A Hero’s Journey: Part II

A flowered path

Meeting with the Mentor

The next phase in the “Hero’s Journey”, is the Meeting with the Mentor. According to the writings of Vogler, the mentor represents the relationship and acts as a bond similar to a “parent and child, teacher and student, doctor and patient, god and man.” Vogler continues to circle around the idea that the purpose of the mentor is to prepare the hero and to give the hero a “swift kick” to get the hero on the right track.

As Dorothy arrives in Oz, she encounters the Good Witch of the North, Glinda. Glinda arrives believing that Dorothy is the “new witch” the munchkins have spoken of. As Dorothy and the witch talk of their surroundings, they form a friendship bond. Glinda introduces the idea of Dorothy being the hero of the story, for she had killed the wicked witch. “The Munchkins are happy because you have freed them from the Wicked Witch of the East, (26:27-26:31, Wizard of Oz).” The witch gives Dorothy the “red slippers” and tells her of the steps she must take to get home, back to Kansas. “The only person who might know would be the great and wonderful Wizard of Oz himself! It’s always best to start at the beginning and all you do is follow the Yellow Brick Road, (35:10-35:16, Wizard of Oz).”

Throughout the story, Glinda continues to appear to aid Dorothy and her added campaigns. When Dorothy is put under a sleeping spell from poppies, Glinda, the Good Witch of the North, reverses the spell to allow Dorothy to complete her adventure to Oz. Glinda also arrives at the end of the quest to tell Dorothy of how she is able to get home, after the Wizard left without her. According to Vogler, the mentor provides knowledge, tools, and the adventure itself to the hero, and the mentor is typically older than the hero with a connection to them. Dorothy’s mentor, Glinda, is portrayed as older, however, they meet at the beginning of the film.

In the story of Beowulf, Beowulf’s mentor is portrayed as King Hrothgar and their connection dates to Beowulf’s father. “Hrothgar, the helmet of Shieldings, spoke: ‘Beowulf, my friend, you have travelled here to favour us with help and to fight for us. There was a feud one time, begun by your father. With his own hands he had killed Heatholaf, who was a Wulfing; so war was looming and his people, in fear of it, forced him to leave. He came away then over rolling waves to the South-Danes here, the sons of honour.  I was then in the first flush of kingship, establishing my sway over all the rich strongholds of this heroic land.  Heorogar, my older brother and the better man, also a son of Halfdane’s, had died. Finally I healed the feud by paying I shipped a treasure-trove to the Wulfings and Ecgtheow acknowledged me with oaths of allegiance, (Heaney 456-473).” 

Beowulf’s connection to Hrothgar exists to repay Hrothgar for his father; Hrothgar paid off Ecgtheow’s enemies, however, he had died before repaying Hrothgar. Beowulf arrives in Daneland already knowing what his adventure is to be. However, Hrothgar gives Beowulf his blessing of fighting Grendel and restates Beowulf’s “purpose” in Daneland. “’Greetings to Hrothgar. I am Hygelac’s kinsman, one of his hall-troop. When I was younger, I had great triumphs. Then the news of Grendel, hard to ignore, reached me at home: sailors brought stories of the plight you suffer in this legendary hall, how it lies deserted, empty and useless once the evening light hides itself under heaven’s dome. So every elder and experienced councilman among my people supported my resolve to come here to you, King Hrothgar, because all knew of my awesome strength.’ … ‘It bothers me to have to burden anyone with all the grief Grendel has caused and the havoc he has wrecked upon us in Heorot, our humiliations. … Now take your place at the table, relish the triumph of heroes to your heart’s content, (Heaney 407- 490).”

Crossing the First Threshold

According to Christopher Vogler’s idea of the phases of a Hero’s Journey, a hero is to cross a “threshold”. Crossing the threshold represents the hero fully committing to the adventure and facing the consequences of what lies ahead in the “special world”. Vogler describes this moment as “when the story takes off and the adventure really gets going.”

The threshold, in the film The Wizard of Oz, is represented as the land Oz. Dorothy “crosses” the territory using the Yellow Brick Road, which the munchkins and Glinda, the Good Witch of the North, told her to follow. “It’s always best to start at the beginning –and all you do is follow the Yellow Brick Road. …Follow the Yellow Brick Road. Follow the Yellow Brick Road. Follow, follow, follow, follow, follow the Yellow Brick Road. Follow the Yellow Brick. Follow the Yellow Brick Follow the Yellow Brick Road. You’re off to see the Wizard, the Wonderful Wizard of Oz. You’ll find he is a whiz of a Wiz If ever a Wiz there was. If ever oh ever a Wiz there was. The Wizard of Oz is one because, because, because, because, because, because…because of the wonderful things he does, (35:48-37:00, Wizard of Oz).”

According to Vogler, crossing the threshold represents the hero’s full commitment to the adventure. Dorothy shows her full commitment to their adventure by following the Yellow Brick Road. The road leads Dorothy through the “threshold” of Oz.

In the story of Beowulf, Crossing the Threshold relates to Vogler’s idea of the hero’s full commitment to the adventure. Beowulf expresses his full commitment through a speech to King Hrothgar. In his speech, Beowulf tells of how he will fight Grendel and how him and his men with only use their bare hands. “’Now I mean to be a match for Grendel, settle the outcome in single combat. … I have heard moreover that the that the monster scorns in his reckless way to use weapons; therefore, to heighten Hygelac’s fame and gladden his heart, I hereby renounce sword and the shelter of the broad shield, the heavy war-bound: hand-to-hand is how it will be, a life-and-death fight with the fiend. Whichever one death fells must deem it a judgement by God. If Grendel wins, it will be a gruesome day; he will glut himself on the Geats in the war-hall. Swoop without fear on the flower of manhood as on others before. Then my face won’t be there to be covered in death: he will carry me away as he goes to ground, gorged and bloodied; he will run gloating with my raw corpse and feed on it alone, in a cruel frenzy, fouling his moor-nest. No need then to lament for long or lay out my body: if the battle takes me, send back this breast-webbing that Weland fashioned and Hrethel gave me, to Lord Hygelac. Fate goes ever as fate must,’ (Heaney 425-455).”

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