The Heroine's Journey

posted Dec 8, 2016, 6:37 PM by Jason Brunken
We've discussed the Hero's Journey, as described by Joseph Campbell, much this year already. Now it's time to take a look at a competing narrative model called The Heroine's Journey. Like the Hero's Journey, you have seen this narrative model time and again in books, movies, and on TV, but you probably didn't notice it because was masked by or part of a larger tale that was more like the Hero's Journey. So what's the difference?


The Heroine's Journey was first described by Maureen Murdock as a feminist response to Campbell's overtly masculine Hero's Journey. Ms. Murdock described the Heroine's Journey as a journey inward to find one's "true self", or a seeking of a balance between the feminine and masculine natures of who we are. Like Campbell, she looked at stories across time and found common patterns in how these stories were told and developed a series of common stages characters on these journeys take. Read through the materials below to learn more about these and what a Heroine's Journey narrative looks like. 

To close, the Heroine's Journey is a story that focuses on the self. The main conflict is internal between a character's competing identities. Oddly, the Heroine's Journey usually isn't used to replace the common Hero's Journey template, but instead supplement it to make the story deeper. Man of Steel, the most recent Superman movie, is a great example. Yes, Superman follows the Hero's Journey as he transforms into the guardian of peace and justice, but there is another narrative too: his struggle between his alien and human identities as represented by his "ghost dad" and "alien dad". Both these stories play out before our eyes, and this is usually the rule rather than the exception with longer stories such as movies or novels.

To practice the Heroine's Journey this unit, students will be taking a short quiz and then aligning the story of Oyuna in I Rode a Horse of Milk White Jade with the stages of the Heroine's Journey in this assignment shown below.

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