Applying Hero’s Journey Theory to the Mythological Hero Beowulf
Mythic heroes are set apart from the known, and are expected to do unbelievable accomplishments while facing overwhelming odds. Throughout Campbell’s life he noticed the same challenges heroes endured and came up with stages that a hero goes through. There are many examples of that prove that Campbell’s theory is true. Beowulf is a prime example of the stages to qualify as a mythic hero because he goes through the three main parts: departure, initiation, and the return. One way Beowulf is a mythic hero is because he goes through the departure stage. During the departure stage the hero will go through a process if changes or the Call to Adventure.
According to Campbell the hero must go away from the comfort of his/her normal life and go into the unknown, which usually happens by accident, and then meets there herald. Most heroes are hesitant to leave their home or their lifestyle, but eventually accept the call. For example, in the story Princess and the Frog, the princess lost her ball in the spring and the frog, the herald, came to her and told her he could get her ball back only if she made a promise to him. Beowulf’s call to adventure was different.
Although he had to leave his normal life in Geatland and travel to Daneland, he was hesitant about accepting the call. When he heard of Grendel’s evil doings he was intrigued to go and save Hrothgar’s kingdom. After accepting the call the hero usually has to have a Supernatural Aid come along to give the hero a little push. The supernatural aids are almost always old or wise and appear after the hero accepts the call. They give either advice or a amulet to protect the hero. Supernatural aids are known throughout all literature, such as Merlin, spider woman, and genies. Beowulf’s supernatural aid was Wyrd, the goddess of fate and destiny. Although he doesn’t appear in human form or gives advice, he helps Beowulf kill the sea monsters and saves Earls who do brave deeds. When the hero has went through the departure stage, he must then go through initiation. Another way Beowulf is a mythic hero is because he experiences the initiation stage. When going through the initiation phase the hero has to Cross the First Threshold.
The threshold is a boundary between the world of the known and unknown. Most of the time there is a threshold guarding trying to block the hero from getting past. The hero has to be determined to go on the journey because fear keeps them within the boundaries and to go on the hero’s journey there can be no fear.
In the myth The Russian Wild Women, they are threshold guardians because were very dangerous. They liked to tickle people to death and if one was to stumble upon their invisible party they would die. In Beowulf, Grendel was the threshold guardian because he tried to stop him. The last way Beowulf os a mythic hero is because he completed the return stage. During the return stage the hero is ending its journey. There is apotheosis, rescue from without, crossing the return threshold, and master of two worlds. The hero will go through a period of peace before he/she has to begin the return process. The return process is the heroes last battle before death. The hero may need help or a rescuer to complete the task. Before death the hero will share his/her wisdom with the people.
After death the hero has achieved the balance between the physical and spiritual world. Beowulf successfully completes all stages. Be rules Geatland peacefully for fifty years until a dragon came about trying to destroy the kingdom. During the battle Wiglaf saves Beowulf while is other men sit there and watch him die. After Beowulf wins the battle he passes on the treasure realizing his death is near. His legacy lives on after he asks for a tower so people can tell his story and remember him.
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