Archetypal literary criticism is a critical theory that “interprets a text by focusing on recurring myths and archetypes in the narrative, symbols, images and character types” in literary works. Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey, otherwise known as Monomyth, focuses on the narrative archetype, archetypes in the narrative. Campbell’s Monomyth is based on the theory that Hero stories have the same narrative. Three Hero stories that can be applied to the Monomyth are The Golden Compass, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and Finding Nemo.
The Monomyth theory allows readers to identify the narrative archetype.
American philosopher John Shelton Lawrence and American religious scholar, Robert Jewett, have created a storyline of sorts for the Monomyth theory in their book, The American Monomyth. According to them, “A community in a harmonious paradise is threatened by evil; normal institutions fail to contend with this threat; a selfless superhero emerges to renounce temptations and carry out the redemptive task; aided by fate, his decisive victory restores the community to its paradisiacal condition ; the superhero then recedes into obscurity” is the synopsis of the Monomyth.
In actuality the narrative archetype that is Joseph Campbell’s seventeen stage Monomyth involves a lot more than a “harmonious paradise” with a superhero who returns it to its former glory only to “recede into obscurity” after the threat is demolished.
It involves seventeen stages. When the three Hero stories, The Golden Compass, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and Finding Nemo are applied to the narrative archetype, the Monomyth, they have eight of the seventeen stages in common.
The Call to Adventure, Refusal of the Call, Supernatural Aid, Crossing the First Threshold, Belly of the Whale, Road of Trials, the Ultimate Boon and Master of Two Worlds. Each of these stages has a precise implication. The call to Adventure is when the Hero When just these three stories are applied to the narrative archetype, the Monomyth, they have eight of the seventeen stages in common.