According to Joseph Campbell Monomyth stages of a hero, they can be summarized as journeys that involve the mythical spirits that carry the human life forward. S the paper will demonstrate in the life Odysessy, the journey takes the form of ancient Greek heroes such as the Spartans, Perseus, Hercules and the contemporary tales of Star Wars. The Monomyth stages have been used stories and in film productions to described the tales of the ancient heroes. As will be explained in the paper, the main characters have mystical backgrounds such as their parents being a god and a human being. At their birth, they are often unaware of their surrounding and all the danger that looms on their lands, and some live almost an unrecognized lives, insofar they may not be aware of who their parents were. They are reluctant at first to accept that they have a different fate from others until a tragedy strike in their homes, and when summoned to prove their worthiness in an effort to identify those who will lead in the battle, they first have to endure dangerous adventures. During these adventures, the heroes go through treacherous paths such as fighting mythical creatures and the tricks from evil women-who often know their destiny and therefore, attempt to distract them from completing their tests (Campbell 27).
It is at the time when the main characters defeat the dangerous journeys that they are recognized as candidates for the journey. Notably, the Monomyth stages cannot be complete without involving the help from gods. In a summary, the stages become complete when the main character is sent on a final mission, where the gods bless him with weapons with magical powers, and sometimes he has to take other dangerous adventure to acquire the remaining weapons, before he sets for the final mission. After the victory from the battlefield, the hero is praised by his people and bequeathed a beautiful princess to marry. Although there are different stages that have been used in stories and in film productions to describe the lives of the main protagonists, the basic pattern of their adventures revolves around, mystical births, treacherous adventures, magical weapons, temptations to their downfalls, overcoming the thresholds and eventually, victory (Campbell 56).
According to Joseph Campbell mmonomyth stages, the hero undergoes seventeen stages in order to complete his quest and which have been summarized into three broad categories. These categories include departure, initiation and return. Under these categories, there are other subcategories which will be identified and discussed below.
Call to Adventure
At this stage, the protagonist is in a boring situation in which there are obstacles that prevent him from setting off to him people. In some cases, it can be the supernatural powers that prevent him from setting off to his mainland, or he may be held captive by the gods for his wrongful deed in an unknown land. During this stage, the people from his home place experience a lot of problems but unfortunately, he is nowhere to help or rescue them. In the story of Odyesseus, for example, we are let know that he had been held as a sex captive in the island of goddess Kalypso. In additional, the angry sea god, Poseidon, refuses to let him go home. As the story unfolds, we can see the Odyesseus adventure starts as a mere blunders, in an eye catching phenomena that strays him from his path (Lombardo 3).
Refusal of the Call
Often, when the hero is summoned, he refuses to heed the call for many reasons. Some of the reasons include the failure to accept an obligation, s sense of inadequacy, fear, insecurity or any other forms of impediments that may be holding the hero his current circumstances. One of the encounters of Odyessues that we learn could be the part of the reasons he continues to stay in the island is the fear that he might be killed when he gets home on the allegations that he killed King Agamemnon, the brother to Menelaos. It this fun story that raises the question Odyesseus will be killed for the King’s death, and explains as his reason for staying at the island; because of the fear of being killed (Lombardo 10).
As soon as the hero accepts his obligation and commits himself to the quest, he starts receiving magical help, both consciously and unconsciously, and at this point, the present of the supernatural aid becomes known. The supernatural aid normally appears in the form of talisman or artifacts which are intended to help the hero in his later quest. Upon Mt. Olympus where the gods stay, the goddess Athena, asks her father to have mercy on Odyesseus. When Odyesseus sails across the sea in a raft, homesick as he sets off, Poseidon, the god of the seas sends a storm to destroy Odyessues ship. Athena upon seeing Poseidon wrath upon Odyesseus, she intervenes to save him. When Odyessues visits the witch-goddess Circe, he is given a drug called Moly by Hermes, so as to protect him from Circe’s magic.
Crossing the Threshold
Crossing the threshold involves the hero passing from the world he knows, into a world where the limits and the dangers remain unknown. In this adventure, the hero has to fight dangerous battles with spirits and creatures that do not exist in the realms of the human life. After Odyessues and his twelve ships were swerved off course by the storms, they are visited by lethargic Lotus-Eaters, and captured by Cyclops Polyphemus while on his island. Polyphemus starts eating Odyessues men. In order to escape, they fools Cyclops by giving him wine so that he could go to sleep, and later, tries to escape when Odyesseus tells Polyphemus of his identity. Unfortunately, Aeolus, the master of the winds, gives Odyesseus a bag containing winds that could swerve him to all directions, except the east west wing that could take the home to Ithaca. While pleading in vain to Aeolus so that he could help him again, the encountered cannibalistic Laestrygonians. When he sails to the witch-goddess Circe, she turns them into swine after they are fed with wine and cheese (Lombardo 140).
Belly of the Whale
At this stage, the hero accepts to be separated from his known world and the self. When the hero is in this stage, he reveals his willingness to change. Guided by Circe’s instructions, Odyesseus summons the spirits of Tiresias to advise him. Later, he learns through the spirit of his mother, who had died during his long absence, that there is a plan to overthrow him in his household by the greedy Penelopes suitors. It is at his point that Odyesseus decided to return to his household and challenge the traitors. He also awakens from temptations of Circe’s love affection and decides to reclaim his wife (Lombardo 160).
