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Joseph Campbell was a curious mythologist. In the field of comparative mythology, most scholars invested their time exploring how one culture’s myths are different than another.
Instead of focusing on the many differences between cultural myths and religious stories, however, Campbell looked for the similarities. And his studies resulted in what’s called the monomyth.
The monomyth is a universal story structure. It’s a kind of story template that takes a character through a sequence of stages.
The main character in the monomyth is the hero. The hero isn’t a person, but an archetype—a set of universal images combined with specific patterns of behavior. Think of a protagonist from your favorite film. He or she represents the hero. The storyline of the film enacted the hero’s journey. The Hero archetype resides in the psyche of every individual, which is one of the primary reasons we love hearing and watching stories.
Campbell began identifying the patterns of this monomyth. Over and over again, he was amazed to find this structure in the cultures he studied. He saw the same sequence in many religions including the stories of Gautama Buddha, Moses, and Jesus Christ.
Campbell outlined the stages of the monomyth in his classic book The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Jeffrey, S. (n.d.) How to Use the Hero’s Journey for Personal Development. Retrieved from https://scottjeffrey.com/heros-journey-steps/