Prior to completing Joseph Campbell’s, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, I experienced an epiphany. I felt as if I had read this book many times. I knew I had been here before somehow though it was my first time through this book. Why did it feel so familiar? Was this a spiritual reaction? A coincidence? Perhaps a misdiagnosis, or Déjà vu? Should I be looking for white rabbits while reading this eye-opening chronicle, because it feels appropriate? Or by chance, is there a common theme in this storyboard succession that parallels thousands of classic movies and books I was accustomed to? The latter befitted the verdict after concluding the reading.
Campbell’s book navigates a journey that I was very familiar with and common to modern-day readers and movie viewers. Although the focus was clearly on the hero’s journey and a theme that unites many stories of mythology, the overall premise is recognizable in countless ancient and modern narratives. One of the draws of this unique exposition is its relatability to the masses. It has been duplicated for centuries and continues to provide a proven template for many historic masterpieces. The theme and cycle of experiences have a profound impact on the hero, and the reader, with each stage of the monomyth.
The storyline is set in motion when the main character, the ordinary hero, is faced with a mystifying message or tribulation of some kind and is uncertain of the future. At this stage of the cycle, the hero may be considered more of a victim and has not earned their heroic title yet. The plot thickens when the hero encounters a (“fill-in-the-blank”) challenge or an invitation to pursue a divine adventure of self-discovery. As the hero progresses through several formulaic events, he (or she) continues to unlock the next phase of self-awareness that ultimately leads to a complete transformation.
Many legends, folklores, novels, and movies follow the hero’s exact monomyth model and vary only in minor detail to attract their target audience. Most share a wise or unique character such as Yoda from Star Wars, that assists the hero in some way prior to the unknown journey. Next, a leap of faith is taken by the hero and the adventure is initiated. In the first Matrix movie, Morpheus (the wise character) describes this phase of the hero’s experience cycle famously to Neo (the hero). “You take the blue pill, the story ends. You wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.”
Campbell continues to outline each step in the hero’s journey like clockwork. The uncertain, yet dedicated hero plunges into the unknown realm that requires resilient faith and diligent execution. Small wins build the hero’s confidence as he prepares to stare fear in the face and battle the very thing that terrifies him the most. Everything is leading toward success for the hero pending an “unexpected” disaster. The plot shifts suddenly and the hero’s momentum is lost. The unsung hero falls short and confusion is imminent (for the hero and reader) as the hero lies “defeated” and on the brink of death. The storyboard reaches a climax as the hero is resurrected and overcomes the most challenging obstacle in Campbell’s model. The hero returns to his former life transmogrified, never to return to the enslaved state of consciousness he once knew. The hero has emerged and his title is legit.
The story of the hero’s journey never seems to lose its awe and wonder. Campbell brilliantly expresses a heroic theme and outlines a model that will continue to inspire storylines forever. Whether is Rocky Balboa, or Jesus Himself, the hero is the epitome of greatness and moves individuals to better themselves and reach a divine state of consciousness.
I believe the Bible is more exciting than any other book or action movie to date. It also shares common attributes with Campbell’s model as Jesus rises as the ultimate hero. Although the Bible holds true to this model in many ways, the Bible is not fiction and Jesus taught us more than any hero ever could. He lived by faith and was the ultimate example that can never be duplicated. His story of heroism is evident in Hebrews 11:13-16, “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have the opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.”
 Wachowski, L., & Wachowski, L. (1999). The Matrix. Warner Bros.
 Hebrews 11: 13-16