Monomyth – the Study of Myth

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Mythology is the study of myth. A myth can be defined as a traditional tale or story, which is spoken or written down which are passed down by generation. These stories help recall events that have happened in past and create lessons cultures live by. These tales also contain hidden significance, which help cultures understand life lessons and explain the unknown and teach them through the stories. Finally myths create a connection between the past and present by establishing a basic pattern everyone can relate to. This pattern was discovered by Joseph Campbell and is called monomyth.

Campbell proposes that, “all myths are essentially hero-quest stories, each of which rings a unique change on a universal pattern…” Campbell analyzed a number of myths and discovered that every hero travels through the same journey. These journeys consists of three main steps the departure, initiation, and the return which breakdown into 17 stages. These stages have been used in both ancient and modern day stories. After watching The Matrix it is clear to see that Joseph Campbell’s 17 stages of monomyth was used in making this film.

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The Call to Adventure Joseph Campbell describes this stage as the beginning of the journey. It is at this time where the Hero is summoned and asked to leave everyday life. “Destiny has summoned the hero and transferred his spiritual center of gravity from within the pale of his society to a zone unknown” Campbell. In The Matrix the theme of The Call to Adventure is very strong. This connection is shown throughout the movie by the phone call that is used to bring them in and out of the matrix.

This is more of a literal use of the theme Call to Adventure since they could only enter and leave the matrix by a phone call. Another use of this theme starts at the beginning of the movie. We see Neo the hero living everyday life until one day he sees the phrase “follow the white rabbit” come up on his computer screen. Two seconds later someone is at the door and one of them has a tattoo of a white rabbit on their arm. He follows the white rabbit and meets Trinity. This is the beginning of his journey and things will never be the same for Neo. Refusal of the Call

Joseph Campbell states, “The hero may refuse or contemplate refusing the adventure. ” The hero may have fears or have anxiety about taking this adventure. The scene that describes this stage is when the Agents were tracking Neo and Morpheus called to help him. Morpheus helps Neo get past the agents in the office but when he is asked to climb out the window and escape by using the window scaffolding he refused by saying “I can’t do this. ” The fear and anxiety caused him to refuse the adventure eventually leading to him getting caught by the agents. Supernatural Aid For those who have not refused the call, the first encounter of the hero-journey is with a protective figure…who provides the adventurer with amulets against the dragon forces he is about to pass” Campbell. At this stage the Hero is normally helped by a higher power, this helps the hero continue his journey. The supernatural aid Neo received was Trinity removing the bug the agent used to track him. Without this the journey could not have been stopped short. The Crossing of the first Threshold During this stage the Hero finally crosses the threshold.

Which can be translated to the start of a new life, leaving all the fears and doubts behind. Once the hero crosses, there is no turning back. Campbell stated, “The hero adventures out of the land we know into darkness; there he accomplishes his adventure, or again is simply lost to us, imprisoned, or in danger; and his return is described as a coming back out of that yonder zone. Nevertheless…the two kingdoms are actually one. The realm of the gods is a forgotten dimension of the world we know. ” In The Matrix this is illustrated when Neo finally meets Morpheus and is taken out of the Matrix. You take the blue pill the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes” The Matrix. Neo crossed the threshold by taking the red pill. This allowed him to be removed from the Matrix and put into an unknown world. Belly of The Whale The Belly of The Whale stage is when the hero finally disconnection form the world they once knew. “This popular motif gives emphasis to the lesson that the passage of the threshold is a form of self-annihilation…. Instead of assing outward, beyond the confines of the visible world, the hero goes inward, to be born again” Campbell. To me this is represented in two different ways in The Matrix. First off once Neo was caught, the Agent showed Neo a world he has never seen before. An example of this is when the agent bugged and made his mouth disappear. To Neo it seemed like a dream but this really happened to him. The next example is when Neo is first taken out of the Matrix. Between the spike that goes into the back of their heads and to be shown that nothing is real show the transformation Neo willing to take. The Road of Trails

At this stage the hero is put through a number of tests. Each hero goes through these tests to help their transformation. “…Or it may be that he here discovers for the first time that there is a benign power everywhere supporting him in his superhuman passage” Campbell. In The Matrix they have to ability to learn different traits and skills extremely quick. The operator load skills and traits into the hero, just as we would load software into a computer. Once Neo was loaded up with certain skills, Morpheus wanted to show him that, he shouldn’t doubt his ability and when he does he will fail.

