something that disrupts the hero’s ordinary life and confronts them with a problem or challenge they can’t ignore. This can take many different forms.

While readers may already understand the stakes, the hero is realizing them for the first time. They must make a choice: will they shrink from the call, or rise to the challenge?

The Call to Adventure in The Matrix :

A mysterious message arrives in Neo’s computer, warning him that things are not as they seem. He is urged to “follow the white rabbit.” At a nightclub, he meets Trinity, who tells him to seek Morpheus.

#3: Refusal of the Call

Oops! The hero chooses option A and attempts to refuse the call to adventure. This could be for any number of reasons: fear, disbelief, a sense of inadequacy, or plain unwillingness to make the sacrifices that are required.

A little reluctance here is understandable. If you were asked to trade the comforts of home for a life-and-death journey fraught with peril, wouldn’t you give pause?

Refusal of the Call in The Matrix :

Agents arrive at Neo’s office to arrest him. Morpheus urges Neo to escape by climbing out a skyscraper window. “I can’t do this… This is crazy!” Neo protests as he backs off the ledge.

The Hero's Journey in _The Matrix_

#4: Meeting the Mentor

Okay, so the hero got cold feet. Nothing a little pep talk can’t fix! The mentor figure appears at this point to give the hero some much needed counsel, coaching, and perhaps a kick out the door.

After all, the hero is very inexperienced at this point. They’re going to need help to avoid disaster or, worse, death. The mentor’s role is to overcome the hero’s reluctance and prepare them for what lies ahead.

Meeting the Mentor in The Matrix :

Neo meets with Morpheus, who reveals a terrifying truth: that the ordinary world as we know it is a computer simulation designed to enslave humanity to machines.

#5: Crossing the First Threshold

At this juncture, the hero is ready to leave their ordinary world for the first time. With the mentor’s help, they are committed to the journey and ready to step across the threshold into the special world . This marks the end of the departure act and the beginning of the adventure in earnest.

This may seem inevitable, but for the hero it represents an important choice. Once the threshold is crossed, there’s no going back. Bilbo Baggins put it nicely: “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

Crossing the First Threshold in The Matrix :

Neo is offered a stark choice: take the blue pill and return to his ordinary life none the wiser, or take the red pill and “see how deep the rabbit hole goes.” Neo takes the red pill and is extracted from the Matrix, entering the real world .

#6: Tests, Allies, and Enemies

Now we are getting into the meat of the adventure. The hero steps into the special world and must learn the new rules of an unfamiliar setting while navigating trials, tribulations, and tests of will. New characters are often introduced here, and the hero must navigate their relationships with them. Will they be friend, foe, or something in between?

Broadly speaking, this is a time of experimentation and growth. It is also one of the longest stages of the journey, as the hero learns the lay of the land and defines their relationship to other characters.

Wondering how to create captivating characters? Read our guide , which explains how to shape characters that readers will love—or hate.

Tests, Allies, and Enemies in The Matrix :

Neo is introduced to the vagabond crew of the Nebuchadnezzar . Morpheus informs Neo that he is The One , a savior destined to liberate humanity. He learns jiu jitsu and other useful skills.

#7: Approach to the Inmost Cave

Man entering a cave

Time to get a little metaphorical. The inmost cave isn’t a physical cave, but rather a place of great danger—indeed, the most dangerous place in the special world . It could be a villain’s lair, an impending battle, or even a mental barrier. No spelunking required.

Broadly speaking, the approach is marked by a setback in the quest. It becomes a lesson in persistence, where the hero must reckon with failure, change their mindset, or try new ideas.

Note that the hero hasn’t entered the cave just yet. This stage is about the approach itself, which the hero must navigate to get closer to their ultimate goal. The stakes are rising, and failure is no longer an option.

Approach to the Inmost Cave in The Matrix :

Neo pays a visit to The Oracle. She challenges Neo to “know thyself”—does he believe, deep down, that he is The One ? Or does he fear that he is “just another guy”? She warns him that the fate of humanity hangs in the balance.

#8: The Ordeal

The ordeal marks the hero’s greatest test thus far. This is a dark time for them: indeed, Campbell refers to it as the “belly of the whale.” The hero experiences a major hurdle or obstacle, which causes them to hit rock bottom.

This is a pivotal moment in the story, the main event of the second act. It is time for the hero to come face to face with their greatest fear. It will take all their skills to survive this life-or-death crisis. Should they succeed, they will emerge from the ordeal transformed.

Keep in mind: the story isn’t over yet! Rather, the ordeal is the moment when the protagonist overcomes their weaknesses and truly steps into the title of hero .

The Ordeal in The Matrix :

When Cipher betrays the crew to the agents, Morpheus sacrifices himself to protect Neo. In turn, Neo makes his own choice: to risk his life in a daring rescue attempt.

#9: Reward (Seizing the Sword)

The ordeal was a major level-up moment for the hero. Now that it's been overcome, the hero can reap the reward of success. This reward could be an object, a skill, or knowledge—whatever it is that the hero has been struggling toward. At last, the sword is within their grasp.

From this moment on, the hero is a changed person. They are now equipped for the final conflict, even if they don’t fully realize it yet.

Reward (Seizing the Sword) in The Matrix :

Neo’s reward is helpfully narrated by Morpheus during the rescue effort: “He is beginning to believe.” Neo has gained confidence that he can fight the machines, and he won’t back down from his destiny.

A man holding a sword

#10: The Road Back

We’re now at the beginning of act three, the return . With the reward in hand, it’s time to exit the inmost cave and head home. But the story isn’t over yet.

In this stage, the hero reckons with the consequences of act two. The ordeal was a success, but things have changed now. Perhaps the dragon, robbed of his treasure, sets off for revenge. Perhaps there are more enemies to fight. Whatever the obstacle, the hero must face them before their journey is complete.

The Road Back in The Matrix :

The rescue of Morpheus has enraged Agent Smith, who intercepts Neo before he can return to the Nebuchadnezzar . The two foes battle in a subway station, where Neo’s skills are pushed to their limit.

#11: Resurrection

Now comes the true climax of the story. This is the hero’s final test, when everything is at stake: the battle for the soul of Gotham, the final chance for evil to triumph. The hero is also at the peak of their powers. A happy ending is within sight, should they succeed.

Vogler calls the resurrection stage the hero’s “final exam.” They must draw on everything they have learned and prove again that they have really internalized the lessons of the ordeal . Near-death escapes are not uncommon here, or even literal deaths and resurrections.

Resurrection in The Matrix :

Despite fighting valiantly, Neo is defeated by Agent Smith and killed. But with Trinity’s help, he is resurrected, activating his full powers as The One . Isn’t it wonderful how literal The Matrix can be?

#12: Return with the Elixir

Hooray! Evil has been defeated and the hero is transformed. It’s time for the protagonist to return home in triumph, and share their hard-won prize with the ordinary world . This prize is the elixir —the object, skill, or insight that was the hero’s true reward for their journey and transformation.

Return with the Elixir in The Matrix :

Neo has defeated the agents and embraced his destiny. He returns to the simulated world of the Matrix, this time armed with god-like powers and a resolve to open humanity’s eyes to the truth.

The Hero's Journey Worksheet

If you’re writing your own adventure, you may be wondering: should I follow the Hero’s Journey structure?

The good news is, it’s totally up to you. Joseph Campbell conceived of the monomyth as a way to understand universal story structure, but there are many ways to outline a novel. Feel free to play around within its confines, adapt it across different media, and disrupt reader expectations. It’s like Morpheus says: “Some of these rules can be bent. Others can be broken.”

Think of the Hero’s Journey as a tool. If you’re not sure where your story should go next, it can help to refer back to the basics. From there, you’re free to choose your own adventure.

Are you prepared to write your novel? Download this free book now:

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25 Hero’s Journey Story Ideas to Start an Epic Adventure

by Sue Weems | 0 comments

The hero's journey is one of the most beloved and popular story frameworks in books and film. Today we have 25 prompts with hero's journey story ideas, so you can write your own epic adventure tale!

essay hero's journey short story examples

If you've watched any one of George Lucas's Star Wars films, read or watched any of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings books or films then you've experienced the hero's journey. I've walked my creative writing classes through these stories numerous times, helping them identify and emulate the story principles. 

Part of what makes these stories so compelling is that they follow a character from their ordinary life into an adventure they couldn't have imagined, leading to personal transformation.

You can see David Stafford's (our resident expert on Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey Story Structure) Ultimate Guide to the Hero's Journey here if you want to see a complete breakdown of the heroic journey that creates these character arcs. 

While there are twelve stages or phases in a traditional hero's journey story, I've organized these prompts in the three essential stages: the departure, the initiation, and the return. You can combine these into a story or use them individually to fuel just one section of your larger story. 

Try one and see how it pushes your character out of their normal life and into a hero venture! 

Hero's Journey Story Ideas for the Departure

This opening stage is all about establishing a would-be hero's everyday life, revealing the status quo, and then disrupting it. What's expected of this character in their current state? What do they believe about themselves? 

The departure stage requires the hero to leave that mundane life, that familiar world behind to begin their adventure that will happen in a series of stages. The departure includes: the Ordinary World , the Call to Adventure and Refusal of the Call , Meet the Mentor , and the Crossing of the Threshold .

1. Create a scene where your character is frustrated or in trouble at their current workplace or home. Avoid a wake-up scene unless you can make it compelling.

2. Show your character doing their favorite activity when it gets interrupted with something inconsequential.

3. Show your character interacting with a pesky sibling, challenging family member, or sometimes friend. 

4. What problem will arise in your character's community that will necessitate them leaving home to solve it? 

5. Create a major threat to your character's favorite place or person , preferably one that could be extended to the entire community. 

6. Describe the insecurities that plague your character, focusing on ones that will inform their refusal of the call to adventure. 

7. Create a mentor (or two or three!) that will inspire your character to think beyond their current limitations and plant a seed of inspiration. What kind of person or being will best speak into your character's specific fears?

8. Write the scene where the character accepts the call and leaves home to begin the adventure. 

Hero's Journey Story Ideas for the Initiation Stage

The initiation stage includes Trials, Allies, and Enemies ; Approach to the Inmost Cave ; The Ordeal ; and The Reward .

This next part, the initiation, is usually the longest in a story, loosely from the inciting incident to the end of the climax (and immediate repercussions). This is a place to play—get creative with the trials, the complications, and the ultimate battle.

9. Make a list of your hero's strengths and weaknesses. Now, create a trial or an antagonist that can challenge each of those traits. 

10. Write a scene where your hero meets an unexpected ally on their journey . 

11. Create a fantastical challenge or physical obstacle in the world where your story is set. Drop your hero and one other character into the situation and force them to fight their way through it. 

12. Write a scene where the hero faces something they think will be easy, but it challenges them in an unexpected (and humbling way).

13. How will your character take on a new physical look during the initiation phase? How will their build, clothing, features change? Write the description , including an outline of how it happens. 

14. Create a creature who the hero will approach as a threat. What happens in the face-off? Will the creature remain foe? or become a friend?

15. The character archetype of the shadow (sometimes called the villain) appears during the approach to the inmost cave. The villain is the dark side of the hero. Write a scene where the hero misuses their power and prowess—then see if you can adapt it for the shadow OR use it to help the hero grow. 

16. Write a scene where the hero faces their toughest foe, the scene where they are not sure they can beat evil.

17. Consider how the fight has become even more personal for the hero. Write about what they believe they are fighting for now. Make sure the stakes are high.

Hero's Journey Story Ideas for the Return

Finally, the Return stage shows off how our hero has changed, how the internal transformation has now manifested as an external change as the hero fully embraces their new status and learning.

It includes the final stages of the journey structure: The Road Back , The Resurrection , and the Return with the Elixir . 

18. Write a scene (or a list!) where the hero recounts what they have lost on the journey. 

19. Write a scene where the hero has achieved what they hoped, but somehow it falls short of what they thought it would be to them.

20. Write out the worst thing that could happen on the hero's way back home. How will they face it?

21. Describe (or draw!) a map of the hero's way home. Will they return the same way or go a new direction? What have they learned? 

22. Write a scene where your hero makes a significant sacrifice to defeat evil, preferably on behalf of their community.

23. Write a scene where the hero encounters a setback on their way home, either physical or relational. Make sure they are using their newfound confidence to solve the problem. 

24. Make a list of possible “elixirs” or rewards your hero could bring back from their adventure. Think about what is broken or important to their community and what that physical object will mean to them. Choose one elixir and write the moment the hero presents it. 

25. Write a hero's celebration feast scene. 

Now you try! 

The hero's journey structure can push you as a writer to focus on character development in addition to its opportunities for action and world building. Try one of these prompts today in your writing time and see where it leads!

Choose one of the prompts above. Set your timer for fifteen minutes and write. When finished, post your practice in the Pro Practice Workshop here , and I hope you'll share feedback and encouragement with a few other writers. Help those heroes shine! 

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Sue Weems is a writer, teacher, and traveler with an advanced degree in (mostly fictional) revenge. When she’s not rationalizing her love for parentheses (and dramatic asides), she follows a sailor around the globe with their four children, two dogs, and an impossibly tall stack of books to read. You can read more of her writing tips on her website .

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Best Short Stories for Teaching the Hero’s Journey

the best short stories for teaching heros journey

Looking to shake up your approach to teaching the Hero’s Journey? Whether you’re looking to replace a novel with a range of short stories or to use them as additional texts, this post reveals 8 short stories that will get the job done.

Gearing up to teach the Hero’s Journey? Before you grab your go-to book from the shelf, I urge you to consider an alternative approach—using short stories.

While there are plenty of great novels out there to emphasize the Hero’s Journey, it was always a challenge to choose just one. Did I want to go with a popular classic, like The Odyssey ? Or an engaging modern text, like The Hunger Games ? That very challenge is what first got me thinking—What if my students could dive into multiple examples of the Hero’s Journey? Besides, heroes come in all shapes and sizes, right? So, in an attempt to expose my students to a classic narrative archetype and a variety of texts, I turned to short stories. And, honestly, I haven’t turned back since.

Whether you’re looking for short stories to take center stage or serve as a stepping stone before jumping into a full-length novel, they make the perfect addition to a Hero’s Journey unit. Keep reading to learn the advantages of teaching the Hero’s Journey using short stories and 8 short story titles that are sure to enhance your lessons.

What Is the Hero’s Journey?

Whether this is your first time teaching the Hero’s Journey or you need a quick review, let’s go over the basics. The Hero’s Journey is a narrative framework coined by Joseph Campbell in his book called The Hero With A Thousand Faces , published in 1949. However, the concept and pattern of the journey have been around since the earliest days of storytelling. It outlines the transformative journey of a protagonist who overcomes obstacles, faces inner and outer challenges, and emerges with newfound strength and wisdom. 

