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Thread: The Hero Quest

  1. #1
    Sesshu is offline Senior Member Well Known
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    Nov 2005

    Default The Hero Quest



    Most stories take place in a special world, a world that is new and
    alien to its hero. If you're going to tell a story about a fish out
    of his customary element, you first have to create a contrast by
    showing him in his mundane, ordinary world. In WITNESS you see both
    the Amish boy and the policeman in their ordinary worlds before they
    are thrust into alien worlds -- the farmboy into the city, and the
    city cop into the unfamiliar countryside. In STAR WARS you see Luke
    Skywalker bored to death as a farmboy before he takes on the


    The hero is presented with a problem, challenge, or adventure.
    Maybe the land is dying, as in the Arthur stories about the search
    for the Holy Grail. In STAR WARS again, it's Princess Leia's
    holographic message to Obi Wan Kenobi, who asks Luke to join in the
    quest. In detective stories, it's the hero accepting a new case.
    In romantic comedies it could be the first sight of that special --
    but annoying someone the hero or heroine will be pursuing/sparring
    with the remainder of the story.


    Often at this point, the hero balks at the threshold of adventure.
    After all, he or she is facing the greatest of all fears -- fear of
    the unknown. At this point Luke refuses Obi Wan's call to adventure,
    and returns to his aunt and uncle's farmhouse, only to find they
    have been barbqued by the Emperor's stormtroopers. Suddenly Luke is
    no longer reluctant, and is eager to undertake the adventure. He is


    By this time many stories will have introduced a Merlin-like
    character who is the hero's mentor. In JAWS it's the crusty Robert
    Shaw character who knows all about sharks; in the mythology of the
    Mary Tyler Moore Show, it's Lou Grant. The mentor gives advice and
    sometimes magical weapons. This is Obi Wan Kenobi giving Luke
    Skywalker his father's light sabre.

    The mentor can only go so far with the hero. Eventually the hero
    must face the unknown by himself. Sometimes the wise old man is
    required to give the hero a swift kick in the pants to get the
    adventure going.


    He fully enters the special world of his story for the first time.
    This is the moment at which the story takes off and the adventure
    gets going. The balloon goes up, the romance begins, the plane or
    spaceship blasts off, the wagon train gets rolling. Dorothy sets
    out on the Yellow Brick Road. The hero is now committed to his
    journey... and there's no turning back.


    The hero is forced to make allies and enemies in the special world,
    and to pass certain tests and challenges that are part of his
    training. In STAR WARS, the cantina is the setting for the forging
    of an important alliance with Han Solo, and the start of an
    important enmity with Jabba The Hut. In CASABLANCA, Rick's Cafe is
    the setting for the "alliances and enmities" phase, and in many
    westersn it's the saloon where these relationships are established.

    The tests and challenges phase is represented in STAR WARS by the
    scene of Obi Wan teaching Luke about the Force, as Luke is made to
    learn by fighting blindfolded. The early laser battles with the
    Imperial Fighters are another test which Luke passes successfully.


    The hero comes at last to a dangerous place, often deep underground,
    where the object of his quest is hidden. In the Arthurian stories
    the Chapel Perilous is the dangerous chamber where the seeker finds
    the Grail. In many myths the hero has to descend into hell to
    retrieve a loved one, or into a cave to fight a dragon and gain a
    treasure. It's Theseus going into the Labyrinth to face the
    Minotaur. In STAR WARS it's Luke and company being sucked into the
    Death Star where they will rescue Princess Leia. Sometimes it's the
    hero entering the headquarters of his nemesis; and sometimes it's
    just the hero going into his or her own dream world to confront his
    or hers worst fears... and overcome them.


    This is the moment at which the hero touches bottom. He faces the
    possibility of death, brought to the brink in a fight with a
    mythical beast. For us, the audience standing outside the cave
    waiting for the victor to emerge, it's a black moment. In STAR
    WARS, it's the harrowing moment in the bowels of the Death Star,
    where Luke, Leia and company are trapped in the giant trash-masher.
    Luke is pulled under by the tentacled monster that lives in the
    sewage, and is held down so long the audience begins to wonder if
    he's dead. E.T. momentarily appears to die on the operating table.

