The Hero’s Journey
A hero, a person admired for achievements or noble qualities, doesn't just start out leading others; it takes time, people, and experiences to shape them. The same can be said for Jonathan and Siddhartha in Jonathan Livingston Seagull and Siddhartha respectively. These characters go on journeys, both spiritually and physically, to achieve their goals. Despite their differences, both stories follow to relatively ordinary people as they make extraordinary journeys to find not only greatness, but to achieve the unachievable.
Many heroes start from humble beginnings, unaware that their seemingly normal lives will be completely turned upside down. In Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Jonathan lives in a world where they fly to eat and that’s it. Jonathan, however, believes that there is more to his world, constantly yearning for more despite the harsh words of his peers and parents. Jonathan decides that despite the naysayers, he will try to achieve top flight speeds, a feat which no gull has ever done. During the night, he practices for hours and hours, trying to get the perfect combination to reach top speeds. Eventually he comes to the conclusion that gulls can “lift ourselves out of ignorance, we can find ourselves as creatures of excellence and intelligence and skill. We can be free! We can learn to fly!” (Bach 30-31). Beyond proud of his compliment, Jonathan tells his fellow gulls of this new skill. Unable to understand why anyone wouldn’t want to have a purpose in their life, Jonathan is then publicly shamed for his choice. The “ Center of Shame,” where gulls who have acted out or broken rules are publicly chastised, is where the leader gull informs Jonathan that he is officially kicked out and shunned from the flock, never to see his parents or fellow flock members again. Similar to Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Siddhartha follows Siddhartha, the son a a Brahmin, loved by all, and with nothing stopping him from achieving greatness, Siddhartha believes that there is more to this world. He wants to achieve Nirvana, or ultimate peace, by going with Samanas and his friend Govinda to try and learn from those who are holier than himself. He asks his father to leave, but he is originally denied. Siddhartha tells his father that those are his wishes, and that although he won’t disobey, he will stand until the answer has changed. Fortunately, his father allows his son to go with the Samanas to learn, but if his plans fail he s welcome to come back to his father. Siddhartha embarques on his journey to not only attain wisdom, but to find his “self.”
Throughout a hero’s journey they are tempted, guided, and most importantly they face numerous life altering struggles. Jonathan, after his banishment to the far cliffs, tries to hone his flying skills, which eventually lead to his death. Jonathan hates the limitations his body and on his success, but after two pure white gulls take him to a heaven like place, all of those limitations he...