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The Hero’s Journey Breakdown

The Hero’s Journey is a narrative structure or template that outlines the typical adventure of a hero in mythology, literature, and storytelling. It was popularized by Joseph Campbell, a renowned mythologist, in his book “The Hero with a Thousand Faces.” The Hero’s Journey consists of various stages that the hero goes through on their transformative journey.

The Ordinary World

This stage allows readers or viewers to connect with the hero’s everyday life and gain a clear understanding of their world. It showcases their routines, relationships, and the challenges they face, providing a relatable starting point for the audience.

Call to Adventure

The hero’s journey begins when they receive a call to embark on a quest or adventure. This call can come in various forms, such as a message from a wise elder, a supernatural occurrence, or a personal revelation. It disrupts the hero’s ordinary life, igniting their curiosity and desire for change.

Refusal of the Call

Initially, the hero may resist the call to adventure due to fear, self-doubt, or a sense of obligation to their current life. They may question their abilities or worry about leaving behind their familiar world. This stage emphasizes the internal conflict the hero must overcome before embracing their heroic journey.

Meeting the Mentor

The hero encounters a mentor or guide who possesses wisdom, knowledge, and experience. The mentor serves as a source of inspiration, offering guidance, advice, and teaching the hero valuable lessons. This relationship provides the hero with the support and tools they need to navigate their challenges.

Crossing the Threshold

The hero makes a conscious choice to step out of their comfort zone and venture into the unknown. This symbolic crossing of the threshold represents their commitment to growth and change. They leave behind their familiar world and embark on a transformative path, ready to face whatever lies ahead.

Tests, Allies, and Enemies

As the hero progresses on their journey, they encounter various tests, challenges, and obstacles. These trials serve to develop their character, strengthen their skills, and shape their determination. Along the way, they may find allies who support and aid them, as well as enemies or adversaries who oppose their progress.

Approach to the Inmost Cave

The hero approaches a critical challenge or ordeal, often represented as an innermost cave or a symbolic place of danger. This stage builds tension and anticipation as the hero prepares for a significant confrontation that will test their resolve, determination, and inner strength.


The hero faces their most significant trial or challenge, pushing them to their limits physically, emotionally, or morally. They must confront their deepest fears, overcome their weaknesses, or make sacrifices to overcome this hurdle. The ordeal represents a transformative experience that forces the hero to evolve and grow.


After successfully overcoming the ordeal, the hero reaps the rewards of their efforts. This reward can take various forms, such as a physical object, newfound knowledge or abilities, a deeper understanding of themselves or the world, or a sense of accomplishment and personal growth.

The Road Back

The hero embarks on their journey back to the ordinary world, often encountering additional obstacles or pursuing a goal related to their quest. This stage can involve a chase, a race against time, or a final showdown with the antagonist. The hero’s determination and resilience are tested once again.


The hero faces a final, climactic battle or ordeal that represents the ultimate challenge or threat. This stage symbolizes a metaphorical death and rebirth, where the hero undergoes a profound transformation. They rise above their limitations, confront their greatest fears, and emerge stronger, wiser, and ready to fulfil their destiny.

Return with the Elixir

The hero returns to the ordinary world, bringing back the “elixir” or the boon they have gained from their journey. This can be a physical object, a piece of wisdom, a newfound perspective, or a change that positively impacts their life and the lives of others. The hero’s return marks the completion of their quest and the beginning of a new chapter in their life.

The Hero’s Journey is a comprehensive narrative structure that resonates with audiences because it mirrors the human experience of growth, transformation, and self-discovery. It reflects our innate desire for personal development and the courage to embrace change. The stages of the Hero’s Journey provide a roadmap for storytelling, creating engaging narratives that captivate and inspire.

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Published inWritingWriting tips


  1. LG LG

    You singlehandedly summarized the plot to all of my favorite dystopian and fantasy novels.

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