An example is when they are jumping rooftop to rooftop. Morpheus challenges Neo throughout this part helping him through his transformation. Meeting With the Goddess “Woman, in the picture language of mythology, represents the totality of what can be known. The hero is the one who comes to know…. She can never be greater than himself, though she can always promise more than he is yet capable of comprehending” Campbell. At this point in the story the hero meets with someone who helps them understand themselves, which in turn helps the hero throughout his journey.

The role of the Oracle in The Matrix fulfilled this role. Throughout the movie Morpheus insisted that Neo was “The One”. This meaning that he has a powerful talent, which allows him to control life in The Matrix. When Neo meets with the Oracle she tells him that he’s not The One. Strange enough Neo needed to hear this; I feel it took the pressure off of him and allow him to open his mind. The Oracle knew Neo needed to hear this in order to help his journey. Woman as Temptress There are many temptations that tempt us everyday.

During this stage temptation is no different. Sometime during this stage, the journey is jeopardized by temptation. “But when it suddenly dawns on us, or is forced to our attention, that everything we think or do is necessarily tainted with the odor of the flesh, then, not uncommonly, there is experienced a moment of revulsion…” Campbell. Although “woman” is in this stages name it doesn’t necessary have to deal with a woman. For example in the Matrix this stage deals with Cypher and how he is tempted by the comforts of illusion.

Cypher allowed the Agents to track Neo and them as they traveled into the matrix. This almost stopped Neo’s journey. Most of the team died during this part and Morpheus was captured. Atonement with the Father During this stage the hero has to face their fears. For the most part it is now or never. Campbell states, “The problem of the hero going to meet the father is to open his soul beyond terror to such a degree that he will be ripe to understand how the sickening and insane tragedies of this vase and ruthless cosmos are completely validated in the majesty of Being. The word father stands for a man who protects and cares for someone. In this case, the role of the father is Morpheus. Morpheus cares so much for Neo he sacrifices getting caught for him. Once Neo and Trinity got back to the ship it hits Neo. He understands and believes he could save Morpheus and starts to believe he is the one. During this stage Neo starts to drops all his fear, doubt and insecurity. Apotheosis At this stage the Hero finally understands what they were brought to do and who they are. Once we have broken free of the prejudices of our own provincially limited ecclesiastical, tribal, or national rendition of the world archetypes, it becomes possible to understand that the supreme initiation is not that of the local motherly fathers, who then project aggression onto the neighbors for their own defense” Campbell. The stage before Atonement with the Father to me sets this stage up perfectly. For example if Morpheus wouldn’t have surrendered himself to the agent to protect Neo, Neo would have never came to understand that he is the one. Neo feels responsible for Morpheus getting captured and will do everything in is power to save him. The Ultimate Boon It is at this point of the journey where the hero has a complete understand of what they are there for and has completed their transformation. Campbell said, “…What the hero seeks through his intercourse with them is therefore not finally themselves, but their grace … the power of their sustaining substance. ” At this stage in The Matrix, Neo turns into the hero by gaining the ability and knowledge to defeat the Agents. This is shown when Neo fights Agent Smith in the subway but doesn’t back down and doesn’t get defeated.

