16 March 2015
SWA 4: Patterns of the Hero Monomyth in Sons of Anarchy
In his renowned work, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell defined the essential stages of the Heroic Journey, using examples from a wide range of myths and stories. His objective was not only to establish the framework for hero tales, but also to convey why these elements of the monomyth prevail in so many different works. Campbell’s view states that “the hero myth is really written about every human being: we are all heroes struggling to accomplish our adventure” (Whomsley, 185). From this perspective, it seems justified that these patterns continue to appear in so many stories adventure and heroism; we all want our lives to mean something, and we can be heroes if we fight for our goals. However, it is important to note that not every hero story is a direct replica of the mythic structure. Certainly there are deviations in contemporary examples of the heroic journey. Let’s look at Jackson (Jax ) Teller, the protagonist of FX’s hit series Sons of Anarchy in the hero monomyth context. During the first stage, known as the “separation” or “departure”, the hero steps out of the world he has always known, into a different, unfamiliar land of adventure. For Jax Teller, the world of danger, chaos, and adventure is the only world he has ever known, and it is the same world he will face the challenges that comprise his journey. Therein lies a discrepancy in terms of the traditional structure of a hero’s beginning; however, the element of rising to a challenge in order fulfill one’s purpose is a huge part of Jax’s role in Sons of Anarchy. As the story develops, Jax’s ultimate mission is revealed: he must get his club out of selling guns, and protect his family by making sure his sons do not follow the same path that he did. We can equate Jax’s relentless strife to protect his club and his family to the concept of the “Road of Trials”. A...
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