Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Hero's Journey - Resurrection

The end is nigh! THE END IS NIGH!

No, really, it is! The Journey is nearly complete. We’re heading back home to the Ordinary World, but we’re changed by the trip. Our old selves are gone, replaced by a new self that incorporates all that was experienced along the way. This, then, is our Resurrection.

A lot of Heroes undergo a Resurrection in the course of their Journey. Typically, this happens toward the end of the story, at the climax. The Hero appears to have died, but returns renewed to the fight to finish off the villain and lead his allies to safety. It’s no coincidence that some of the best stories incorporate this into the final part of their narrative. Not wanting to spoil some of those stories, I won’t spell out any of the greatest examples of Resurrection in storytelling, but I will direct you to some excellent books that illustrate this phase of the Journey so very well: The Princess Bride, the Harry Potter series, and the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, just to name a few.

The most obvious case of Resurrection is the aforementioned literal meaning, an actual death and rebirth situation. Seemingly vanquished, the Hero is miraculously healed and leaps back from the brink of death to finish off the Shadow or otherwise right a wrong. Not so obvious is the metaphorical Resurrection. This would be the death of an old way of thinking or being, something that isn’t as easy to see on the surface but nevertheless affects the Hero in a deep and lasting way. This happens most commonly in love stories, but it can happen in any sort of story where the stakes aren’t quite as epic as risking life or limb for the sake of humanity/the planet/the universe/etc. Regardless if we go with literal or metaphorical, it can’t be an arbitrary Resurrection. Such a monumental event needs to happen organically within the framework of the story, and the rejuvenated Hero who emerges should resonate with what has happened in the story thus far. Nothing ruins a mood more than random death, and the new way of being that emerges must make sense when put in the context of the narrative.

The metaphorical example of Resurrection fits perfectly in Rob’s ongoing story. Now that he has a novel in the bag, his old mode of thinking – that he can only write short stories – has perished in the wake of his accomplishment. He knows it’s a goal he can achieve, and he hungers for more. The hesitant aspiring writer has given way to a confident author, a change that isn’t as dramatic as coming back from the dead, but is just as life-changing in his world.

I hate to say it, but our Journey is finally reaching its conclusion! We’re turning off of the great literary freeway and taking the few surface streets back home, where we’ll share our tales with those who were left behind, entertaining and instructing them with our adventures, making their world that much better with the wonders we bring back. Coming soon, the final stop - Return With the Elixir!

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