The Hero's Journey in Star Wars

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In the 1970s during the release of Star Wars: A Myth for Our Time, the American society was experiencing national catastrophes such as Watergate scandal and Vietnam disaster. National heroes of that time were washed down the drain and so were the good morals. There was no clear distinction between the good and evil; women’s movements began to redefine sexual identities and there was general confusion with no one to look up to as the model in the society. Spiritual values were shattered and Americans were trapped in a world of some sort of death star where persons felt as aliens and impotent. As such, there was a desperate need for the society to renew its faith and see individuals as human beings who count, as men and women of integrity on the world-scape which would lead to the temporal return of the good old days. Accordingly, superheroes of the past such as Superman would return, so were old-fashioned genre films like Star Wars (Gordon, 6).

Fantasies such as Star Wars gave voice to innermost yearnings of many Americans and spoke to their hopes regarding their future as well as that of their society. For instance, the movie shows the triumph of appropriate use of technology over evil machinery in a bid to oppose the inhumane application of technology (Gordon, 6). The movie attempts to awaken heroics of Luke Skywalker and depicts the struggles he overcame between the powers of the dark and light. The cast George Lucas was largely motivated by The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell to apply the concept of adventure and personal transformation. Almost every culture uses this concept in the mythical framework. Even though this concept has been used widely, the movie’s sci-fi themes context is enough to influence interests of many kids as well as adults as it has very overwhelming effects on the young mind.

With prior studies in myths, Lucas strived to create one in Star Wars and to assess whether the movie met the mythic criteria, the article examined it using thesis in The Hero with a Thousand Faces. According to the article, a hero must derive into the childhood unintentional realms of sleep, where all childhood magic is. The hero must fight the underlying evil spirits of their local culture in order to regenerate the society in its entirety as the hero emerges from his adventure. To explore this adventure, he must overcome the restriction of parents and be led through the adventure by certain parent-like figure. The hero will finally discover his real identity and attain his real abilities which reside within him. The article states that a hero’s journey is composed of three stages; departure, initiation, and return upon which the film is examined to determine its correspondence to this traditional pattern of mythic adventure (Gordon, 2).


Luke has a dream of becoming a pilot but he is obligated to help his uncle harvest his farm produces which were close to ripening. This condemns him to a life of drudgery but he is restless for adventure. His uncle wants to keep him busy on the farm because he does not want Luke to turn out like his father, a Jedi Knight. Through Ben Kobaki we know that Luke’s father was a cunning warrior and the best starship pilot of his era. While his uncle who is his present father is ordinary and repressive and the Knight is the ideal appearance of the father (Gordon, 2). Luke’s uncle represents the restrictive forces that hinder an individual from discovering his actual identity. A chance to the actualization of his adventure dream came to Luke when a hologrammed appeal for rescue from beautiful princess appears carried by a little robot.

The author argues that as Luke was on the mission to liberate princess, he was attacked by the desert Sandpeople but was saved by Ben. Every hero would require someone to offer advice and supply amulets, thus Ben was there to serve this purpose. He was an ally to father of Luke and now a hermit in the desert wastes of the planet. In Luke’s adventure, Ben was a parent figure who would protect the hero from the dangers of the adventure. He gave Luke a sword which his father willed him and maintains the protective role throughout the movie. Frightened by the dangers of the adventure, Luke contemplates abandoning the call but he is left without options when he discovered that his uncle and aunt were killed in the attack by Darth Vader’s Stormtroopers (Gordon, 3). These deaths do not only remove the safe boundaries offered by the farm but deaths also remove obstacles (uncle and aunt) to Luke’s call to adventure.


Through what the article calls the belly of the whale, heroes go through the enemy space fortress so as to emblematically die and be reborn in the next phase which is initiation. In this stage, the hero undergoes life-threatening ordeals and tests but is able to conquer all through the amulets, advice and secret agents of the supernatural helper. The kinked lanes of his spiritual labyrinth were represented by the unending passages of the death star. Luke plunged into the inferno of the garbage room representing the Themistocles dreams mention by the Campbell whereby an individual experiences frightening dreams such as a snake wounding itself around his body (Gordon, 4). Luke is helped from the inferno by various agents led by Ben. Although Ben fought the Vader, he is left badly wounded such that he disappeared so as to be subsumed into the force that guides Luke at crucial instants as a voice. Now, he strives on rescuing the princess and escaping the death star without the help of Ben.

The “death” of Ben symbolized the atonement with the father while the liberation of princess represented the meeting with the goddess. After the rescue, the princess is seen comforting Luke who is too hard on himself regarding the “death” of Ben. Princess insists that Luke is not to blame for the death showing the attempt by the Lucas to make this oedipal fable guilt-free. Since myth is like a dream, the wishes of the central character inform the roles to be played by other characters (Gordon, 5). The inability of the princess to decide between Luke and Solo caters for the oedipal desires toward the mother figure. Reaching the stage of apotheosis, that is the hero symbolically met his father and mother, is now the “possessor of the grace of the gods which can restore his culture.”


Out of the death star and out of the belly of the whale, Luke together with the princess escaped the plans of further fights at the ship station. He is now prepared to bring back the Golden Fleece and the runes of wisdom to the kingdom of humankind, thereby renewing the planet, the nation or the community (Gordon, 5). The hero is now well-equipped to overcome all vices or hindrances in the society in an attempt to attain his true powers. He is backed by a force capable of conquering any demons out of the death star. Luke was able to crush ships that were pursuing them after the rescue mission without any help including that of his guardian, Ben and reached the rebel base. The victory over empire motivated the rebels in diminishing the scares of the death star.

Upon his return alive, Luke was a master of two worlds having crossed the threshold from the world of light into the world of darkness. His return at the risk of his life to the death star aiming at destroying it signifies that he can move between the two worlds at will. He has found his true identity at last and consequently, he becomes a Jedi Knight; a cunning warrior and starship pilot. He succeeded in exploding the death star by dropping some proton torpedoes (Gordon, 6).


To sum it up, the article emphasizes that hero is supposed to eliminate the obstinate dimension of the dragon and distribute from its ban the critical dynamisms that will nourish the planet. Once the status quo is destroyed, it permits the renewal and restoration of the society which Luke successfully achieved. Star Wars is so appealing to the audience as a result of how the movie brings out this sense of renewal. The film relates to the dreams of how Americans would like the reality to be, even though it has no direct relation to external reality (Gordon, 6).

Work Cited

Gordon, Andrew. "Star Wars: A myth for our time." Screening The Sacred. Routledge, 2018. 1-8.

August 01, 2023




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Star Wars

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