While variations certainly exist across different narratives, cultures, and uses, the classic phases of the Hero’s Journey include the following:

  • The Ordinary World: An introduction to the protagonist’s everyday life, relationships, and any challenges or limitations they face are first introduced.
  • The Call to Adventure: The protagonist receives a compelling invitation or challenge that initiates the on the heroic journey.
  • Refusal of the Call: The protagonist resists the call to adventure due to fear, doubt, or a sense of inadequacy.
  • Meeting the Mentor: The protagonist encounters a mentor figure who provides guidance, advice, and assistance needed for the journey.
  • Crossing the Threshold: The protagonist leaves the familiar and ordinary world behind and enters the unknown.
  • Tests, Allies, and Enemies: The protagonist encounters various obstacles,enemies, and allies that test their will, determination and character.
  • Approach to the Inmost Cave: The protagonist prepares for a significant challenge or confrontation, symbolizing their innermost fears, doubts, or weaknesses.
  • Ordeal: The protagonist is pushed to their limits when faced with their greatest challenge, undergoing a transformative experience.
  • Reward: After overcoming the ordeal, the protagonist is rewarded with something, often knowledge, that empowers them to continue their journey.
  • The Road Back: The protagonist begins a journey back to the ordinary world.
  • Resurrection: They face a final challenge, where they must apply everything they have learned and experienced.
  • Return with the Elixir: The protagonist returns and is reunited with the ordinary world, having been transformed by “the elixir”—an object, knowledge, or insight—for the greater good.

Why Teach the Hero’s Journey with Short Stories?

You can apply the Hero’s Journey to a wide variety of literary texts, including myths, fairy tales, novels, short stories, and plays. Heck, you can even track the Hero’s Journey in movies, too. No matter which avenue you use, the Hero’s Journey encourages students to analyze plot structure, character motivation and development, and universal themes.

It gets them shrinking about essential questions like, are heroes born or are they made? What defines a hero? How can an individual change through taking heroic action? What can we learn about ourselves through studying a protagonist’s Hero’s Journey?

While many teachers opt for teaching the Hero’s Journey through a novel, here’s why I love using short stories to do so:

  • Concise Storytelling: Short stories allow students to explore the Hero’s Journey in a concise format. This brevity allows for you to utilize short stories in various ways. Have students explore multiple examples of the Hero’s Journey, comparing and contrasting the variations. Alternatively, you can use a short story as Hero’s Journey review or as an introductory experience before diving into a full-length novel.
  • Engaging Narratives: Given the waning attention spans of today’s students, it can be challenging to keep them engaged and on track with a longer text. On the other hand, short stories captivate students with their fast-paced narratives and intriguing characters. Short stories can make it through a 12-phase Hero’s Journey in a matter of pages. They often pack a punch with their themes and conflicts, giving students plenty to work with.
  • Diverse Perspectives: Heroes come from different places and backgrounds, and possess various strengths and skills. It’s not a one-size-fits-all thing. Therefore, short stories allow you to expose your students to a range of protagonists and the different journeys they take. In fact, students can analyze multiple heroes in the same amount of time it would take to read an entire novel. In turn, you expose students to different voices, perspectives, and cultural experiences, fostering empathy and understanding in addition to highlighting the Hero’s Journey. Talk about two birds with one stone!
  • Accessibility and Differentiation: Short stories are a great way to make literature accessible for students of varying abilities and interests. Teaching the Hero’s Journey through these shorter narratives is a great way to set students up for success by assigning a text based on their reading and comprehension level. And, if you ask me, it’s far easier for teachers to manage various short stories than multiple novels.

8 Short Stories for Teaching the Hero’s Journey

If you’ve made it this far down in the post, I’ve convinced you to at least consider using short stories when teaching the Hero’s Journey. (You won’t regret it.) But, let’s take it one step further, shall we? Instead of starting from the drawing board, here are 8 short stories that are perfect for teaching the Hero’s Journey in secondary ELA.

1. “A Sound of Thunder” by Ray Bradbury

Would it be a great short story list without at least one Bradbury title? “A Sound of Thunder” may not follow every stage of the Hero’s Journey in a traditional sense, but the protagonist, Eckels, certainly experiences his own form of the journey. Bradbury’s story incorporates elements of the hero’s transformation, the challenges faced, and the revelation of the consequences of their actions as Eckles ultimately learns the hard truth that even the smallest actions can have big consequences.

essay hero's journey short story examples

2. “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” by James Thurber

This is another short story that doesn’t completely follow the journey in the most traditional sense. However, students will enjoy tracking protagonist Walter Mitty’s own form of his Hero’s Journey. Walter Mitty’s journey involves vivid daydreams that serve as an escape from his mundane reality. Students can track the stages of the Hero’s Journey as Mr. Mitty sets out on a quest for self-expression, courage, and embracing the extraordinary within.

3. “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

This is not your average Hero’s Journey, making it the perfect challenge text for advanced students. Students can track how the unnamed narrator turns to the titular yellow wallpaper as her supernatural aid, becoming the catalyst for her journey of self-discovery.

the yellow wallpaper escape room

4. “Thank you, Ma’am” by Langston Hughes

Students will appreciate the simple realness of Roger’s Hero’s Journey. What begins as an attempted purse robbery, Roger is faced with a different kind of call to “adventure.” Ironically, the woman he tried to steal from, Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones, serves as his mentor during this journey, ultimately leading him to gain a newfound understanding of the importance of kindness and compassion.

5. “The Most Dangerous Game” by Richard Connell

The story’s protagonist and skilled hunter, Sanger Rainsford, goes on a harrowing Hero’s Journey when he falls off his yacht and winds up stranded on a mysterious island. Suddenly, he finds himself caught in a deadly game of survival. (Dun, dun, dun.) However, by the end of his journey, Rainsford returns to civilization with a newfound perspective and appreciation for life.

6. “Raymond’s Run” by Toni Cade Bambara

Squeaky, the story’s young protagonist, is a talented runner who unexpectedly embarks on her own Hero’s Journey. While she is initially focused on her own ambitions, Squeaky’s perspective shifts as she heads down a path of self-discovery and compassion. By the end of her journey, Squeaky transforms from a self-centered competitor to a caring sister who is able to support her brother.

7. “Marigolds” by by Eugenia Collier

The story’s protagonist, Lizabeth, finds herself on a transformative journey initiated by frustrations with the poverty and hopelessness in her community. By the end, despite the struggles around her, she is able to find moments of beauty and to approach others with kindness and understanding. Ultimately, Lizabeth’s Hero’s Journey is one of learning empathy and self-realization in the face of adversity.

8.  “To Build a Fire” by Jack London Does this story follow the traditional Hero’s Journey? Nope. But that’s what makes it the perfect companion text to a storyline that follows the traditional journey structure and stages. In London’s story, the protagonist, simply known as “the man,” sets out on a journey through the frozen Yukon wilderness. The man’s survival skills and overall resilience are tested again and again as he faces numerous challenges and tests throughout his journey. Rather than ending with a traditional elixir or triumphant return, the man learns the power of nature and the consequences of overestimating one’s abilities. (Yikes!)

There you have it, my teacher friend! If you’re looking to shake up your approach to the Hero’s Journey, short stories may just be what you need. The stories above offer diverse examples of the Hero’s Journey, showcasing different characters, settings, and themes. As a result, your students can explore variations of this classic narrative structure, laying the groundwork for engaging discussions, a cumulative compare and contrast activity, or analytical essay.

Have any other titles to add to the list? Don’t forget to share your favorite short stories for teaching the Hero’s Journey in the comments below!

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Guides • Perfecting your Craft

Last updated on Aug 10, 2023

The Hero's Journey: 12 Steps to a Classic Story Structure

The Hero's Journey is a timeless story structure which follows a protagonist on an unforeseen quest, where they face challenges, gain insights, and return home transformed. From Theseus and the Minotaur to The Lion King , so many narratives follow this pattern that it’s become ingrained into our cultural DNA. 

In this post, we'll show you how to make this classic plot structure work for you — and if you’re pressed for time, download our cheat sheet below for everything you need to know.



Hero's Journey Template

Plot your character's journey with our step-by-step template.

What is the Hero’s Journey?

The Hero's Journey, also known as the monomyth, is a story structure where a hero goes on a quest or adventure to achieve a goal, and has to overcome obstacles and fears, before ultimately returning home transformed.

This narrative arc has been present in various forms across cultures for centuries, if not longer, but gained popularity through Joseph Campbell's mythology book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces . While Campbell identified 17 story beats in his monomyth definition, this post will concentrate on a 12-step framework popularized in 2007 by screenwriter Christopher Vogler in his book The Writer’s Journey .

The 12 Steps of the Hero’s Journey

A circular illustration of the 12 steps of the hero's journey with an adventurous character in the center.

The Hero's Journey is a model for both plot points and character development : as the Hero traverses the world, they'll undergo inner and outer transformation at each stage of the journey. The 12 steps of the hero's journey are: 

  • The Ordinary World. We meet our hero.
  • Call to Adventure. Will they meet the challenge?
  • Refusal of the Call. They resist the adventure.
  • Meeting the Mentor. A teacher arrives.
  • Crossing the First Threshold. The hero leaves their comfort zone.
  • Tests, Allies, Enemies. Making friends and facing roadblocks.
  • Approach to the Inmost Cave. Getting closer to our goal.
  • Ordeal. The hero’s biggest test yet!
  • Reward (Seizing the Sword). Light at the end of the tunnel
  • The Road Back. We aren’t safe yet.
  • Resurrection. The final hurdle is reached.
  • Return with the Elixir. The hero heads home, triumphant.

Believe it or not, this story structure also applies across mediums and genres (and also works when your protagonist is an anti-hero! ). Let's dive into it.

1. Ordinary World

In which we meet our Hero.

The journey has yet to start. Before our Hero discovers a strange new world, we must first understand the status quo: their ordinary, mundane reality.

It’s up to this opening leg to set the stage, introducing the Hero to readers. Importantly, it lets readers identify with the Hero as a “normal” person in a “normal” setting, before the journey begins.

2. Call to Adventure

In which an adventure starts.

The call to adventure is all about booting the Hero out of their comfort zone. In this stage, they are generally confronted with a problem or challenge they can't ignore. This catalyst can take many forms, as Campbell points out in Hero with a Thousand Faces . The Hero can, for instance:

  • Decide to go forth of their own volition;
  • Theseus upon arriving in Athens.
  • Be sent abroad by a benign or malignant agent;
  • Odysseus setting off on his ship in The Odyssey .
  • Stumble upon the adventure as a result of a mere blunder;
  • Dorothy when she’s swept up in a tornado in The Wizard of Oz .
  • Be casually strolling when some passing phenomenon catches the wandering eye and lures one away from the frequented paths of man.
  • Elliot in E.T. upon discovering a lost alien in the tool shed.

The stakes of the adventure and the Hero's goals become clear. The only question: will he rise to the challenge?

Neo in the Matrix answering the phone

3. Refusal of the Call

In which the Hero digs in their feet.

Great, so the Hero’s received their summons. Now they’re all set to be whisked off to defeat evil, right?

Not so fast. The Hero might first refuse the call to action. It’s risky and there are perils — like spiders, trolls, or perhaps a creepy uncle waiting back at Pride Rock . It’s enough to give anyone pause.

In Star Wars , for instance, Luke Skywalker initially refuses to join Obi-Wan on his mission to rescue the princess. It’s only when he discovers that his aunt and uncle have been killed by stormtroopers that he changes his mind.

4. Meeting the Mentor

In which the Hero acquires a personal trainer.

The Hero's decided to go on the adventure — but they’re not ready to spread their wings yet. They're much too inexperienced at this point and we don't want them to do a fabulous belly-flop off the cliff.

Enter the mentor: someone who helps the Hero, so that they don't make a total fool of themselves (or get themselves killed). The mentor provides practical training, profound wisdom, a kick up the posterior, or something abstract like grit and self-confidence.

Harry holding the Marauder's Map with the twins

Wise old wizards seem to like being mentors. But mentors take many forms, from witches to hermits and suburban karate instructors. They might literally give weapons to prepare for the trials ahead, like Q in the James Bond series. Or perhaps the mentor is an object, such as a map. In all cases, they prepare the Hero for the next step.



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5. Crossing the First Threshold

In which the Hero enters the other world in earnest.

Now the Hero is ready — and committed — to the journey. This marks the end of the Departure stage and is when the adventure really kicks into the next gear. As Vogler writes: “This is the moment that the balloon goes up, the ship sails, the romance begins, the wagon gets rolling.”

From this point on, there’s no turning back.

Like our Hero, you should think of this stage as a checkpoint for your story. Pause and re-assess your bearings before you continue into unfamiliar territory. Have you:

  • Launched the central conflict? If not, here’s a post on types of conflict to help you out.
  • Established the theme of your book? If not, check out this post that’s all about creating theme and motifs .
  • Made headway into your character development? If not, this character profile template may be useful:


Reedsy’s Character Profile Template

A story is only as strong as its characters. Fill this out to develop yours.

6. Tests, Allies, Enemies

In which the Hero faces new challenges and gets a squad.

When we step into the Special World, we notice a definite shift. The Hero might be discombobulated by this unfamiliar reality and its new rules. This is generally one of the longest stages in the story , as our protagonist gets to grips with this new world.

This makes a prime hunting ground for the series of tests to pass! Luckily, there are many ways for the Hero to get into trouble:

  • In Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle , Spencer, Bethany, “Fridge,” and Martha get off to a bad start when they bump into a herd of bloodthirsty hippos.
  • In his first few months at Hogwarts, Harry Potter manages to fight a troll, almost fall from a broomstick and die, and get horribly lost in the Forbidden Forest.
  • Marlin and Dory encounter three “reformed” sharks, get shocked by jellyfish, and are swallowed by a blue whale en route to finding Nemo.

The shark scares Marlin and Dory in Finding Nemo

This stage often expands the cast of characters. Once the protagonist is in the Special World, he will meet allies and enemies — or foes that turn out to be friends and vice versa. He will learn a new set of rules from them. Saloons and seedy bars are popular places for these transactions, as Vogler points out (so long as the Hero survives them).

7. Approach to the Inmost Cave

In which the Hero gets closer to his goal.

This isn’t a physical cave. Instead, the “inmost cave” refers to the most dangerous spot in the other realm — whether that’s the villain’s chambers, the lair of the fearsome dragon, or the Death Star. Almost always, it is where the ultimate goal of the quest is located.

Note that the protagonist hasn’t entered the Inmost Cave just yet. This stage is all about the approach to it. It covers all the prep work that's needed in order to defeat the villain.

In which the Hero faces his biggest test of all thus far.

Of all the tests the Hero has faced, none have made them hit rock bottom — until now. Vogler describes this phase as a “black moment.” Campbell refers to it as the “belly of the whale.” Both indicate some grim news for the Hero.

The protagonist must now confront their greatest fear. If they survive it, they will emerge transformed. This is a critical moment in the story, as Vogler explains that it will “inform every decision that the Hero makes from this point forward.”

The Ordeal is sometimes not the climax of the story. There’s more to come. But you can think of it as the main event of the second act — the one in which the Hero actually earns the title of “Hero.”

9. Reward (Seizing the Sword)

In which the Hero sees light at the end of the tunnel.

Our Hero’s been through a lot. However, the fruits of their labor are now at hand — if they can just reach out and grab them! The “reward” is the object or knowledge the Hero has fought throughout the entire journey to hold.

Once the protagonist has it in their possession, it generally has greater ramifications for the story. Vogler offers a few examples of it in action:

  • Luke rescues Princess Leia and captures the plans of the Death Star — keys to defeating Darth Vader.
  • Dorothy escapes from the Wicked Witch’s castle with the broomstick and the ruby slippers — keys to getting back home.

Luke Sjywalker saves Princess Leila

10. The Road Back

In which the light at the end of the tunnel might be a little further than the Hero thought.

The story's not over just yet, as this phase marks the beginning of Act Three. Now that he's seized the reward, the Hero tries to return to the Ordinary World, but more dangers (inconveniently) arise on the road back from the Inmost Cave.

