As stated in my last blog, this week I will be showing an example of the Hero’s Journey or Joseph Campbell’s monomyth in a classic tale: Hercules. Recall that the hero’s journey is an archetype or pattern of that acts as a blueprint to tell a specific type of story. It is broken down into three main steps: the departure, the initiation, and the return. Now, unless you have taken greek mythology (or read Percy Jackson), you probably do not know the real story of Hercules and his 10/12 trials. What you do know is the Disney animated Hercules — the hero gets the girl and its a classic love story in the end. Since Campbell’s monomyth is applicable in some way to every hero story and for the sake of universal recognition, we will be looking at Disney’s Hercules to chart our tale. Secretly I just wanted a reason to watch Hercules again.

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The Departure


Hercules leaves home because he is called to find his true self. Previously he had made a mess of things for his “father” in the marketplace because he was too strong to play frisbee with the other kids. Realizing that he might not belong he asks his parents “why.” Hercules finds out that he is adopted and looks to his only clue — the necklace of Zeus’ lightening bolt– to the past. Hercules sets out on the quest to find his identity and fulfills the monomyth’s departure sequence.

The Initiation

In this phase of the hero’s journey change occurs to the hero; in other words they become the hero — physically and mentally. The individual faces challenges and trials to build themselves anew and create the hero image.

Hercules meets Phil who at first denies Hercules training. However, since Hercules found out his dad was Zeus, Phil decides to give him a shot. In the beginning of the trials, Hercules was scrawny and didn’t have the hero physique that comes with super strength.

Before the initiation . . .


After the initiation . . .


Hercules becomes the hero he always knew he could be. He still has his kind heart and the makings of a hero on the inside too. The completion of this face signifies that the hero is ready to rejoin the world and conquer the task.

The Return

Normally the return comes from a quest accomplished to be reborn. In this case, Hercules is reborn as a god in his return from the underworld. He conquers death and is reborn to return a new person.


Also in the return Hercules is allowed to journey home. The journey home is a crucial point of the hero’s journey because it signifies full transformation.


In the end, the hero does not find home satisfying and ends up a wanderer; however, in Disney’s rendition Hercules leaves his home to live a mortal life with meg.

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Realizing the Hero’s journey in stories and films is important to recognizing the journeys in our own lives that shape ourselves. Hercules teaches us all different lessons about ourselves. That is the idea of self-actualization through stories with moral lessons.