Joseph Campbell: Changing Literature Forever

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Just Keep Swimming With Campbell
Every story needs a hero, right? For centuries authors and poets have included this essential character into their work. Without knowing literature has been seldom following the same archetype, The Hero’s Journey. Joseph Campbell discovered that most stories follow this pattern which is why he dubbed it the monomyth. Through years of studying he found that this popular motif is made up of ten basic steps that a hero follows through a story. Well known film writer and director George Lucas molded the film Star Wars around Campbell’s monomyth not only with intent but quite distinctively. Lucas is not the only one doing this in Hollywood either, many screenwriters and directors have caught on to this including Andrew Stanton as he depicted his version of the monomyth in Finding Nemo. This animated film follows the archetype laid out in Joseph Campbell’s, The Hero With a Thousand Faces.

In order for the hero to begin their journey they must first face The Call to Adventure. This is the first step in Campbell’s pattern of which the hero faces an outside force that separates him from something that is significant to him. This call is brought to the hero by the herald of the story. One author said that, “The hero’s journey actually begins with The Call to Adventure, the first occurrence in a chain of events that will separate the hero from home and family” (Henderson 22). In Finding Nemo The Call to Adventure takes place when the scuba diver, the herald of the story, takes Nemo and forces his father Marlin to chase after them and the boat. This is all caused by Nemo’s defiance of his father in which Nemo swims out into the open water to touch the boat because he wants to prove to his father that he is ready to go to school and move on to the next chapter of his life. Campbell describes this by saying that people do things in their lives that are influenced by others. The person feels ready to move on to the next step of their life and go into the unknown (58). There are three ways that a hero is usually called to adventure. In Marlin’s case he is lured into the journey because of the love for his son. The other two ways are that a hero is thrown in to the adventure or that he sets out to perform a deed.

As in most tales or myths the hero denies that they are being challenged to the adventure. This is called the Refusal of the Call and usually occurs in the story nearly after The Call to Adventure. Stanton portrays this in Finding Nemo through Marlin’s fear of the open water. Vogler proclaims that, “Often at this point the hero balks at the threshold of adventure, Refusing the Call or expressing reluctance … The hero has not yet fully committed to the journey and may still be thinking of turning back” (Vogler 11). Although it is not voiced Marlin is hesitant for a split second before chasing after Nemo; this is caused the traumatic experience of the Barracuda killing his wife and children except Nemo after moving to “The Drop Off”. Marlin’s decision is close to instantaneous unlike most heroes in other stories. Often the hero is usually pushed into the adventure and finds themselves not wanting of it, they usually give excuses as why they cannot proceed with the journey but a chain of events forces the hero to do so (Henderson 36).

Next in the process of The Hero’s Journey is the meeting with the mentor. The hero refuses the call and then finds themselves in a struggle and someone or something aids them in order for the hero to find their way (Campbell 71). The hero will feel lost and will be wanting of some support in his journey; this is when the mentor emerges into the story and provides Supernatural Aid. This exemplified by one author as he said, “The function of Mentors is to prepare the hero to face the unknown. They may give advice, guidance or magical equipment” (Vogler 12). Marlins mentor, who seems to quite dim-witted, is Dory. She is faced with the weakness of short term memory...
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