The Hero's Journey

A breakdown of thought in mind.

This summary of the different elements of the hero's journey outlines the main four parts along with the different stages within each part.

During the exposition, the hero is in the ordinary world, usually the hero’s home or natural habitat.

Conflict arises, which calls the hero to adventure, where they are beckoned to leave their ordinary world in search of something.

They may refuse the call at first, but eventually leave, knowing that something important hangs in the balance.

Once the hero ventures out of the ordinary world and has officially begun their journey, they will meet a mentor or helper (a sidekick in some genres) and together these two will cross the threshold. This is the point where turning back is not an option, and where they usually encounter tests, allies and enemies. Obstacles like tests and enemies must be overcome to continue. Helpers aid in their journey.

Having overcome initial obstacles, in this part of the heroic cycle, the hero and their allies reach the approach. Here they will prepare for the major challenge in this new or special world.

During the approach, the hero undergoes an ordeal, testing them to point near death. Their greatest fear is sometimes exposed, and from the ordeal comes a new life or revival for the hero. This transformation is the final separation from their old life to their new life. For their efforts in overcoming the ordeal, the hero reaches the reward. The hero receives the reward for facing death. There may be a celebration, but there is also danger of losing the reward.

Once the hero achieves their goal and the reward is won, the hero and companions start on the road back. The hero wants to complete the adventure and return to their ordinary world with their treasure. This stage is often referred to as either the resurrections or atonement.

Atonement in hero's journey examples are when the hero conquers his demons or enemies and is transformed by the experience into a new person with a renewed self confidence. The hero becomes "at one" with themself. As they reach the threshold (returning from the unknown to their ordinary world), the reader arrives at the climax of the story. Here, the hero is severely tested one last time. This test is an attempt to undo their previous achievements. At this point, the hero has come full circle, and the major conflict at the beginning of the journey is finally resolved. In the return home, the hero has now resumed life in his/her original world, and things are restored to ordinary.