More precisely, the Hero must deal with the consequences and aftermath of the previous act: the dragon, enraged by the Hero who’s just stolen a treasure from under his nose, starts the hunt. Or perhaps the opposing army gathers to pursue the Hero across a crowded battlefield. All further obstacles for the Hero, who must face them down before they can return home.

11. Resurrection

In which the last test is met.

Here is the true climax of the story. Everything that happened prior to this stage culminates in a crowning test for the Hero, as the Dark Side gets one last chance to triumph over the Hero.

Vogler refers to this as a “final exam” for the Hero — they must be “tested once more to see if they have really learned the lessons of the Ordeal.” It’s in this Final Battle that the protagonist goes through one more “resurrection.” As a result, this is where you’ll get most of your miraculous near-death escapes, à la James Bond's dashing deliverances. If the Hero survives, they can start looking forward to a sweet ending.

12. Return with the Elixir

In which our Hero has a triumphant homecoming.

Finally, the Hero gets to return home. However, they go back a different person than when they started out: they’ve grown and matured as a result of the journey they’ve taken.

But we’ve got to see them bring home the bacon, right? That’s why the protagonist must return with the “Elixir,” or the prize won during the journey, whether that’s an object or knowledge and insight gained.

Of course, it’s possible for a story to end on an Elixir-less note — but then the Hero would be doomed to repeat the entire adventure.

Examples of The Hero’s Journey in Action

To better understand this story template beyond the typical sword-and-sorcery genre, let's analyze three examples, from both screenplay and literature, and examine how they implement each of the twelve steps. 

The 1976 film Rocky is acclaimed as one of the most iconic sports films because of Stallone’s performance and the heroic journey his character embarks on.

Sylvester Stallone as Rocky

  • Ordinary World. Rocky Balboa is a mediocre boxer and loan collector — just doing his best to live day-to-day in a poor part of Philadelphia.
  • Call to Adventure. Heavyweight champ Apollo Creed decides to make a big fight interesting by giving a no-name loser a chance to challenge him. That loser: Rocky Balboa.
  • Refusal of the Call. Rocky says, “Thanks, but no thanks,” given that he has no trainer and is incredibly out of shape.
  • Meeting the Mentor. In steps former boxer Mickey “Mighty Mick” Goldmill, who sees potential in Rocky and starts training him physically and mentally for the fight.
  • Crossing the First Threshold. Rocky crosses the threshold of no return when he accepts the fight on live TV, and 一 in parallel 一 when he crosses the threshold into his love interest Adrian’s house and asks her out on a date.
  • Tests, Allies, Enemies. Rocky continues to try and win Adrian over and maintains a dubious friendship with her brother, Paulie, who provides him with raw meat to train with.
  • Approach to the Inmost Cave. The Inmost Cave in Rocky is Rocky’s own mind. He fears that he’ll never amount to anything — something that he reveals when he butts heads with his trainer, Mickey, in his apartment.
  • Ordeal. The start of the training montage marks the beginning of Rocky’s Ordeal. He pushes through it until he glimpses hope ahead while running up the museum steps.
  • Reward (Seizing the Sword). Rocky's reward is the restoration of his self-belief, as he recognizes he can try to “go the distance” with Apollo Creed and prove he's more than "just another bum from the neighborhood."
  • The Road Back. On New Year's Day, the fight takes place. Rocky capitalizes on Creed's overconfidence to start strong, yet Apollo makes a comeback, resulting in a balanced match.
  • Resurrection. The fight inflicts multiple injuries and pushes both men to the brink of exhaustion, with Rocky being knocked down numerous times. But he consistently rises to his feet, enduring through 15 grueling rounds.
  • Return with the Elixir. Rocky loses the fight — but it doesn’t matter. He’s won back his confidence and he’s got Adrian, who tells him that she loves him.

Moving outside of the ring, let’s see how this story structure holds on a completely different planet and with a character in complete isolation. 

The Martian 

In Andy Weir’s self-published bestseller (better known for its big screen adaptation) we follow astronaut Mark Watney as he endures the challenges of surviving on Mars and working out a way to get back home.

Matt Demon walking

  • The Ordinary World. Botanist Mark and other astronauts are on a mission on Mars to study the planet and gather samples. They live harmoniously in a structure known as "the Hab.”
  • Call to Adventure. The mission is scrapped due to a violent dust storm. As they rush to launch, Mark is flung out of sight and the team believes him to be dead. He is, however, very much alive — stranded on Mars with no way of communicating with anyone back home.
  • Refusal of the Call. With limited supplies and grim odds of survival, Mark concludes that he will likely perish on the desolate planet.
  • Meeting the Mentor. Thanks to his resourcefulness and scientific knowledge he starts to figure out how to survive until the next Mars mission arrives.
  • Crossing the First Threshold. Mark crosses the mental threshold of even trying to survive 一 he successfully creates a greenhouse to cultivate a potato crop, creating a food supply that will last long enough.
  • Tests, Allies, Enemies. Loneliness and other difficulties test his spirit, pushing him to establish contact with Earth and the people at NASA, who devise a plan to help.  
  • Approach to the Inmost Cave. Mark faces starvation once again after an explosion destroys his potato crop.
  • Ordeal. A NASA rocket destined to deliver supplies to Mark disintegrates after liftoff and all hope seems lost.
  • Reward (Seizing the Sword). Mark’s efforts to survive are rewarded with a new possibility to leave the planet. His team 一 now aware that he’s alive 一 defies orders from NASA and heads back to Mars to rescue their comrade.
  • The Road Back. Executing the new plan is immensely difficult 一 Mark has to travel far to locate the spaceship for his escape, and almost dies along the way.
  • Resurrection. Mark is unable to get close enough to his teammates' ship but finds a way to propel himself in empty space towards them, and gets aboard safely.
  • Return with the Elixir. Now a survival instructor for aspiring astronauts, Mark teaches students that space is indifferent and that survival hinges on solving one problem after another, as well as the importance of other people’s help.

Coming back to Earth, let’s now examine a heroine’s journey through the wilderness of the Pacific Crest Trail and her… humanity. 

The memoir Wild narrates the three-month-long hiking adventure of Cheryl Strayed across the Pacific coast, as she grapples with her turbulent past and rediscovers her inner strength.

Reese Witherspoon hiking the PCT

  • The Ordinary World. Cheryl shares her strong bond with her mother who was her strength during a tough childhood with an abusive father.
  • Call to Adventure. As her mother succumbs to lung cancer, Cheryl faces the heart-wrenching reality to confront life's challenges on her own.
  • Refusal of the Call. Cheryl spirals down into a destructive path of substance abuse and infidelity, which leads to hit rock bottom with a divorce and unwanted pregnancy. 
  • Meeting the Mentor. Her best friend Lisa supports her during her darkest time. One day she notices the Pacific Trail guidebook, which gives her hope to find her way back to her inner strength.
  • Crossing the First Threshold. She quits her job, sells her belongings, and visits her mother’s grave before traveling to Mojave, where the trek begins.
  • Tests, Allies, Enemies. Cheryl is tested by her heavy bag, blisters, rattlesnakes, and exhaustion, but many strangers help her along the trail with a warm meal or hiking tips. 
  • Approach to the Inmost Cave. As Cheryl goes through particularly tough and snowy parts of the trail her emotional baggage starts to catch up with her.  
  • Ordeal. She inadvertently drops one of her shoes off a cliff, and the incident unearths the helplessness she's been evading since her mother's passing.
  • Reward (Seizing the Sword). Cheryl soldiers on, trekking an impressive 50 miles in duct-taped sandals before finally securing a new pair of shoes. This small victory amplifies her self-confidence.
  • The Road Back. On the last stretch, she battles thirst, sketchy hunters, and a storm, but more importantly, she revisits her most poignant and painful memories.
  • Resurrection. Cheryl forgives herself for damaging her marriage and her sense of worth, owning up to her mistakes. A pivotal moment happens at Crater Lake, where she lets go of her frustration at her mother for passing away.
  • Return with the Elixir. Cheryl reaches the Bridge of the Gods and completes the trail. She has found her inner strength and determination for life's next steps.

There are countless other stories that could align with this template, but it's not always the perfect fit. So, let's look into when authors should consider it or not.

When should writers use The Hero’s Journey?

3jQDdq8HREc Video Thumb

The Hero’s Journey is just one way to outline a novel and dissect a plot. For more longstanding theories on the topic, you can go this way to read about the ever-popular Three-Act Structure or here to discover Dan Harmon's Story Circle and three more prevalent structures .

So when is it best to use the Hero’s Journey? There are a couple of circumstances which might make this a good choice.

When you need more specific story guidance than simple structures can offer

Simply put, the Hero’s Journey structure is far more detailed and closely defined than other story structure theories. If you want a fairly specific framework for your work than a thee-act structure, the Hero’s Journey can be a great place to start.

Of course, rules are made to be broken . There’s plenty of room to play within the confines of the Hero’s Journey, despite it appearing fairly prescriptive at first glance. Do you want to experiment with an abbreviated “Resurrection” stage, as J.K. Rowling did in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone? Are you more interested in exploring the journey of an anti-hero? It’s all possible.

Once you understand the basics of this universal story structure, you can use and bend it in ways that disrupt reader expectations.

Need more help developing your book? Try this template on for size:


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When your focus is on a single protagonist

No matter how sprawling or epic the world you’re writing is, if your story is, at its core, focused on a single character’s journey, then this is a good story structure for you. It’s kind of in the name! If you’re dealing with an entire ensemble, the Hero’s Journey may not give you the scope to explore all of your characters’ plots and subplot — a broader three-act structure may give you more freedom to weave a greater number story threads. ​​

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Whether you're a reader or writer, we hope our guide has helped you understand this universal story arc. Want to know more about story structure? We explain 6 more in our guide — read on!

6 responses

PJ Reece says:

25/07/2018 – 19:41

Nice vid, good intro to story structure. Typically, though, the 'hero's journey' misses the all-important point of the Act II crisis. There, where the hero faces his/her/its existential crisis, they must DIE. The old character is largely destroyed -- which is the absolute pre-condition to 'waking up' to what must be done. It's not more clever thinking; it's not thinking at all. Its SEEING. So many writing texts miss this point. It's tantamount to a religions experience, and nobody grows up without it. STORY STRUCTURE TO DIE FOR examines this dramatic necessity.

↪️ C.T. Cheek replied:

13/11/2019 – 21:01

Okay, but wouldn't the Act II crisis find itself in the Ordeal? The Hero is tested and arguably looses his/her/its past-self for the new one. Typically, the Hero is not fully "reborn" until the Resurrection, in which they defeat the hypothetical dragon and overcome the conflict of the story. It's kind of this process of rebirth beginning in the earlier sections of the Hero's Journey and ending in the Resurrection and affirmed in the Return with the Elixir.

Lexi Mize says:

25/07/2018 – 22:33

Great article. Odd how one can take nearly every story and somewhat plug it into such a pattern.

Bailey Koch says:

11/06/2019 – 02:16

This was totally lit fam!!!!

↪️ Bailey Koch replied:

11/09/2019 – 03:46

where is my dad?

Frank says:

12/04/2020 – 12:40

Great article, thanks! :) But Vogler didn't expand Campbell's theory. Campbell had seventeen stages, not twelve.

Comments are currently closed.

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The Hero’s Journey Ultimate Writing Guide with Examples

essay hero's journey short story examples

by Alex Cabal

What do Star Wars , The Hobbit , and Harry Potter have in common? They’re all examples of a story archetype as old as time. You’ll see this universal narrative structure in books, films, and even video games.

This ultimate Hero’s Journey writing guide will define and explore all quintessential elements of the Hero’s Journey—character archetypes, themes, symbolism, the three act structure, as well as 12 stages of the Hero’s Journey. We’ll even provide a downloadable plot template, tips for writing the Hero’s Journey, and writing prompts to get the creative juices flowing.

What is the Hero’s Journey?

The Hero’s Journey is a universal story structure that follows the personal metamorphosis and psychological development of a protagonist on a heroic adventure. The protagonist goes through a series of stages to overcome adversity and complete a quest to attain an ultimate reward—whether that’s something tangible, like the holy grail, or something internal, like self confidence.

In the process of self-discovery, the archetypal Hero’s Journey is typically cyclical; it begins and ends in the same place (Think Frodo leaving and then returning to the Shire). After the epic quest or adventure has been completed by overcoming adversity and conflict—both physical and mental—the hero arrives where they once began, changed in some as they rose to meet the ultimate conflict or ordeal of the quest.

Joseph Campbell and Christopher Vogler

The Hero’s Journey has a long history of conversation around the form and its uses, with notable contributors including Joseph Campbell and the screenwriter Christopher Vogler , who later revised the steps of the Hero’s Journey.

Joseph Campbell’s “monomyth” framework is the traditional story structure of the Hero’s Journey archetype. Campbell developed it through analysis of ancient myths, folktales, and religious stories. It generally follows three acts in a cyclical, rather than a linear, way: a hero embarks on a journey, faces a crisis, and then returns home transformed and victorious.

Campbell’s ideation of the monomyth in his book The Hero With a Thousand Faces was influenced by Carl Jung’s perspective of psychology and models of self-transformation , where the Hero’s Journey is a path of transformation to a higher self, psychological healing, and spiritual growth.

While Campbell’s original take on the monomyth included 17 steps within the three acts, Christopher Vogler, in his book The Writer’s Journey , refined those 17 steps into 12 stages—the common formula for the modern structure many writers use today.

It’s also worth checking out Maureen Murdock’s work on the archetype, “The Heroine’s Journey.” This takes a look at the female Hero’s Journey, which examines the traditionally masculine journey through a feminist lens.

Hero’s Journey diagram: acts, steps, and stages

Below, you can see the way Volger’s Hero’s Journey is broken into twelve story beats across three acts.

A diagram representing the Hero’s Journey. The 12 steps of the journey surround a circle, which goes in a direction from act 1 to the final act.

Why is the Hero’s Journey so popular?

The structure of the Hero’s Journey appears in many of our most beloved classic stories, and it continues to resonate over time because it explores the concept of personal transformation and growth through both physical and mental trials and tribulations. In some sense, every individual in this mythic structure experiences rites of passage, the search for home and the true authentic self, which is mirrored in a protagonist’s journey of overcoming obstacles while seeking to fulfill a goal.

Additionally, the Hero’s Journey typically includes commonly shared symbols and aspects of the human psyche—the trickster, the mother, the child, etc. These archetypes play a role in creating a story that the reader can recognize from similar dynamics in their own relationships, experiences, and familiar world. Archetypes allow the writer to use these “metaphorical truths”—a playful deceiver, a maternal bond, a person of innocence and purity—to deeply and empathetically connect with the reader through symbolism. That’s why they continue to appear in countless stories all around the world.

Hero’s Journey character archetypes

Character archetypes are literary devices based on a set of qualities that are easy for a reader to identify, empathize with, and understand, as these qualities and traits are common to the human experience.

It should be noted that character archetypes are not stereotypes . While stereotypes are oversimplifications of demographics or personality traits, an archetype is a symbol of a universal type of character that can be recognized either in one’s self or in others in real life.

The following archetypes are commonly used in a Hero’s Journey:

The hero is typically the protagonist or principal point-of-view character within a story. The hero transforms—internally, externally, often both—while on their journey as they experience tests and trials and are aided or hindered by the other archetypes they encounter. In general, the hero must rise to the challenge and at some point make an act of sacrifice for the ultimate greater good. In this way, the Hero’s Journey represents the reader’s own everyday battles and their power to overcome them.

