Objective 2

The student will demonstrate an understanding of Joseph Campbell’s theory of the monomyth.

Monomyth Artifact: A Webspiration chart I created describing Frodo Baggins’ journey in The Lord of the Rings in accordance with Campbell’s theory of the monomyth.


Lord of the Rings: yet another of my many obsessions. And so, when it was announced that we would be doing an analysis of the journey of a hero of our choice according to Joseph Campbell’s theories, I immediately thought of Frodo. I was so set on claiming Frodo (for each hero could be used only once and there are sixty-eight people in my class) that I forced myself to wake up at eight on a Saturday morning to inform my teacher of my choice. Funnily enough, the first two people to claim their heros—myself and another student—both wanted to analyze Frodo Baggins, and as we had both told her this at almost the exact same moment, she made an exception and allowed us to both do our projects on him.

The monomyth is a simple pattern found in heros’ stories across the world. Identified and formalized by Campbell in his work Hero of a Thousand Faces, the various elements of the monomyth, or hero’s journey, can be found in myths across cultures, times, and places. Campbell divided the journey into approximately seventeen stages, beginning with the ‘Call to Adventure’ and ending invariably with the ‘Freedom to Live’.

Frodo exists as the perfect example of the hero’s journey. From his initial ‘call to adventure’ to his apotheosis and recrossing of the threshold, Frodo’s epic journey represents almost every element of the monomyth so exactly that at times it seemed that Campbell had based his theories off of Frodo’s journey, and his alone (though this is, of course, impossible as Lord of the Rings had not yet been published when Campbell was formulating his ideas of the monomyth. Hero of a Thousand Faces was actually published the year Tolkien finished all major work on The Lord of the Rings, though it was really published five years later in 1954.)

When we had first examined the hero’s journey in class, by every stage I had made a note detailing an example from a work of literature (or in some cases movies) that I was familiar with. Nine times out of ten this example was from The Lord of the Rings (the other time it was either Harry Potter or Star Wars). This made beginning my chart fairly easy. I had all the elements and their corresponding examples down almost immediately and all that remained was to format them.

Surprisingly, this was the hardest part of the assignment. No doubt this was due partly to it being my first time using Webspiration, but I also felt justified in blaming at least a fraction of it on Webspiration’s program, which I found slightly prehistoric. However, with a lot of patience I completed the chart, revised it and published it.

Over all, I believe I did very well on this assignment. My analysis was in-depth and relatively concise and I understood the concepts of the monomyth well The only problems were the results of much wrestling with Webspiration. These included illegible typefaces in places and some aesthetic troubles like bubbles clumping together in one part and spreading out more in another. After the completion of this assignment, and now looking back on it as something five months past, I realize that what created most of the problems I encountered in the project was my own stubborn impatience, and that without this trait, all might have gone smoothly.

A chart outlining the hero's journey.

Image Sources: http://www.tuckborough.net/images/Frodo.jpg



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