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Joseph J. Campbell 'The Hero with a Thousand Faces' - Essay Example

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Joseph J. Campbell 'The Hero with a Thousand Faces'

Campbell’s monomyth (also known as a hero’s journey) is an essential pattern that a person who is to become a hero must take, in order to become a hero. It is a matter of great interest that most people who are fit being regarded as hero, have led a life that is commensurate with Campbell’s monomyth and this includes the life, times and achievements of Martin Luther, the German monk, professor of theology, the head figure of the Great Reformation of the 16th century Christianity (Protestant Reformation) and former Catholic priest. This element of consistency between the two shall be seen in the discussion that ensues forthwith. According to Campbell, the first stage that the potential hero has to experience is the experiencing of the ordinary world. Herein, the individual becomes uncomfortable, unaware or uneasy as he is introduced to the audience, so as to identify with his situation or dilemma. The individual may be depicted against a background of personal history, heredity and environmental background. Particularly, there is a strong element of polarity in the life of the individual and thereby pulling him in different diametric directions, causing him stress.
The immediately foregoing can also be seen in the life of Martin Luther (November 10, 1483- February 18, 1546), a man of German nationality who grew up to be a monk, a priest, a theologian and the professor who authored the 95 theses. Having been born into the Holy Roman Empire, Luther rose up to be a Catholic priest. At the time, the religious environment in which Luther operated and lived was putrid with complacency, since the Roman Catholic Church: was practicing the selling of indulgences; suffered covertly the popes and members of the clergy to keep mistresses; continued to operate as an integral part of the state; neither regard the teachings of Biblical Scriptures nor taught the same to the laity; and had amassed a vast pool of wealth illegitimately, through these means. Even life outside the Church was not any better. The raunchy lifestyle that had suffused the rest of Germany is underscored by Luther referring to University of Erfurt which he had attended as a beerhouse and a whorehouse (Maritain, 75). Secondly, there is a call to adventure. Herein, there is an element that shakes up the situation. These elements may emanate either from external pressures, or from internal pressure. This pressure compels the hero to face the beginnings of change. One of the events that clearly served as a call to adventure for Martin Luther was the July 2, 1505 incident. Herein, Luther was riding on a horseback on his way to the university when a lightning bolt struck near him. He made a cry for help and promised to become a monk- a development that seriously infuriated his father who had invested heavily in Luther’s education. Later, after he had become a priest, Luther’s encounter with St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans (especially Romans 1:17) seriously woke him up to the spiritual reality that was contradictory to the Catholic Church’s teachings and practices. This encounter compelled Luther to read more and to begin questioning the practices pertinent to Catholicism, until he was convinced that Catholicism was not in line with Scriptural teachings. The foregoing may be succeeded by the refusal to call. This refusal may be underpinned by the fear of the unknown and any danger that may lie ahead, and thereby dissuading the individual from embarking on the adventure. This usually happens briefly. It is a fact that even after the lightning bolt incident, Luther was somewhat reluctant to join the monastery, even though he answered the call almost immediately. Secondly, even after the ...Show more


Many people ascribe the attainment of success to certain pathways. To an American lecturer, mythologist and writer Joseph J. Campbell there is no recanting of these pathways only that he is specific of them, as can be seen in his treatise The Hero with a Thousand Faces…
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Joseph J. Campbell The Hero with a Thousand Faces essay example
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