The Hero With A Thousand Faces Analysis

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From the mountains of Ithaca to the black lands of Mordor, the adventures of the hero are linked by an archetypal pattern that supersedes the temporal gaps between each story’s creation. In Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces, he defines the stages of this model, which he christens “the monomyth,” and elaborates on its value as a tool for connecting the ancient to the modern. The three main stages—the hero’s departure, initiation, and return—are each divided into numerous subcategories that detail the specifics of the hero’s journey through each level of the myth. However, the beauty of the monomyth is that very few stories fit the pattern word for word, often excluding a subcategory or deviating from the chronology of the standard schematic. This is true of both “The Epic of Gilgamesh,” a Mesopotamian epic relating the journey of a king to vanquish mortality, and “Setne Khamwas and Naneferkaptah,” an Egyptian tale of the magic and enchantment that warns against unbridled ambition. By examining the way Campbell’s monomyth manifests itself in each of these tales, it is possible to, not only unearth details about the Mesopotamian and Egyptian civilizations, but also the ways in which their values and beliefs both concur and clash with one another. Because of the complexity of Campbell’s’ model, I will focus on the first stage of the monomyth, departure, and how each of its six components emerge within the narratives of “The Epic of Gilgamesh” and “Setne Khamwas
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