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Pat Swenson, CSUN - Myth & Archetype: The Hero's Quest Outline
mythological ruins and sculpture

Prof Pat Swenson

Campus Email: pat.swenson@csun.edu

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Department of English

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Phone: 818.677.3431

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Myth & Archetype: The Hero's Quest Outline


Nuclear Monomyth According To Joseph Campbell

Separation: Venturing from common day world into region of supernatural wonder.

Penetration: To some source of power where a decisive victory is won.

Return: Coming back with power to bestow boons on fellow man.

12 Story Steps To The Myth

Act One

(1) Ordinary World - Something is missing in this world. It’s the hero or hera’s present, everyday situation. It’s described in order to create a contrast. A question is raised.

(2) Call To Adventure - information is put into the hero or hera’s system, often brought by a messenger.

(3) Reluctant Hero or Hera

(4) Wise Old Person (most optional of steps) - Maybe gives message to trust the path.

Act Two

(5) Special World - Hero gets very committed by his will – or not.

(6) Tests, Allies & Enemies - Enmities and alliances are formed. What are the conditions to the quest? How will the hero react?

(7) Innermost Cave - Holds what the hero wants.

(8) Supreme Ordeal (at ¾ point in 2nd Act) - Hero surviving/transcending “death.”

(9) Seizing The Sword - Taking possession. Enjoying the spoils. But maybe something else chases the hero. Often a missing piece is introduced.

Act Three

(10) The Road Back

(11) Resurrection - Another hero’s test. Final proof – better if visual.

(12) Return with Elixir - To share with everyone.