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The Call to Adventure
In The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell laid out the structure for the monomyth (also known as the Hero’s Journey) — a template that many stories across various cultures and times seem to follow. Many famous movies and books can be mapped to the monomyth — Star Wars, Harry Potter, and The Lion King (Hamlet), to name a few.
The monomyth is a series of stages a hero goes through in an adventure. It roughly follows three major sections: departure, initiation, and return, further broken into subsections.
The first section of the first phase, departure, is called The Call to Adventure. The hero starts off in a mundane situation and receives information that acts as a call to head off into the unknown.
In Star Wars, Luke Skywalker lives a mundane life on his uncle’s Tatooine farm until he discovers Princess Leia’s call for help in R2-D2.
In Harry Potter, Harry lives in a cupboard under the stairs in his uncle’s house until he discovers he’s a wizard (“you’re a wizard, Harry”) and has been accepted to Hogwarts.
In The Lion King, Simba lives a carefree life until his father tells him he will inherit the kingdom.
The Call to Adventure is important to study because that’s how most narratives start. It’s a disruption in the equilibrium. And since narratives underpin almost everything (including, and maybe especially, startups), it can be a way of either identifying the start of a story or creating a new one.
So, how does The Call to Adventure start? A few different patterns.
Invitation from a Mentor or Guide.
Discovery of a Personal Ability or Artifact.
Threat or Attack on the Hero or Home.
A Sudden Change in Circumstances.
A Quest for Revenge or Justice
A Dream or Vision
The Pursuit of Love or Rescue Mission
Inadvertent Discovery or Mistake
Destiny or Prophecy
Personal Desire for Change
Call to Duty or Responsibility
Curiosity and Exploration
Natural Disaster or Phenomenon
Escape from Captivity or Oppression
Chosen by a Higher Power