The hero’s journey, also referred to as the monomyth, is an idea formulated by noted mythologist Joseph Campbell. The central concept of the monomyth is that a pattern can be seen in stories and myths across history. Campbell defined and explained that pattern in his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1949).
Campbell’s insight was that important myths from around the world, which have survived for thousands of years, all share a fundamental structure. This fundamental structure contains a number of stages, which include
- a call to adventure, which the hero has to accept or decline,
- a road of trials, on which the hero succeeds or fails,
- achieving the goal (or “boon”), which often results in important self-knowledge,
- a return to the ordinary world, which again the hero can succeed or fail, and
- application of the boon, in which what the hero has gained can be used to improve the world.
Later, screenwriter Christopher Vogler refined and expanded the hero’s journey for the screenplay form in his book, The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers(1993).