The Archetypal Hero Thesis

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Archetypal Hero Thesis
The archetypal hero appears in all religions, mythologies and epics of the world in different forms and stories which distinct commonalities can be drawn between each. An archetype is a recurring pattern of character, images, situations or symbols found in mythology, religion, dreams and stories of all cultures that is an expression of the world’s personal and collective unconscious. By that, an archetype is an unlearned tendency to experience things in a certain way. Humans didn’t ‘invent’ archetypes, but they do express archetypes in the conscious world, therefore, the hero is not someone “out there” in the universe but the hero is an expression of people’s deep psychological aspect of human existence. Heroes from different stories, cultures and times, all possess different traits, whether it is gender, disposition, motives or context. However, the common factor that creates the archetypal hero is the fundamental structure that their journeys follow or, as Joseph Campbell refers to it, the monomyth. Campbell summarizes it as being, “A hero [that] ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.” While not every story containing a hero follows this path exactly, the hero will be identified by following a similar journey, whilst reflecting the appearance and values of the dominant thinking in a societal group, with the story resulting in the hero’s people gaining independence, usurping power or obtaining a number, or at least one, favorable result to the journey.

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