    This is a critical moment in any story, an ordeal in which the hero
    appears to die and is born again. It's a major source of the magic
    of the hero myth. What happens is that the audience has been led to
    identify with the hero. We are encouraged to experience the
    brink-of- -death feeling with the hero. We are temporarily
    depressed, and then we are revived by the hero's return from death.

    This is the magic of any well-designed amusement park thrill ride.
    Space Mountain or The Great White Knuckler make the passengers feel
    like they're going to die, and there's a great thrill that comes
    from surviving a moment like that. This is also the trick of rites
    of passage and rites of initiation into fraternities and secret
    societies. The initiate is forced to taste death and experience
    resurrection. You're never more alive than when you think you're
    going to die.


    Having survived death, beaten the dragon, slain the Minotaur, the
    hero now takes possession of the treasure he's come seeking.
    Sometimes it's a special weapon like a magic sword, or it may be a
    token like the Grail or some elixer which can heal the wounded land.

    Sometimes the "sword" is knowledge and experience that leads to
    greater understanding and a reconciliation with hostile forces.

    The hero may settle a conflict with his father or with his shadowy
    nemesis. In RETURN OF THE JEDI, Luke is reconciled with both, as he
    discovers that the dying Darth Vader is his father, and not such a
    bad guy after all.

    The hero may also be reconciled with a woman. Often she is the
    treasure he's come to win or rescue, and there is often a love scene
    or sacred marriage at this point. Women in these stories (or men if
    the hero is female) tend to be SHAPE-SHIFTERS. They appear to
    change in form or age, reflecting the confusing and constantly
    changing aspects of the opposite sex as seen from the hero's point
    of view. The hero's supreme ordeal may grant him a better
    understanding of women, leading to a reconciliation with the
    opposite sex.

    10) THE ROAD BACK.

    The hero's not out of the woods yet. Some of the best chase scenes
    come at this point, as the hero is pursued by the vengeful forces
    from whom he has stolen the elixir or the treasure. This is the
    chase as Luke and friends escape from the Death Star, with Princess
    Leia and the plans that will bring down Darth Vader.

    If the hero has not yet managed to reconcile with his father or the
    gods, they may come raging after him at this point. This is the
    moonlight bicycle flight of Elliott and E.T. as they escape from
    "Keys" (Peter Coyote), a force representing governmental authority.
    By the end of the movie, Keys and Elliott have been reconciled, and
    it even looks like Keys will end up as Elliott's father. (The script
    not the final cut, guys).


    The hero emerges from the special world, transformed by his
    experience. There is often a replay here of the mock
    death-and-rebirth of stage 8, as the hero once again faces death and
    survives. Each ordeal wins him new command over the Force. He is
    transformed into a new being by his experience.


    The hero comes back to his ordinary world, but his adventure would
    be meaningless unless he brought back the elixir, treasure, or some
    lesson from the special world. Sometimes it's just knowledge or
    experience, but unless he comes back with the exlixir or some boon
    to mankind, he's doomed to repeat the adventure until he does. Many
    comedies use this ending, as a foolish character refuses to learn
    his lesson and embarks on the same folly that got him in trouble in
    the first place.

    Sometimes the boon is treasure won on the quest, or love, or just
    the knowledge that the special world exists and can be survived.
    Sometimes it's just coming home with a good story to tell.



    The hero is introduced in his ordinary world, where he receives the
    call to adventure. He is reluctant at first but is encouraged by
    the wise old man or woman to cross the first threshold, where he
    encounters tests and helpers. He reaches the innermost cave, where
    he endures the supreme ordeal. He seizes the sword or the treasure
    and is pursued on the road back to his world. He is resurrected and
    transformed by his experience. He returns to his ordinary world with
    a treasure, boon, or elixir to benefit his world.


    As with any formula, there are pitfalls to be avoided. Following
    the guidelines of myth too rigidly can lead to a stiff, unnatural
    structure, and there is danger of being too obvious.

