Fear Of Whales

Tales of a reluctant minister

Rey’s Own Hero’s Journey

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Ever since Star Wars, The Force Awakens came out, people have been complaining about Rey’s depiction. Not complaining in a bad way, it’s just that nerds show their love for things by analyzing it to death. It seems like we agree that we love that we have a female protagonist, but are concerned that she will be feminist enough.

Is she really a good enough role model for young women? Why does she have to get captured and be rescued by men? And what about that indecisiveness about leaving Jakku, they are making her seem weak! She needs to be a strong leader!

Awkwardly, these critiques are mirrored by the complaint that she is too strong too fast. She won’t have a proper arc because she is already using the force better than Anakin and Luke.

I have a theory about where they might be going with this, and I’m excited about it. It may be a new way to tell the story of the monomyth. Check out this diagram.


     In case you came in late and have never heard someone nerd about Star Wars before. The original trilogy is widely considered to be one of the best and purest tellings of the Hero’s Journey. It is a story told in every culture and in every time, because it mirrors the experience every young man has growing up. First the cross the threshold out of the relative saftey of childhood into the dangerous world, then they are tested by evil and trained by an old wizard, eventually gaining a reputation as a hero. But if the hero is not careful his arrogance will run away with him. The squire who becomes a knight to overthrow the evil king may become just as evil to the kingdom when he takes the throne, unless he learns to be humble he will join the Dark Side, if not he may become the old wizard for the next generation. Obviously we are talking in broad generalities, these are myths, it goes with the territory.

This is Luke, this is me. This is King Arthur, and Bilbo, and Harry Potter and Jesus. But this is not Rey. And I think it is because for young women the process of maturity tends to follow a different pattern. I’m not alone in this thinking, I borrowed from Rohr who borrowed from who knows who else.

Rey-Star-warsWomen mature faster early on. They do better in elementary school and become responsible and capable ahead of the boys, they don’t have to “Leave the Shire” to find their power, they already have it. Among the most volatile powers young women discover is power over boys. Society is uncomfortable with this, and therefore tries to manipulate women in myriad unfair ways. Nevertheless heroines, If they are healthy and not tragic heroines, manage to humble themselves early, avoid societies’ slings and arrows, and develop a permeable sense of self. It could be said that teenage women start at the end of the masculine Hero’s Journey.

Unfortunately for me in attempting to prove this point, we don’t have a ton of great examples of this. Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz is probably the closest. Alice in Wonderland is okay. But mostly we have ignored great epic plots featuring women, or if we have featured women, we have not put them in roles previously written for men “This girl is a badass warrior” often explicitly “This is Conan, but a woman, we call her Sonja” What would it look like for an original character to actually tell the mythic story of maturity that women experience?

Well I’m a man. So I don’t know for sure. But I suspect it would have something to do with a woman who is thriving going nowhere, who has incredible leadership ability and skill suddenly being thrown into an environment where she must put it all into context. Forming deep relationships. Building a team, and eventually realizing that most of her limitations are self imposed and she is ready to save the universe with no-holds barred.

I think there will be an arc.


Written by RyanGaffney

January 13, 2016 at 6:01 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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