Frodo And The Hero's Journey

Frodo And The Hero's Journey

Joseph Campbell's 12-step adventure plot explained in LOTR.
1029
views

Sing to me, O muse, the steps of the hero's journey, because I'm trying to outline and I forgot what a plot even is.

Here's the deal, gang: if you're writing adventure and are stuck on plot structure, there is one pattern of story that has been studied and duplicated since the writing of the epic Gilgamesh circa 2150-2000 BCE. This is, of course, the hero's journey.

I'm sure that your high-school English teachers did their best to pound the steps of the hero's journey into your head, but if they failed, this post can act as a kind of refresher.

In his novel The Hero With A Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell observes and catalogs the plot patterns that ancient myths and epics seem to, for the most part, follow to a T, and he dubbed this sequence of events "the hero's journey". The hero's journey typically consists of three acts and twelve steps, each of which are instrumental in moving the plot forward.

One of the best stories that illustrates the hero's journey, in my opinion, is The Lord of the Rings (LOTR) trilogy, so as I break down each act, I'll also give you an example of how Frodo goes through each step within that act.

ACT ONE - THE ORDINARY WORLD

Step One - Introduction to character in the ordinary world: when we first meet Frodo, he's living in the Shire, a safe town full of hobbits who generally live safe lives.

Step Two - Call to adventure: after Bilbo disappears, Frodo is entrusted with the Ring, and is tasked with carrying it to the elves.

Step Three - Refusal: at first, Frodo is frightened of the Ring, and tries to give it to Gandalf, who blatantly rejects it, knowing he would succumb to its corrupting properties.

Step Four - Meeting with the mentor: after refusing the Ring himself, Gandalf coaxes Frodo into carrying it. In this example, steps 2-4 all sort of mesh together, but you get the point.

Step Five - Crossing the threshold: "If I take one more step, it will be the farthest away from home I've ever been." Sam says this to Frodo as they're about to step across the boundary of the Shire. In the movie scene, Sam stops at the end of a golden field before entering into a grassy, greener one with Frodo. The color shift between fields gives the audience an actual visual line for them to cross; from safety, into uncertainty.

ACT TWO - THE SPECIAL WORLD

Step Six - Tests, allies, and enemies: throughout the course of this step, Frodo gains allies (the Fellowship), endures tests (getting separated from the Fellowship, escaping various antagonists, internally fighting the pull of the Ring), and faces many enemies (the Ringwraiths, Gollum).

Step Seven - Approach to the inmost cave: the inmost cave can represent a place of great physical danger or an inner turmoil the character hasn't yet completely dealt with. In LOTR, we get both and an actual cave. Up to this point in time, Frodo's relationship with Sam has been fractured; he tells Sam to leave, and Gollum tricks Frodo into entering a cave that's home to a vicious flesh-eating spider.

Step Eight - The ordeal: the ordeal is the hardest test that the hero has faced yet, and he must conjure up everything he's learned up to this point in order to continue surviving -- what makes this test different from the others, other than being substantially more difficult, is that it is a force of characterization; the character has a metaphorical (sometimes literal) death, and is reborn with greater knowledge or insight. In Frodo's case, he is attacked by the cave-dwelling, flesh-eating spider, wrapped in a suffocating web, and is put into a sort of coma, which Sam later rescues him from.

Step Nine - The reward: after overcoming death and his most personal challenge, the hero is rewarded. For Frodo, the reward is the rekindling of his true friendship with Sam. But the quest isn't over, and so the celebration of the reward doesn't get to last long.

ACT THREE - RETURNING TO THE ORDINARY WORLD

Step Ten - The road back: this step traditionally consists of the hero being pursued on his way back home, but for Frodo, it is the climb up to Mount Doom, where the final test, the climax of the story, waits.

