Typically in Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey (monomyth), the hero is called upon to embark on a life-altering quest. After accomplishing each feat of the journey–accepting the call, crossing the threshold, encountering the shadow presence (in Luke Skywalker’s case; his aunt and uncle and the Tusken Raiders). Once the hero passes the point of no return, they enter the world of unfamiliarity, some of which will contain threats (The Empire), some will offer magical aid (Yoda, Ben Kenobi). When the hero finally reaches the mythological belly of the whale, several events can happen, but the one most germane to this discussion is the recognition by the father-creator (father atonement), which Luke does by confronting Vader and helping to redeem Anakin back to the light side by defeating the Emperor. The final step is that of the return. If the powers have consecrated the hero, they now set forth upon returning. When crossing the return threshold, the transcendental powers must be left behind; the hero re-surfaces from darkness; the blessing that they bring restores the world (freedom from the Empire’s oppression and rebuilding the Jedi Order).
How Deep Did George Lucas Go with the Hero’s Journey in Star Wars? — A Guest Blog by Tomas Pueyo
Much has been said about George Lucas and the Hero’s Journey. He discovered Joseph Campbell’s idea while the script for A New Hope and became instantly fascinated: so many elements of his movie fit in the Hero’s Journey framework! He decided to go all in and rewrite his script to turn it into a fundamental myth.
In the light of the highly anticipated release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Guy Raz of NPR’s TED Radio Hour takes a look back at Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey and how it influenced George Lucas as he created the mythology of Star Wars.
Jay’s Galactic Espressions
I recently taught a lesson in my high school classroom about The Hero’s Journey, popularized by Joseph Campbell’s work The Hero With a Thousand Faces. Part of the lesson included choosing a hero with which the student could identify, and correlate that hero’s values with their own. It was a great way to help them evaluate their own identity and personal “code of ethics.”
When looking at the Priestesses and the Overlords of Mortis as one general amalgamation of a higher plane of existence beyond the tangible world of our main heroes and villains, it was seen in Part II that the beings of a higher power, serving as guides and instructors for the instruments of destiny in the real world, often play the role of the trickster as part of the standard hero’s peregrination — shaping and molding the actions of corporeal chess pieces through contrivance, surrealistic visions, trials, and suggestion.
No one exhibits those characteristics more than the Priestesses: the beings who christen Yoda with the knowledge of post-mortem omniscience and omnipresence. Perhaps intimating that Yoda couldn’t handle the additional understanding of the Chosen One’s inevitable destiny, destroying both the corruption within the Jedi and the Republic, before eliminating the Sith at the height of their power (metaphorically exhibited as Anakin’s taming both the Daughter’s Griffin and the Son’s Gargoyle toward the end of “The Overlords”), upon successful completion of a conspiratorial Priestess/Sith final exam, ‘Serenity Priestess’ plants a seed that draws Yoda toward a different Skywalker other than Anakin. As they exist without time or space, she allows Yoda to hear a baby’s prospective clamor, and echoes the great Jedi master’s notable final words: “There is another Skywalker.” Given the additional criteria used to convince her sisters of Yoda’s prerequisite qualifications for greater power — that, “he will teach one who is to save the galaxy from the great imbalance…,” the die is cast for Yoda’s return to extant-Phantom Menace apprehension concerning Anakin’s promise as a Jedi, and upon his inevitable fall into darkness (really a fulfillment of the first half of his destiny as the Chosen One), the simultaneous birth of Luke and Leia will trigger the memory of that moment ‘Serenity Priestess’ shared with him, and Yoda (with the assistance of Obi-Wan Kenobi), will continue the pursuit of the prophesy with renewed vigor amidst the despair surrounding the destruction of their once proud Order. But the great Jedi master, with a principled Obi-Wan at his side, isn’t privy to the prescience afforded the exalted beings of the Force: Anakin will be that phoenix who rises from the ashes, but he must first reawaken from his dark sleep via the trigger he created out of an act of rebellion against the very dogmatic doctrine the Force created him to destroy.
I am thrilled to announce that my first post for the Official Blog can now be found on Star Wars.com! I talk about how I incorporate Star Wars into the High School curriculum, as well as why using the Saga is relevant (as well as pertinent) to advancing critical thinking and analyzing literature. The support from our community has been fantastic, and I am grateful.
Getting to write a Blog for Star Wars has always been a dream of mine, and I am incredibly humbled by the experience. Be on the lookout for some references to our show, and help us spread the word! MTFBWY!