Classical mythology stories together with the hero adventures are very subtle. Greek mythology culture and religion identifies the origin of the world, gods, and humans and how that society has influence the present society today. They also happen to reveal many relevant motifs that are being used in this contemporary culture. The Joseph Campbell theory portrays a depiction of the differences and similarities in a modern twenty-first century film like, Harry Potter and the Prisoner Of Azkaban. Some of the recurrent motifs that are conveyed in both the great classical myth of hero adventures and in the Joseph Campbell theory are implicated into Harry Potter and the Prisoner Of Azkaban film, these motifs are transformation of appearances, “call to adventures and Threshold of Adventures”, “helpers”, “death,” “resurrection” and “award”.
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Joseph Campbell theory suggests that the same heroic ideas that have been used in the Greek mythology stories it is also being used in the modern fictional hero story today. For example, The Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban movie has conformed the same ideas and motifs by the main character, Harry Potter, first starting off to the struggle and unwanted refrain of living in his uncle’s house. As he rebels against his intolerable aunt who says horrible things to him of his parents and mistreat him, he uses forbidden magic against her which causes her to blow up. Luckily for him he does not get into trouble. After this whole misfortunate visit, Harry is disappointed and decides to pick up and leave, out of sight a bus appears and picks him up. Harry then sees the front of a newspaper with the breaking news that Sirius Black has escaped the Azkaban Prison. After Harry returns to ‘Hogwarts School’, everyone is afraid of Sirius Black. Meanwhile, Harry has bad encounters with ‘Dementors’ who are dark shadows that kill you by feeding off your happy memories. In addition, Harry thinks that Sirius Black is interested in killing him. This is when Harry goes into an adventure and finds out that Sirius Black is his godfather and was an ally with the evil Voldemort who was also responsible to his parents’ death. During this mission, Harry fight against a werewolf, which is his Professor Lubin and against the ‘Dementors’. During this whole dilemma, Harry discovers how his godfather escaped and all the revelations of truth come out. However, at the end of the story Harry finds out that his godfather was always innocent and that his parents’ traitor turned out to be Peter Pettigrew who was transformed all the time as , Harry best friend; Ron pet rat. With great success Harry saves his godfather’s life and an innocent animal; half eagle and half horse name Buckbeak who if it wasn’t for Harry and Hermione; Harry other, best friend Buckbeak would have died. Harry and Hermione are advised by their superior Dumbledore to change the past. Due to this they both go on another adventure by going back into time to see how they can prevent Harry’s and Buckbeak death from occurring and prevent any further catastrophe (like Harry’s godfather’s death).
One impressive characteristic that the Harry Potter movie along with the classical myths hero adventures share is the transformations of their appearance. For example, in the classical myth the gods and goddess transform themselves into different figures all the time. In the legend of Perseus, for instance, after an oracle told his grandfather Acrisius that a son of his daughter Danae was going to kill him, Acrisius immediately afraid of this locked his daughter under the castle’s chamber. Nevertheless, Zeus, the god of all the gods lay with Danae by transforming himself into the shower of gold and gets Danae pregnant with Perseus. There are more situations in the classical mythology where these transformations reoccurred various times, for example, Zeus once transformed himself as his daughter Artemis to have sex with Callisto; a female huntress who is Artemis follower, and the goddess Hera; Zeus wife, also transforms herself as an old lady in the myth of Jason, where Jason himself helps her by carrying her across a river. These stories have had a great influence in the modern fictional stories today like Harry Potter’s. In Harry Potter’s, the prisoner ‘(Sirius Black)’that escaped the prison of ‘Azkaban,’ accomplished this by disguising himself into a dog. In addition to this, some of Harry’s professors transform themselves into animals and other people too.
“The Threshold of Adventures” is another motif that have influenced in both society (of ancient and modern stories). In the beginning of Harry Potter’s movie Harry is on vacation at his uncle’s house, the only family he has. In this world no one is allow to practice magic and their life is more ordinary than when Harry goes back to school. When Harry goes back to school this is where the “The Threshold of Adventures” is divided between his two worlds. The wizardry world and the normal life back home. This is similar to Heracles and many other heros when they are at their city and home is different from when they go on their adventures, for instances, like the Argonauts or Heracles twelve labors.
Moving on, Harry starts the ” call to adventure” when he is first told by Mr. Weasley, Ron’s father that “Sirius Black” is after him, Harry from here on knows that he has an enemy to be attentive of. Like in many other ancient heroes stories Harry faces obstacles that try to stop him from continuing to finish his conquest. For example, when Harry is on the train on his way to the ‘School of Witchcraft and Wizardry,’ a Dementor figure, appears on the train to kill harry, lucky for him that he was accompanied by one of the new professors that was going to be teaching in ‘the school of magic.’ This “call to adventure” reflects to the hero Heracles, When Heracles is on his twelve labor adventures and even before then, Heracles faces many obstacles that are mostly caused by the goddess Hera. For instance, one of these obstacles is ‘the madness of Heracles,’ Hera had caused Heracles to go into a fit of insanity causing a lapse of judgment on his part that made him kill his wife and three kids. Although, this tragedy causes Heracles pain, he is still able to overcome this and to continue to keep going forward. On the eleventh labor Heracles is sent to get the apples of the ‘Hesperides’ during this labor Heracles comes across two impediments, one the sea-god Nereus and the other the serpent Ladon. Fortunately Heracles gets rid of these two barriers. Furthermore, like Harry, Heracles, with the help of supernatural figures and friends is able to rely on someone to help him complete his task, like in Heracles, the goddess Athena and “Atlas,” “Heracles” conquest this labor with victory.