Step Eleven - Resurrection: this is the final test, the test that is not only ten-times more perilous than the ordeal, but has far-reaching, high-stake consequences if the hero fails. If the hero succeeds, he is cleansed, renewed. This is Frodo on Mount Doom, struggling to destroy the Ring, which eventually happens; maybe not on purpose, but it happens, and Frodo is freed from the pull of the Ring's power.

Step Twelve - Return with the elixir: Frodo returns to the Shire a changed hobbit -- he's grown and realized he can no longer go back to his ordinary life, so he decides to leave with Gandalf, Bilbo, and the elves. Usually, there is a final reward, and for Frodo, it is self-realization and the knowledge of good and evil. He is no longer naive or sheltered, his enemies are defeated, and his allies are honored and receive happy endings of their own.

Cover Image Credit: wikipedia.org

Popular Right Now

18 Times Kate Middleton Was Actually All Of Us In College, Beside The Princess Thing

Every girl has to go through her clueless college stage before she reaches Duchess status.
23232
views

Kate Middleton is basically a household name by now, and how could this not be the case when she has the gorgeous hair, kind smile, and incredible fashion sense. With her constantly in the spotlight looking so put together, we sometimes forget that the Duchess was actually all of us in college!

Here are 18 times that Kate proved she was just like all of us.

1. Going all out in the name of school spirit

There is nothing like breaking out the war paint and screaming for your home team. Like Kate, we all love to get a little messy and make some memories with our friends.

2. Hanging out with the roomies

Some people may not get lucky in this area but for those who are best friends with their roommates, they understand the love. It's a dream come true for everyone who has always wanted to live with their best friends. It's like a sleepover that never ends.

3. Dressing up cute on the first day of school...

You got to make a good first impression on your way to school. Whether it's during your 7 A.M or 4 P.M., it's always best to dress to impress.

4. ...and wearing yoga pants for the rest of the year

And this goes all the way until the last week of school when you don't bother getting out of bed to wear pants at all.

5. Going grocery shopping and throwing in cookies, ice-cream, and every type of Pringles because your mom isn't there to say no

You'll probably regret that in a few months when the Freshman Fifteen kicks in.

6. Walking for miles from your car to your dorm carrying groceries

We can't park by the apartment for a solid five minutes to carry our groceries up to the kitchen or we will risk a ticket, but we can walk a few miles carrying food that gets heavier, and heavier, and heavier with every step.

7. Going out for a night on the town on a Friday night

Dancing, laughter, and fun? Everyone in college has been to a party or two. It's a classic part of the college experience. Sometimes you just need a distraction from all the essays and tests.

8. Being so late to class you threw on whatever your hands grabbed next

We've all been there. Our alarm doesn't go off, we press snooze a few too many times, or forget to even set an alarm and next thing you know we are running around the dorm room like Taz from Looney Toons. You throw on whatever, then run to class.

Unfortunately 9/10 times our outfits don't turn out. Although, Kate can certainly pull off this look, no matter how mismatched.

9. Pretending your walking to the same building as the cute boy you met so you have the excuse to keep talking to him

I am very guilty of doing this. Although I missed my class, at least I got to talk to the really cute boy who has class at 9:45 in the STEM building. It was worth it.

10. Sitting on the floor or standing because you're a poor college student who can't afford chairs or tables

Eating on the floor? Always. Being a college kid is tough and sometimes you have to sacrifice some things to obtain the others. Such as choosing chocolate milk and Halo Top over vegetables and hair conditioner.

Judging by Kate's beautiful locks, she chose the conditioner.

Probably the vegetables too.

We should just all follow her example.

11. Going on cute date with the boy you followed to class-turned-boyfriend

Now my short-lived romance may not have extended farther than us talking and walking to his class, but Kate and William obviously had a better ending. Nevertheless, college is the place to grow and date and possibly find the one.

12. Keeping your hair long and growing because you can't afford to get it cut

Don't trust your roommate. No matter how many times she begs you to let her cut it. Don't.

