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THE ARCHETYPAL HERO
The archetypal hero appears in all cultures and mythologies around the world. Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell theorize that heroes are
an expression of our personal and collective unconscious (the collective unconscious would be things that all people automatically
know and understand and therefore explains why everyone in the world associates “white” with purity and “black” with evil, chaos,
and the unknown). There are several characteristics that heroes share. Here are some. Harry Potter has already been filled in to show
how this works. Fill in how Odysseus and another hero you know fit these characteristics.
Characteristic Harry Potter Odysseus Your hero
Hero is often of
obscure/unusual origin or of
Parents were murdered by Lord
Voldemort when Harry was a
baby. His estranged aunt and
uncle raise him in the muggle
world. Treat him poorly.
Hero is neither a fool nor
He is talented, but makes a lot of
mistakes. Often gets in trouble,
but is cunning enough to make it
out safely with help.
Hero is called upon to make a
journey or to follow a
Has mini journeys every book.
Must fight against Voldemort. In
final story he must find all
horcruxes and destroy them.
Hero faces dangers,
loneliness, and temptations.
Basilisk, Chamber of secrets,
Werewolves, Dementors, Dolores
Umbridge, Snape. Feels like no
one else understands him. Is often
troubled over his parent’s death.
Could have unlimited power or
given into dark magic.
Friends, servants, and/or
disciples usually accompany
Ron, Hermione, Professor
Dumbledore, Hagrid, Snape,
Order of the Phoenix, etc. Many
people at Hogwarts or the wizard
world constantly look after
Hero has guide(s)—usually
Ghosts of parents, magical
objects, Harry’s mother’s
protection spell, Dumbledore’s
Hero descends into darkness
and is not the same after
Harry literally dies temporarily
when he faces Voldemort. He goes
through many “dark” experiences
Hero’s journey is a symbol of
what he hopes to find.
He does not keep the elder wand.
He represents the best of the
With few exceptions,
archetypal heroes are male.