Heroes may be willing or unwilling. Some can be downright unheroic to begin with. Antiheroes are notably flawed characters that must grow significantly before they achieve the status of true hero.

The mentor often possesses divine wisdom or direct experience with the special world, and has faith in the hero. They often give the hero a gift or supernatural aid, which is usually something important for the quest: either a weapon to destroy a monster, or a talisman to enlighten the hero. The mentor may also directly aid the hero or present challenges to them that force internal or external growth. After their meeting, the hero leaves stronger and better prepared for the road ahead.

The herald is the “call to adventure.” They announce the coming of significant change and become the reason the hero ventures out onto a mysterious adventure. The herald is a catalyst that enters the story and makes it impossible for the hero to remain in status quo. Existing in the form of a person or an event, or sometimes just as information, they shift the hero’s balance and change their world.

The Threshold Guardian

This archetype guards the first threshold—the major turning point of the story where the hero must make the true commitment of the journey and embark on their quest to achieve their destiny. Threshold guardians spice up the story by providing obstacles the hero must overcome, but they’re usually not the main antagonist.

The role of the threshold guardian is to help round out the hero along their journey. The threshold guardian will test the hero’s determination and commitment and will drive them forward as the hero enters the next stage of their journey, assisting the development of the hero’s character arc within the plot. The threshold guardian can be a friend who doesn’t believe in the hero’s quest, or a foe that makes the hero question themselves, their desires, or motives in an attempt to deter the hero from their journey. Ultimately, the role of the threshold guardian is to test the hero’s resolve on their quest.

The Shape Shifter

The shape shifter adds dramatic tension to the story and provides the hero with a puzzle to solve. They can seem to be one thing, but in fact be something else. They bring doubt and suspense to the story and test the hero’s ability to discern their path. The shape shifter may be a lover, friend, ally, or enemy that somehow reveals their true self from the hero’s preconceived notion. This often causes the hero internal turmoil, or creates additional challenges and tests to overcome.

The shadow is the “monster under the bed,” and could be repressed feelings, deep trauma, or festering guilt. These all possess the dark energy of the shadow. It is the dark force of the unexpressed, unrealized, rejected, feared aspects of the hero and is often, but not necessarily, represented by the main antagonist or villain.

However, other characters may take the form of the shadow at different stages of the story as “foil characters” that contrast against the hero. They might also represent what could happen if the hero fails to learn, transform, and grow to complete their quest. At times, a hero may even succumb to the shadow, from which they will need to make sacrifices to be redeemed to continue on their overall quest.

The Trickster

The trickster is the jester or fool of the story that not only provides comic relief, but may also act as a commentator as the events of the plot unfold. Tricksters are typically witty, clever, spontaneous, and sometimes even ridiculous. The trickster within a story can bring a light-hearted element to a challenge, or find a clever way to overcome an obstacle.

The Hero’s Journey can be found all across comparative mythology

Hero’s Journey themes and symbols

Alongside character archetypes, there are also archetypes for settings, situations, and symbolic items that can offer meaning to the world within the story or support your story’s theme.

Archetypes of themes, symbols, and situations represent shared patterns of human existence. This familiarity can provide the reader insight into the deeper meaning of a story without the writer needing to explicitly tell them. There are a great number of archetypes and symbols that can be used to reinforce a theme. Some that are common to the Hero’s Journey include:

Situational archetypes

Light vs. dark and the battle of good vs. evil

Death, rebirth, and transformation in the cycle of life

Nature vs. technology, and the evolution of humanity

Rags to riches or vice versa, as commentary on the material world and social status

Wisdom vs. knowledge and innocence vs. experience, in the understanding of intuition and learned experience

Setting archetypes

Gardens may represent the taming of nature, or living in harmony with nature.

Forests may represent reconnection with nature or wildness, or the fear of the unknown.

Cities or small towns may represent humanity at its best and at its worst. A small town may offer comfort and rest, while simultaneously offering judgment; a city may represent danger while simultaneously championing diversity of ideas, beings, and cultures.

Water and fire within a landscape may represent danger, change, purification, and cleansing.

Symbolic items

Items of the past self. These items are generally tokens from home that remind the hero of where they came from and who or what they’re fighting for.

Gifts to the hero. These items may be given to the hero from a mentor, ally, or even a minor character they meet along the way. These items are typically hero talismans, and may or may not be magical, but will aid the hero on their journey.

Found items. These items are typically found along the journey and represent some sort of growth or change within the hero. After all, the hero would never have found the item had they not left their everyday life behind. These items may immediately seem unimportant, but often carry great significance.

Earned rewards. These items are generally earned by overcoming a test or trial, and often represent growth, or give aid in future trials, tests, and conflicts.

The three act structure of the Hero’s Journey

The structure of the Hero’s Journey, including all 12 steps, can be grouped into three stages that encompass each phase of the journey. These acts follow the the external and internal arc of the hero—the beginning, the initiation and transformation, and the return home.

Act One: Departure (Steps 1—5)

The first act introduces the hero within the ordinary world, as they are—original and untransformed. The first act will typically include the first five steps of the Hero’s Journey.

This section allows the writer to set the stage with details that show who the hero is before their metamorphosis—what is the environment of the ordinary world? What’s important to the hero? Why do they first refuse the call, and then, why do they ultimately accept and embark on the journey to meet with the conflict?

This stage introduces the first major plot point of the story, explores the conflict the hero confronts, and provides the opportunity for characterization for the hero and their companions.

The end of the first act generally occurs when the hero has fully committed to the journey and crossed the threshold of the ordinary world—where there is no turning back.

Act Two: Initiation (Steps 6—9)

Once the hero begins their journey, the second act marks the beginning of their true initiation into the unfamiliar world—they have crossed the threshold, and through this choice, have undergone their first transformation.

The second act is generally the longest of the three and includes steps six through nine.

In this act, the hero meets most of the characters that will be pivotal to the plot, including friends, enemies, and allies. It offers the rising action and other minor plot points related to the overarching conflict. The hero will overcome various trials, grow and transform, and navigate subplots—the additional and unforeseen complexity of the conflict.

This act generally ends when the hero has risen to the challenge to overcome the ordeal and receives their reward. At the end of this act, it’s common for the theme and moral of the story to be fully unveiled.

Act Three: Return (Steps 10—12)

The final stage typically includes steps 10—12, generally beginning with the road back—the point in the story where the hero must recommit to the journey and use all of the growth, transformation, gifts and tools acquired along the journey to bring a decisive victory against their final conflict.

From this event, the hero will also be “reborn,” either literally or metaphorically, and then beginning anew as a self-actualized being, equipped with internal knowledge about themselves, external knowledge about the world, and experience.

At the end of the third act, the hero returns home to the ordinary world, bringing back the gifts they earned on their journey. In the final passages, both the hero and their perception of the ordinary world are compared with what they once were.

The 12 steps of the Hero’s Journey

The following guide outlines the 12 steps of the Hero’s Journey and represents a framework for the creation of a Hero’s Journey story template. You don’t necessarily need to follow the explicit cadence of these steps in your own writing, but they should act as checkpoints to the overall story.

We’ll also use JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit as a literary example for each of these steps. The Hobbit does an exemplary job of following the Hero’s Journey, and it’s also an example of how checkpoints can exist in more than one place in a story, or how they may deviate from the typical 12-step process of the Hero’s Journey.

Step One: “The Ordinary World”

1. The Ordinary World

This stage in the Hero’s Journey is all about exposition. This introduces the hero’s backstory—who the hero is, where they come from, their worldview, culture, and so on. This offers the reader a chance to relate to the character in their untransformed form.

As the story and character arc develop, the reader is brought along the journey of transformation. By starting at the beginning, a reader has a basic understanding of what drives the hero, so they can understand why the hero makes the choices they do. The ordinary world shows the protagonist in their comfort zone, with their worldview being limited to the perspective of their everyday life.

Characters in the ordinary world may or may not be fully comfortable or satisfied, but they don’t have a point of reference to compare—they have yet to leave the ordinary world to gain the knowledge to do so.

Step One example

The Hobbit begins by introducing Bilbo in the Shire as a respectable and well-to-do member of the community. His ordinary world is utopian and comfortable. Yet, even within a village that is largely uninterested in the concerns of the world outside, the reader is provided a backstory: even though Bilbo buys into the comforts and normalcy of the Shire, he still yearns for adventure—something his neighbors frown upon. This ordinary world of the Shire is disrupted with the introduction of Gandalf—the “mentor”—who is somewhat uncomfortably invited to tea.

2. Call to Adventure

The call to adventure in the Hero’s Journey structure is the initial internal conflict that the protagonist hero faces, that drives them to the true conflict that they must overcome by the end of their journey.

The call occurs within the known world of the character. Here the writer can build on the characterization of the protagonist by detailing how they respond to the initial call. Are they hesitant, eager, excited, refusing, or willing to take a risk?

Step Two example

Bilbo’s call to adventure takes place at tea as the dwarves leisurely enter his home, followed by Gandalf, who identifies Bilbo as the group’s missing element—the burglar, and the lucky 14th member.

Bilbo and his ordinary world are emphasized by his discomfort with his rambunctious and careless guests. Yet as the dwarves sing stories of old adventures, caverns, and lineages, which introduce and foreshadow the conflict to come, a yearning for adventure is stirred. Though he still clings to his ordinary world and his life in the Shire, he’s conflicted. Should he leave the shire and experience the world, or stay in his comfortable home? Bilbo continues to refuse the call, but with mixed feelings.

Step Three: “Refusal of the Call”

3. Refusal of the Call

The refusal of the call in the Hero’s Journey showcases a “clinging” to one’s original self or world view. The initial refusal of the call represents a fear of change, as well as a resistance to the internal transformation that will occur after the adventure has begun.

The refusal reveals the risks that the protagonist faces if they were to answer the call, and shows what they’ll leave behind in the ordinary world once they accept.

The refusal of the call creates tension in the story, and should show the personal reasons why the hero is refusing—inner conflict, fear of change, hesitation, insecurity, etc. This helps make their character clearer for the reader.

These are all emotions a reader can relate to, and in presenting them through the hero, the writer deepens the reader’s relationship with them and helps the reader sympathize with the hero’s internal plight as they take the first step of transformation.

Step Three example

Bilbo refuses the call in his first encounter with Gandalf, and in his reaction to the dwarves during tea. Even though Bilbo’s “Tookish” tendencies make him yearn for adventure, he goes to bed that night still refusing the call. The next morning, as Bilbo awakes to an empty and almost fully clean hobbit home, he feels a slight disappointment for not joining the party, but quickly soothes his concerns by enjoying the comfort of his home—i.e. the ordinary world. Bilbo explores his hesitation to disembark from the ordinary world, questioning why a hobbit would become mixed up in the adventures of others, and choosing not to meet the dwarves at the designated location.

4. Meeting the Mentor

Meeting the mentor in the Hero’s Journey is the stage that provides the hero protagonist with a guide, relationship, and/or informational asset that has experience outside the ordinary world. The mentor offers confidence, advice, wisdom, training, insight, tools, items, or gifts of supernatural wonder that the hero will use along the journey and in overcoming the ultimate conflict.

The mentor often represents someone who has attempted to overcome, or actually has overcome, an obstacle, and encourages the hero to pursue their calling, regardless of the hero’s weaknesses or insecurities. The mentor may also explicitly point out the hero’s weaknesses, forcing them to reckon with and accept them, which is the first step to their personal transformation.

Note that not all mentors need to be a character . They can also be objects or knowledge that has been instilled in the hero somehow—cultural ethics, spiritual guidance, training of a particular skill, a map, book, diary, or object that illuminates the path forward, etc. In essence, the mentor character or object has a role in offering the protagonist outside help and guidance along the Hero’s Journey, and plays a key role in the protagonist’s transition from normalcy to heroism.

The mentor figure also offers the writer the opportunity to incorporate new information by expanding upon the story, plot, or backstory in unique ways. They do this by giving the hero information that would otherwise be difficult for the writer to convey naturally.

The mentor may accompany the hero throughout most of the story, or they may only periodically be included to facilitate changes and transformation within them.

Step Four example

The mentor, Gandalf, is introduced almost immediately. Gandalf is shown to be the mentor, firstly through his arrival from—and wisdom of—the outside world; and secondly, through his selection of Bilbo for the dwarven party by identifying the unique characteristics Bilbo has that are essential to overcoming the challenges in the journey. Gandalf doesn’t accompany Bilbo and the company through all of the trials and tribulations of the plot, but he does play a key role in offering guidance and assistance, and saves the group in times of dire peril.

Step Five: “Crossing the Threshold”

5. Crossing the Threshold

As the hero crosses the first threshold, they begin their personal quest toward self-transformation. Crossing the threshold means that the character has committed to the journey, and has stepped outside of the ordinary world in the pursuit of their goal. This typically marks the conclusion of the first act.

The threshold lies between the ordinary world and the special world, and marks the point of the story where the hero fully commits to the road ahead. It’s a crucial stage in the Hero’s Journey, as the hero wouldn’t be able to grow and transform by staying in the ordinary world where they’re comfortable and their world view can’t change.

The threshold isn’t necessarily a specific place within the world of the story, though a place can symbolize the threshold—for example a border, gateway, or crossroads that separate what is safe and “known” from what is potentially dangerous. It can also be a moment or experience that causes the hero to recognize that the comforts and routine of their world no longer apply—like the loss of someone or something close to the hero, for example. The purpose of the threshold is to take the hero out of their element and force them, and the reader, to adapt from the known to the unknown.

This moment is crucial to the story’s tension. It marks the first true shift in the character arc and the moment the adventure has truly begun. The threshold commonly forces the hero into a situation where there’s no turning back. This is sometimes called the initiation stage or the departure stage.

Step Five example

The threshold moment in The Hobbit occurs when the party experiences true danger as a group for the first time. Bilbo, voted as scout by the party and eager to prove his burglar abilities, sneaks upon a lone fire in the forest where he finds three large trolls. Rather than turn back empty-handed—as he initially wants to—Bilbo chooses to prove himself, plucking up the courage to pickpocket the trolls—but is caught in the process. The dwarves are also captured and fortunately, Gandalf, the mentor, comes to save the party.

Bilbo’s character arc is solidified in this threshold moment. He experiences his first transformation when he casts aside fear and seeks to prove himself as a burglar, and as an official member of the party. This moment also provides further characterization of the party as a whole, proving the loyalty of the group in seeking out their captured member.

Gandalf’s position as the mentor is also firmly established as he returns to ultimately save all of the members of the party from being eaten by trolls. The chapter ends with Bilbo taking ownership of his first hero talisman—the sword that will accompany him through the rest of the adventure.

6. Tests, Allies, Enemies

Once the hero has crossed the threshold, they must now encounter tests of courage, make allies, and inevitably confront enemies. All these elements force the hero to learn the new ways of the special world and how it differs from the hero’s ordinary world—i.e. how the rules have changed, the conditions of the special world vs. the ordinary world, and the various beings and places within it.

All these elements spark stages of transformation within the hero—learning who they can trust and who they can’t, learning new skills, seeking training from the mentor, and overcoming challenges that force and drive them to grow and transform.

The hero may both succeed and fail at various points of this stage, which will test their commitment to the journey. The writer can create tension by making it clear that the hero may or may not succeed at the critical moment of crisis. These crises can be external or internal.

External conflicts are issues that the character must face and overcome within the plot—e.g. the enemy has a sword drawn and the hero must fight to survive.