13. Turning 21 and getting dressed up and going out with your best friends

While this one probably doesn't apply to Kate, since you can drink at age 18 in most countries, all my people in the United States know the sweet freedom of turning 21. It's an iconic time in a students life and marks a huge milestone as well.

14. Passing out flyers for some type of movement or protest

Everyone wants to be a part of something bigger - which is why college is the time to stand up for what you believe in. May that be RedforEd, Planned Parenthood, anti-Abortion, Trump, the Wall, pizza bagels, it's all an exercise of the first amendment.

15. Ranting to your friends about the professor that just "doesn't understand you"

You know your thinking about that professor right now as you read this. And you know that that's your reaction whenever they give you a bad grade or say something you disagree with at the tiniest degree.

16. Getting glammed-up for those senior photos

Pick out your best outfit and make sure it's a good hair day because everyone will be viewing these photos forever... and in Kate's place that is more than true. Luckily she looks as gorgeous as ever. Does she ever have a bad hair day?

17. Walking out of your last class knowing you'll never have to write a single paper again

And purposefully not thinking about how you will be going into the real world in less than a few days.

18. When you've graduated and realized you have no idea what you're going to do with your life

Maybe a prince will be right around the corner to sweep you off your feet so you won't have to figure your life out.
Cover Image Credit: Laura Warshauer

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

The Football World Loses One Of Its Finest Players

Bart Starr passed away and NFL players, coaches, and fans all mourn the loss of the Packer legend, but his life and career will live on in hearts of Packer nation forever.

1285
views

Bart Starr passed away at the age of 85 in Birmingham, Alabama. The NFL lost a great player. The Green Bay Packers lost a hero. And, the world lost a true gentleman. Starr's legacy has surpassed his accomplishments on the gridiron. He inspired not only his peers but the generations that have come after him. He is — and always — will be remembered as a Hall of Famer, a champion, and a Packer.


Bart Starr was a Packers legend. Starr led Green Bay to six division titles and five world championships. As the quarterback of Vince Lombardi's offense, he kept the machine going and executed the plays like no other. His mastery of the position was a large part of the Packers success in the 1960s. Starr was also the perfect teammate for the perfect team. His leadership put him in command of the Packers. Starr's time in Green Bay will not be forgotten by former players, coaches, and the fans.

Bart Starr's resume is rivaled by few in NFL history. He played in 10 postseason games and won 9 of them. He led the Packers to victory in Super Bowls I and II and won the MVP award in both games. He was the MVP of the league in 1966 and was named to the NFL All-Decade Team of the 1960s. The Packers retired his number 15 and Starr has been inducted into the Packers and Pro Football Hall of Fame.


After his playing days, Starr would become the head coach of the Packers. He could not repeat the success he had on the field from the 1960s teams. His coaching years do not take away from his legacy as one of the all-time great Packers. Starr was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977.

One of Starr's last visits to Lambeau field was on a cold November night in 2015. Starr and his wife attended a ceremony in which the Packers retired Brett Favre's jersey number. Starr was the perfect personification of what it meant to be a Packer. His most heroic moment came in the 1967 NFL Championship Game. The Ice Bowl came down to a third and goal in Lambeau Field's south endzone against the Dallas Cowboys. Starr came to the sidelines and bravely told Vince Lombardi that he can sneak it in for a game-winning touchdown. Lombardi then replied, "Run it, and let's get the hell out of here." Starr ran a quarterback sneak for the game-winner and the Packers were off to Super Bowl II. Without Starr, Green Bay would not have won a second straight Super Bowl. His leadership in big game moments will live with Packers fans for a lifetime.

Vince Lombardi: A Football Life - The Ice Bowl

Starr leaves behind his wife Cherry, his son, and three granddaughters. Packers fans will have a tight grip on the memories Bart Starr and the 60s teams created. Starr left behind a template for being a Green Bay Packer. He also left a template for being a good man and a gentleman of the game of football. He was a competitor and a leader. Packer nation mourns for the loss of one of the finest human beings the game has seen.

Related Content

Facebook Comments