September 20, 2021

#08-137: The Hero's Journey - Part II

an older man in a sports coat and tie looks superciliously at the camera
Joseph Campbell

Note: The "call," the journey, and the return: these are the basic elements of the "Monomyth" of hero's journey. Get more details below.

Get Ready: Think about your favorite book or movie, or one you've read or seen recently. What was the hero's main challenge? How did she or he accomplish it (or did he/she fail)? Look for a pattern you could compare to other stories.

September 16, 2021

#08-136: The Hero's Journey - Part I

a graphic illustration of the so-called "Hero's Journey" leading from the familiar into another world, through challenges and achievement, and back home again
A more elaborate version of the Hero's Journey

Note: In 1949, Joseph Campbell introduced the "Monomyth": the idea that all hero stories share a similar pattern. Find out what it is in this lesson and the next.

Get Ready: What makes a story interesting to you? Can you find a pattern that you think is particularly pleasing?

September 14, 2021

#08-135: The Three Musketeers

in a black-and-white pen-and-ink drawing, four long-haired men in capes and frilly clothes look off camera
D'Artagnan and the three Musketeers

Note: Athos, Porthos, Aramis, and their protégé d'Artagnan--the Three (plus one) Musketeers! Read about their swashbuckling adventures and political intrigues.

Get Ready: How do you think the use of guns and gunpowder disrupted the "art of war"? Prior to their introduction, fighting was limited to handheld weapons (like knives, swords, clubs, etc.); bows-and-arrows; and spears. How would fighting change when "musketeers" came on the scene?

September 13, 2021

#08-134: Gulliver's Travels

in a color illustration, a seeming giant is lashed to the ground by ropes passed over his body while a troop of little people gazes toward him in the foreground
Gulliver at the mercy of the Lilliputians

Note: You might know about Gulliver among the Lilliputians (little people), but what about the giants? Or the talking horses? And how about those Yahoos?

Get Ready: What would it be like to be a giant--like twelve times larger than "normal" people--or a tiny person less than 1/10th normal size? What challenges would it present? What advantages?

September 09, 2021

#08-133: The Blind Men and the Elephant

in a line drawing, six dark men in long white garments are inspecting various parts of an elephant: its tail, side, leg, ear, tusk, and trunk
The Blind Men and the Elephant

Note: The famous Indian tale about six blind men "examining" an elephant and coming to very different conclusions was amusingly put into verse by a 19th-century American poet. Here's the story.

Get Ready: Do you believe that the way you see things is the way everyone does (or ought to)?

September 07, 2021

#08-132: The Great Departure of Prince Siddhartha

a Thai-looking man is seated in a carriage drawn by two horses and driven by a charioteer. In the foreground is a meditating monk, a skeleton, and a man with a skin condition
A Thai illustration of the Four Sights (with only three in view, unless one man is sick and old)

Note: Buddhists mark four key events in the life of their founder: his birth, departure from home, enlightenment, and death. In this story, let's see how he renounced a life of luxury.

Get Ready: In order to follow his path, the Buddha left behind his wife, his newborn son, and his responsibilities to his parents. (He later did much more for them than he could have if he had stayed.) Do you think it's all right for a person to do this?

September 06, 2021

#08-131: Tarzan of the Apes

a bare-chested smiling boy is wearing a grass skirt and holding a rope in one hand and a pole in the other, as a group of monkeys looks on from the tree behind him
Poster for a 1918 film version of Tarzan of the Apes

Note: Prolific American "pulp" author Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote almost 80 novels, 24 of them about "Tarzan." Let's see the first one!

Get Ready: Did you ever swing on a rope or chain and do a "Tarzan yell"? (It's fun!) If you don't know what I mean, watch an old Tarzan movie!