Internal conflicts occur inside the hero. For example, the hero has reached safety, but their ally is in peril; will they step outside their comfort zone and rise to the occasion and save their friend? Or will they return home to their old life and the safety of the ordinary world?

Tests are conflicts and threats that the hero must face before they reach the true conflict, or ordeal, of the story. These tests set the stage and prime the hero to meet and achieve the ultimate goal. They provide the writer the opportunity to further the character development of the hero through their actions, inactions, and reactions to what they encounter. The various challenges they face will teach them valuable lessons, as well as keep the story compelling and the reader engaged.

Allies represent the characters that offer support to the protagonist along the journey. Some allies may be introduced from the beginning, while others may be gained along the journey. Secondary characters and allies provide additional nuance for the hero, through interactions, events, and relationships that further show who the hero is at heart, what they believe in, and what they’re willing to fight for. The role of the allies is to bring hope, inspiration, and further drive the hero to do what needs to be done.

Enemies represent a foil to the allies. While allies bring hope and inspiration, enemies will provide challenges, conflicts, tests, and challenges. Both allies and enemies may instigate transformative growth, but enemies do so in a way that fosters conflict and struggle.

Characterization of enemies can also enhance the development of the hero through how they interact and the lessons learned through those interactions. Is the hero easily duped, forgiving, empathetic, merciful? Do they hold a grudge and seek revenge? Who is the hero now that they have been harmed, faced an enemy, and lost pieces of their innocent worldview? To answer that, the hero is still transforming and gestating with every lesson, test, and enemy faced along the way.

Step Six example

As the plot of The Hobbit carries on, Bilbo encounters many tests, allies, and enemies that all drive complexity in the story. A few examples include:

The first major obstacle that Bilbo faces occurs within the dark and damp cave hidden in the goblin town. All alone, Bilbo must pluck up the wit and courage to outriddle a creature named Gollum. In doing so, Bilbo discovers the secret power of a golden ring (another hero talisman) that will aid him and the party through the rest of the journey.

The elves encountered after Bilbo “crosses the threshold” are presented as allies in the story. The hero receives gifts of food, a safe place to rest, and insight and guidance that allows the party to continue on their journey. While the party doesn’t dwell long with the elves, the elves also provide further character development for the party at large: the serious dwarf personalities are juxtaposed against the playful elvish ones, and the elves offer valuable historical insight with backstory to the weapons the party gathered from the troll encounter.

Goblins are a recurring enemy within the story that the hero and party must continue to face, fight, and run from. The goblins present consistent challenges that force Bilbo to face fear and learn and adapt, not only to survive but to save his friends.

Step Seven: “Approach to the Inmost Cave”

7. Approach to the Inmost Cave

The approach to the inmost cave of the Hero’s Journey is the tense quiet before the storm; it’s the part of the story right before the hero faces their greatest fear, and it can be positioned in a few different ways. By now, the hero has overcome obstacles, setbacks, and tests, gained and lost allies and enemies, and has transformed in some way from the original protagonist first introduced in the ordinary world.

The moment when the hero approaches the inmost cave can be a moment of reflection, reorganization, and rekindling of morale. It presents an opportunity for the main characters of the story to come together in a moment of empathy for losses along the journey; a moment of planning and plotting next steps; an opportunity for the mentor to teach a final lesson to the hero; or a moment for the hero to sit quietly and reflect upon surmounting the challenge they have been journeying toward for the length of their adventure.

The “cave” may or may not be a physical place where the ultimate ordeal and conflict will occur. The approach represents the momentary period where the hero assumes their final preparation for the overall challenge that must be overcome. It’s a time for the hero and their allies, as well as the reader, to pause and reflect on the events of the story that have already occurred, and to consider the internal and external growth and transformation of the hero.

Having gained physical and/or emotional strength and fortitude through their trials and tests, learned more rules about the special world, found and lost allies and friends, is the hero prepared to face danger and their ultimate foe? Reflection, tension, and anticipation are the key elements of crafting the approach to the cave.

Step Seven example

The approach to the cave in The Hobbit occurs as the party enters the tunnel of the Lonely Mountain. The tunnel is the access point to the ultimate goal—Thorin’s familial treasure, as well as the ultimate test—the formidable dragon Smaug. During this part of the story, the party must hide, plot, and plan their approach to the final conflict. It’s at this time that Bilbo realizes he must go alone to scout out and face the dragon.

8. The Ordeal

The ordeal is the foreshadowed conflict that the hero must face, and represents the midpoint of the story. While the ordeal is the ultimate conflict that the hero knows they must overcome, it’s a false climax to the complete story—there’s still much ground to cover in the journey, and the hero will still be tested after completing this, the greatest challenge. In writing the ordeal phase of the Hero’s Journey, the writer should craft this as if it actually were the climax to the tale, even though it isn’t.

The first act, and the beginning of the second act, have built up to the ordeal with characterization and the transformation of the hero through their overcoming tests and trials. This growth—both internal and external—has all occurred to set the hero up to handle this major ordeal.

As this stage commences, the hero is typically faced with fresh challenges to make the ordeal even more difficult than they previously conceived. This may include additional setbacks for the hero, the hero’s realization that they were misinformed about the gravity of the situation, or additional conflicts that make the ordeal seem insurmountable.

These setbacks cause the hero to confront their greatest fears and build tension for both the hero and the reader, as they both question if the hero will ultimately succeed or fail. In an epic fantasy tale, this may mean a life-or-death moment for the hero, or experiencing death through the loss of an important ally or the mentor. In a romance, it may be the moment of crisis where a relationship ends or a partner reveals their dark side or true self, causing the hero great strife.

This is the rock-bottom moment for the hero, where they lose hope, courage, and faith. At this point, even though the hero has already crossed the threshold, this part of the story shows how the hero has changed in such a way that they can never return to their original self: even if they return to the ordinary world, they’ll never be the same; their perception of the world has been modified forever.

Choosing to endure against all odds and costs to face the ordeal represents the loss of the hero’s original self from the ordinary world, and a huge internal transformation occurs within the hero as they must rise and continue forth to complete their journey and do what they set out to do from the beginning.

The ordeal may also be positioned as an introduction to the greater villain through a trial with a shadow villain, where the hero realizes that the greatest conflict is unveiled as something else, still yet to come. In these instances, the hero may fail, or barely succeed, but must learn a crucial lesson and be metaphorically resurrected through their failure to rise again and overcome the greater challenge.

Step Eight example

Bilbo must now face his ultimate challenge: burgle the treasure from the dragon. This is the challenge that was set forth from the beginning, as it’s his purpose as the party’s 14th member, the burglar, anointed by Gandalf, the mentor. Additional conflicts arise as Bilbo realizes that he must face the dragon alone, and in doing so, must rely on all of the skills and gifts in the form of talismans and tokens he has gained throughout the adventure.

During the ordeal, Bilbo uses the courage he has gained by surmounting the story’s previous trials; he’s bolstered by his loyalty to the group and relies upon the skills and tools he has earned in previous trials. Much as he outwitted Gollum in the cave, Bilbo now uses his wit as well as his magical ring to defeat Smaug in a game of riddles, which ultimately leads Smaug out of the lair so that Bilbo can complete what he was set out to do—steal the treasure.

Step Nine: “Reward”

The reward of the Hero’s Journey is a moment of triumph, celebration, or change as the hero achieves their first major victory. This is a moment of reflection for both the reader and the hero, to take a breath to contemplate and acknowledge the growth, development, and transformation that has occurred so far.

The reward is the boon that the hero learns, is granted, or steals, that will be crucial to facing the true climax of the story that is yet to come. The reward may be a physical object, special knowledge, or reconciliation of some sort, but it’s always a thing that allows for some form of celebration or replenishment and provides the drive to succeed before the journey continues.

Note that the reward may not always be overtly positive—it may also be a double-edged sword that could harm them physically or spiritually. This type of reward typically triggers yet another internal transformation within the hero, one that grants them the knowledge and personal drive to complete the journey and face their remaining challenges.

From the reward, the hero is no longer externally driven to complete the journey, but has evolved to take on the onus of doing so.

Examples of rewards may include:

A weapon, elixir, or object that will be necessary to complete the quest.

Special knowledge, or a personal transformation to use against a foe.

An eye-opening experience that provides deep insight and fundamentally changes the hero and their position within the story and world.

Reconciliation with another character, or with themselves.

No matter what the reward is, the hero should experience some emotional or spiritual revelation and a semblance of inner peace or personal resolve to continue the journey. Even if the reward is not overtly positive, the hero and the reader deserve a moment of celebration for facing the great challenge they set out to overcome.

Step Nine example

Bilbo defeats the dragon at a battle of wits and riddles, and now receives his reward. He keeps the gifts he has earned, both the dagger and the gold ring. He is also granted his slice of the treasure, and the Lonely Mountain is returned to Thorin. The party at large is rewarded for completing the quest and challenge they set out to do.

However, Tolkien writes the reward to be more complex than it first appears. The party remains trapped and hungry within the Mountain as events unfold outside of it. Laketown has been attacked by Smaug, and the defenders will want compensation for the damage to their homes and for their having to kill the dragon. Bilbo discovers, and then hides, the Arkenstone (a symbolic double edged reward) to protect it from Thorin’s selfishness and greed.

Step Ten: “The Road Back”

10. The Road Back

The road back in the Hero’s Journey is the beginning of the third act, and represents a turning point within the story. The hero must recommit to the journey, alongside the new stakes and challenges that have arisen from the completion of the original goal.

The road back presents roadblocks—new and unforeseen challenges to the hero that they must now face on their journey back to the ordinary world. The trials aren’t over yet, and the stakes are raised just enough to keep the story compelling before the final and ultimate conflict—the hero’s resurrection—is revealed in the middle of the third act.

The hero has overcome their greatest challenge in the Ordeal and they aren’t the same person they were when they started. This stage of the story often sees the hero making a choice, or reflecting on their transformed state compared to their state at the start of the journey.

The writer’s purpose in the third act is not to eclipse the upcoming and final conflict, but to up the stakes, show the true risk of the final climax, and to reflect on what it will take for the hero to ultimately prevail. The road back should offer a glimmer of hope—the light at the end of the tunnel—and should let the reader know the dramatic finale is about to arrive.

Step Ten example

What was once a journey to steal treasure and slay a dragon has developed new complications. Our hero, Bilbo, must now use all of the powers granted in his personal transformation, as well as the gifts and rewards he earned on the quest, to complete the final stages of the journey.

This is the crisis moment of The Hobbit ; the armies of Laketown are prepared for battle to claim their reward for killing Smaug; the fearless leader of their party, Thorin, has lost reason and succumbed to greed; and Bilbo makes a crucial choice based his personal growth: he gives the Arkenstone to the king as a bargaining chip for peace. Bilbo also briefly reconnects with the mentor, Gandalf, who warns him of the unpleasant times ahead, but comforts Bilbo by saying that things may yet turn out for the best. Bilbo then loyally returns to his friends, the party of dwarves, to stand alongside them in the final battle.

11. Resurrection

The resurrection stage of the Hero’s Journey is the final climax of the story, and the heart of the third act. By now the hero has experienced internal and external transformation and a loss of innocence, coming out with newfound knowledge. They’re fully rooted in the special world, know its rules, and have made choices that underline this new understanding.

The hero must now overcome the final crisis of their external quest. In an epic fantasy tale, this may be the last battle of light versus darkness, good versus evil, a cumulation of fabulous forces. In a thriller, the hero might ultimately face their own morality as they approach the killer. In a drama or romance, the final and pivotal encounter in a relationship occurs and the hero puts their morality ahead of their immediate desires.

The stakes are the highest they’ve ever been, and the hero must often choose to make a sacrifice. The sacrifice may occur as a metaphoric or symbolic death of the self in some way; letting go of a relationship, title, or mental/emotional image of the self that a hero once used as a critical aspect of their identity, or perhaps even a metaphoric physical death—getting knocked out or incapacitated, losing a limb, etc.

Through whatever the great sacrifice is, be it loss or a metaphoric death, the hero will experience a form of resurrection, purification, or internal cleansing that is their final internal transformation.

In this stage, the hero’s character arc comes to an end, and balance is restored to the world. The theme of the story is fully fleshed out and the hero, having reached some form of self-actualization, is forever changed. Both the reader and the hero experience catharsis—the relief, insight, peace, closure, and purging of fear that had once held the hero back from their final transformation.

Step Eleven example

All the armies have gathered, and the final battle takes place. Just before the battle commences, Bilbo tells Thorin that it was he who gave the Arkenstone to the city of men and offers to sacrifice his reward of gold for taking the stone. Gandalf, the mentor, arrives, standing beside Bilbo and his decision. Bilbo is shunned by Thorin and is asked to leave the party for his betrayal.

Bilbo experiences a symbolic death when he’s knocked out by a stone. Upon awakening, Bilbo is brought to a dying Thorin, who forgives him of his betrayal, and acknowledges that Bilbo’s actions were truly the right thing to do. The theme of the story is fully unveiled: that bravery and courage comes in all sizes and forms, and that greed and gold are less worthy than a life rich in experiences and relationships.

Step Twelve: “Return with the Elixir”

12. Return with the Elixir

The elixir in the Hero’s Journey is the final reward the hero brings with them on their return, bridging their two worlds. It’s a reward hard earned through the various relationships, tests, and growth the hero has experienced along their journey. The “elixir” can be a magical potion, treasure, or object, but it can also be intangible—love, wisdom, knowledge, or experience.

The return is key to the circular nature of the Hero’s Journey. It offers a resolution to both the reader and the hero, and a comparison of their growth from when the journey began.

Without the return, the story would have a linear nature, a beginning and an end. In bringing the self-actualized hero home to the ordinary world, the character arc is completed, and the changes they’ve undergone through the journey are solidified. They’ve overcome the unknown, and though they’re returning home, they can no longer resume their old life because of their new insight and experiences.

Step Twelve example

The small yet mighty hero Bilbo is accompanied on his journey home by his mentor Gandalf, as well as the allies he gathered along his journey. He returns with many rewards—his dagger, his golden ring, and his 1/14th split of the treasure—yet his greatest rewards are his experience and the friends he has made along the way. Upon entering the Shire Bilbo sings a song of adventure, and the mentor Gandalf remarks, “My dear Bilbo! Something is the matter with you, you are not the hobbit you were.”

The final pages of The Hobbit explore Bilbo’s new self in the Shire, and how the community now sees him as a changed hobbit—no longer quite as respectable as he once was, with odd guests who visit from time to time. Bilbo also composes his story “There and Back Again,” a tale of his experiences, underlining his greatest reward—stepping outside of the Shire and into the unknown, then returning home, a changed hobbit.

Books that follow the Hero’s Journey

One of the best ways to become familiar with the plot structure of the Hero’s Journey is to read stories and books that successfully use it to tell a powerful tale. Maybe they’ll inspire you to use the hero’s journey in your own writing!

The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J. R. R. Tolkien.

The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling.

The Earthsea series by Ursula K. Le Guin.

The Odyssey by Homer.

Siddhartha by Herman Hesse.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.

Writing tips for the Hero’s Journey

Writing a Hero’s Journey story often requires planning beforehand to organize the plot, structure, and events of the story. Here are some tips to use the hero’s journey archetype in a story:

Use a template or note cards to organize and store your ideas. This can assist in ensuring that you tie up any loose ends in the plot, and that the cadence of your story is already outlined before you begin writing.

Use word count goals for writing different sections of your story. This can help you keep pace while you plan and write the first draft. You can always revise, edit, and add in detail at later stages of development, but getting the ideas written without bogging them down with details can assist in preparing your outline, and may perhaps provide additional inspiration and guidance along the way.

