What’s the Heroine’s Journey?
Though scholars often place heroine tales on Campbell’s hero’s journey point by point, the girl has always had a notably different journey than the boy. She quests to rescue her loved ones, not destroy the tyrant as Harry Potter or Luke Skywalker does. The heroine’s friends augment her natural feminine insight with masculine rationality and order, while her lover is a shapeshifting monster of the magical world—a frog prince or beast-husband (or two-faced vampire!). The epic heroine wields a magic charm or prophetic mirror, not a sword. And she destroys murderers and their undead servants as the champion of life. As she struggles against the Patriarchy—the distant or unloving father—she grows into someone who creates her own destiny.
Eventually, she too descends into the underworld in a maiden’s white gown, there to die and be reborn greater than before. Awaiting her is the wicked stepmother or Terrible Mother (as Jung calls her): the White Witch of Narnia or Wicked Witch of the West: slayer of children and figure of sterility and unlife. This brutal matriarch is often her only mentor. The heroine not only defeats her, she grows from the lesson and rejoins the world as young mother, queen, and eternal goddess.
(Qtd. from my book Buffy and the Heroine’s Journey, 2012)
From Girl to Goddess: The Heroine’s Journey through Myth and Legend
Spero Publishing, 167 pages, July 2013. Ebook in all formats at Smashwords for $4.99.
In “A Girl’s Guide to The Heroine’s Journey,” Valerie Frankel takes us on a journey through 17 myths of the heroic woman from around the world. African, Asian, Australian, European, Native American (North AND South America), and Oceanic stories are re-told, examined, and discussed in detail. Whether you are 7 or 77, new to a spiritual path or have been practicing your spiritual path for years, this book will help you find or enhance your own personal Heroine’s Journey. Envigorate your own life’s journey with lessons from ancient tales of feminine power and adventure. Find your inner strength and courage to face all of life’s challenges. Enjoy the activities given with each story to help bring the Heroine’s Journey alive in your life. Within these pages, the myths of the Sacred Feminine come alive once more. Mingle their life with your own, and unite yourself with the heroines of old once again!
2016. Always free on Smashwords
Throughout the world of story, the heroine’s journey story pattern has always existed – less common than the hero’s journey, perhaps, but just as dramatic and transformative. The great children’s classics like Alice in Wonderland and Narnia show young girls redeeming the world with faith and cleverness – not swords and savage battles. Modern teen dystopias see young fighters who wield their bows and throwing knives to defend the helpless and strive for an end to war. Comics today are giving girls greater roles but also twists on the classic superhero with Vixen who transforms into animals, Squirrel Girl who wields the power of compromise, and Harley Quinn, who channels her bad girl energy into occasional heroism. As female chosen ones join even the world of Star Wars, they follow the oldest story patterns of goddesses and heroines…not just male heroes. This book explores the steps of the heroine’s journey through all these tales, tracing the chosen one through the heroine’s descent into the unconscious and triumphal rebirth. Through this pattern, the young woman grows to understand her purpose in the world as she cuts her chosen path.
Superheroines and the Epic Journey: Mythic Themes in Comics, Film and Television McFarland and Co., 2017. Foreword by Trina Robbins
In the heroine’s journey, the young woman protagonist confronts her dark side and emerges stronger. This quest is a recurring theme in comic books and their screen adaptations. Batgirl, Wonder Woman and Black Widow each find their greatest enemy is their dark mother or shadow twin—the savagery they’ve rejected in themselves. Supergirl, in her latest television incarnation, strives to restore her bonds with her sister. This book explores the popular mythos of comics heroines like Jessica Jones, Catwoman, Harley Quinn and the new superwomen of webcomics, who all endure great personal struggle or sacrifice before emerging as female warrior-saviors.
“Frankel uses myth the way it was meant to be used, to help people understand how their lives fit into a larger world. She offers great depth of analysis in understanding how the mythic characters of comics utilize the standard mythic tropes. This is a must-have.”–Matthew Wilhelm Kapell, Exploring the Next Frontier: Vietnam, NASA, Star Trek and Utopia in 1960s and 1970s American Myth and History.
The original Star Wars trilogy famously follows Joseph Campbell’s model for the hero’s journey, making Luke Skywalker’s story the new hero quest for a modern age. With the nine-plus film saga complete, however, new story patterns have emerged as the hero’s journey is imagined over and over for characters of different ages, genders, and backgrounds. The prequels offer the plot arc of the villain’s journey through Anakin. Leia and Padme, while damsels in the men’s story, break out to undergo their own ordeals. The heroine’s journey is exemplified by Rey and Jyn. Obi-Wan, Yoda, and Vader must accept the loss of power and fade into spirit guardians, perpetuating the lifecycle. By the sequel era, the original trio become mentors to the younger generation and finally must do the same. Meanwhile, the Mandalorian explores a different form of the quest as he transforms from immature warrior to patriarch. This book tracks the journeys of over 20 characters throughout the franchise.
