Joseph Campbell

In his book ‘The Hero with a Thousand Faces’, Campbell claims that, myths are the openings through which the never-ending energies flow into the culture of human manifestation from the cosmos. Myths of men prosper and they live inspirations of what might emerge from the activities of the human mind as well as the human body. His theories are based on myths that attempt to create an impression of a hero’s life. This paper explains the theories of Joseph Campbell.           

Campbell explains that mythical symbols are natural; cannot be invented or even manufactured let alone permanent suppressions. He argues that a hero is an individual who battles past personal and local historic limitations to the applicable human form (Campbell 2). The inspirations of a hero emerge from the basic springs of human life and thoughts. They are expressive, but of the realm archetypes, the unquenched source through which the community is reborn (Campbell 2).

Theories of a heroic journey observe that mythical patterns underlie common conventions, and that even conventions change but the basic pattern does not (Campbell 14). A champion of things becoming is what defines a hero, not a champion of things become.  Heroes play a key role in the comparative studies of Campbell. He states that a hero dies as a modern man but receives eternal perfection, and he is reborn (Campbell 15).

The book, ‘The Hero with a Thousand Faces’ introduces us to a mono-myth theory, which claims that men of all nations share common myths. In this book, a hero’s journey is identified; which is a perception shared by most mythologies, as well as religions (Campbell 15). Heroes are ordinary men leaving normal lives until they unexpectedly end up in an adventure. This experience could either be by chance or choice (Campbell 15).

As a hero takes on adventure, he never knows how it will end. This means that heroes in no way get an idea of the end of their adventure. Campbell’s theories explain that a hero goes through a number of specified stages while on adventure (Campbell 15). These stages include departure, initiation and finally the return. The stages could further be explained as follows:

The departure stage is where the hero receives his call to action and sets off on his quest. In this stage, the hero will go into a world of darkness; meet several forces or entities which he will have to deal with (Campbell 16). This is a challenge to the hero since he has not yet known the purpose of his call. The hero goes through the challenges and on his way he would probably meet a teacher who will show him the necessary skills for his mission (Campbell 16).

 The second stage, initiation, begins when the hero meets challenges; also, a teacher who shows him the skills to help him achieve his mission. It is during his training when the hero becomes aware of his goal, and he receives enlightenment (Campbell 16). As the hero strives to meet his goal, he goes through challenges beyond his limit. This leads to a peak that culminates experience. As a result, the hero receives his honor, and he his permanently change by the experience he acquired (Campbell 17).

The final stage, return, is when the hero completes his mission and returns home. The hero will return to his community with the abilities bringing benefits to his society (Campbell 15). The skills acquired are knowledge and power. The hero goes back to his society different from how he departed, he returns enlightened and ready to perform his duty of making the community a peaceful zone (Campbell 15).

Comic books are based on a heroic nature; where individuals take against vices or crimes affecting humanity in the society. Comics tell stories of action and adventure mostly involving superheroes (Deflem 48). The main issues are based on crime and justice often reflecting the headlines of that time. Although the description, of heroes and superheroes, as crime fighters, is every comic book’s theme, the presentation of issues on crime varies with comic books and their superheroes protagonists.        

The nature of heroes and their experience is similar to the three stages explained in Campbell’s theories. Heroes in comics, however, do not end up in adventure unexpectedly as Campbell’s first stage claims. In comics, they set off for missions to seek revenge or justice on wrongdoers, usually the ‘evil guys’ who cause disorder and suffering to humanity (Deflem 48).  Heroes are the society’s only hope for justice; therefore, they have no choice but to sacrifice themselves for the sake of the society.     

After heroes set off for their missions they encounter serious challenges, which aim at destructing them from attaining their goals. They persevere through the hard times and it is through this experience that they realize their abilities, and learn new skills. After heroes acquire new skills, they will head back home and use them to make the society a safe place for other persons. However, not all comics consist of missions that involve heroes going for adventure without an idea of their goals and waiting for new skills to return home. In most recent comics, heroes deal with situations that affect their communities and sometimes the missions involve saving the world.

