Tag: hero's journey

Character Archetypes Series: #2 Hero

Character Archetypes Series: #2 Hero

In this article of Character Archetypes Series, we talk about Hero.

The Hero is the first of the Characters Archetypes.

Joseph Campbell in his work The Hero with a Thousand Faces talks about it in depth. Campbell’s studies also directly involved Christopher Vogler, a consultant for the Disney screenplays, who in the late 90s wrote a book taking cues from Campbell’s archetypes and his Hero’s Journey also called Monomyth, developing a useful book for the analysis of films and written stories.

So, we see in so many narratives, literary and cinematographic, that the protagonist leaves his “comfort zone” to go to another place to face challenges and inner demons that will lead him to change forever, and then return to his own world, with a different awareness of himself.

Who is the Hero?

The Hero is almost always the protagonist of the narrative. The story and the Hero’s Journey are concentrated around him.

Character Archetypes Series: #1 What is an archetype? - Hero's journey.
Illustration by Valentina Forni @cloudandcowfish

The figure of the Hero is presented in the first part, that of the Ordinary World.  Here we describe the context in which he spends his daily life, what are his bonds, his values.

However, the Hero also has a weakness, defined as “Fatal Flaw“, which can coincide with the affections or with the strong desire to change the condition of his current life.

It is a missing puzzle piece that intrigues him, which makes him stay awake at night like Neo in the Matrix, drawn to the feeling that the world he belongs to is different. Likewise, Harry Potter.

They both feel the lack of something unknown that does not allow them to feel complete.

He is a character with a strong desire, like Pinocchio who wants to grow, transform, and become a child.

You must give up the life you planned in order to have the life that is waiting for you.


Characteristics of the Hero 

The protagonist has characteristics in which the reader recognizes himself: he has contradictions and has defects that in their own way contribute to making him more attractive in the eyes of those who read his stories as well as making him more “real“. 

Thanks to this strong bond created between the Hero and the public, we want as much as the Hero himself for the Journey to end successfully.

During the story, the Hero grows, reflects, changes, and returns at the end of the Journey as a different Hero from the one who left, with a greater awareness of himself.

Another striking example is Mulan, the protagonist of the Disney cartoon. She’s a young girl who dishonors her family because she does not reflect the characteristics of the perfect woman and wife.

Mulan feels she does not belong to the context that surrounds her. Only when she decides, disguising herself as a man, to take her father’s place in battle, she finds herself and she honors her family.

How the Hero’s Journey begin 

In the second stage, the “Call to Adventure”, an event turns the “Ordinary World” upside down and the Hero understands what his goal is.

It is not obvious, however, that he immediately decides to follow his Journey.

Why should he put his life in danger or risk leaving what he has, what he knows well, for something unknown?

This step is called “Refusal of the Call”. It involves a triggering, dramatic event: the death of a loved one, for example, or the impossibility for the Hero to return to his previous life.

The protagonist lives the situation of the classic straw that breaks the camel’s back and is now able to make the decision to venture into the narrative by finding his own personal motivations.

This is the main difference between the “Call to Adventure” and the “Refusal of the Call”: in the first, his social world has been subverted and the motivation to undertake the Journey is external, while in the second phase the Hero finds an internal and personal motivation. 

The Hero’s Journey in films and books 

Many narratives, be they books or films, take the same path.

Let us take the movie “Star Wars” as an example. George Lucas, the director, admits that the script largely follows Campbell’s Hero’s Journey. 

Think about how the narration of the film begins. Luke Skywalker is a young man who lives in Tatooine, a desert planet of the Outer Rim. He works with his uncles in the fields. Even though he wishes to enroll in the academy, his uncle Owen does everything to keep him out. Here is his “Ordinary World”.

When the two droids, R2-D2 and C-3PO arrive, Luke’s world is turned upside down. This is the time for the “Call to Adventure”. But Luke will initially refuse to get involved, simply trying to retrieve his uncle’s droids and return home, restoring the “Ordinary World”.

The triggering event is the murder of his uncles and so the Hero’s Journey begins.

How does the Journey continue?

The first three phases belong almost exclusively to the Hero and his world.

These are moments in which the public begins to understand who the Hero is, what his characteristics are, and in which world he lives.

In the following stages, however, our Hero will meet other characters who will accompany him on his Journey.

We will talk about these and the other characters in the next articles.

Create your perfect Hero thanks to bibisco

In this article, we have described the initial stages of the Journey that a Hero must face and the characteristics that must belong to his character.

However, it is not so easy to think of structuring a protagonist with such an interesting character to capture the attention of the public from the very first moments.

Thanks to bibisco novel writing software everything will be much easier.

Character Archetypes Series: #1 What is an archetype? - bibisco character's interview
bibisco character’s interview

You can use the interview mode to understand which structure and what behaviors to give to your Hero, thus creating a character that you will not forget!


The Hero is not an infallible character, he is much more human than what the term itself suggests.

Thanks to his flaws, his indecisions, his values ​​he manages to create a particular bond with his audience to the point of passionate and moved him in following the events of his Journey.

The beauty of this character is the evolution that characterizes the life of each of us.

Think about it, what moment of your life was your “Call to Adventure”?

Character Archetypes Series: #1 What is an archetype?

Character Archetypes Series: #1 What is an archetype?

An archetype, by definition, is the first example of something.

Carl Gustav Jung talked a lot about archetypes in the field of analytic psychology. He defined archetypes as the unconscious content of a group that replicates certain behaviors according to particular constants.

