Language Arts
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Heroic Archetypes

Joseph Campbell, in The Hero with a Thousand Faces,
identified both the archetype of the Hero and the quest that the
hero follows, in many of the folk tales and myths of the world.
Carol Pearson, in
Awakening The Heroes Within expands the
idea of the Hero into twelve distinct archetypes, each of which
can follow the Hero Quest.

These heroic archetypes and their particular journeys can be
used in discussing a variety of literature from picture books
and fairy tales to complex novels.

These heroic archetypes and the stages of each archetype's
journey correspond to the more traditional way we usually
discuss literature.

Quest: This is the hero quest which the archetype has set out
on. The hero may not realise she is on such a quest until it is
too late to retreat.

Fear or motivation: This is the fear which is usually the
motivating factor for undergoing the quest (why else would the
hero need to put herself at risk?) It is also the principal danger
that lurks in the shadow of the archetype.

Dragon or conflict or antagonist : In most quests the hero
soon meets her dragon. This represents the major problem or
obstacle of the quest -- the opposition that must be overcome
in order for the quest to be successful.

Task: This is the task that the hero must accomplish in order
to succeed at the quest. Succeeding at the task is usually
sufficient to overcome the dragon; however failure to do so can
lead to becoming what the hero fears most -- his dark self, or

Virtue: Succeeding at the quest earns the hero these rewards
of self. In addition to the hand of the princess, the castle, and
the gold...

: To remain in safety.
Fear: Being abandoned.
Dragon: Will deny it or seek outside rescue from it.
Task: To gain fidelity and discernment.
Virtue: Trust and optimism.

: To regain safety.
Fear: Being exploited.
Dragon: Will be victimized by it.
Task: To process and feel pain fully.
Virtue: Interdependence and realism.

: To win.
Fear: Weakness.
Dragon: Will slay or confront it.
Task: To fight only for what really matters.
Virtue: Courage and discipline.

: To help others.
Fear: Selfishness.
Dragon: Will take care of it and those it harms.
Task: To give without maiming self or others.
Virtue: Compassion and generosity.

: To search for a better life.
Fear: Conformity.
Dragon: Will flee from it.
Task: To be true to the deeper self.
Virtue: Autonomy and ambition.

: To gain bliss.
Fear: Loss of love.
Dragon: Will love it.
Task: To follow bliss.
Virtue: Passion and commitment.

: To metamorphosis.
Fear: Annihilation.
Dragon: Will allow dragon to destroy oneself.
Task: To let go.
Virtue: Humility.

: To gain identity.
Fear: Of being illusionary.
Dragon: will claim it as part of oneself.
Task: To self-create and self-accept.
Virtue: Individuality and vocation.

: To create order.
Fear: Of creating chaos.
Dragon: Will find constructive uses for it.
Task: To take full responsibility.
Virtue: Responsibility and control.

: To transform.
Fear: Of assuming evil sorcery.
Dragon: Will transform it.
Task: To align self with the cosmos.
Virtue: Personal power.

: To find truth.
Fear: Deception.
Dragon: To transcend it.
Task: To attain enlightenment.
Virtue: Wisdom and non-attachment.

: To enjoy life for its own sake.
Fear: Of being not-alive.
Dragon: Will play tricks on it.
Task: To trust in the process of becoming.
Virtue: Joy and freedom
Heroic Archetypes