The Star Wars franchise has long been a source of inspiration for filmmakers, storytellers, and fantasy fans alike. George Lucas, the creator of the original Star Wars trilogy, was heavily influenced by the works of Joseph Campbell and his concept of the hero’s journey. The hero’s journey is a timeless narrative structure that can be used to tell a wide variety of stories, and Star Wars is a perfect example of how the structure can be effectively employed. In this article, we’ll explore the hero’s journey as it applies to Star Wars, offering a case study of the original trilogy and a look at how the hero’s journey is used in modern films.
What is the Hero’s Journey?
The hero’s journey is an archetypal narrative structure that has been used for centuries in stories from all around the world. The structure was first popularized by Joseph Campbell in his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces, and it outlines a basic pattern that can be applied to many different types of stories. The hero’s journey follows a simple but powerful path, with a hero facing a seemingly insurmountable challenge, overcoming it, and emerging victorious.
The Hero’s Journey in Star Wars
The original Star Wars trilogy is a perfect example of the hero’s journey. Luke Skywalker, the hero of the trilogy, is a classic example of the hero’s journey, as he faces a number of challenges and must overcome them in order to save the galaxy. He is first presented with the challenge of rescuing Princess Leia from the Death Star, which he accomplishes with the help of his friends Han Solo, Chewbacca, and Obi-Wan. Afterward, he must confront the evil Darth Vader in a lightsaber duel and ultimately defeat him. Finally, he must destroy the second Death Star in order to save the galaxy.
The Call to Adventure
The call to adventure is the first step in the hero’s journey and is when the hero receives their quest. In the Star Wars films, this occurs when Luke receives a message from Princess Leia asking for help. He is then given the task of rescuing her and destroying the Death Star, thus beginning his journey.
The Crossing of the Threshold
The crossing of the threshold is the second step in the hero’s journey and is when the hero leaves the ordinary world and enters the unfamiliar world of adventure. In the Star Wars films, this occurs when Luke leaves Tatooine and sets off on his quest.
The Road of Trials
The road of trials is the third step in the hero’s journey and is when the hero must face a series of tests and challenges in order to reach their goal. In the Star Wars films, this occurs when Luke and his friends embark on a mission to destroy the Death Star. Along the way, they face a number of obstacles, such as the Imperial forces, the bounty hunter Boba Fett, and the Dark Lord of the Sith Darth Vader.
The Meeting with the Goddess
The meeting with the goddess is the fourth step in the hero’s journey and is when the hero meets a wise, nurturing woman who helps them on their quest. In the Star Wars films, this occurs when Luke meets Princess Leia, who helps him on his quest and provides him with guidance and support.
The ordeal is the fifth step in the hero’s journey and is when the hero must face their greatest challenge. In the Star Wars films, this occurs when Luke must confront Darth Vader in a lightsaber duel in order to save his friends and destroy the Death Star.
The reward is the sixth step in the hero’s journey and is when the hero is rewarded for their efforts. In the Star Wars films, this occurs when Luke is awarded the Medal of Bravery for his heroic efforts.
The Road Back
The road back is the seventh step in the hero’s journey and is when the hero must return home. In the Star Wars films, this occurs when Luke and his friends return to the Rebel base after their successful mission.
The resurrection is the eighth step in the hero’s journey and is when the hero is transformed by their experiences. In the Star Wars films, this occurs when Luke comes to terms with his destiny as a Jedi and finds a new strength and purpose.
The hero’s journey is an archetypal narrative structure that can be used to tell a wide variety of stories. The original Star Wars trilogy is a perfect example of how the hero’s journey can be effectively employed, with Luke Skywalker’s story following all the steps of the journey. By studying the hero’s journey as it applies to Star Wars, we can gain a better understanding of the structure and how it can be used to tell compelling stories. The classic saga, Star Wars, is known for its inspiring and iconic tale of a hero’s journey. Following the classic narrative structure, the main characters Luke Skywalker, Anakin Skywalker, and Rey, all go on a quest to save the world from the oppressive, tyrannical Emperor. Along the way, they face numerous tribulations, have experiences which help them grow and eventually succeed in overcoming the evil forces that stand in their way. This traditional hero’s journey follows the steps of separation, initiation and return, with each character completing their own unique journey.
To start, each character experiences the separation stage where they are taken away from their home and their comfort zone. For Luke, a farm boy on Tatooine, this is the moment when he meets Obi-Wan Kenobi and is given a lightsaber. Anakin Skywalker experiences this separation when he saves Senator Amidala from the Trade federation and is taken to the Jedi Temple by Qui Gon Jinn. Rey’s separation occurs when she is forced to leave Jakku to find Luke Skywalker.
Once the hero has been taken away from their comfort zone, they typically enter a world of discovery and find out more about themselves. This initiation phase acts as the middle act of the story and is the most gruelling part of the hero’s journey. Luke learns combat and control from the Jedi master, Yoda, moves to the forest moon of Endor with Han Solo and fights against the Empire forces. Anakin is trained as a Jedi padsawan, goes to battle on Geonosis against the droid army and falls under the influence of Palpatine. Finally, Rey completes her training as a Jedi with an older Luke alike her mentor and clashes with Kylo Ren, ultimately killing Supreme Leader Snoke.
Lastly, each hero experiences a moment of clarity, where they return home victorious with the knowledge they have gained on their heroic journey. Luke faces and defeats the Emperor while returning balance to the force, liberating the people of Tatooine and the rest of the galaxy. Anakin finally redeems himself by killing the Emperor and giving the Jedi a chance to restor the idealogies of their beliefs. Rey returns to Tatooine and shuts down the force so that no one will use its power for evil.
The timeless saga of Star Wars is a perfect example of the classic hero’s journey story. Its iconic characters transverse through a world of unknowns, struggle through insurmountable odds, but ultimately prevail by applying the knowledge they have gained from their life-changing experiences. Though separated from their home, Luke, Anakin, and Rey all fulfill their destiny by using the skills and wisdom acquired on their journey and returning back home triumphant with the power of good.