Joseph Campbell's Examples Of Traditional Gender Roles In Modern Stories

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In today’s world, men and women work the same type of jobs, can wear the same type of clothing or accessories, men can be stay-at-home dads while the women work, etc. However, it was a different world in the 1940s, and author Joseph Campbell published the book A Hero with A Thousand Faces in 1949. During this book, he analyzes a hero’s journey and the different stages a hero goes through. One stage is the “Atonement With the Father”. Throughout this stage Campbell gives examples of traditional gender roles in myths and stories. Gendered themes in Campbell’s writing can be applied to modern stories, and, although many modern stories have reversed gender roles, modern stories still possess some traits the traditional gender roles Joseph Campbell …show more content…
Throughout The Hero With A Thousand Faces, Campbell usually describes the hero as a male. Campbell does give some examples where the hero is female, but these examples are scarce. Also, “Atonement With the Father” is the stage in the hero’s journey in which the hero has to reconcile with the authority figure or ultimate power in their life. This authority is described as the “father figure”. They are typically male and are in line with traditional male gender roles. After the reconciliation, the father will approve of or respect the hero, or the hero will accept that the authority figure was right. This ultimately changes the hero; they will become more mature or understand their authority figure and respect them more.
Gender reversal of the roles in the hero’s journey can be found in many contemporary stories including the movie Brave. In Brave, gender reversals are seen in the hero and the “Atonement With the Father”. The hero is Merida, a free-spirited young lady who is the princess of a fictional medieval kingdom in Scotland. The ultimate authority figure in her life is her mother, Queen Elinor. Queen Elinor makes Merida sit up straight, wear dresses that she can’t move in, and get married to a prince. Once Merida finds she must be married, there is a rift in the relationship between the Queen and the
…show more content…
“Atonement consists no more than the abandonment of that self-generated double monster -- the dragon thought to the God (superego*) and the dragon thought to be Sin (repressed id)” (110), Campbell tells of the stage “Atonement With the Father” but in this story we see the change happening through a female authority to a female hero.
Although modern stories, including Brave, can highlight role reversals in the gendered themes Campbell writes of, sometimes the roles may not be completely reversed. For instance, in Brave, the Queen and the King were equal in their domestic relationship, but the kingdom was technically the King’s not the Queen’s. So, the Queen did not possess as much political power as the King, but she still had some. And, Merida is a female hero, but she is not always treated as such. Her father deems her unworthy of helping and locks her in her room for protection. She later breaks out and comforts her

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