The Hero's Journey: Using Jungian Archetypes to both Create & Analyze Fiction

The Hero's Journey: Using Jungian Archetypes to both Create & Analyze Fiction
The Hero's Journey: Using Jungian Archetypes to both Create & Analyze Fiction
The Hero's Journey: Using Jungian Archetypes to both Create & Analyze Fiction
The Hero's Journey: Using Jungian Archetypes to both Create & Analyze Fiction
The Hero's Journey: Using Jungian Archetypes to both Create & Analyze Fiction
The Hero's Journey: Using Jungian Archetypes to both Create & Analyze Fiction
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Common Core Standards:

RL.11-12.3
RL.11-12.4
RL.11-12.5
RL.11-12.7
RL.11-12.10

Almost every great story ever written, told or passed down from generation to generation has had one or more of a few common structures. These structures create the framework of the tale. One of these structures is The Hero’s Journey.

Some have called The Hero’s Journey a quest. A quest is a search for something of importance, accomplished often by traveling. The object of the quest could be anything of value. It could be the Holy Grail; it could be the ring sought in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R. Tolkien. It could be the search for a new cure to a loathsome disease. It could be a personal journey or an exploration for personal truth.

Joseph Campbell who says that there are three stages to any call to adventure or quest: Separation, Initiation, and Return. Campbell describes the adventure this way:

A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.

The hero’s journey has several stages to it. Some of these stages of the quest are:

1. Hearing a call to an adventure.
2. Crossing a threshold that once crossed there is no turning back.
3. Meeting a mentor who offers help and guidance.
4. Experiencing a series of successes and reverses;
5. Reaching a point of despair when all seems lost.
6. Finding the resources to overcome defeat and achieving victory.
7. Returning to society with a great lesson learned and/or a gift to offer others.

In addition to the stages of The Hero’s Journey, there are the famous archetypes of Carl Jung. A few of these are:

1. The hero.
2. The mentor.
3. The shadow.
4. The shapeshifter.
5. The herald.
6. The trickster.
7. The threshold guardian.

The following unit plan explores both the hero’s journey and the various archetypes the hero meets on the journey.
This unit plan will allow you to either create a work of fiction or alternatively to analyze a work of fiction such as Huckleberry Finn, Catcher in the Rye, or a Shakespearean tragedy. You can use it either way.

The hero’s Journey is in the final analysis the story of each one of us as we journey through life. Both Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell believed that the hero’s journey is a metaphor for everyone’s journey through life. It is a set of principles for living a human life. We are all on a hero’s journey as we confront the challenges to our growth and progress. The hero’s journey is our journey or our quest to grow and become all that we can be.

Consider for example, how you would rewrite the questions at the end of stage one, The Ordinary World for Huckleberry Finn. The current unit below (the Creative Writing unit) suggests these questions:

The Ordinary World Questions:

1. What does your hero need to become a complete person? What are his/her needs, desires, flaws etc? What hidden secrets does he/she hold? What secrets does he need to reveal? Is there an inner problem? An outer one? What fatal flaw could bring him down? Is this flaw universal or individual? Does he/she have a wound? Physically or emotionally?
2. What is the environment that he/she lives in? What social or political pressures does he face?
3. What is a typical day like in his world? Is it deadly dull? Too exciting or stimulating? Too tempting?

Rewrite:
The Ordinary world of Huckleberry Finn:

1. What are the needs of Huck? What does he really want? What are the flaws of Huck? What are his fears? Are these flaws a reflection of Huck himself or are they a reflection of his culture? What could destroy him, either physically or spiritually? How is Huck wounded?
2. Describe Huck’s environment. What social pressures does he face?
3. Describe a typical day in Huck’s life. What temptations or social injustices does he face?

It all depends on how you want to plan your unit. Good Luck!

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