From these studies, Joseph Campbell, an American scholar of comparative mythology and history of religions, started to define the archetypes of a narrative, a canvas that guided every narration, albeit with different elements, protagonists, plot and historical periods.

His studies led to the publication in 1949 of the essay The hero of a thousand faces.

Campbell analyzed the structure of many myths and narratives in order to define an archetype, that is, a structure of elements, characters (called Character Archetypes) and events that are repeated in the course of the story.

According to his model, each narrative was composed of a pattern that was always the same, or rather an archetypal model which he called “the Hero’s Journey”.

Character Archetypes: what and which are they?

We introduced the concept of Character Archetypes identified by Campbell in the narrative. The definition of these figures is fundamental to create the characters of a story and is an essential prerequisite for the drafting of a text.

Many novice writers tend to focus all attention on the plot of the story, leaving aside the characterization of the characters which, however, is as fundamental as the narrative texture.

The archetypes are in fact models of behavior, of the roles that the character must play and that represent the narrative functions in the story. Each character has a different role and function within the narrative and for each of them, their human nature must emerge, characterized by strengths, defects and contradictions. 

We think of Ulysses, a tenacious mythological hero who sails for ten long years in the direction of home but who lets himself be tempted by the pleasures of the flesh bewitched by the sorceress Circe. Think of Alice who in Wonderland follows the white rabbit in his lair, falling into the tunnel that leads her to Wonderland or even to Harry Potter, who lives his internal duplicity by fighting the part of Lord Voldemort that is inherent in him. These three characters are some typical examples of the figure of the Hero, although they represent diametrically opposed characters.

In the most interesting stories, the characters evolve and therefore the association between a character and an archetype is not necessarily fixed. In fact, there are characters that are born with a particular function and that in the course of history acquire another. Because the engine of every story is the conflict of the characters and their evolution.

Campbell defined eight Character Archetypes:

  1. Hero
  2. Mentor
  3. Ally
  4. Herald
  5. Shapeshifter
  6. Shadow
  7. Guardian
  8. Trickster

In the articles that follow in the coming weeks, I will describe them carefully, one by one.

The phases of “The Hero’s Journey”

Character Archetypes Series: #1 What is an archetype? - Hero's journey.
Illustration by Valentina Forni @cloudandcowfish

While there are eight Character Archetypes, the Hero’s journey consists of twelve distinct phases.

The call to adventure signifies that destiny has summoned the hero.


Let us start with the first phase, the “Ordinary World”: the hero leaves one world to begin his journey and enters a second world. Although it is the starting point and the one that the protagonist leaves after a short time, the Ordinary World is anything but marginal. It is the element that reinforces the story, which makes the reader grow fond of because it gives the protagonist a reason to complete the journey and return, from his habits, his world or his loved ones.

The “Call to Adventure” is the second stop. Here the objective of the Hero’s journey is established and coincides with the moment in which something happens that starts the rest of the narrative. The other two phases are connected to each other: the “Refusal of the Call” and the “Meeting with the Mentor”. Without the Hero who refuses the action and initially shun their duty, there would be no meeting with the Mentor, the one who guides the protagonist during the journey with his wisdom.

When the Hero finally accepts the challenge, we find “Crossing the First Threshold” and it is the point of no return. The story now begins and we only look forward to what will happen during the journey.

In the area of ​​“Tests, Allies, and Enemies”, the Hero faces the first challenges, meets Allies, Enemies and you understand the parts of all the characters: who is on the good side and who is on the bad side.

The second threshold is the “Approach to Inmost Cave”. This is the most dangerous part of the Journey and of the story, of preparation, of the internal struggles of a team. It is the moment in which the Hero understands something more about himself. 

We then move on to the “Supreme Ordeal”, the most critical and hard part of the test in which the Hero risks his own life and if he passes it, the Hero goes directly to the next phase, “Reward”, in which the Hero reaches his reward or its goal. Then, we set out for the return “The Road back”, where we see a different Hero from the one who left, who has learned a lot from himself and from the journey. 

The third threshold, the last one, is the “Resurrection” which could also be called the litmus test. It is the moment in which the Hero proves to have really changed, where even the reader recognizes himself in the awareness of the Hero until the final phase, “Return with Elixir” that sees the Hero return to his world, from which he started and that concludes the story.

Develop your characters with innovative novel writing software such as bibisco

bibisco helps you to create your story thanks to its innovative software.

As explained, archetypes are fixed and predefined patterns of behavior that recur in narratives.

The characters, however, are the “mobile” element of the story, made up of conflicts, uncertainties, mistakes and which evolve over the course of history. This is what makes a story interesting. With bibisco, you can easily define the role and behavior of your character thanks to the interview mode.

Character Archetypes Series: #1 What is an archetype? - bibisco character's interview
bibisco character’s interview


This article opens a long series of eight other articles in which I will write about the Character Archetypes figures in detail.

A question may arise: how is it possible that the narratives are so different from each other if they have the same structure as the archetypes and stages of the Hero’s Journey?

What makes the difference is obviously the context of the narrative itself, as well as the part that is defined for each character. The nature of each character changes during the story, making them more real and thrilling for the reader.

Some characters amaze us because, in the end, they turn out to be friends like Professor Snape, who turns out to be the one who always looked after Harry Potter, or traitors, like Gollum in The Lord of the Rings.

In addition to the plot, it is the characters that make the difference in the narrative, and in this bibisco helps you to perfectly build the personality of the protagonists of your next story.