The Hero’s Journey.
1.Heroes are introduced in the ORDINARY WORLD
they receive the CALL TO ADVENTURE
2. They are RELUCTANT at first or REFUSE THE CALL, but
are encouraged by a MENTOR to
3.CROSS THE THRESHOLD and enter the Special World, where
they encounter TESTS, ALLIES, AND ENEMIES.
4. They APPROACH THE IN-MOST CAVE, cross a second threshold
where they endure the ORDEAL
5. They take possession of their REWARD and
are pursued on THE ROAD BACK to the Ordinary World.
6. They cross the third threshold, experience a RESURRECTION, and are transformed by the
They RETURN WITH THE ELIXIR, a boon or treasure to benefit the ORDINARY WORLD.
4. APPROACH TO THE IN-MOST CAVE. The hero and newfound allies prepare for the major challenge
in the Special world.
THE ORDEAL. Near the middle of the story, the hero enters a central space in the Special World and
confronts death or faces his or her greatest fear. Out of the moment of death comes a new life.
THE HERO REACHES THE INNERMOST CAVE
The hero comes at last to a dangerous place, often deep underground, where the object of his quest is
hidden. In the Arthurian stories the Chapel Perilous is the dangerous chamber where the seeker finds the
Grail. In many myths the hero has to descend into hell to retrieve a loved one, or into a cave to fight a
dragon and gain a treasure. It’s Theseus going into the Labyrinth to face the Minotaur. In STAR WARS
it’s Luke and company being sucked into the Death Star where they will rescue Princess Leia. Sometimes
it’s the hero entering the headquarters of his nemesis; and sometimes it’s just the hero going into his or
her own dream world to confront his or hers worst fears… and overcome them.
THE HERO ENDURES THE SUPREME ORDEAL.
This is the moment at which the hero touches bottom. He faces the possibility of death, brought to the
brink in a fight with a mythical beast. For us, the audience standing outside the cave waiting for the victor
to emerge, it’s a black moment. In STAR WARS, it’s the harrowing moment in the bowels of the Death
Star, where Luke, Leia and company are trapped in the giant trash-masher. Luke is pulled under by the
tentacled monster that lives in the sewage, and is held down so long the audience begins to wonder if
he’s dead. E.T. momentarily appears to die on the operating table.
This is a critical moment in any story, an ordeal in which the hero appears to die and is born again. It’s a
major source of the magic of the hero myth. What happens is that the audience has been led to identify
with the hero. We are encouraged to experience the brink-of- -death feeling with the hero. We are
temporarily depressed, and then we are revived by the hero’s return from death.
This is the magic of any well-designed amusement park thrill ride. Space Mountain or The Great White
Knuckler make the passengers feel like they’re going to die, and there’s a great thrill that comes from
surviving a moment like that. This is also the trick of rites of passage and rites of initiation into fraternities
and secret societies. The initiate is forced to taste death and experience resurrection. You’re never more
alive than when you think you’re going to die.