Reading, The Hero with a Thousand Faces

Saurav Harsh
3 min readSep 14, 2023

Anyone who has thought of telling a story has come across The Hero’s Journey. One of the most widely used story structures from Mythologies to contemporary Sci-Fi.

A snippet of the book cover for “The Hero with a Thousand Faces”

Well known for the Hero’s Journey, The Hero with a Thousand Faces was written by Joseph Campbell in 1949 to discuss comparative structures of the journey of the typical Hero in our world-renowned myths.

Hero is in the details

Every possible story follows a pattern. A Pattern that aids in attaining personal goals and the goals of the common men, leading the Protagonist to turn into a hero. What the Hero’s Journey diagram leaves out is:

  • How and why the patterns occur and why in the specific order.
  • The impact of each stage and subsequent evolution.
  • A validation and sense to the analysis with the help of various Myths and conversations of the modern man of real life
  • The parallels from our own lives
The Hero’s Journey, Source: Wikipedia

1. Cultural and Philosophical Perspective

Campbell explores myths from various cultures and periods, providing a broader perspective on human history and culture. It helps in identifying common threads that connect humanity across time and space.

On a larger view, it questions the nature of Human existence, the role of mythology and storytelling, and the search for meaning in life.

Who and where are his ogres? What are his ideals?

2. Personal Growth

If I were to sit and compare each Hero’s life story — including mine — I’d come to a similar conclusion as Campbell’s. Everyone’s given chances, opportunities and conflicts, with the potential of turning into Heroes if overcome.

All exceptional people are similar, different versions of a single being. Carve out some time to identify what stops you from stepping into the shadows and answering the call for the greater good.

The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.

3. Inspiration and Insights

It’s not the book in particular, but rather the concept that is so inspiring (apparently to “thousands” of people) that as we go deeper, it ignites the fire within to answer the questions we often ponder for the stories we want to tell.

The book is an appropriate companion to the concept, providing a toolkit for crafting compelling and resonant stories. Along with a range of examples to refer to (Do not copy-paste, thanks).

Myths are public dreams, dreams are private myths.

PS:

The focus of this blog is to highlight the “Side effects” of reading the book instead of retelling and elaborating on the Hero’s Journey. In short, yeah it’s a pretty cool book, give it a shot ~

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Saurav Harsh

UX and Communication Designer. Sharing my thoughts and ideas on Design (UXR and UXD), Books (ones that I enjoy reading) and Art (all kinds)