There are many monsters in stories which are human, but invested with animal attributes, either directly, like the Minotaur, half-man, half-bull. They are seen as less than wholly human. And even when monsters are shown as entirely human in appearance, they tend to be in some way physically abnormal: abnormally large (giants), abnormally small (dwarves) or in some way deformed (e.g. missing an eye or a limb, or hunchbacked).
By definition, the one thing the monster in stories can never be is an ideal, perfect, whole human being.
Then there are the monster’s behavioural attritutes. We invariably see it acting in one of three roles:
- In its first ‘active’ role, the monster is Predator. It wanders menacingly or treacherously through the world, seeking to force or to trick people into its power.
- The monster’s second, more ‘passive’ role is as Holdfast. It sits in or near its lair, usually jealously guarding the ‘treasure’ it has won into its clutches. It is in this role a keeper and a hoarder, broody, suspicious, threatening destruction to all who come near.
- When its guardianship is in any way challenged, the monster enters its third role as Avenger. It lashes out viciously, bent on pursuit and revenge.
In fact, we may often see the same monster acting out all three roles at different stages of the same story. In Jack and the Beanstalk, for instance, we first see the giant as Predator, prowling about, demanding human food. We next see him as Holdfast, brooding in miserly fashion over his treasures. We finally see him, when Jack steals the treasures, running angrily in pursuit, as Avenger. And the point about these three roles is that they represent all the main aspects of the way human beings behave when acting in an entirely self-seeking fashion. When people are at odds with the world, behaving selfishly or anti-socially, they are after ‘something’ as Predators; wanting grimly to ‘hold on to something, as Holdfasts; or as Avengers, resentfully trying ‘to get their own back’.
One may sum up by saying that, physically, morally and psychologically, the monster in storytelling thus represents everything in human nature which is somehow twisted and less than perfect. Above all, and it is the supreme characteristic of every monster who has ever been portrayed in a story, he or she is egocentric. The monster is heartless; totally unable to feel for others, although this may sometimes be disguised beneath a deceptively charming, kindly or solicitous exterior; its only real concern is to look after its own interests, at the expense of everyone else in the world.
Such is the nature of the figure against whom the hero is pitted, in a battle to the deat. And we never have any doubt as to why the hero stands in opposition to such a centre of dark and destructive power: because the hero’s own motivation and qualities are presented as so completely in contrast to those ascribed to the monster. We see the hero being drawn into the struggle not just on his own behalf but to save others: to save all those who are suffering in the monster’s shadow; to free the community or the kingdom the monster is threatening; to liberate the ‘Princess’ it has imprisoned. The hero is always shown The hero is always shown as acting selflessly and in some higher cause, in a way which shows him standing at the opposite pole to the monster’s egocentricity.
And even though the monster wields such terrifying power that, almost to the end, its dark presence is the dominant factor holding sway over the world described by the story, it has one weakness which ultimately renders it vulnerable. Despite its cunning, its awareness of the reality of the world around it is in some important respect limited. Seeing the world through tunnel vision, shaped by its egocentric desires, there is always something which the monster cannot see and is likely to overlook. That is why, by the true hero, the monster can always in the end be outwitted: as was the mighty Goliath by little David, who was able to stay out of reach of the giant’s strength by using his little slingstones. As was the Medusa by Perseus with his reflecting shield, which meant he did not have to look at her directly; as was Minos by his own daughter secretly presenting Theseus with the sword and thread; as were Well’s Martians by their overlooking even something as apparently insignificant as the destructive power of bacteria. It is this fatal flaw in the monster’s awareness which is ultimately its undoing. Despite its power, the monster is shown not only as heartless and egocentric. It is also, in some crucial respect which turns the day, blind.
Read on for a detailed breakdown of “The Seven Stories of Your Life”
What Can I Expect?
Here’s an outline of “The Seven Stories of Your Life itinerary.
PART I THE SEVEN GREAT STORIES OF YOUR LIFE
- Why Do We Need Stories?
- The Basic Stories
- Once Upon A Time
- Overcoming the Monster
- The Essence of the Monster
- The Purpose of the Monster
- Not Completely Human
- The Thrilling Escape from Death
- Rags to Riches
- The Dark Figures
- The Central Crisis
- The Dark Version
- Rags to Riches: Summing Up
- The Quest
- The Call to Adventure
- The Hero’s Companions
- Voyage and Return
- The Journey
- The Trials
- Visit to the Underworld
- The Helpers
- Voyage and Return
The Dark Power: From Shadow into Light
PART II THE COMPLETE HAPPY ENDING
- The Twelve Dark Characters
- In the Zone
- The Perfect Balance
- The Unrealized Value
- The Drama
- The Twelve Light Characters
- Reaching the Goal
- The Fatal Flaw
PART III MISSING THE MARK
- The Ego Takes Over
- Losing Your Plot
- Going Nowhere
- Why Sex and Violence?
- Rebellion Against ‘The One’
- The Mystery
PART IV WHY WE TELL STORIES
- Telling Us Who We Are: Ego versus Instinct
- Into the Real World: What Legend are You Living?
- Of Gods and Men: Finding Your Authentic Story
- The Age of Loki: The Dismantling of the Self
Epilogue: What is Your Story?
About Peter de Kuster
Peter de Kuster is the founder of The Heroine’ s Journey & The Hero’s Journey
Peter is founder of the Heroine’s Journey and Hero’s Journey project where worldwide thousands of professionals shared their story of making money doing what you love. He wrote 50+ books. Peter has an MBA in Marketing, MBA in Financial Economics and graduated at university in Sociology and Communication Sciences.
IS THE HERO’S JOURNEY FOR YOU?
- You are a creative professional who is interested in developing yourself and your creative business.
- You are aware that there are no quick fixes. Learning is a journey that works when you are fully committed to it. A guide like Peter de Kuster can bring awareness and help you navigate, but in the end it’s you who is in charge of your growth.
- You want to learn more about how to tell yourself a more powerful story, learn about blind spots, and get feedback.
- You are curious and want to engage in an interactive learning journey with Peter de Kuster.
- You are motivated to work in-between journeys on yourself (e.g. working on questions that will help you develop new storytelling, mindsets, skills, and behaviors).
WHAT’S YOUR QUEST-ION?
The Hero’s Journey is all about your development. To make the most out of your journey with Peter, we ask you to prepare topics to work on with him. These topics can serve as a starting point for further in-depth exploration.
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Who can sign up for The Hero’s Journey?
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What language do we speak in the journey?
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Yes, you get to choose your own topic.
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Send Peter an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
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Once we’ve received your payment, our Program Coordinator will book your journey. She will also support you with rescheduling journeys if needed.
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Individual journeys can be postponed up to one week before the journey.