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From Achilles to Harry Potter and beyond: How does the hero’s journey help, or limit, our storytelling?

Old engraved illustration of 'Ulysses makes himself known to Penelope.'
mikroman6/Getty Images
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Old engraved illustration of 'Ulysses makes himself known to Penelope.'

The concept of the hero’s journey was popularized by Joseph Campbell, and outlined in his 1949 book The Hero With a Thousand Faces. Campbell based the hero’s journey framework off of myths from around the world. Since then, the idea of the hero’s journey has been used in books and movies like Star Wars, Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, and many more.

But, despite its popularity, Campbell’s hero’s journey framework has faced a number of criticisms, including that he left women out of the story. Maria Tatar’s new book, The Heroine with 1001 Faces, changes that.

This hour, we look at the impact of the hero’s journey, and its limitations.


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The Colin McEnroe Show is available as a podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. Subscribe and never miss an episode!

Colin McEnroe, Cat Pastor, Jonathan McNicol, and Gene Amatruda contributed to this show.

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Lily is the senior producer for 'The Colin McEnroe Show'. She first worked at Connecticut Public as an intern, in 2014. She has previously worked for WBUR, KUNC, and as a producer for the New England News Collaborative's weekly show 'Next.'
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