Hero’s Journey Essay
The hero’s journey is a format that lies in the heart of all stories. There is evidence of writers following the hero’s journey from thousands of years ago, to modern times. Although heros may take different forms, such as Katniss Everdeen, Neo, or Gilgamesh, they are all the same person in the eyes of the hero's journey. It may be hard to comprehend but by looking at pieces from vastly different times, The Matrix, and The Epic of Gilgamesh, it becomes clear that the hero’s journey lies hidden within the bindings of every story.
According to Joseph Campbell, the hero’s journey consists of three major phases: departure, initiation, and return. Although these phases can be expanded into the hours on a clock, these three sum up the hero’s journey that occurs in every tale. Campbell came to the realization of the hero’s journey in his book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces. In this book Campbell explains the hero’s journey and how it has been represent throughout time and culture. He study past and present literature from all kinds of cultures and found they all appeared to follow the same formula of departure, initiation, and return.
In the first phase of the hero's journey, the departure, the hero leaves which is familiar to him and enters into a new and unknown world where he must conquer new challenges to prove himself in some way. The departure can be expanded into the call, refusal, supernatural aid, crossing the threshold, and the belly of the whale. In the case of, The Epic of Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh experiences a call to adventure and a change of heart when he meets his equal, Enkidu. This experience changes the way Gilgamesh treats his people and prompts him to adventure into an unknown world to prove himself with his brother. We see a similar yet different situation with the departure in the Matrix. Neo, the main character, experiences his call to adventure when his computer screen speaks to him and rattles his mind with the concept of the matrix. Although he is reluctant to go, he final chooses to enter this special world when he consumes the red pill over the blue pill. In both stories we can see that our hero is faced with a decision or groundbreaking experience that alters their actions and views on their ordinary world.
In the second phase of hero’s journey, the initiation, the hero is initiated into the ways of his destiny and is tested on every level, even death. The initiation can be expanded into trials, the goddess, the temptress, the father, apotheosis, and the ultimate boon. We can see the stages of the initiation in the Epic of Gilgamesh when he must face several tasks such as defeating the Bull of Heaven, overthrowing Humbaba, and even accepting the death of Enkidu. Gilgamesh conquered monsters, trials the gods threw at him, and even...