Terry Dresbach

Outlander Costume Designer

The Hero



Been doing some reading about Heroes-

“Carl Jung first applied the term archetype to literature. He recognized that there were universal patterns in all stories and mythologies regardless of culture or historical period …shared by all members of the human species, a sort of universal, primal memory. Joseph Campbell took Jung’s ideas and applied them to world mythologies. He refined the concept of hero and the hero’s journey— George Lucas used Campbell’s writings to formulate the Star Wars saga.

The Hero’s Journey

  • The hero is naïve and inexperienced
  • The hero meets monsters or monstrous men
  • The hero has a strange, wise being as a mentor
  • The hero years for the beautiful lady who is sometimes his guide or inspiration
  • The hero must go on a journey, learn a lesson, change in some way, and return home
  • The hero often crosses a body of water or travels on a bridge.
  • The hero is born and raised in a rural setting away from cities
  • The origin of the hero is mysterious or the hero losses his/her parents at a young age, being raised byanimals or a wise guardian
  • The hero returns to the land of his/her birth in disguise or as an unknown
  • The hero is special, one of a kind. He/she might represent a whole nation or culture
  • The hero struggles for something valuable and important
  • The hero has help from divine or supernatural forces
  • The hero has a guide or guides
  • The hero goes through a rite of passage or initiation, an event that marks a change from an immature toa more mature understanding of the world
  • The hero undergoes some type of ritual or ceremony after his/her initiation
  • The hero has a loyal band of companions
  • The hero makes a stirring speech to his/her companions
  • The hero engages in tests or contests of strength (physical and/or mental) and shows pride in his/herexcellence
  • The hero suffersan unhealable wound, sometimes an emotional or spiritual wound from which thehero never completely recovers.

Linda makes a great point. Claire, classic hero, checks off everything on the list.

But on closer examination, I notice all the his/her references. Bad me, for not catching this!!! Thanks Linda!


22 thoughts on “The Hero

  1. AvatarAnne Riker Hetherington

    I recently finished MOBY, and now, because of the show, just started over again with Outlander. Its strange reading about a 45( + – ) year old Jamie and now a 23 year old Jamie., and knowing how DG is going to develop him What D G has done with these books and these characters has left me in total awe!!! I don’t have the words to describe her amazing talent.

  2. AvatarTréasaidh (@traceymfs)

    This is just so spot on. Hero or heroine DG has outlined them perfectly. And as they grow and we see them emerge the role becomes more and more ingrained. I love the way the symbolism is melded into the story and so many many layers. The show adds to this even more than i thought it would. And on a reread after seeing the show i am equally in awe of the writers, all of them and the way they see the story and bring it to life.

      1. AvatarGail Hajjar

        This is why I love your show so much-what you do to bring it together, and to make it significant. With due respect I am so in awe of your husband(TNG was my favorite Star Trek), and you and Maril and Bear, and Diana and everyone. I am inspired by your integrity and what is brought through from wherever it comes from(Jung’s Collective notwithstanding :)) that creates the texture and feeling of the show beyond and between the words. You are such examples of what it looks like to live what you love and I appreciate how much you all have shared about the show and yourselves.

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  4. Avatarpamraver

    Truly it is the universal qualities of these characters that make the classic hero. And so we have our Jamie and Claire, as much our archetypal heroes as Odysseus, King Arthur, Beowulf, Scarlett O’Hara, and Elizabeth Bennett. Could the Outlander series be the classic literature of a generation a hundred years from now? I hope so.

  5. AvatarGràs Beathag (Mal) (@mostlyalurker)

    i have done extensive graduate work in jungian/freudian depth work. there is an important step in the hero’s journey i see missing here — the fact that the hero is reluctant to take on the role/the journey. there is always a resistance to stepping onto the path of the hero (as in, “who me? i’m nobody. i’m not special.” or “no no no no, not my task to do.” or the like. as jamie says over and over, he wasn’t born to his position, his brother was. or claire in trying so hard to return to frank at first.)

    also, the woundedness and inability to fully heal that wound is _essential_ to the hero myth. and, i personally believe, that the hero and the tragic hero are one in the same, only two sides of the same coin.

    i’ll stop now. i can go on about this topic (archetypes, heroes, the whole bit) for days. _love_ it.

    1. Avatarclaireokc

      Excellent post – Campbell does make this a huge part of the hero myth….I think that Ron will probably deal with that when Jamie takes Claire back to Craigh na dun and she has to decide whether to go back to safety or take on the adventure. Amazingly Jamie has to do the same thing in the same scene (too bad we can’t hear voice-overs on Jamie’s side – remember he prays that he will have the courage to let her go), but maybe we will. Ron has said there will be more Jamie voice-overs in the 2nd half of the season.

      I agree about the wound – it is key. Without he wound the hero is sort of one-dimensional. That’s why I like folks who are AA or been through therapy or another form of healing cause tells me they’ve usually been to their bottom and discovered who they are and who they aren’t.

      Love your observation that the hero/tragic hero are so close. A quote from the movie Capote in which Truman says of Perry Smith (one of the perps of the Clutter family killing), “It’s as if Perry and I grew up in the same house. And one day he stood up and went out the back door, while I went out the front.” It’s very telling of just how close the two heroes are.

  6. Avatarclaireokc

    Myth cycles are so inextricably tied to the human condition, that they are almost impossible to resist, hence their timeless durability. The ancient Greek and Roman myths reached into human nature and were so appealing because they not only taught that humankind could do/be better, but they were a template to follow. Jung & Campbell help explain it further for modern adaptation (aka understanding). J. R. R. Tolkien felt he could reach many more readers through a myth tale, than through traditional academia and it’s well known that Lucas based Star Wars on the myth cycle. For a real “in your face” example of this, here’s a short snippet from LOTR to show the power of this kind of story-telling.

    This is what makes story-telling so important and this is why we all are drawn to characters like Claire and Jamie. Thy are people of worth who want to count for something. They inspire us to be the same – even if it’s just to survive our day-to-day existence…..sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. Some of us won’t have to fight off wolves or survive a witch trial. We will be dealing with other challenges and adventure: how will I find the time to do all I can for my kids and for me too?….how will I pass on passion for life to my kids?….how will I have time to fix dinner tonite? Just because the challenge may not be perceived as great by all, doesn’t nonetheless make it less so.

    Here’s a graphic of my take of Claire’s trek through Campbell’s myth cycle (Jamie’s is different). The only caveat is a distinct part of the myth cycle is the hero’s return to the community and sharing the knowledge of the quest; in Claire’s case it is that she knows the result of Culloden and what will she do with it – – another adventure. I can’t wait to see the second half, cause that’s when all this really important gripping stuff occurs. If Claire and Jamie can make it through all this, guess who can too?!!!! (You and Me!…..and for right now my big challenge is that I hope I got all the html code right on this post!)

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