The Hero’s Journey Part 2

As I previously mentioned, our Hero may be reluctant about leaving the Ordinary World and answering the Call of Adventure. A mentor may be provide moral support to the Hero and give her the necessary impetus to finally answer the call which leads us to the next step in the Hero’s Journey:

Crossing the First Threshold:

  • Hero agrees to face the challenge of problem posed in the Call to Adventure
  • Crossing into the Special World is an act of will
  • Often illustrated by showing the hero crossing a physical barriers, i.e. door, bridge.
  • Crossing the Threshold is generally the turning point in which the adventure actually begins. It’s when the hero has overcome her basic fears and reluctance and decided to proceed on the journey. For example, think of the very funny fight scene in Miss Congenialty. We’ve seen Sandra Bullock’s character in her Ordinary World — that of a rather unkempt and unappreciated female FBI Agent. When presented with the opportunity to go undercover, she balks at the prospect. She is goaded by Benjamin Bratt’s character who serves in part as a Mentor (Bratt plays a shapeshifter, actually, but more on that later). During the fight scene, Bullock finally accepts the Call to Adventure and agrees to go undercover. She crosses the threshold and begins the journey.

    So what happens along this journey? Miss Congeniality follows the Hero’s Journey with the next few scenes which develop. How? Bullock’s character finds:

    Tests, Allies and Enemies:

  • Hero is presented with challenges and tests
  • Makes allies and enemies
  • These tests show us the hero’s character as she and her companions respond to the tests
  • Tests prepare the Hero for greater ordeals ahead
  • This is our first view of the Special World which should be very different from the Ordinary World the hero has just left
  • “Getting to know you” scenes common at this point
  • Think about all the people Miss Congeniality now meets. People who prepare her for the Adventure (a true mentor in the Michael Caine character), put up barriers, become her allies and/or show their colors as enemies.

    The section of the journey during “Tests, Allies and Enemies” will show us how the hero responds to others around them and by doing so, will help us develop the hero’s character. Each encounter with an ally or enemy and each test will demonstrate either something good or bad about her. Is she loyal? Is she compassionate? Is she bitchy or nice? Think of Miss Congeniality and each encounter with one of the beauty queens or as she prepares for each of the events during the pageant. Each test and encounter demonstrates something about her character.

    Now that we know more about our character (and in reality, the character knows more about herself), we need to take that knowledge and have the hero:

    Approach the Inmost Cave:

  • Hero confronts and prepares for achieving her goal
  • May suffer setbacks or reversals of fortune
  • The hero now understands what is the purpose of the journey and prepares to reach that ultimate goal (for example, finding out who has threatened the pagaent). Even though the hero understands the goal, the challenges and tests are not yet over. In fact, the hero may find that while she has taken 3 steps forward, she is now forced to take two back. Think of the information that Miss Congeniality has gleaned from the beauty queens and how none of the FBI agents believe her because they think the Bomber has been caught. She has acheived the goal of finding all the information she needed, but her investigation is set back by the arrival of her director and his news.

    What does a hero do in this situation? The hero must now face the Supreme Ordeal.

    ***End Part Two***

    The next three steps in the Hero’s Journey are:
    The Supreme Ordeal
    Reward (Seizing the Sword)
    The Road Back

    Copyright 2006 Caridad Pineiro Scordato