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According to Joseph Campbell, a scholar of mythology, the following list identifies some of the characteristics of a hero. Campbell believes that the characteristics of a hero have their roots in most myths. 

  1. A hero gives his or her life to something bigger than him/herself, to some higher end.
  2. A hero performs a courageous act, either physical or spiritual.
  3. A hero is usually someone from whom something has been taken or who feels there’s something lacking in the normal experience available, or permitted, to members of his society.
  4. A hero embarks on a series of adventures to recover what is lost or to discover some life-giving information.
  5. The hero usually moves out of the known, conventional safety of his/her own life to undertake the journey.
  6. The hero undergoes trials and tests to see if he or she has the courage, the knowledge and the capacity to survive.
  7. A hero has to achieve something.
  8. A hero’s journey usually consists of a departure, a fulfillment, and a return.

Source: Joseph Campbell’s The Power of Myth (1988, New York: Doubleday)

Choose a heroic figure you read about in your assigned reading for the week. Examples might be: Theseus, Oedipus, Calaf in Turandot, King Arthur, Siddhartha, Moses, Mohammed, cowboy hero, Frodo.

Or, choose a heroic figure from a book, a film, or a comic/cartoon series with which you are familiar.

Write a 1-2 page essay explaining how your hero exemplifies two of Campbell’s characteristics of a hero. Offer specific details, examples, and explanations for each feature.