Monday, July 16, 2012

Mythology Overview

The main intention of this blog will be to examine the presence of mythology in certain young adult novels. Authors use components of myths in a number of ways, from direct interaction with them to simple allusion. Other ways that they use them include archetypes and the hero pattern. Joseph Campbell examined the hero’s journey in The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1949), and summarized it as: “A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.”

Some YA books include the entire hero’s journey, while others just the bare bones of it. The hero’s journey includes a number of steps, in this order:
-       Call to Adventure
-       Supernatural aid
-       Threshold Guardian(s)
-       Threshold (beginning of transformation)
-       Acquires a helper
-       Acquires a mentor
-       Experiences challenges and temptations
-       Meets another helper
-       Has a great revelation at the abyss, which includes death and rebirth
-       Goes through a transformation
-       Atonement
-       Receives the gift of the Goddess
-       Returns
The beginning and end are both included in the known, but from the threshold to the gift of the goddess is the unknown.
(source: Wikipedia)

Another part of myths and the hero pattern that has prevalence in these books is the idea of archetypes. Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines an archetype as "the original pattern or model of which all things of the same type are representations or copies" (source: Merriam-Webster). Generally, archetypes tend to be a stereotype or an epitome, and there are many different kinds found in literature. Some include:
-       The hero, who puts others ahead of himself
-       The villain, who employs strength or cunning to undermine the hero (and usually remains hidden for most of the story)
-       The mother figure, who cares and guides others
-       The father figure, the leader and protector (depending on the culture, sometimes the mother and father figures become intertwined or reversed)
-       The underdog, the character who is always at a disadvantage but pushes through hardship to win respect (works especially good when the reader can connect)
(source: eHow)

These are only some of the archetypes prevalent in our literature, movies, tv shows, comics, and music, but they are an incredibly important part of mythology, too. As I read the books, I'll be on the look out for all of these different components, and will be sure to share my findings with you.

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