Burst the Bubble
Brooklyn, by Colm Toibin, depicts the story of, Eilis, the main character in this book. Throughout
it, she follows the “hero’s journey”, which is essentially a pattern in which different heroes of
different backgrounds go through. The journey includes twelve consecutive steps that shape the
story and are the building blocks of the plot.
However, The hero’s journey in Brooklyn is quite an out-of-the-ordinary one, which in some of
its steps, doesn't align with the book in the traditional manner. It is a passive hero’s journey
which reveals the true realistic nature and significance of this book.
Eilis is young Irish girl who immigrates to the U.S. to develop her career. However, don’t be
mistaken; she’s not some brave girl who leaves her home to achieve better things, she is
pushed into doing so by her family and friends. Even when she arrives in the US and starts
living her life in Brooklyn, she is constantly letting others make her own decisions and lacks any
form of assertiveness. She conforms to the expectations of others and follows the social norms.
Viewing Eilis as a hero is like looking at a deer in headlights; she’s far from your typical “hero”.
Looking at other well known heroes, like Katniss Everdeen from “The Hunger Games”, or
Wonder Women, they all are remarkable characters who have extremely strong ideals,
purposes and desires throughout their own hero’s journey. Those powerful aspirations are their
constant driving force and influence behind their journey; it keeps them going even when it’s
tough to eventually reach their goal in some way or another. However, Eilis is quite the
opposite, she doesn’t have any direction at all. She doesn’t even know what she wants. She’s
full of fear and her passiveness in this story is a major aspect of the book. It causes many of the
hero’s journey steps, specifically the Refusal to the Call and the Return with the Elixir to be
pretty vague or even non existent.
he Return with the Elixir is the final step of the Hero’s Journey, much can be interpreted about
the story and the presence of the Hero’s Journey throughout it.
In the movie, this part refers to Eilis going back to Brooklyn. What I found interesting about this,
is that in most cases, the hero ends up going to their familiar environment where the story
started, however in Eilis’s case, she goes back to where she initially left the unfamiliar. Her
“home” has changed. She also gains her own voice instead of just listening to all the other
voices in her life that tell her otherwise. Whether it’s her own insecurities or her family and
friends, she stops doing what they want her to do and be and she values her own stand and
voice. Ultimately she “slowly recognize[s]” that her “own” voice is what will make her a better,
independant and stronger person (Oliver 28-29).
However, this is not what happens in the book, as the Return with the Elixir, specifically the
Elixir is almost missing. The Elixir is supposed to be some prize, or...