The 12 Steps of the Heroes Journey (Unforgiven)

1 THE ORDINARY WORLD

Many stories take the hero out of the ordinary familiar world place them in an exciting and unfamiliar environment. Although if you are going to use this idea you first have to show the hero in his ordinary world to create a contrast (this doesn’t actually have to be in real environments it could be emotionally, such as his world before and after a relationship or life changing moment) In the case of Munny in Unforgiven his leaving of the Ordinary world in fact returns him to ‘The Special World’ where he was initially before he fell in love and married.

2 THE CALL TO ADVENTURE

The hero is presented with a problem/challenge/adventure to undertake. Usually the Archetype of the HERALD appears at this point. In this case it is The Scholfield Kid who acts as Munny’s HERALD as he asks him to join him and help collect the bounty on Skinny Mike who the prostitutes want dead because he Mutilated Delilah’s face. Munny needs the money to support his children so he can no longer remain in the comfort of his ordinary world. This establishes the stakes and makes it clear what the hero’s goals are. In Munny’s case it is the need for money to support his children and his failing farm.

3 REFUSAL OF THE CALL

This is the heroes fear or reluctance to undergo the adventure. In Unforgiven this is shown through Munny’s reluctance to resort to violence because the love of his wife before she died made him into a better person and he does not want to go back to being an evil bandit and outlaw. For the same reason he does not drink Alcohol. At this point Ned, who acts as the MENTOR archetype, steps in to push the hero into action. Although the Scholfield Kid also aides in this area.

4 MENTOR

Ned’s function in Unforgiven is to prepare Munny for the eventuality of him having to use violence at the films climactic scene. The mentor can only go so far before he has to leave the hero to face his challenges alone hence why Ned had to die in Unforgiven, in order to force Munny into a violent act (of vengeance)so that he can complete his character’s potential.

5 CROSSING THE FIRST THRESHOLD

Munny is ready and commits to the adventure agreeing to face the consequences of dealing with the problem posed in the call to adventure.

The first threshold marks the turning point between act one and two in the three part story arc.

6 TEST ALLIES AND ENEMIES

Munny naturally encounters new challenges after crossing the first threshold. These tests help him “learn the rules of the special world” Such as him Munny getting sick and showing his vulnerability. Yet even at this point he still holds on to his integrity and his wife’s memory by refusing to drink alcohol.

7 APPROACH THE INMOST CAVE

The hero comes to the edge of a dangerous place in the case of Munny this place is Big Whiskey. This is usually were the hero will have second thoughts but will have to overcome his fears and perceiver through the situation. It is at this point that Little Bill beats Munny up for having a gun even though Munny has made no threat to Little Bill.

8 THE ORDEAL

Here the fortunes of the hero hit rock bottom’

Munny faces death when his friends are murdered in particular Ned. This is a critical moment in any story, an ordeal in which the hero must “die” so that they can be “reborn” and come back stronger then before. Munny loses himself to sorrow and anger and the need for revenge. The stages preceding this allow the audience to identify with the hero and at this moment what happens to the hero happens to the audience.

Munny’s emotions are temporally depressed until he overcomes his grief and is reborn victorious, because he uses violence to spare others the immorality of the act.

9 REWARD

This is the moment after the ordeal. Munny has killed 9 men and has avenged Delilah for the mutilation of her face. his name has once again become legend and he can leave his children enough money for them to live comfortably. The murders he commits are justified as he commits them for good reasons.

10 THE ROAD BACK

This is the cross over into act three were the hero must deal with the consequence of confronting the ordeal.

This is where Munny returns to drinking but with more satisfaction and Relish than he did previously as he returns to his old persona as an Outlaw and Bandit. Showing him to be an Anti Hero or a Tragic Hero.

11 RESURRECTION

 Munny is once again a strong independent male persona and he now has good reasons to justify his actions even though he is no longer the mild mannered widower he was at the beginning of the film.

12 RETURNING WITH THE ELIXIR

 Munny’s return signifies his children’s lives continuing and it rewards him with a just outcome as his children Survive in the future thanks to his acts and the Bounty he collects.

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One thought on “The 12 Steps of the Heroes Journey (Unforgiven)

  1. Pingback: Unforgiven assessment | Charlie. E. J. Maxwell

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