At this point you could see the change in Neo’s actions and attitude. The Refusal of the Return This is the stage where to hero has found peace in the other world. He doesn’t want to return because he is either happy where he is or has unfinished business. “When the hero-quest has been accomplished…” Campbell. At this point Neo discovers his true powers to control the matrix. He is shot but still lives and has the opportunity to escape but decides to stay back and fight the Agents. This is also when Neo starts to view the Matrix differently. The Magic Flight

This is when the Hero can travel back and forth between worlds easily. “If the hero in his triumph wins the blessing of the goddess or the god and is then explicitly commissioned to return to the world with some elixir for the restoration of society, the final stage of his adventure is supported by all the powers of his supernatural patron” Campbell. In the Matrix Neo had the ability jack in. Which comes from the term “jacking in’, which allow Neo to travel in and out of the matrix quickly. Rescue from Without A hero would be nothing without the help from others.

This being said this stage deals with the hero getting into some sort of trouble and is saved by someone else. “The hero may have to be brought back from his supernatural adventure by assistance from without. That is to say, the world may have to come and get him” Campbell. When Agent smith shot Neo, his heart stopped and almost died. It took Trinity to save Neo from death by talking to him and kissing him. The Oracle told Trinity that she would fall in love with the one. By her confessing her love to Neo, it only reinforced that he was the one. Trinity helped Neo also many other times throughout his journey.

Another example of this would be her helping him recue Morpheus. The Crossing of the Return Threshold Before the journey is over the Hero must cross the threshold one last time. During this time the hero is normally changed and have retained wisdom they learned throughout the journey. “The hero adventures out of the land we know into darkness; there he accomplishes his adventure, or again is simply lost to us, imprisoned, or in danger; and his return is described as a coming back out of that yonder zone. Nevertheless…the two kingdoms are actually one…” Campbell.

Throughout the matrix there were many fights against the agents. The agents were so powerful they have no chance and opted to run instead. Neo towards the end of his journey didn’t run but instead fought agent smith. Unlike before the fight between Neo and Agent Smith, Neo had the advantage and ended up destroying him. Master of Two Worlds Joseph Campbell explained, “Freedom to pass back and forth across the world division… not contaminating the principles of the one with those of the other—is the talent of the master. ” At this stage the hero can travel and live in both worlds freely and peacefully.

This was accomplished after Neo destroyed agent smith. The no longer have to live life running from the Agents. Another example includes when they show Neo flying over the city. Freedom to Live Once the hero has mastered both worlds there is nothing holding them back. The hero exceeds their judgment on themselves and can now live without fear. “He is free to live, to interact in this world, without risk of returning to his former ego-centric state” Campbell. This is also displayed by the flight Neo took over the city. To fear nothing and never doubt was key to Neo becoming the one.

Joseph Campbell’s 17 stages of monomyth describe the journey a hero takes through a myth. During the first step The Departure; the hero is summoned but refuses because of doubt and fear. Next the hero receives help from a higher power, which allows them to cross into a new world. The second step Initiation; involves the learning and transformation process. It is during this part where the hero learns who they really are and run into some kind of temptation, which leads to trouble but in return allows the hero to discover the true within. The third and final move The Return; includes the refusal to return because of some force.

Along with this transporting back and forth between worlds becomes easier, and the information learned throughout the journey is retained. With all this the hero becomes and master of both worlds, this leads to freedom. In The Matrix we watch the growth and transformation of Neo throughout his journey. This movie followed Campbell’s and shows you that a myth is a timeless thing. No matter how different life may be, everything can be related to the past. Whether you are a hero or not, everybody has their own journeys which involve some of the same troubles found in history.

Works Cited Campbell, Joseph. “From One Pattern, Many Stories. ” Monomyth. Web. https://ysu. blackboard. com/webapps/portal/frameset. jsp? tabGroup=courses&url=%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fcontent%2FcontentWrapper. jsp%3Fcontent_id%3D_255147_1%26displayName%3DLinked%2BFile%26course_id%3D_5393_1%26navItem%3Dcontent%26attachment%3Dtrue%26href%3Dhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww. as. ysu. edu%252F%257Esaleonard%252FCampbell%252520notes. html The Matrix. Prod. Andy Wachowski and Larry Wachowski. Dir. Andy Wachowski and Larry Wachowski. By Andy Wachowski and Larry Wachowski. 1999..

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