    The HERO MYTH is a skeleton that should be masked with the details
    of the individual story, and the structure should not call attention
    to itself. The order of the hero's stages as given here is only one
    of many variations. The stages can be deleted, added to, and
    drastically reshuffled without losing their power.

    The values of the myth are what's important. The images of the
    basic version -- young heroes seeking magic swords from old wizards,
    fighting evil dragons in deep caves, etc., -- are just symbols, and
    can be changed infinitely to suit the story at hand.

    The myth is easily translated to contemporary dramas, comedies,
    romances, or action-adventures by substituting modern equivalents
    for the symbolic figures and props of the hero story. The Wise Old
    Man may be a real shaman or Wizard, but he can also be any kind of
    mentor or teacher, doctor or therapist, crusty but benign boss,
    tough but fair top sargeant, parent, grandfather, etc. Modern
    heroes may not be going into caves and labyrinths to fight their
    mythical beasts, but they do enter an innermost cave by going into
    space, to the bottom of the sea, into their own minds, or into the
    depths of a modern city.

    The myth can be used to tell the simplest comic book story or the
    most sophisticated drama. It grows and matures as new experiments
    are tried within its basic framework. Changing the sex and ages of
    the basic characters only makes it more interesting, and allows ever
    more complex webs of understanding to be spun among them. The basic
    characters can be combined, or divided into several figures to show
    different aspects of the same idea. The myth is infinitely
    flexible, capable of endless variation without sacrificing any of
    its magic.

    And it will outlive us all.
    Why is this whole thing important in manga? well if you bother reading it you'll relieze how every manga is exactally the same. The whole "Hero's Quest" is told many time, with million of million of variations.

    Seen reading "The Hero with a Thousand Faces" by hoseph campbell, I found that i can appericate mangas a lot more then I have uses to.

    I though I post this to get the very gist of the book, even if you don't read the book, just reading the above would enlighten you a ton,
    Some how I'm unbanned.... Yay!

    But my wonderful waterfall sig is gone!!! Do you have any idea how much time I spent on it!!!

    ~They call me the Master Researcher~

  2. #2
    Schiljo is offline Senior Member Long Time Member
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    Jul 2005
    Heaven or hell


    also describes like a shitload of games

  3. #3
    cpr's Avatar
    cpr is offline Super Moderator Community Builder
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    That's the format of a typical epic hero story.

    Nothing new for me. It's been around since...well, like forever. Oldest story I can think of at the moment is Beowulf.

  4. #4
    Schiljo is offline Senior Member Long Time Member
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    Heaven or hell


    Quote Originally Posted by coolpuprocks
    That's the format of a typical epic hero story.

    Nothing new for me. It's been around since...well, like forever. Oldest story I can think of at the moment is Beowulf.
    dont be dissing my man beowulf

    he da man!!

  5. #5
    Sesshu is offline Senior Member Well Known
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    Nov 2005


    Quote Originally Posted by Schiljo
    also describes like a shitload of games
    It discribe every worth while story ever told, and a shitload of crappy one too.
    Some how I'm unbanned.... Yay!

    But my wonderful waterfall sig is gone!!! Do you have any idea how much time I spent on it!!!

    ~They call me the Master Researcher~

  6. #6
    MonkeyDLuffysj is offline Banned Long Time Member
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    Apr 2005


    You also forgot that until recentley, the hero always had black hair, and acted like a dumbass. Still a common rule of thumb, but comics like Naruto and others have been pushing the limit.

  7. #7
    StealDragon's Avatar
    StealDragon is offline Super Moderator Community Builder
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    Apr 2005


    i dont mind that format that much as long as theirs some serious variety thrown in.... i really dont think theres another way to make a hero tale really.

    I'd like to die with the songs I love stuck in my head. I hope to make the most of these hollow bones we become.
    I raise a toast to the the souls that sang all along. I've been gathering friends to just to make some sounds,
    before the ship goes down, I've been making amends by making the rounds before the whole world ends

    [Chit Chat Specific Forum Rules] // Last Update - Friday March 13, 2009

  8. #8
    curseproof is offline Member Frequent Poster
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    Jun 2005
    Heaven's Bottom


    But I think luffy and naruto chose to be hero himself.... so thats not really common right?




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