The Arc of the Hero

The hero is forged on a journey that follows three different categories. The first part of the journey is separation. It starts with a call, an internal beckoning to proceed along the unrealized yet destined path.  This self-reflecting dichotomy, an internal struggle to discern the legitimacy of what is being asked, is the beginning of the destruction of the old self. Once the call is answered, a purification will ensue through the second stage of rediscovery.   A series of trials and tribulations will cleanse the hero of his/her restrictions with the hope that he or she will shed the ultimate limitation: the ego. With the ego in their rear view mirror, it is time to return to the land once called home with your new self to share the enlightenment that comes with one who has embarked on a successful heroic journey. Leading by example, the hero will be a lighthouse for all who come to follow.

Now Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero of a Thousand Faces is an inspiring and well written treatise of comparative mythology.  I am glad I have embarked on the journey of reading this book for the path of my own arc however let’s apply this to Forgetful Jerry. Forgetful Jerry loses his winter stash and enters into a dark stage of helplessness. Unsure of what to do, he runs out of the house.  Here we see a point of separation from society however it is not really a call to purification but rather a knowledge that he is cooked come winter time without any acorns. His motive of separation is a correlation of his desperation. The next step though is compatible with the arc of the hero as Jerry has a meeting with a guardian of the threshold.  Jim the Badger is an unlikely source but every hero has to find some spiritual guidance from the most strangest of conduits. Once the adventure begins, Jerry has a serendipitous meeting with Steve the Skunk, another unlikely although comparable guardian, to accompany him on his path.  Think Han Solo from Star Wars or Harry from Dumb and Dumber.  The two of them overcome rough terrain and a shaky memory to finally find the winter stash in the able hands of Hambone. Cue the lesson, the spiritual transcendent nugget of wisdom that friends sure are important in this world. This is where our story ends, as Jerry’s return to society is more a relief that he won’t starve this winter rather than enlightenment of an internal transcendence.

Besides the arc of Jerry, another critique was the length of the manuscript.   Already too long, one can argue that Jerry embarks on 1 and a half of the steps in the hero’s journey. How does one include a lifetime of the molding of a character in less than 500 words? 500 words to depict Jerry’s unique journey into a stone as common and rugged as the rest of us? 500 words to display the same concepts yet in different format as the Illiad, Arabian Nights or the story of Jesus? 500 words and not one children’s book I have read since this critique remotely follows the path of the hero? I don’t know man. Maybe I am looking too much into this.

1 Comment

Leave a Reply