Beowulf and the Hero's Journey

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Topics: Beowulf, Monomyth
Joseph Campbell’s term monomyth can be described as a hero’s journey. Many heroic characters follow the monomyth, no matter the time period or culture the literature was created in. The poem Beowulf is known to follow the adventure of the hero described in Campbell’s monomyth . The hero’s journey consists of three rites of passages: separation, initiation, and return. Beowulf endures each of these stages throughout the epic poem, so his journey does follow Campbell’s monomyth. The separation is the first stage a hero must go through in his or her journey. This stage consists of “a blunder -apparently the merest chance- reveals an unsuspected world, and the individual is drawn into a relationship with forces that are not rightly understood.” (42) This is known as the hero’s call to adventure. In Beowulf, Beowulf “heard how Grendel filled nights with horror and quickly commanded a boat fitted out.” (197-98) Beowulf couldn’t stay away when he heard that help was greatly needed defeating Grendel; he accumulated his men right away and shipped off to Denmark. The next step is the refusal to call. Beowulf does not refuse to go on this adventure because of his honor. He believes he is the strongest Geat and can defeat anything. Following this step is supernatural aid. Supernatural aid “provides the adventurer with amulets against the dragon forces he is about to pass.” (Campbell 57) In Beowulf the help can be considered God. Beowulf often thanks God for helping him on his journey. For instance, “He relied on for help on the Lord of All, on His care and favour.” (1271-72) The final stage in separation is the crossing of the threshold. In this case the threshold can be considered the ocean. Beowulf and his crew had to cross the ocean in order to come to Denmark to kill Grendel. When they arrive in Denmark they are basically starting their adventure right then, vowing to try and protect. The second rite of passage in the monomyth is initiation. “ The

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