College of Arts and Sciences


Master of Arts in English (MA)


Carl Curtis


Eden, Hero's Journey, Mythology, Return, Shakespeare, Tolkien


English Language and Literature | Literature in English, Anglophone outside British Isles and North America | Literature in English, North America


In order for man to understand where he is going, he must first remember where he began. The intertwining link between the beginning, the in-between journey, and the end of a story, or narrative, has been present since the ancient years of literary criticism. The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle explains that a unified and effective narrative should have a beginning, middle, and end, and the even more ancient realm of mythology tends to follow this format not only in its written structure, but also in its thematic and archetypal construction. These three main segments of a mythic narrative are later redefined by the famed mythological historian Joseph Campbell in his three-fold stages of the hero’s journey The consistent framework that is found in man’s mythic imagination ultimately echoes the structure of man’s own experience at Garden of Eden where all that occurs afterwards stems from the the events found in Genesis 1-4. Therefore, the following chapters will follow and examine thematic and archetypal elements of heroic narratives, primarily through two works by William Shakespeare and J.R.R. Tolkien, as they relate to the universal, historic, and edenic qualities of the three stages of the hero’s journey.