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Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia from George Lucas' film Star Wars, just one example of the many films that utilize the Hero's Journey.
 
THE HERO'S JOURNEY

“A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.”  Christopher Reeve

“A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.” Joseph Campbell

Joseph Campbell, an American psychologist and mythological researcher, wrote a famous book entitled The Hero with a Thousand Faces.  In his lifelong research Campbell discovered many common patterns running through hero myths and stories from around the world.  Years of research lead Campbell to discover several basic stages that almost every hero-quest goes through (no matter what culture the myth is a part of).  He calls this common structure “the monomyth.” It is commonly referred to as "The Hero's Journey."
George Lucas, the creator of Star Wars, claims that Campbell’s monomyth was the inspiration for his groundbreaking films.  Lucas also believes that Star Wars is such a popular saga because it taps into a timeless story-structure which has existed for thousands of years.
The Hero's Journey is a great technique for analyzing all kinds of stories--whether they be myths, legends, films, novels, short stories, plays, or even comic books.  Educating students about the Hero's Journey encourages them to think about plot structure, character motivation, and theme. It also leads them to consider what qualities they associate with heroes. Are heroes born or are they made? Are there heroes in real-life or must they be larger-than-life? Who are the heroes in our society.
All the materials on this page should assist you in teaching heroes and the Hero's Journey.
 
 
THE HERO'S JOURNEY (PDF)
This worksheet gives an overview of the Hero's Journey, as outlined by Joseph Campbell and others.  Each step is listed, along with examples from film and literature.
 
 
STAR WARS: THE HERO'S JOURNEY (PDF)
This PDF identifies the stages of the Hero's Journey present in the 1977 film Star Wars (also known as Episode IV:  A New Hope).  As George Lucas used Campbell's monomyth to structure his film (and its sequels), it is a great film to use when teaching the Hero's Journey.
 
MONOMYTH CHART (PDF)
Students can use this worksheet to identify the various stages of Campbell's monomyth in film or literature.  This particular version works well with Star Wars, but is easily adaptable to other films or literature.  (Includes more stages than the Hero's Journey worksheet listed.)
 
LION KING:  THE HERO'S JOURNEY (PDF)
This PDF identifies the stages of the Hero's Journey present in the 1993 film The Lion King.  Although almost all the stages are present, they do not go in a progressive order (as the stages in Star Wars do).
 
"MOVE OVER ODYSSEUS, HERE COMES LUKE SKYWALKER" (PDF)
This article examines the ways in which George Lucas used the Hero's Journey when creating Star Wars.  
 
TYPES OF HEROES (PDF)
This worksheet gives an overview of the various types of heroes:  mythic heroes, anti-heroes, tragic heroes, Byronic, heroes, etc.  It also analyzes famous anti-heroes from pop culture and literature.
 
HEROES & THE HALL OF HEROES (PDF)
This worksheet introduces students to the idea of superheroes vs. everyday heroes.  It also asks them to design a Hall of Heroes where the class must nominate certain figures, whom they feel have changed the world for the better.
 
 
COMIC BOOK HEROES (PDF)
This assignment asks students to analyze a comic book, looking for the heroic characteristics applied to a certain superhero. They must decide who considers their subject a hero, what makes him or her a hero, and also draw a picture of the character. (Requires classroom set of comic books.)
 
CHRISTOPHER REEVE REMEMBERED (PDF)
This article recounts the accomplishments of actor Christopher Reeve, including his heroic struggle with paralysis.  Using this article as a springboard, students can compare Superman, the character embodied by Reeve, and the actor's real-life heroic struggle.
 
"WHERE I FIND MY HEROES" OLIVER STONE (PDF)
This personal essay by Oliver Stone examines the concept of a hero.  What makes a person heroic?  Can this definition change over time? This is a great springboard for student conversation. 
 
SONG ANALYSIS WORKSHEET:  "SUPERMAN" BY FIVE FOR FIGHTING (PDF)
By listening to the song and analyzing the lyrics, students can understand that being a hero is not always easy.  This also serves as a great way to analyze mood.  

"SUPERMAN" BY FIVE FOR FIGHTING VIDEO (YOU TUBE VIDEO)
This fan-created music video, uses the song "Superman" by Five for Fighting and scenes from Superman Returns to create a moving rendition of the song.  (Appropriate for classroom use.) 
 
SONG ANALYSIS WORKSHEET:  "HOLDING OUT FOR A HERO" BY BONNIE TYLER (PDF)
By listening to the song and analyzing the lyrics, students can examine the qualities of a hero as defined by the song.  They can also examine the female conception of the male hero. 
 
"HOLDING OUT FOR A HERO" (YOU TUBE VIDEO)
This fan-created music video uses the song "Holding Out for a Hero" by Bonnie Tyler and images from popular superhero movies, as well as Saturday morning cartoons. (Appropriate for classroom use.)
 
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