Research Paper

Topics: Hero, Epic of Gilgamesh, Epic poetry Pages: 10 (4326 words) Published: April 10, 2011
The Hero with a Thousand Faces is a non-fiction novel written by Joseph Campbell. The book explains Campbell’s 17 steps of a hero. Campbell believed that all heroes went through these steps through out there journey. Many books emphasize and prove his theory correct, but these were some pieces that came to mind were the epic of Gilgamesh, Beowulf, and Things Fall Apart. In these pieces of literature we deal with two types of heroes. There is the tragic hero such as Okonkwo in the book Things Fall Apart, and then there is an epic hero like Beowulf, and Gilgamesh in their self named poems. A tragic hero is a literary character who makes an error of judgment, and or has a fatal flaw within them. These flaws combined with fate and external forces, brings on a tragedy. Then there is the epic hero. An epic hero is An epic hero is an important figure from a history or legend, usually favored by or even partially descended from a God. They are usually in close contact with mortal figures in literature. They are also associated with being very brave and loyal. An example of a tragic hero would be Okonkwo. Okonkwo in Things Fall Apart consists of a major flaw which led him to his exile and unfortunate suicide by the end of his journey. His father was just a lazy person, and was known as a coward in his village. He was in debt, and only cared about his music and women. He had no interest of paying anyone back, and died with this reputation. Okonkwo feared that he would end up like his father, and he tried his best to never become that way. By the end of the book his he commits suicide, and that is looked upon as a cowardly move in his village. So Okonkwo is not able to overcome his flaw because in the end he runs away from his father by committing suicide, and ends up just like his father. An example of an epic hero would be Beowulf. Beowulf was a brave and thoughtful character. He said to be descended from a God, and he was also strong like a God. He was always ready to help. Especially when he finds out Herot is in danger. He gets to Herot as quick as he could, and was able to defeat Grendel and Grendel’s Mother. He does all of this without refusing the call in the beginning. He also dies at the end with dignity. He never gave up even when his men left his side. He was still able to come through. Another example of an epic hero is Gilgamesh. Gilgamesh just like Beowulf was said to be descended from a God, but he was not too quick to jump into action. He was a brave person, and he was strong just like Beowulf, but he just questioned himself in some ways. Once he did jump into his adventure he was brave, and finished the job at hand like a hero should. Even though he does help through his journey by his friend Enkidu, Enkidu is not considered a epic hero, but he is a hero in his on way. By the end Enkidu does die, but Gilgamesh could not bare the sight of his friend. He does seek out eternal life by the end of his journey. Joseph Campbell had a theory that all heroes went through a series of steps in their journeys. These steps go for epic heroes and tragic heroes. The steps may not all be followed by some heroes, and sometimes they are done out of order. In all there are seventeen steps, and these steps are all in separate stages. There is the departure, the initiation, and the return. The first stage is the departure, and it contains five out of the seventeen steps. The first step is the call to adventure. In this step the hero is first notified of the situation at hand. This could mean that the hero’s home is being threatened, or the hero just gets into trouble and needs to fix the problem. The news is usually brought to the hero’s attention by another character in the story. Then the character must make a decision on whether or not they will take the call. The next step is referred to as the refusal to call. The refusal to call is when the character actually refuses to accept the call. In most cases the characters do not...
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