Saturday, March 5, 2011


While researching quest narratives online, I found this handy little picture demonstrating the typical progression of a bildunsroman or heroic quest. The literary term for this narrative pattern is a monomyth (here, "The Hero's Journey"). Since it seemed applicable to Julia's earlier post, I thought I would post it here.

I find it interesting that this image suggests a cyclical construction in heroic quests, particularly in the light of the work we did with the Grail quest in class. In my Waste Land essay, I wrote about how the modern, Western literary convention of linear narratives may have grown out of cyclical fertility myths. Earlier in the year, we talked about how bildungsromans seem very linear, with a progression from boyhood, through knowledge, and into manhood. What do you think? Do bildungsromans like Huck Finn and The Catcher in the Rye contain cycles? If so, where? Can anybody think of other examples? Or is this picture just poorly designed?

1 comment:

Steven said...

At St. George's, we spent first semester 8th grade talking about the hero's journey, which is applicable to almost any piece of literature ever. We used our summer reading novel, The Hobbit, as a basis for learning this cycle. I think we then used The House on Mango Street, which is one of my personal favorites, to continue the same discussion. But I think this model fits almost every piece we have read this year. Take One Hundred Years of Solitude, for example. The novel opens with the story of the patriarch running away from murder, which is in a way his calling because he then fleas town and sets up Macondo. The whole family goes through trials and tribulations, but I would argue that in the end, the family does not atone. They just diminish. So it's not a perfect model, but it fits almost every piece of literature.