Frodo And The Hero's Journey

Frodo And The Hero's Journey

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

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.


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.


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.


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.

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The Ultimate List Of 'One Tree Hill' Moments That Left Us Shook

There's only one Tree Hill.

Late last semester, I was in desperate need of a new Netflix show to start watching. I casually inquired to my roommates if I should start watching "One Tree Hill." Both having watched the show before, and slightly horrified that I've never even seen a single episode, they wholeheartedly urged me to begin the emotional journey that is "One Tree Hill." The show is quite a doozy at nine seasons, but I powered through all the ridiculous, melodramatic, and, above all, ups and downs that the multitude of characters experience. I have way too many thoughts concerning this show, but here we go.

Here are some of the best things about this show:

1. Brooke & Peyton's Friendship

2.Haley & Nathan's First Kiss

3. The Cracker Jack Box Prize

4. The Boytoy Auction

5. Lucas and Nathan's Budding Friendship

6. Whitey's Tough Love And Wisdom

7. Jake Being The Best All-Around Guy

8. Lucas's Heartfelt Speech To Brooke In The Rain

9. Peyton Bonding With Her Biological Mother

10. Karen & Keith Getting Together

11. Mouth Being The Ultimate Friend

12. Haley & Nathan Renewing Their Vows

13. The Ravens Winning The Basketball Championship

14. Lucas Declaring His Love To Peyton

15. Haley & Nathan Having Jamie

16. The Heartfelt Farewell To The River Court After Graduating High School

17. The Transformation Of Brooke Davis

18. Brooke & Peyton Reuniting In Tree Hill

19. Haley & Nathan's Little Family

20. Quentin & Jamie

21. Lucas & Peyton Getting Back Together

22. Deb Knocking Nanny Carrie Out

23. The Dog Eating Dan's Heart

24. Lucas & Peyton Getting Married

25. Peyton & Lucas Having Sawyer

26. Nathan Getting Into The NBA

27. Brooke & Julian's Relationship

28. Clay & Quinn Getting Together

29. The Utah Trip

30. Brooke & Julian's Wedding

31. Lydia Scott Arriving

32. Brooke Telling Julian She's Pregnant

33. Jude & Davis Baker

34. Chase Being The Best Bar Manager

35. Chris Keller Returning

36. Keith Forgiving Dan

37. Clay & Quinn Getting Engaged

38. Clay & Quinn & Logan Becoming A Family

39. The Cast Singing Along To The Theme Song

40. This Iconic Line

"One Tree Hill" is definitely a show that gives you some serious feelings, and because of that, I think it's one of the best teen dramas ever made. Lucas, Nathan, Brooke, Peyton, Karen, Keith, Whitey, Jamie, Deb, Mouth, Skills, Clay, Quinn, Millie, Chase, Chris, and even Dan will always have a place in every OTH fan's heart. There is, after all, only one Tree Hill.

Cover Image Credit: Wikia

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