The archetypal hero journey, Joseph Campbell states, is a typical series of heroic actions. Four stages form the hero journey: departure, trials, epiphany, and return (the stages do not necessarily occur consecutive with the listing). Death and resurrection of lifestyle and beliefs, spiritual journey, and finally rebirth form hero journey's motif. An archetypal hero pattern is the transformation of the character's conscience through trials and revelations. Lust, fear, and social duties tend to be the main trials heroes face. Campbell defines a hero as a character who overcomes his trials and gives his life to something superior to himself--committed extraordinary deeds. There are two types of heroes. The physical hero gives himself to rescue someone's physical life or well-being; the spiritual hero returns to enlighten his people and, therefore, spare them misfortune or disastrous situations. Such characters enable the author to aid the reader in perceiving the positive aspects of negative situations and vice versa. Joseph Campbell's hero journey outline provides an understanding for the paths heroes take pertaining to their specific circumstances.
Two characters that follow the hero journey are Job of the wisdom books of the Old Testament and Murder in the Cathedral's Thomas Becket. Job is a fortunate and distinctively devout man. Satan wants to prove to God Job's faith will falter if his blessings are obliterated. Satan creates an agonizing event sequence Job must suffer through. Job's children, livestock, land, and health are taken away from him, and his comforters--three friends and a wife--believe Job deserves the turmoil and tell him he must repent his sins to regain his splendor. Becoming frustrated with the increasing agony he must endure, Job questions God's actions but retains his faith. Thomas Becket's story begins when King Henry II has trouble prosecuting church clergy under England's law since the church they should try clergymen. Believing Becket will be a government ally, Henry appoints Becket (then King Henry's chancellor) Archbishop. Becket finds the church has the right to try its, and holds God's will above the king's. Murder in the Cathedral begins with Becket, the current Archbishop of Canterbury, returning to England. Becket has been hiding from King Henry II since his dispute with Henry caused his fleeing from England seven years ago. Becket is pressured to make a fate-determining decision. After contemplating several tempters' propositions, Becket realizes his way is apparent. Ultimately, Becket passively protests and is murdered for his beliefs. Job and Thomas Becket follow the archetypal hero journey; but the paths the characters follow are not always comparable.
Job's departure is a lifestyle departure. Living his life splendidly fulfilled, Job's life is suddenly a desolate, horrid mortality. First, savage thieves take Job's livestock and servants, a fire claims his children, and finally his health deteriorates. "Truly the thing that I fear comes upon me, and what I dread befalls me. I am not at ease, nor am I quiet; I have no rest; but trouble comes." (Job 3:25-26) This dismal new condition leaves Job frustrated and confused, but he maintains his faith.
Thomas Becket has two departures. The first is a physical departure--Becket physically leaves the stage during a period of deep introspection following the four tempters' propositions. After physically exiting, Becket actually acquires his second, spiritual departure. The spiritual departure Becket undergoes is not stated directly, but occurs while Becket is off stage. Becket's spiritual departure occurs when he separates material, worldly values from spiritual, moral values, and the realizes he can live without the worldly values, but not without the expression of his spiritual values. Determining his life's significant elements, Becket decides his earthly fate.
"Now is my way clear, now...
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