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Joseph Campbell's Monomyth and its Applications

            Joseph Campbell’s Monomyth and its Applications Jessi Langer “It has always been the prime function of mythology and rite to supply the symbols that carry the human spirit forward.” This quote from Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero with a Thousand Faces exemplifies the idea that myths are our way of expressing universal truths common to every member of the human race. Not only do they contain startlingly similar symbols from one culture to the next, but they are all contained within a “basic, magic ring” which Campbell calls the monomyth. Every myth in every culture abides by the structure of the monomyth; the structure is comparable to a skeleton upon which every human story is fleshed out. Joseph Campbell, in “The Hero with a Thousand Faces,” has identified the basic structure of human mythology and how it relates to human experience; the examples of Star Wars, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and various Japanese myths will be used to show that this theory is universally applicable to every culture and time period in human history. The contemporary tale of Star Wars is a modern myth, encompassing many elements of classical myth; it also follows Campbell’s outline of the Hero’s Journey almost step-by-step in a very traditional pattern, beginning with the call to adventure and ending with the restoration of the galaxy. Its creator, George Lucas, actually took many of Joseph Campbell’s ideas into account when writing the story; in fact, there is a picture of Luke Skywalker, Star Wars’ protagonist, on the cover of “The Hero with a Thousand Faces.” Some have used this connection to explain the unbelievable success of Star Wars. Christopher Vogler, a story analyst for major movie studios and the author of a book called “The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure for Storytellers & Screenwriters,” contends that the reason movies such as Star Wars were so popular, almost bordering on "religious experience", was because they "reflected the universally satisfying patterns Campbell found in myths.