Lean into creativity and be flexible with the 12 steps. They don’t need to occur in the exact order we’ve listed above, but that ordering can offer great checkpoint moments for your story.

Invest in characterization and ensure that your main character is balanced with credible strengths and weaknesses. A perfect, pure hero has no room to grow. A one-dimensional villain who relies on the trope of “pure evil” without any motivations for their actions is boring and predictable.

Ensure tension and urgency is woven into the story. An epic tale to the grocery store for baby formula may still be fraught with danger, and the price of failure is a hungry child. Without urgency, tension, and risk, a Hero’s Journey will fall flat.

Be hard on your characters. Give them deep conflicts that truly test their nature, and their mental, physical, and spiritual selves. An easy journey isn’t a memorable one.

Have a balance of scenes that play on both positive and negative emotions and outcomes for the hero to create a compelling plot line that continues to engage your reader. A story that’s relentlessly positive doesn’t provide a pathway for the hero to transform. Likewise, a story that’s nothing but doom, strife, and turmoil, without a light at the end of the tunnel or an opportunity for growth, can make a story feel stagnant and unengaging.

Reward your characters and your reader. Personal transformation and the road to the authentic self may be grueling, but there’s peace or joy at the end of the tunnel. Even if your character doesn’t fully saved the world, they—and the reader—should be rewarded with catharsis, a new perspective, or personal insight at the end of the tale.

Hero’s Journey templates

Download these free templates to help you plan out your Hero’s Journey:

Download the Hero’s Journey template template (docx) Download the Hero’s Journey template template (pdf)

Prompts and practices to help you write your own Hero’s Journey

Use the downloadable template listed below for the following exercises:

Read a book or watch a movie that follows the Hero’s Journey. Use the template to fill in when each step occurs or is completed. Make note of themes and symbols, character arcs, the main plot, and the subplots that drive complexity in the story.

When writing, use a timer set to 2—5 minutes per section to facilitate bursts of creativity. Brainstorm ideas for cadence, plot, and characters within the story. The outline you create can always be modified, but the timer ensures you can get ideas on paper without a commitment; you’re simply jotting down ideas as quickly as you can.

Use the downloadable template above to generate outlines based on the following prompts.

A woman’s estranged mother has died. A friend of the mother arrives at the woman’s home to tell her that her mother has left all her belongings to her daughter, and hands her a letter. The letter details the mother’s life, and the daughter must visit certain places and people to find her mother’s house and all the belongings in it—learning more about her mother’s life, and herself, along the way.

The last tree on earth has fallen, and technology can no longer sustain human life on Earth. An engineer, having long ago received alien radio signals from a tower in their backyard, has dedicated their life to building a spaceship in their garage. The time has come to launch, and the engineer must select a group of allies to bring with them to the stars, on a search for a new life, a new home, and “the others” out there in the universe.

A detective is given a new case: to find a much-talked-about murderer. The twist is, the murderer has sent a letter to the detective agency, quietly outing a homicidal politician who is up for re-election and is a major financial contributor to the police. In the letter, the murderer states that if the politician doesn’t come clean about their crimes, the murderer will kill the politician on the night of the election. The detective must solve the case before the election, and come to terms with their own feelings of justice and morality.

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The Hero’s Journey

Hero's Journey Stages

What is the Hero's Journey in Literature?

Crafting a heroic character is a crucial aspect of storytelling, and it involves much more than simply sketching out a brave and virtuous figure. The hero's journey definition is not the typical linear narrative but rather a cyclical pattern that encompasses the hero's transformation, trials, and ultimate return, reflecting the profound and timeless aspects of human experience. The writer's journey in this endeavor goes beyond the external actions of the hero and delves into the character's inner world. The hero arc is the heart of the narrative, depicting the character's evolution from an ordinary person to a true hero.

Narratology and Writing Instructions for Heroic Characters

Related to both plot diagram and types of literary conflict , the ”Hero’s Journey” structure is a recurring pattern of stages many heroes undergo over the course of their stories. Joseph Campbell, an American mythologist, writer, and lecturer, articulated this cycle after researching and reviewing numerous myths and stories from a variety of time periods and regions of the world. He found that different writers take us on different journeys, however, they all share fundamental principles. Through the hero's trials, growth, and ultimate triumph, the narrative comes full circle, embodying the timeless pattern of the hero cycle. Literature abounds with examples of the hero cycle, illustrating how this narrative structure transcends cultural boundaries and remains a fundamental element of storytelling. This hero cycle in literature is also known as the Monomyth, archetype . The most basic version of Joseph Campbell's Monomyth has 12 steps, while more detailed versions can have up to 17 steps. His type of hero's journey diagram provides a visual roadmap for understanding the various stages and archetypal elements that protagonists typically encounter in their transformative quests. The wheel to the right is an excellent visual to share with students of how these steps occur. Hero's journey diagram examples provide a visual roadmap for understanding the various stages and archetypal elements that protagonists typically encounter in their transformative quests. Exploring the monomyth steps outlined by Joseph Campbell, we can see how these universal narrative elements have shaped countless stories across cultures and time periods.

Which Story Structure is Right for You?

The choice of story structure depends on various factors, including the type of story you want to tell, your intended audience, and your personal creative style. Here are some popular story structures and when they might be suitable:

  • The Hero's Journey: Use this structure when you want to tell a story of personal growth, transformation, and adventure. It works well for epic tales, fantasy, and science fiction, but it can be adapted to other genres as well.
  • Three-Act Structure: This is a versatile structure suitable for a wide range of genres, from drama to comedy to action. It's ideal for stories that have a clear beginning, middle, and end, with well-defined turning points.
  • Episodic or Serial Structure: If you're creating a long-running series or a story with multiple interconnected arcs, this structure is a good choice. It allows for flexibility in storytelling and can keep audiences engaged over the long term.
  • Nonlinear Structure: Experiment with this structure if you want to challenge traditional narrative conventions. It's suitable for stories where timelines are fragmented, revealing information gradually to build intrigue and suspense.
  • Circular or Cyclical Structure: This structure is great for stories with recurring themes or for tales that come full circle. It can be particularly effective in literary fiction and philosophical narratives.

Ultimately, the right story structure for you depends on your creative vision, the genre you're working in, and the narrative you want to convey. You may also choose to blend or adapt different structures to suit your story's unique needs. The key is to select a structure that serves your storytelling goals and engages your target audience effectively.

What is a Common Theme in the Hero's Journey?

A common theme in the hero's journey is the concept of personal transformation and growth. Throughout the hero's journey, the protagonist typically undergoes significant change, evolving from an ordinary or flawed individual into a more heroic, self-realized, or enlightened character. This theme of transformation is often accompanied by challenges, trials, and self-discovery, making it a central and universal element of hero's journey narratives.

Structure of the Monomyth: The Hero's Journey Summary

This summary of the different elements of the archetypal hero's journey outlines the main four parts along with the different stages within each part. This can be shared with students and used as a reference along with the hero's journey wheel to analyze literature.

Part One - Call to Adventure

During the exposition, the hero is in the ordinary world , usually the hero’s home or natural habitat. Conflict arises in their everyday life, which calls the hero to adventure , where they are beckoned to leave their familiar world in search of something. They may refuse the call at first, but eventually leave, knowing that something important hangs in the balance and refusal of the call is simply not an option.

Monomyth - Part One - Call to Adventure

Part Two - Supreme Ordeal or Initiation

Once the hero makes the decision to leave the normal world, venture into the unfamiliar world, and has officially begun their mysterious adventure, they will meet a mentor figure (a sidekick in some genres) and together these two will cross the first threshold . This is the point where turning back is not an option, and where the hero must encounter tests, allies and enemies . Obstacles like tests and enemies must be overcome to continue. Helpers aid the hero in their journey.

Monomyth - Part Two - Supreme Ordeal or Initiation

Part Three - Unification or Transformation

Having overcome initial obstacles, in this part of the heroic cycle, the hero and their allies reach the approach . Here they will prepare for the major challenge in this new or special world. During the approach, the hero undergoes an ordeal , testing them to point near death. Their greatest fear is sometimes exposed, and from the ordeal comes a new life or revival for the hero. This transformation is the final separation from their old life to their new life. For their efforts in overcoming the ordeal, the hero reaches the reward . The hero receives the reward for facing death. There may be a celebration, but there is also danger of losing the reward.

Monomyth - Part Three - Unification or Transformation

Part Four - Road Back or Hero's Return

Once the hero achieves their goal and the reward is won, the hero and companions start on the road back . The hero wants to complete the adventure and return to their ordinary world with their treasure. This stage is often referred to as either the resurrections or atonement . Hero's journey examples that showcase the atonement stage often highlight the protagonist's inner turmoil and the difficult decisions they must make to reconcile with their past and fully embrace their heroic destiny. The hero becomes "at one" with themselves. As the hero crosses the threshold (returning from the unknown to their ordinary world), the reader arrives at the climax of the story. Here, the hero is severely tested one last time. This test is an attempt to undo their previous achievements. At this point, the hero has come full circle, and the major conflict at the beginning of the journey is finally resolved. In the return home, the hero has now resumed life in his/her original world, and things are restored to ordinary.

Monomyth - Part Four - Road Back or Hero's Return

Popular Hero's Journey Examples

Monomyth example: homer's odyssey.

Monomyth examples typically involve a hero who embarks on an adventure, faces trials and challenges, undergoes personal transformation, and returns home or to society with newfound wisdom or a significant achievement, making this storytelling structure a powerful and timeless tool for crafting compelling narratives.

The hero's journey chart below for Homer’s Odyssey uses the abridged ninth grade version of the epic. The Heroic Journey in the original story of the Odyssey is not linear, beginning in media res , Latin for “in the middle of things”.)

The Odyssey Heroic Journey - Examples of hero's journey

To Kill a Mockingbird Heroic Journey

To Kill a Mockingbird Hero's Journey

Did you know that many popular movies have heroes that follow this type of journey? It is true! In the "Star Wars" movies, Hollywood film producer George Lucas creates a journey for Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia. In "The Lion King", Simba goes on quite the adventure that ends in a final battle with his uncle Scar, a major turning point in the film before the hero returns to save his land. In "The Wizard of Oz", Dorothy takes on the role of the epic hero as she teeters between the two worlds of Kansas and Oz. These are just a few of the many examples of Campbell's theory in the cinematic realm.

Classroom Applications and Uses

Example exercises.

Create your own hero's journey examples using the Storyboard That Creator! Customize the level of detail and number of cells required for projects based on available class time and resources.

  • Students identify the stages of the heroic journey in a piece of literature by creating one cell depicting each of the twelve steps.
  • Students create storyboards that show and explain each stage found in the work of literature, using specific quotes from the text which highlight each part of the journey.
  • Students create an outline of their own original story that follows the monomyth stages.

Common Core

  • ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3 : Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme
  • ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.7 : Analyze the representation of a subject or a key scene in two different artistic mediums, including what is emphasized or absent in each treatment (e.g., Auden’s “Musée des Beaux Arts” and Breughel’s Landscape with the Fall of Icarus)
  • ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.6 : Use technology, including the Internet, to produce, publish, and update individual or shared writing products, taking advantage of technology’s capacity to link to other information and to display information flexibly and dynamically
  • ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.2 : Integrate multiple sources of information presented in diverse media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) evaluating the credibility and accuracy of each source
  • ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.3 : Analyze the impact of the author’s choices regarding how to develop and relate elements of a story or drama (e.g., where a story is set, how the action is ordered, how the characters are introduced and developed)
  • ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.7 : Analyze multiple interpretations of a story, drama, or poem (e.g., recorded or live production of a play or recorded novel or poetry), evaluating how each version interprets the source text. (Include at least one play by Shakespeare and one play by an American dramatist.)
  • ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.6 : Use technology, including the Internet, to produce, publish, and update individual or shared writing products in response to ongoing feedback, including new arguments or information
  • ELA-Literacy.SL.11-12.2 : Integrate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) in order to make informed decisions and solve problems, evaluating the credibility and accuracy of each source and noting any discrepancies among the data

Related Resources

  • Plot Diagram and Narrative Arc
  • Types of Conflict In Literature
  • What is an Archetype?
  • The Odyssey Teacher Guide
  • Types of Heroes in Literature

How Teachers Can Use The Concept of The Heroic Journey To Help Students Better Understand Character Development In Literature

Introduce the concept of the heroic journey.

Teachers can introduce the concept of the heroic journey to students and explain the different stages involved in the journey. This will provide a framework for students to better understand how characters develop throughout the story.

Analyze Characters Using the Heroic Journey

Teachers can guide students through the stages of the heroic journey and ask them to identify where the character is in the journey. This will help students to understand the character's development and how their actions and decisions are influenced by the different stages of the journey.

Compare and Contrast Character Journeys

Teachers can ask students to compare and contrast the journeys of different characters within a story or across multiple stories. This will help students to gain a deeper understanding of how the heroic journey is used to develop characters in literature and how it can be applied across different genres and cultures.

Discuss the Role of Character Motivation

Teachers can encourage students to think critically about the motivations of characters at each stage of the journey. This will help students to understand why characters make certain decisions and how their motivations contribute to their development.

Apply the Concept to Real-Life Situations

Teachers can encourage students to apply the concept of the heroic journey to real-life situations. This will help students to see how the journey applies not only to literature, but also to their own lives and experiences.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Hero's Journey

What is a "monomyth" or the "hero's journey" in literature.

In comparative mythology, the monomyth, or the hero's journey, is the series of stages that can be applied to a variety of stories from all genres. It involves a hero who is called to pursue an adventure, undergoes an ordeal, achieves their goal and returns home transformed.

What are the 12 Stages of the Hero's Journey in literature?

  • Ordinary World
  • Call to Adventure
  • Meeting the Mentor / Helper
  • Crossing the Threshold
  • Test / Allies / Enemies

What is a common theme in the hero's journey?

The Hero's Journey usually follows the path of the main character from childhood or young adulthood through maturity. It is about the common human experiences of growth, challenges and change that are relatable to us all.

Why should students learn about the hero's journey?

The hero's journey is relevant for students in that it demonstrates the possibility of overcoming adversity and the potential for growth and change that is within us all. It is a common theme of literature and movies that once students understand, they will be able to identify over and over again. It is helpful for students to make the text-to-self connection and apply this thinking to their own life as a "growth mindset" . They can see that they are on their own hero's journey and that everyone has the ability to overcome obstacles to achieve their goals and affect positive change in their lives and the lives of others.

What are some of the best examples of the hero's journey?

The hero's journey stages appear in more books than students may realize! Here are just a few examples of popular books that contain the monomyth structure:

  • The Graveyard Book
  • The Hunger Games
  • To Kill a Mockingbird
  • The Odyssey
  • The Lions of Little Rock
  • Wednesday Wars
  • One Crazy Summer
  • Out of My Mind
  • Brown Girl Dreaming
  • The Lightning Thief
  • The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane
  • The Stars Beneath Our Feet
  • Fish in a Tree

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The Daring English Teacher on Teachers Pay Teachers

Teaching the Hero’s Journey

Teaching the Hero's Journey in the Secondary ELA Classroom

To introduce the Hero’s Journey, I first teach my students about the Hero’s Journey. Then, I show the Ted Ed video “What Makes a Hero?” by Matthew Winkler. This video is spectacular for a couple reasons. First, I love how it presents the Hero’s Journey in relation to a clock and a cycle. This visual sticks with the students. I also like how this video relates to the notion of the Hero’s Journey to students in their everyday lives.