The Roads of Trails
The road of trails included the numerous tasks, tests and ordeal that the hero has to encounter in order to complete his metamorphosis or the transformation. During this stage, the hero often fails one or several of these tests, which are presented in threes. The witch goddess Circe is an example of a test that Odyesseus faces when he is making a resolution to return home to his wife. Circe turns his men into swine as a test to prevent him from leaving. Inclined with her love for Odyessues and the jealous to precede his wife, she tries to drug him with the Moly drug. Eventually, Odyesseus passes the test by remaining persistence in his love for his wife and does not fallen into temptations. Because of her love for him, Circe accepts to free him (Lombardo 165).
Meeting with the Goddess
The stage is important because love that is described to have the power and the significance that is above the all-powerful. The love is often unconditional and encompassing like the one an infant may experience with his or her mother. The meeting with the goddess stage has been considered to be the most important step in the transformation of the hero since it is at this stage that he finds the woman that he truly loves. Form Odyesseus story, he realizes that he had an unconditional love for his wife, Penelope and his son, Telemachus (Lombardo 170).
Woman of Temptress
At this stage, the heroes normally encounter temptations which are usually in physical or pleasurable forms, so that they may abandon their quests. The temptations may not necessarily be represented by women; instead, in the encounters of the hero knight who faces spiritual journey, a woman can be a metaphor representing the pleasures that should obstruct his from his mission. The metaphor hold true in Odyesseus tale. When they landed on the Island of Thrinacia, the Odyessues men ignore the warning from Circe and Tiresias and they are obstructed by their temptation to hunt the sacred cattle of Helios, the sun god. Helios tells Zeus, the god of all gods, to punish Odyesseus and his men, or else, he would shine the sun in the underworld. Taking Helios’ demands, Zeus caused a shipwreck during the thunderstorm that left the men drowning (Lombardo 210).
Atonement with the father
In this stage, the hero must be confronted or initiated by a figure that holds the ultimate power in his life. In many mythical stories, this is often the father, or a father figure who possesses the power of life and death. Despite this step have been associated with the encounter with a male, it does not necessarily have to be men. In Odyesseus tale, Athena, who is a goddess that has the ultimate power of life and death, disguises him as an old beggar so that he can learn how things have been going on at his house (Lombardo 216).
At this stage, the protagonist may die physically, live in spirit or die in self, or beyond the views of the opposites into a state of love, compassion, knowledge and bliss. A more critical way of looking at his is that time when the hero is in peace or fulfillment before the return. For instance, Odyesseus who is still a beggar endures insults hurled against him from his suitors. He knows that in his disguised form, he is in peace and having an opportunity to learn everything before he reveals his true identity (Lombardo 217).
The Ultimate Boon
At this stage, the hero completes his quest. It is the stage where what he went to get is revealed. Penelope organizes an archery contest for whoever wins; she promises that he would marry her. All except Odyesseus win the contest and reclaims his household (Lombardo 220).
Refusal of the Return
Having experienced the adventures, the enlightenment and bliss from the other world, the hero may not want to accept the new world and restore the benefits onto his fellow men. Odyesseus still shares the memories of his romantic adventure with the witch goddess Circe, the thoughts of the island they were trapped are still fresh in his mind. He had not completely accepted that he was home (Lombardo 230).
The Magic Flight
Sometime the hero returns home with boon from the adventurous world, which had been jealously guarded god. In Odyessues story, there is no clear indication of an object he obtained from the gods and which he still possesses when he return home (Lombardo 233).
Rescue from Without
Same way the hero requires assistants and guided during his quest, he also requires rescuers to bring them back to everyday life. Odyesseus congratulates the men who fought by his side and promises to work with them and earn a normal living (Lombardo 240).
Crossing of the Return Threshold
The stage involves returning with a new wisdom from the adventure, and the trick to integrate in the everyday life. Odyesseus manages to do this by revelaing to his wife that despite his estranged adventures, he remembers little details such as his bed could not be moved since one of its legs were from a live olive tree (Lombardo 300).
Master of Two Worlds
The stage involve being able to balance the spiritual world and the real world. Odyesseus finally lives in peace by devoting himself to work as a famer since it gave him the opportunity to have the inner peace and unconditional love to be with his family (Lombardo 310).
Freedom to Live
The person lives without the fear that he can die. In this stage, the person is considered to be living at the moment, neither referring to the future nor the past. Odyesseus lives happily by acknowledging that his love for his wife was the most important thing (Lombardo 350).
In can be seen that Joseph Campbell stages of monomyth depict a heroic story where the main characters encounter magic, evil, treachery, entrapments, tests, temptations finally the victory of their quests. In all these stages, the hero portray bravely or strength.
Campbell, Joseph. The Hero with a Thousand Faces. California: New World Library, 2008.
Lombardo, Homer Stanley. Odyssey. Indiana: Hackett Publishing, 2000. Print.