The use of narrative in order to break the masculine domination of the hero quest

Nikakis, Karen Simpson (1997) The use of narrative in order to break the masculine domination of the hero quest. PhD thesis, Victoria University of Technology.


In 1949, the mythologer Joseph Campbell published his treatise The Hero with a Thousand Faces, in which he analysed hero myths from disparate times and places in order to construct a universal hero journey - the monomyth. Drawing on the works of Carl Jung, Campbell gave the monomyth a psychological dimension, suggesting that its universality resulted from its function in guiding men and women through major life transitions. The main elements and motifs of the monomyth are replicated in modern narratives, both visually and in writing. However, these modern heroes, like their more ancient counterparts, are predominantly male; their hero quests, those of manhood. In spite of this imbalance, the monomyth can serve the same psychological purposes for the female hero. What is required is the construction of a narrative which allows a reevaluation of traditional female traits, and by so doing, a redefinition of the meaning of heroism. The novel Snowmelt shows that this is possible, through the creation of a female hero whose feminine strengths of social obligation and connection, enable her to successfully navigate the classic (masculine) hero-quest landscape to adulthood.

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1904 Performing Arts and Creative Writing
Historical > FOR Classification > 1701 Psychology
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Social Sciences and Psychology
Keywords Women heroes, Heroes, Heroes in literature
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