For the Promptless: Monomyth

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Monomyth is also known as “The Hero’s Journey”. It is a concept coined by Joseph Campbell who argues that classic myths from many cultures follow a basic pattern.

“In a monomyth, the hero begins in the ordinary world, and receives a call to enter an unknown world of strange powers and events. The hero who accepts the call to enter this strange world must face tasks and trials, either alone or with assistance. In the most intense versions of the narrative, the hero must survive a severe challenge, often with help. If the hero survives, he may achieve a great gift or “boon.” The hero must then decide whether to return to the ordinary world with this boon. If the hero does decide to return, he or she often faces challenges on the return journey. If the hero returns successfully, the boon or gift may be used to improve the world.”

More at Wiki:

Suggested Prompts:
Show a hero’s journey in photographs or images
Write a story following the classic monomyth pattern
… or make up your own related prompt!
1 Hero's Journey.jpg I

The nature of the monomyth may not be appealing to everyone, but it is very interesting to those who actually take the time to learn about it and how it applies to stories and movies in today’s modern world. Take for example, popular movies, stories, and comics such as the Matrix, Star Wars, the Ender’s Game, and the Lord of the Rings. The protagonists in these movies go through the same stages: Departure, Initiation, and Return.

I. Departure
1. Call to Adventure: The hero’s journey begins when the hero becomes aware of the world outside his home or town where he/she has lived for his entire life. His journey is usually given to him by a herald who helps the hero by acting as a guide.

2. Refusal of the Call: The hero may actually refuse the initial call to adventure, usually from their fear of change. The hero will eventually go on his journey, either from “encouragement” by a supernatural force or by an event that almost forces the hero to move beyond his home.

3. Supernatural Aid: As the hero travels on his journey, he may meet with an old man, a god/goddess or a messenger who gives the hero a weapon or some magical powers.

4. Crossing the First Threshold: This “threshold” the hero must cross is what separates the hero from the comforts of his home to the adventurous new world filled with mystery and danger. Sometimes the threshold is guarded by a gatekeeper whom the hero must defeat.

5. Belly of the Whale: As the hero crosses the threshold, he finds himself alone in the darkness of new world. In the darkness, the hero may find his purpose to go on the journey and can emerge from the “belly of the whale” as a new person.

II. Initiation
1. Road of Trials: In the new world, the hero must confront a series of challenges and tests to help the hero improve his character and skills to become more self-reliant.

2. Meeting with the Goddess: During the Road of Trials, the hero may encounter the goddess of the new world, who could be viewed as a beautiful, motherly figure or as a queen. The goddess can bring complete fullness to the hero’s character, helping him realize what awards await him when he finishes his quest.

3. Woman as the Temptress/Temptation from the True Path: Women in a hero’s journey can sometimes be represented as a temptress, rather than a goddess, and also acts as another step in the Road of Trials. The hero must overcome his selfish desires to return to the rightful path and also build his character.

4. Atonement with the Father: Eventually in his journey, the hero may encounter a fatherly figure with much authority. The father figure (like the goddess) can be portrayed as a man who feels threatened by the hero or as a man who helps the hero in his journey. Either way, the hero must reconcile with the father to understand him and himself.

5. Apotheosis: A hero’s apotheosis is achieved when he comes to a realization about the purpose of life and himself. With an expanded consciousness, he views the world in an entirely different way than when he first started his journey. Usually, the hero at this point becomes a selfless person who always cares for others before himself.

6. The Ultimate Boon: With the new knowledge the hero acquired in his apotheosis, he now wishes to share it with the rest of mankind. Usually, the knowledge the hero obtains is related to immortality, where an indestructible live continues after the death of the body.

III. Return
1. Refusal of the Return: Once the hero finishes his quest, he may not want to return to his home and stay in the new world. The hero may believe that the old world won’t accept or understand what the hero has learned on his journey.

2. The Magic Flight: The hero may rather decide to return home after finishing his quest. He may be accompanied by a protector who helps him overcome the obstacles the hero might face as he returns home. With the prize in hand, the hero must flee from those he angered on his journey.

3. Rescue from Without: While on the return journey, the hero may need to be rescued from death or from a state of helplessness and bliss.

4. Crossing of the Return Threshold: As the hero travels to return home on his journey, he must once again cross the threshold separating his home and the new world. He may have to defeat another gatekeeper, and in the process become “reborn” with his humanity after his “death” from crossing the threshold the first time.

5. Master of Two Worlds: Once the hero crosses the threshold, he comes to realize that there really is nothing separating his home from the new world. He now understands the differences and the balance between the comfortable safety of his home and the new world. With this understanding, he has also balanced his character and mind.

6. Freedom to Live: Now with the journey complete, the hero has reached an understanding with himself and can now live freely between his home and the new world. With his new-found knowledge, he can now be beneficial to the world.

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