Although comics have different ideas, they depend on common themes of saving the world from evil forces or protecting it from an alien invasion. Heroes receive their award as saviors of mankind; they risk their own lives on dangerous missions for the sake of others. In some instances, heroes lose their lives, but their memories live forever because of the sacrifice they took (Deflem 49).  

Comics have their stories in three frames: the structure of a hero’s society, this involves the forms of crime in the society as well as the criminals heroes go after. Another frame considered is the messages in light of the framework criminological enquiry, which includes the law’s presentation, law breaking, and reactions due to breaking the law. Perspective of heroes and their application to fighting crimes could sometimes be different, but they all believe the law should be obeyed.

Overall heroes and superheroes myths have orientation towards a conventional point of view in terms of justice administration and focusing on the maintenance of the status quo. Comics fight crimes on a wider view; they portray drug use as a negative action that is illegal and drug users portrayed as distinct from the drug dealers (Deflem 51).  This implies the positive impact of comic books on society. They not only focus on crimes involving robbery or violence but target the most common crimes and discourage the audience, who are mostly teenagers and youths, from committing such crimes.       

In his book, ‘The Hero with a Thousand Faces’ Campbell reduces mythic patterns to a single mono-myth. He claims that all myths have similar themes in the general way of the dynamics psyche (Shrivastava 56). Comics sometimes get their themes form myths and turn them into marvelous stories. The stories capture the audiences’ thoughts and convince them of the possibility of the stories being reality (Shrivastava 56).            

Campbell’s theories face various criticisms beginning with reduction of all myth patterns to a mono-myth (Shrivastava 57). His theories consist of symbolic interpretations of the literacy works that are wrongly applied. This is due to sheer enthusiasm to work that does not require it. The theories exhibit a sensible habit of mind consistence with Campbell’s rhetorical adaptation principal (Shrivastava 57).

Although most comic books are about fighting crime, there are others that look into issue affecting society at large. This could be domestic issues or the day to day life of individuals who have little trust in life (Bechdel 1). It could even be about political and economic issues facing a certain state, and comics will enlighten people on matters affecting their economical as well as governance of their nation.

 Comics are like mirrors reflecting what takes place in every day’s life. The crimes and evils committed in society are exposed to educate ordinary individuals on such cases. Teenagers and youths who are common victims of drug abuse, as well as violence get education through comics on the benefits of practicing avoidance. Though comics are stories and myths, they are heroes in real life because they save individuals’ lives through educating them on law abidance. People respond positively to comics as they aim at having a peaceful and crime free society just like those in comic books.       

Action Philosopher: Joseph Campbell

An Annotated Bibliography

Campbell, Joseph. The hero with a thousand faces. California: New World Library, 2008. Print.

The Hero with a Thousand Faces myths are seen as openings through which the never-ending energies flow into the culture of human manifestation. Campbell claims myths of men prosper and they live inspirations of what might emerge from the activities of the human mind as well as the human body. His theories are based on myths attempting to create an impression of a hero’s life.

Bechdel, Alison. Fun home: a family tragicomic. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2007. Print.

Fun home is a reflection of the daily activities of a normal family. It is relevant in the essay as a source reflecting how families spend their time. This shows the importance of comic books on the social life of individuals with families and society. It talks of the difficulties families go through and how to overcome such situations.

Schroeder, Heather L. A readers guide to Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis. New York: Enslow Publishers, Inc., 2010. Print.

Persepolis talks about the experience of the author. She writes her experience with the hope of changing lives of individuals in situations such as hers. This is significant because comic books gather experiences, and share them with the society educating them on how to overcome or avoid similar situations.

Deflem, Mathieu. Popular culture, crime and social control. United Kingdom: Emerald Group Publishing, 2010. Print.    

Popular culture, crime and social control talks about the society’s view of a hero and the hero’s responsibilities. This book gives the challenges faced by heroes and how they save the society through their sacrificial efforts. It also reflects on the themes most comic books apply in their stories. These themes are the negativities in society, which comics fight against through use of heroes.

Shrivastava, Ravindra N. Literary criticism in theory and practice. New Delhi: Atlantic Publishers & Dist, 2004. Print.

Criticism is important to enable comics change patterns and move closer to reality. Literary criticism in theory and practice criticizes Campbell’s style. This criticism makes comic writer to consider their themes and writing styles as they learn from others mistakes.

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