Once we go over the video, we then read a short story and track the protagonist’s journey as a hero. Together, we identify each element of the Hero’s Journey cycle as outlined in the video and then discuss the qualities that make the character a hero. This helps me gauge whether or not my students are ready for the Hero’s Journey project. I have a graphic organizer in my Sticky Note Literary Analysis Unit.

The Hero’s Journey poster project is one of my favorite projects of the year. Students form groups of 2-3 and select a movie or book that they feel is a quintessential representation of the Hero’s Journey. Together, they discuss the movie and create a poster that represents all of the elements of the Hero’s Journey. I provide my students with a tabloid size piece of paper (affiliate link) for the project so they have more space to create.


To conclude the assignment, I have students present their findings to the class so that they can practice their presentation and public speaking skills.

I usually give my students 2-3 days of class time to work in their groups.

Teaching the Hero’s Journey: the 12 Stages

Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey is a narrative structure that describes the typical stages that a hero undergoes in a story. Following along with the arch, these are the 12 stages of the hero’s journey.

  • The Ordinary World: The hero begins in a normal, mundane world, often unaware of the adventure that awaits.
  • The Call to Adventure: The hero receives a call to leave their ordinary world and embark on a journey.
  • Refusal of the Call: The hero initially hesitates or refuses the call, often due to fear or a sense of inadequacy.
  • Meeting the Mentor: The hero encounters a mentor or guide who provides guidance, advice, or tools for the journey.
  • Crossing the First Threshold: The hero commits to the adventure and crosses into the unknown, leaving their ordinary world behind.
  • Tests, Allies, and Enemies: The hero faces a series of challenges, makes new friends, and encounters adversaries on the journey.
  • Approach to the Inmost Cave: The hero approaches a critical point in the journey, often facing their greatest fear or confronting a powerful enemy.
  • Ordeal: The hero undergoes a significant trial or ordeal that tests their abilities and resolve.
  • Reward (Seizing the Sword): After overcoming the ordeal, the hero earns a reward or gains a valuable insight that propels them forward.
  • The Road Back: The hero begins the journey back to their ordinary world, often pursued by enemies or facing additional challenges.
  • Resurrection: The hero faces a final, often life-threatening challenge that transforms them and solidifies their hero status.
  • Return with the Elixir: The hero returns to their ordinary world with newfound knowledge, a treasure, or a boon that benefits themselves and others.

This is the first of two blog posts that outlines how I teach the Hero’s Journey. The next post will be about short stories and poems that you can use in your classroom when teaching the Hero’s Journey.

Teaching the Hero's Journey


I love the idea of this project. Students are making connections between their favorite movies or tv shows and the concept they are learning. I want to revisit this blog post once I am a teacher and see if I can create something similar based on my curriculum.

Hi Angel, Thank you for reading.

Hi! This is great!

What were the texts (poems and short stories) that you would use to teach the hero's journey?

Hi Yinka, Thank you for reading. I will be publishing a blog post this weekend about the literature I use when teaching hero's journey.

I did a long unit with my high school students where we watched the cartoon mini Series Over the Garden Wall then plotted the moments of the Hero’s Journey together.

This comment has been removed by the author.

I love this project. I would like to try it with my grade 11 ESL students.

I forget to ask: Which short story do you use with your graphic organizer?

One of my favorite stories to use is Contents of a Dead Man's Pockets.

I so love this project. Will the project guidelines and rubric be available for purchase on your TPT store? Thanks so much for sharing this great idea!

I don't have a rubric for this assignment right now. It is one that I give mostly full credit on as long as students mostly get the concept.

I have been tinkering with adjusting my units for next year so that there is a cohesive, year-long focus. I never thought about teaching The Hero's Journey first thing, but I like the sound of this! Coincidentally, my first short story is "Thank You, M'am" which you mentioned in the second post. Thanks yet again for making me a better teacher!

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The Daring English Teacher on Teachers Pay Teachers


Eat, Teach, Slay

Eat, Teach, Slay

The hero’s journey unit.

I love teaching Greek mythology! I incorporate a variety of texts across different genres in this unit including fiction, drama, informational texts, YouTube video and movie clips, poetry, and comic books.

Introducing the Hero’s Journey

We start with the hero’s journey plot pattern archetype. I like to introduce it with this TedTalk . CommonLit.org also has an article about the hero’s journey that thoroughly introduces this plot pattern and provides examples from the Hobbit and Hunger Games. Either one can be used to introduce this plot pattern before starting the Odyssey. As we read the about various Greek hero’s we will make connections to how they complete these stages of the hero’s journey. I start off with the story of Perseus since it’s short. There are various free and paid versions out there. Some textbooks have it. My favorite version is a play in the book Greek Mythology for Teens: Classic Myths in Today’s World (ISBN: 1593637179) . #ad I assign parts in class and students love reading their parts. Afterwards we compare it Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief #ad (I show the trailer and scenes from the movie that can be compared to Perseus).

To check for student’s understanding about the hero’s journey I have them do a presentation project. I put them in pairs or small groups. Each group picks a book or movie that has a hero in it. They create a Google Slide presentation showing how that hero completes each stage of the hero’s journey in that book or movie. I approve all book/movie choices before they begin and ensure that no group has the same one. It’s a multimedia presentation- they should include texts, images (or animated gifs), and video clips (or even add music). They present these to the class.

Before We Read The Odyssey

Before we read the Odyssey there is some background knowledge that students will need to know. Commonlit.org has a great article about Greek Society that explains how Greek society was structured covering: classes, women, children and adolescents, laborers, slaves, and foreigners. It was a provide background knowledge while practicing reading nonfiction skills with an informational texts. We apply this knowledge as we read the Odyssey, making connections between these texts from different genres. This is a great way to cover multiple standards in one unit! Would you rather show a video then have them read this informational text? This YouTube video also explains the basics of Greek Society.

I like to introduce and summarize the Trojan War with a fun play adaptation called Meet the Olympians by TPT seller ELA Alley . This play is a spoof about the Trojan War while poking fun at Twilight, American Idol, Michael Jackson, 300, and wrestling. It provides a great introduction to the Greek gods and goddesses, introduces the idea of don’t anger the gods, and sums up the Trojan War. I assign parts to students in class to read aloud. If we have time, we might act it out as well. Students love it! It’s hilarious and a great introduction to Greek mythology and story telling!

We continue our talk about the Trojan war by examining two poems written in different time periods about Helen of Troy. I introduce Helen of Troy with the Shmoop Video and students take notes in their Interactive Notebook. We compare her origin story to that of Perseus: like Perseus she is a demigod whose father is Zeus. Next we read over two poems about Helen of Troy written in different time periods by different authors: “ To Helen” by Edgar Allan Poe (1845) and “ Helen” by Hilda Doolittle (1924) . We will annotate the poems, answer short answer questions comparing and contrasting the central theme in the poems, and analyze literary devices and figurative language.

This TedTalk, Everything you need to know to read Homer’s “Odyssey” – Jill Dash , explains important concepts before we read the Odyssey such as in medias res and xenia. It also introduces Homer and this tradition of Greek oral story telling. I have students take notes in their interactive notebook as we watch it.

As We Read The Odyssey

We read the graphic novel version by Gareth Hinds. They love it! It’s usually their favorite text our of everything we read. The illustrations really help them understand what’s happening and the time period it takes place in. As they read I have them take notes about the themes and the role of xenia throughout the story. They also take notes about how Odysseus completes the hero’s journey. I assign sections ahead of time that they read on their own and then we discuss it and their notes in class. We examine the images as well as the words. I will show sections of the 1997 TV miniseries so we can compare how it was adapted for film (I usually show the cyclops scene). We discuss the differences between the comic and film medium and how it impacts the story telling. We also discuss how this is an ancient story being retold in multiple mediums today and why we still relate to this story and it’s hero.

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Home / Essay Samples / Literature / Books

Hero's Journey Essay Examples and Topics

by Joseph Campbell

The Hero’s Journey in J.R.R. Tolkien’s the Hobbit

Introduction J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit is an excellent example of Joseph Campbell’s archetype, a Hero’s Journey. This archetype identifies ten stages in which an unlikely hero might go through to become a likely hero. In this novel, a hobbit named Bilbo Baggins is…

Stages of a Hero's Journey

The hero’s journey contains four vital steps. The steps in this intriguing journey are departure, followed by a transformation, then an understanding of their wisdom and finally, returning home and sharing what they did. There were also videos based off his work available. Thus the…

Applying Campbel's Theory of the Hero’s Journey to Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Introduction This essay explores the use of the typical conventions of a heroic quest story in the young adult fantasy novel Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, according to Joseph Campbell’s theory of The Hero’s Journey, or also known as Monomyth discussed…

The Hero’s Quest: Comparison Between "The Wizard of Oz" and "The Epic of Gilgamesh"

In relatively every book you read, you will find that somebody generally needs to go on a type of journey or quest. Usually most of the quests have many similarities with each other so at some point they are created from a model example. The…

The Silence of the Lambs and Its Hero

Is it possible that stories from all around the world follow a certain pattern? According to Joseph Campbell, it is. He is an American scholar who identified and described a pattern of narrative that appears in storytelling, religion, myth, drama, and psychological development called the…

Main Heroes in Ancient Egypt

A Hero’s Paths While all heroes may be unique, many follow a structured path which can be identified and even predicted. A hero is not just a person who is given great power or influence, they only truly become a hero when they choose not…

Why is Odysseus a Greek Epic Hero

“A hero is someone who, despite weakness, doubt or not always knowing the answers, goes ahead and overcomes anyway”. In the story “The Odyssey” Odysseus goes through his journey and faces many tough challenges although he handles it like a god even though he is…

Hero's Journey in the Harry Potter Book Series

The story of Harry Potter begins as Harry Potter is about to celebrate his eleventh birthday. All of his other birthdays have come and gone rather plainly and uneventful. The Durselys whom he lives with have never given Harry a birthday present and constantly abuse…

The Hero’s Journey as an Effective Mean of Producing a Good Effect to Audience

Many stories, contemporary and ancient, incorporate the story of a character who embarks on a journey to become a hero. This is known as The Hero’s Journey. This journey not only shows the main character becoming a hero but also other pivotal parts of a…

Hero’s Journey: the Case of Rapunzel

Tangled up in the Odyssey of a lifetime “The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of those depths.” (Elisabeth Kubler-Ross). For a Journey to be realized it…

Analysis of "The Hobbit" by the Example of Bilbo Baggins

Throughout the novel Bilbo Baggins is on a voyage of self-discovery, uncovering unknown talents to conquer the dangers throughout his quest. The Hobbit is an adventure story that embodies the classic hero’s journey, first defined by author Joseph Campbell in 1949. The hero’s journey is…

A Hero of An-Mei Hsu

The Hero’s Journey: An-mei Hsu Heroes can be found in almost every genre of literature from every time period. What makes heroes entertaining is that each hero finds a different way to complete daring, superhuman feats to reach his or her end goal. Joseph Campbell,…

Joseph Campbell

Myth, Biography

The Hero's Journey is based on Campbell's life and work. In the book he translates his lifelong exploration of mythic traditions.

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Essays About Journeys: Top 5 Examples and 7 Easy Prompts

Essays about journeys require recounting the events of your travel. Discover our guide with examples and prompts to help you write your essay.

No two journeys are the same, and various factors will always be at play. It’s the reason many documents their expedition through different mediums. Writing about journeys is similar to telling a real-life story that influenced your character or perspective. 

Writing essays about journeys helps to develop your writing and observation skills as you recall and pick the highlights of your travel. Sharing your experiences can entice readers to take on a journey themselves. So, aim to inspire with this exciting essay topic.

5 Essay Examples

1. the best journey in my life by suzanne pittman, 2. road trips: everything you need for a comfortable journey by car by anonymous on gradesfixer.com, 3. the first day of my journey to adulthood by anonymous on papersowl.com, 4. life is a journey essay by anonymous on paperwritings.com, 5. long essay on train journey by prasanna, 1. reasons to go on a journey, 2. trip vs. journey, 3. how to enjoy long journeys, 4. my most memorable journey, 5. what makes a journey meaningful, 6. my dream journey, 7. a hero’s journey.

“I had to save a lot of money because I wanted very much to go on this journey with my friends. We planned our trip to take us around Europe. We were going to stop in various parts of Europe with family members and friends.”

The essay mimics Pittman’s travel itinerary during her journey in Europe. She includes all the trip details from the first to the last day and makes the readers feel as if they’re traveling with them. Pittman also offers some travel tips to help anyone who wants to visit Europe on a budget. These tips include staying with friends and relatives and taking comfortable train rides despite long distances.

“With proper planning, everything else seems effortless. You need to consider all factors when planning in order for you to enjoy a successful, stress-free adventure.”

The author believes that the primary purpose of traveling is to relax and have fun. They use the essay to teach how to plan car trips properly. Travelers must learn to budget and estimate expenses, including accommodation, gas, activities, and food. Picking a transportation means is also crucial as one needs to consider factors such as capacity, range, and utility. 

“Although things didn’t go how I planned I’m still in college bettering myself and furthering my education. Anything is possible with a good support system and positive mindset.”

The essay narrates how the author’s journey into adulthood becomes a mini-vacation in Georgia after their top university rejects their enrollment. This rejection offers the opportunity to understand many great life lessons. Despite having five other universities to choose from, the writer realizes they only provide free tuition for the first semester. Ultimately, the author receives a full scholarship to a university closer to home.

“All people have the same journey to take – their life. As well as in the other journeys, there may be some inconveniences, disappointments and joys, and a lot depends on how we plan this particular journey and what attitude we develop towards it.”

In this essay, the writer shares that the best way to go on a life journey is with the most joy and minor damage you can endure. It’s constant work to continuously improve one’s life while developing positive qualities and thinking. But in doing so, you’ll have a solid foundation to achieve what you want out of life. However, the author still reminds the readers that they should always be ready to face unexpected events and deal with them in the best way possible.

“These days, people prefer traveling via airplanes because it is time-saving. But going by plane gets boring and monotonous. Train journeys are a relief from the monotony.”

For Prasanna, whether it’s a short or extended tour, a train journey offers an exciting travel experience. She talks about the local and regional trains in India, which are often overcrowded but still used by many as they are the cheapest, safest, and fastest mode of transport in the country. She also mentions that you’ll never get hungry when riding their local trains because of the vendors who sell Indian delicacies. 

7 Prompts for Essays About Journeys 

Essays About Journeys: Reasons to go on a journey

Everyone has different motives for traveling. Some go on a journey to appreciate beautiful sceneries, while some move to attend family or work-related gatherings. Some do so to run away from problems. For this prompt, research the common reasons to travel. You can also interview people on why they go on a journey and add any personal experiences. 

It’s a trip when a person travels from one point to another without any transfers. Meanwhile, a journey is a more extended voyage that includes transfers and several trips. Compare and contrast trips and journeys to make your readers understand their similarities and differences. You can also have the advantages and disadvantages of each in your paper.

If writing an essay sounds like a lot of work, simplify it. Write a simple 5 paragraph essay instead.

The idea of having a long journey and discovering new things is exciting. However, the excitement can disappear when you’re far away from home. This is especially true for longer and farther travels. This prompt will help readers have a safer, more affordable, and more enjoyable trip by discussing the best long-distance travel tips. You can present an imaginary itinerary with estimated costs to make the essay more digestible.