Harry most dangerous quest is when he has to fight against the Dementors and the werewolf. This is when the “helper” motif takes place. When Harry’s intentions are to fight the werewolf, the dog which is his (godfather) fights for him. Severus Snape one of Harry’s Professor is also in the fight and because of the enragement back and forth it’s that the truth reveals about Sirius Black innocence. Hermione and Ron help Harry runaway first from the Werewolf and then Hermione uses her voice to make a sound to distract the werewolf from hurting Harry. After the werewolf leaves Harry, he is then tormented by the Dementors and a figure that appears in the light rescues him. Due to all this Harry then realizes that he wakes up in a hospital, this is when Dumbledore indirectly advices them to go back into time. Hermione uses her tool, a ‘Time-Turner’ which is a time travel device that helps them go back in time and prevent Macnair, an executor from killing Buckbeak, and the Dementors from Killing Harry and Sirius Black. With the ‘time travelling’ help Harry goes back and defeats the Dementors by casting a spell from the other side to stop them from killing himself and his godfather. In this movie Harry is being helped by a ghost like entity that enters a female professor’s body. Which assist him with a message for the upcoming future. Harry also receives the help from professors by being trained to become strong enough to get rid of the Dementors.
In the classical myths hero adventures of Heracles and Perseus they receive the help from both supernatural figures and mortals. For example, the goddess Athena and the god Hermes helped these heros with their tasks. These gods also provided them with the tools to facilitate them in conquering their missions. In the myth of the hero Perseus, Athena and Hermes advised Perseus to go to the three Graeae and to force them into telling him the way to the unnamed nymphs Perseus there obtains the cap of invisibility, a pair of winged sandals, and a bag to safely carry Medusas head. Hermes also gave him a scimitar. In Heracles adventures he himself is helped by Athena as previously mentioned. Nonetheless, he is also helped by his human nephew Iolaos in the second labor that he has to perform, ‘The Lernaean Hydra’ where his nephew helps kill the nine headed serpent.
As a result, a new correlation can be made from the ancient times myths and from Harry Potter’s movie. For instance, in the Perseus legend, Perseus is told that in order for him to get the truth he needs to force the Graeaes by removing their one tooth and eye; this forces them to tell him how to locate the nymphs. Similar to this, in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban the professor Lupin forcefully transformed Pettigrew from a rat to a human, to prove to Harry that it was Pettigrew after all disguised as a rat, that was responsible for betraying Harry parents’ and turning them over to the evil Voldermort. These two correlations depict how the same idea of forcing someone out of their will can help the hero achieve what they want. In both these cases Harry’s was seeking the truth and in Perseus was to defeat the Gordon.
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Next the motif of “death” is used in many ancient hero stories, for example, in Heracles, Deianeira, Heracles wife, had sent him a robe thinking it was going to make him fall love only with her. Unknowingly she didn’t know the robe was going to cause him to burn, since the arrow that Heracles had killed the centaur with was poisoned with the hydra he had killed in earlier labors. He was in such agonizing pain that he wanted to die and so he killed himself by mounting his own funeral pyre and had it lit. This is the death of one of the heros.
Furthermore, in Harry Potter’s movie “death” among the hero is also installed. For instance, when all the Dementors attack Harry and his godfather, his godfather dies and Harry dimly dies too. If it wasn’t for the Harry from the future, Harry together with Sirius Black would have both deceased. The theme of “death” is commonly use in the modern stories today just as it was represented back in antiquity times.
The motif of “resurrection” it is cleverly used in this recent movie just as it was used in many other classical myths. When the Dementors attacked both Harry and the Sirius Black, Sirius died, and since time is stopped there and Hermione and Harry use the time travel device, it’s the reason that Harry was able to go back and save his godfather and himself. In the legend of Heracles, after Heracles perished, since he had completed all twelve of his labor he received the price of immortality, Heracles father Zeus converted him into an immortal god, where he reconciled with Hera and married her daughter Hebe.
Lastly, one of the most frequent motifs is “price” at the end of each story. In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry has the price of knowing the truth of his godfather and saving three lives, Sirius Black, Buckbeak and including the evil Pettigrew, which he didn’t allow the werewolf to kill. Harry’s life goes back to normal with no fear of having the thought of having someone after him to kill him. Pettigrew now owes his life to Harry. In most of the classical hero adventures, the heros have a happy ending. One illustration is when, Perseus becomes king of Tiryns and lives with his beautiful wife Andromeda. Like mention before, Heracles become an immortal god and marries the goddess of youth, Hebe.
In summary, most of the modern stories today are based on the Joseph Campbell theory and the ancient classical mythologies. It gives a great depiction of how the myths of this ancient society have influence and is very relevant to the stories of this current society. The five recurrent motifs give a great exemplification of how contemporary authors and directors rely on these types of foundation to create a successful prolonged novel or movie.
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