This is the last installment in the Hero’s Journey – The Return. My class is over and the final project has been turned in so I will be moving on after this. I used the Key Trilogy by Nora Roberts for my final project on the Hero’s Journey but there are so many good examples out there. Other students used Through the Looking-Glass (Alice in Wonderland), Bridesmaids, Field of Dreams, and Siddhartha for their final projects. So here are the final six stages of the Journey.
Stage 12. Refusal of the Return
Having found bliss and enlightenment in the other world, the hero may not want to return to the ordinary world to bestow the boon onto his fellow man.
In the Key Trilogy, none of the heroines refused the return, however, in each story Nora Roberts used this idea as a means for Kane to try to stop the heroine’s from going on their quest. He put each heroine into their ideal world. If they chose to stay there, the keys would not be found. If you’ve ever seen Apocalypse Now, Willard (Martin Sheen) appears to contemplate staying at the compound after killing Kurtz (Marlon Brando). He would, after all, be worshipped.
Stage 13. The Magic Flight
Sometimes the hero must escape with the boon, if it is something that the gods have been jealously guarding. It can be just as adventurous and dangerous returning from the journey as it was to go on it.
Kane tries to retaliate in each story when the heroine finds the key. The form of retaliation escalated in each story with Zoe getting the worst of it in Key of Valor. It was a full-on battle with her finally using Kyna’s (her demigoddess) sword to kill Kane.
Stage 14. Rescue from Without
Oftentimes the hero must have powerful guides and rescuers to bring them back to everyday life, especially if the person has been wounded or weakened by the experience.
Each heroine had to be rescued from without at least once in their journey, but it was in the middle of their quest, not at the end. Flynn had to pull Mallory out of a dream, Dana had to pull Jordan out of a dream, and Brad had to snap Zoe out of a trance.
Stage 15. The Crossing of the Return Threshold
The trick in returning is to retain the wisdom gained on the quest, to integrate that wisdom into a human life, and then maybe figure out how to share the wisdom with the rest of the world.
This didn’t really apply to the Key Trilogy because the quest was a literal one. A good example of this is in The NeverEnding Story when Bastian has to return to his world from Fantasia. He has to merge the Nothing with imagination and dreams.
Stage 16. Master of Two Worlds
This step is usually represented by a transcendental hero like Jesus or Gautama Buddha. For a human hero, it may mean achieving a balance between the material and spiritual. The person has become comfortable and competent in both the inner and outer worlds.
Like stage 15, this wasn’t in the Key Trilogy, although the three heroines refused the boon of a cool $1 million that they could have had. The end of Apocalypse Now doesn’t show how Willard (Martin Sheen) masters the two worlds. I’ve always thought that he wouldn’t have been able to and would have gone ’round the bend. He was pretty crazed at the end of that one.
Stage 17. Freedom to Live
Mastery leads to freedom from the fear of death, which in turn is the freedom to live. This is sometimes referred to as living in the moment, neither anticipating the future nor regretting the past.
Since none of the main characters died, they certainly have the freedom to live and Rowena and Pitte, the supernatural guides in these stories, were allowed back into their world. In Field of Dreams, the fact that people are coming and paying to see the baseball players allow Ray and Annie Kinsella to keep their farm.
Next time maybe I’ll focus on the Jungian psychology that was the other part of the class – universal archetypes or maybe personality types.