Write about an unforgettable journey you’ve had through this prompt. Include the purpose of your travel, how you planned it, and if your timetable was followed. Share what you’ll improve on next time to make your journey even better; you can also talk about your companions and the activities that make the adventure worthwhile.

Journeys become meaningful when they enrich lives. It can be because of the destination, the people you are with, or the travel’s goal. Use this prompt to suggest how journeys improve us as humans. You can section your piece based on an individual’s objectives. For example, someone who wants to recharge and get away from the city will find meaning in going to a location far from technology.

Essays About Journeys: My dream journey

Although traveling can be tiring, 43% of travelers appreciate the experience they gain. Think of journeys you desire to be in and add your reasons. Then, you can share your plan on how to make it happen. For instance, you want to tour Southeast Asia and visit countries like the Philippines, Vietnam, and Thailand. To make this dream journey come true, you’ll save for an entire year and work around a tight budget.

It’s normal to see the main character in a movie or novel go through a character arc before they become a true hero. Use this prompt to explain a hero’s journey and why the character must go through it. To give you an idea, Peter Parker was a shy and introverted kid who lived an everyday life before becoming Spider-Man. This makes him relatable to the audience and lets them understand his decisions in the following scenes.

For more examples, check out our guide to movies that follow the hero’s journey .

You can also talk about real-life heroes, such as doctors and firefighters. Interview someone with that profession and ask them why they decided to have their current career.

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Hero'S Journey Essay Examples

Modern-day television shows, books, and short films have adapted to using HeroS’s Journey style. Hero’S Journey essays focus on three stages the template uses, which are the departure, the initiation, and the return. The three stages are the basis of the story which depicts the Hero’s Journey and the storyline unfolds as the template suggests. Hero’s Journey essay examples include fantasy and fiction stories.

College essays about Hero’s Journey cover almost all forms of literature and have room to explore different storylines, literary forms, and structures. It is safe to say that most people have come across this form of story template either as a book, essay, article, movie, or film. The story follows twelve steps used in Hero’s Journey writing guides. For writers, Hero’s Journey story template gives one an easier time formulating the story and creating a nice flow of words to match the storyline. Given that Hero’s Journey template is a fan favorite, essays on this are bound to be interesting.

The Hero with a Thousand Faces is a non-fiction novel written by Joseph Campbell. The book explains Campbell’s 17 steps of a hero. Campbell believed that all heroes went through these steps through out there journey. Many books emphasize and prove his theory correct, but these were some pieces that came to mind were the […]

In the essay “The Step Not Taken” by Paul D’Angelo, the narrator takes the reader on his personal journey to find a satisfactory way to respond to another’s suffering. This story follows the basic plot structure of a monomyth: the separation, the struggle and initiation and the return and reintegration. In the beginning of the […]

Not all literature that consists of an adventure brands the protagonist as a hero; however, Yann Martell’s Life of Picontains many patterns of a monomyth quest. The Heroic Monomyth, also known as the hero’s journey, explains the common stages of a quest in many classic stories. The novel is split into three sections, each with […]

Joseph Campbell, a renowned mythologist, states that a hero is someone who sacrifices their life for a cause greater than themselves (Campbell 151). He further divides heroic acts into two categories. The first category encompasses physical bravery like engaging in courageous battles or saving lives (Campbell 151). The second category involves spiritual accomplishments where the […]

The Hero’s Journey is an important concept, it is the template upon which a vast majority of successful stories and Hollywood blockbuster are based upon. Being able to analyze, understand and deconstruct the different capacities undertaken by the Hero is essential. The Hero’s Journey is a cycle made of super structures/steps which consists of both […]

The Hero with a Thousand Faces, by Joseph Campbell, explains the characteristics of the hero’s journey. This journey consists of a hero leaving his or her ordinary world on an adventure to later return as a changed person. The movie Django Unchained tells the story of a newly freed slave, Django, in the world of […]

“The Step Not Taken” by Paul D’Angelo is an essay that follows the story of a man on personal quest to discover how to rightly respond to others’ suffering. The essay can easily demonstrate the monomyth and the steps in the monomyth also known as “the hero’s journey” are separation, struggle and reintegration. The narrator […]

What might we learn from Heinrich’s story to help us become more spiritually intelligent?Being spiritually intelligent, is achieving happiness and being comfortable with the way your life is, without the greed. It is knowing what you find happiness in doing and not doing something whilst inflicted with greed, and appreciating life, your surroundings and becoming […]

Many people know the story of Oedipus Rex. Since the day of his birth, Oedipus was doomed to commit a horrific deed. He was prophesized to murder his father and sleep with his mother. Sophocles put this Greek tale into words and created a famous tragedy. The story of Oedipus Rex follows a Hero’s Journey. […]

Gilgamesh In Gilgamesh, we see several of Campbell’s stages of the heroic myth. We see Gilgamesh introduced in his ordinary world, he is called to adventure twice, he passes the first threshold, he meets several helpers and encounters tests, he reaches the innermost cave, endures the supreme ordeal, seizes the treasure, is resurrected, and returns […]

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Essays on Hero's Journey

Hero's journey essay topics and outline examples, essay title 1: the hero's journey: unveiling the archetypal narrative structure in myth, literature, and film.

Thesis Statement: This essay explores the hero's journey as a universal narrative archetype, examining its key stages and motifs, its significance in various cultures, and its enduring presence in myth, literature, and contemporary storytelling.

  • Introduction
  • The Hero's Journey: Defining the Archetypal Structure and Joseph Campbell's Influence
  • Key Stages of the Hero's Journey: Call to Adventure, Trials, Transformation, and Return
  • Cultural Variations: Heroic Narratives in Different Mythologies and Traditions
  • The Hero's Journey in Literature: Classic and Modern Examples
  • From Page to Screen: The Hero's Journey in Contemporary Film and TV
  • Analysis of Modern Heroes: Relatability and Evolution of Archetypes

Essay Title 2: Heroines' Odyssey: Examining the Hero's Journey through a Feminine Lens

Thesis Statement: This essay reevaluates the hero's journey from a feminist perspective, highlighting the journeys of heroines, analyzing their unique challenges, and exploring how the narrative structure can be adapted to empower female protagonists.

  • The Heroine's Journey: Rewriting Archetypal Narratives with a Feminist Lens
  • Female Protagonists: From Damsels in Distress to Empowered Heroes
  • The Call to Adventure: Challenges and Motivations for Heroines
  • Facing the Shadow: Female Antagonists and Inner Transformations
  • Return and Rebirth: Reimagining Endings and Resolutions for Heroines
  • Contemporary Heroines: Examining Iconic Characters and Their Impact

Essay Title 3: The Hero's Journey in Real Life: Personal Growth, Resilience, and Transformation

Thesis Statement: This essay explores the application of the hero's journey to real-life experiences, discussing how individuals undergo personal growth, overcome challenges, and find meaning in their own journeys, drawing inspiration from the archetypal narrative structure.

  • Life as a Journey: The Hero's Path in Everyday Existence
  • The Call to Adventure: Recognizing Challenges and Opportunities
  • Trials and Tribulations: Navigating Difficulties and Gaining Wisdom
  • Transformation and Self-Discovery: The Hero Within
  • Sharing the Elixir: The Power of Personal Narratives and Mentorship
  • Collective Heroes: Social Movements, Activism, and Change

5 Dynamic Working Style, Communication, Reflection/hero’s Journey

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The Hero's Journey in a Disney Movie "Toy Story"

Coraline and the alchemist: comparing their hero’s journeys, a hero's journey in "the adventures of huckleberry finn" and "the odyssey", hero's journey: examples of joseph campbell, jesus and mary mackillop, let us write you an essay from scratch.

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The Concept of a Hero's Journey in American Literature

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The Practical Role Played by The Hero's Journey Structure in The Storytelling

Hero in the odyssey: the unheroic traits of odysseus in homer's epic, analysis of the hero's journey of thanos in the infinity war, the concept of the hero's journey according to campbell's the hero with a thousand faces, personal legend in the alchemist by paulo coelho, personal legend: the alchemist and a race for dreams, personal legend in the alchemist: embracing destiny, what it means to be a hero: hero's journey, what it means to be a hero based on the iliad, relevant topics.

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essay hero's journey short story examples


  1. The Stages of the Hero's Journey Free Essay Example

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  1. The Hero's Journey: Step-By-Step Guide with Examples

    1. Departure. The hero leaves the ordinary world behind. 2. Initiation. The hero ventures into the unknown ("the Special World") and overcomes various obstacles and challenges. 3. Return. The hero returns in triumph to the familiar world. Hollywood has embraced Campbell's structure, most famously in George Lucas's Star Wars movies.

  2. 25 Hero's Journey Story Ideas to Start an Epic Adventure

    The hero's journey is one of the most beloved and popular story frameworks in books and film. Today we have 25 prompts with hero's journey story ideas, so you can write your own epic adventure tale!

  3. 10 Hero's Journey Short Story Examples

    Writing Advice 10 Hero's Journey Short Story Examples 10 Hero's Journey Short Story Examples January 9, 2024 / 8 minutes of reading The hero's journey doesn't just appear in novels! Discover our guide with the best hero's journey short story examples. The hero's journey is a narrative structure used in literature for centuries.

  4. 4 Illuminating Hero's Journey Examples From Popular Stories

    1. The Ordinary World 2. The Call of Adventure 3. Refusal of the Call 4. Meeting the Mentor 5. Crossing the First Threshold 6. Tests, Allies, Enemies 7. The Ultimate Boon 8. Crossing the Return Threshold 9. Master of the Two Worlds 10. Freedom to Live Can a Nonfiction Book Have a Hero's Journey? Hero's Journey Examples in Pop Culture

  5. Best Short Stories for Teaching the Hero's Journey

    Did I want to go with a popular classic, like The Odyssey? Or an engaging modern text, like The Hunger Games? That very challenge is what first got me thinking—What if my students could dive into multiple examples of the Hero's Journey? Besides, heroes come in all shapes and sizes, right?

  6. Writing 101: What Is the Hero's Journey? 2 Hero's Journey Examples in

    The hero's journey is a common narrative archetype, or story template, that involves a hero who goes on an adventure, learns a lesson, wins a victory with that newfound knowledge, and then returns home transformed. The hero's journey can be boiled down to three essential stages: The departure. The hero leaves the familiar world behind.

  7. Hero's Journey: Get a Strong Story Structure in 12 Steps

    The 12 steps of the hero's journey are: The Ordinary World. We meet our hero. Call to Adventure. Will they meet the challenge? Refusal of the Call. They resist the adventure. Meeting the Mentor. A teacher arrives. Crossing the First Threshold. The hero leaves their comfort zone. Tests, Allies, Enemies. Making friends and facing roadblocks.

  8. Writing the Hero's Journey: Steps, Examples & Archetypes

    by Alex Cabal 538 shares Pinterest What do Star Wars, The Hobbit, and Harry Potter have in common? They're all examples of a story archetype as old as time. You'll see this universal narrative structure in books, films, and even video games.

  9. The 12 Steps of the Hero's Journey, WIth Example

    Write with Grammarly What is the hero's journey? The hero's journey is a widely recognized storytelling pattern that has been used for centuries in literature and mythology. It is a framework that helps writers create compelling stories that resonate with their readers by depicting a protagonist who goes through a transformative journey.

  10. The Hero's Journey Examples

    The wheel to the right is an excellent visual to share with students of how these steps occur. Hero's journey diagram examples provide a visual roadmap for understanding the various stages and archetypal elements that protagonists typically encounter in their transformative quests.

  11. The Hero's Journey by Jessica McBirney: Story and Examples

    In this text, Jessica McBirney discusses the story of the Hero's Journey and examples of this writing formula found in other popular books. Read more here.

  12. Teaching the Hero's Journey

    Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey is a narrative structure that describes the typical stages that a hero undergoes in a story. Following along with the arch, these are the 12 stages of the hero's journey. The Ordinary World: The hero begins in a normal, mundane world, often unaware of the adventure that awaits.

  13. 7 Hero's Journey Examples In Real Life

    Here Are Best Hero's Journey Examples In Real Life. 1. Jarhead by Anthony Swofford. 2. The Pursuit of Happyness by Chris Gardner. 3. Gorillas in the Mist by Dian Fossey. 4. Apollo 13 by Jim Lovell and Jeffrey Klugar.


    x The stages of the journey/quest narrativ e archetype. x That quests usually have a dual nature: physical and emotional/spiritual. x How to use the Journey archetype to structure a fictional narrative. x How to use the Journey archetype to create a reflective personal narrative. Students will be able to: x Apply knowledge of the quest narrative to

  15. The Hero's Journey Unit

    E1.7 (F) analyze characteristics of multimodal and digital texts. Group project: Pick a film or book that has a hero in it. Create a multimedia presentation explaining how the hero completes each stage (12 total) of the hero's journey. Using Google Slides and turning in on the Google Classroom.

  16. Hero's Journey Essay Examples and Topics at Eduzaurus

    Introduction J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit is an excellent example of Joseph Campbell's archetype, a Hero's Journey. This archetype identifies ten stages in which an unlikely hero might go through to become a likely hero. In this novel, a hobbit named Bilbo Baggins is…. 4 Pages 1627 Words Topics: Adventure, Character, Mystery.

  17. Essays About Journeys: Top 5 Examples and 7 Easy Prompts

    The Best Journey in My Life by Suzanne Pittman "I had to save a lot of money because I wanted very much to go on this journey with my friends. We planned our trip to take us around Europe. We were going to stop in various parts of Europe with family members and friends." The essay mimics Pittman's travel itinerary during her journey in Europe.

  18. A Heros journey week 3

    I. The Birth of My Journey A. Developed a interest in people B. Trauma and death influence my interest in psychology II. My Trials A. Job in the field of psychology Help others overcome trauma Change peoples lives B. Inspire others around me III. My Quest A. Getting an education

  19. The Hero's Journey [Free Essay Sample], 1524 words

    Jeanette being the Hero, goes through the seven steps of The Hero's Journey which are Call to Adventure, Supernatural Aid, Threshold, Challenges, Abyss, Transformation, and conclusively, Return. Jeanette does eventually come out extremely successful, this being the final step, return. Call to Adventure. Jeanette Walls comes to terms with her ...

  20. Hero'S Journey Essay Examples

    Hero's Journey essay examples include fantasy and fiction stories. College essays about Hero's Journey cover almost all forms of literature and have room to explore different storylines, literary forms, and structures. It is safe to say that most people have come across this form of story template either as a book, essay, article, movie, or film.

  21. The Hero's Journey Free Essay Example

    The movie Shrek, is an excellent example of Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey because it's about an ogre going on an adventure, fighting odds and enemies, winning the battles, and bringing home the prize. In short, the Andrew Adamson and Vicky Jenson film, Shrek, is about an ogre who lives in a swamp by himself and is comfortable living in his ...

  22. Hero's Journey, Free Essay Sample

    The Initial Stage Trials & Tribulations The Black Boy - A Classical Example of Hero's Journey The Background First Step - Hero Leaves Hero Quest - Self Discovery Hero Faces Resistance Hero Returns Hero's Journey In the world of literature, several stories are connected with Joseph Campbell's description of a hero's journey model.

  23. ≡Essays on Hero's Journey. Free Examples of Research Paper Topics

    Essays on Hero's Journey Essay examples Essay topics 19 essay samples found 1 5 Dynamic Working Style, Communication, Reflection/hero's Journey 2 pages / 733 words The concept of a dynamic working style has become increasingly important in the modern workplace.