Orphan Black and the Heroine’s Journey
On the heroine’s journey, the young woman quests for autonomy, with adversaries who reflect her shadow side. They polarize with her, evoking different aspects of the personality. Wrestling with these figures and achieving a rapprochement, the heroine discovers all the untapped potential and hidden strength that lies within. BBC’s Orphan Black follows this perfectly. Sarah Manning discovers she’s a clone when she meets her identical copy, Beth, and sees her commit suicide. Through the first season, Sarah plays Beth, learning discipline and responsibility. All this gives her the strength to grapple with her wild sister Helena and evil sister Rachel as she battles the patriarchy in an ancient feminist clash. This book analyzes the symbols and inner life of the five main characters’ journeys, along with some of the lesser Ledas, as all seek the power of a united sisterhood.
Turning Darkness to Light: She-Ra–the Classic, the Reboot, and the Heroine’s Journey
She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, the 2018 Netflix show, takes many characters and themes from the beloved eighties cartoon. Nonetheless, clear distinctions appear in the more body-positive, diversity-friendly modern show, that avoid all the sexualized Barbie shapes and body builder physiques of the past. More interestingly, this version blurs the lines between friends and enemies as it carries young Adora on a precarious journey to face the family, now her enemies, whom she cannot bear to leave. With this, it adapts the classic heroine’s journey for a new audience, reframing the adored characters and showcasing the stories a new generation wants to tell.
Additional Chapters on the Heroine’s Journey:
“Battling Bluebeard, Fighting for Hope: The Heroine’s Journey.” Jessica Jones: Essays on the First Season. McFarland, 2017.
“Rey’s Heroine’s Journey”; Finn’s Hero’s Journey.” A Rey of Hope: Feminism, Symbolism and Hidden Gems in Star Wars: The Force Awakens LitCrit Press, 2016.
“Albus, Scorpius, and the Hero’s Journey.” “Cursed Child and the Antiheroine’s Journey.” Harry Potter and Myth: The Legends behind Cursed Child, Fantastic Beasts, and all the Hero’s Journeys. Lit Crit Press, 2016.
“The Heroine’s Journey from Fray to Wonder Woman.” The Comics of Joss Whedon: Critical Essays. McFarland, 2015.
“Sidekicks or Heroines? Lana, Lois, Kara, and Chloe” Mapping Smallville: Critical Essays on the Series and Its Characters. McFarland 2014.
“The Heroine’s Journey.” Choosing to be Insurgent or Allegiant: Symbols, Themes and Analysis of the Divergent Trilogy. LitCrit Press, 2013.
“The Coming of the Chosen One.” Winter is Coming: Symbols and Hidden Meanings in A Game of Thrones. Thought Catalog, 2013.
“The Chosen One.” Myths and Motifs of The Mortal Instruments. Thought Catalog, 2013.
“Katniss the Chosen One and Theseus the Hero.” The Many Faces of Katniss Everdeen: Exploring the Heroine of the Hunger Games Thought Catalog, 2013.
“The Double-Sided Wardrobe: The Hero’s and Heroine’s Journey Through Narnia” Doors in the Air: C. S. Lewis and the Imaginative World, PortalEditions.
“Harry Potter, Frodo Baggins, and Captain Jack Harkness: More than just a Hero’s Journey” & “Gwen’s Evil Stepmother: Concerning Gloves and Magic Slippers” Illuminating Torchwood: Essays on Narrative, Character and Sexuality in the BBC Series (Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy), edited by Andrew Ireland, Bournemouth University. McFarland & Company, April 2009.
“Reinventing Eve: Bible and Myth Reborn in Harry Potter and His Dark Materials”: New Myth vol. 1: The Society for New Language Study, Midwestern State University 2009.
The Annotated Buffy Believe it or not, lots of TV shows capitalize on the monomyth, including Xena, Stargate, Babylon 5, and many more.
Comparison of Models
|Campbell’s Hero’s Journey||
Frankel’s Heroine’s Journey
|The World of Common Day||The World of Common Day||Innocence and Discovery|
|The Call To Adventure||The Call To Adventure||Innocence and Discovery|
|Refusal of the Call||Refusal of the Call||Innocence and Discovery|
|Supernatural Aid||The Ruthless Mentor and the Bladeless Talisman||Innocence and Discovery|
|The Crossing of the First Threshold
The Belly of the Whale
|The Crossing of the First Threshold
Opening One’s Senses
|Journey through the Unconscious|
|The Road of Trials||Sidekicks, Trials, Adversaries||Journey through the Unconscious|
|The Meeting With the Goddess
Woman as the Temptress
|Wedding the Animus
Finding the Sensitive Man
Confronting the Powerless Father
|Meeting the Other|
|Atonement with the Father
|Descent into Darkness
Atonement with the Mother
Integration and Apotheosis
|Meeting the Self
|The Ultimate Boon||Reward: Winning the Family||Meeting the Self|
|Refusal of the Return
The Magic Flight
Rescue From Without
The Crossing of the Return Threshold
The Magic Flight
Reinstating the Family
|Meeting the Self
|Master of the Two Worlds||Power over Life and Death
|Goddesshood and Wholeness|
|Freedom To Live||Ascension of the New Mother
|Goddesshood and Wholeness|