The Dark Version

Once we are familiar with the essential outlines of this type of story we can recognise a variation on the theme which may be called the ‘dark’ version of the Rags to Riches plot. This is the sort of tale which shows a hero or heroine who attempts to follow the general pattern of the climb from rags to riches, but in some way fails to arrive at its fully rewarding conclusion.

Le Rouge et Le Noir introduces us to a little hero of humble origins living in an obscure provincial town in France in the years after the fall of Napoleon. Julien Sorel, a clever boy who enjoys reading books, is scorned by his practical, down-to-earth father and older brothers (we hear nothing of his mother, who appears to be absent). In this sense he starts as a litlle dreamer, his head apparently in the clouds, who is scorned and rejected by his unimaginative family.

But Sorel is not like the traditional folk tale hero. He is profoundly ambitious. His dreams are of winning earthly glory, like his hero Napoleon, and in general his attitude towards the rest of the world is one of contempt. As he nears adult life, he goes out from home in a first, limited way, by having an affair with an older married woman in the town where they live, but eventually he contemptuously rejects her. He then goes off to a seminary for prospective priests, but only because he has calculated that the Church is the best stepping stone for a poor boy to further his worldy ambitions. Again this attitude towards his fellow students is one of heartless scorn.

Eventually Sorel travels to the centre of all his ambitions, the great city of Paris, where he wins the post of private secretary to the magnificent Marquis de la Mole, the most powerful man in France. He unscrupulously worms his way into the heart of his employer’s beautiful daughter Mathilde (whom he enjoys humiliating sexually) and seems on the verge of marrying her and succeeding to the ‘kingdom’ of immense power and riches. But at the last moment disaster strikes. The unhappy mistress he had discarded years before comes back into his life, obsessed with her desire for revenge. In a desperate bid to hold onto his new prospects, he attempts to murder her – and ends up, not at the altar with his ‘Princess’, but disgraced an on the guillotine.

Obviously there is a huge difference between the heartless, self – seeking Sorel and the essentially good-hearted heroes and heroines we have been looking at (who are so specifically contrasted with the self-seeking dark figures who are their main antagonists and rivals). When Sorel comes into any kind of opposition to others in his story, it is they who become victims of his egotism rather than the other way around. He himself is indeed a kind of ‘monster’. Yet, outwardly, the ultimate goal he is seeking is remarkably similar to that central symbolic goal we see in other stories. What he aspires to is union with the ‘beloved other’ and succession to a position of great power: except that he is after these things only as a means to egotistical gratification, as expressions of his desire for power over others. And in the end his drive for that goal is not just frustrated; it brings about his complete destruction.

We shall later see that the Rags to Riches plot is by no means the only type of story which can give rise to ‘dark’ versions like this. Yet what is significant is how these unfold to their self-destructive endings by precisely the same rules which govern the way in which the ‘light’ versions proceed to their happy endings. In coming to understand just how subtly and consistently this principle operates all through storytelling we shall uncover one of the most important secrets stories have to offer.

What Can I Expect?

Here’s an outline of “The Seven Stories of Your Life itinerary.

Journey Outline


The Dark Power: From Shadow into Light


  • 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


  • The Ego Takes Over
  • Losing Your Plot
  • Going Nowhere
  • Why Sex and Violence?
  • Rebellion Against ‘The One’
  • The Mystery


  • 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.


  • tickYou are a creative professional who is interested in developing yourself and your creative business.
  • tickYou 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.
  • tickYou want to learn more about how to tell yourself a more powerful story, learn about blind spots, and get feedback.
  • tickYou are curious and want to engage in an interactive learning journey with Peter de Kuster.
  • tickYou 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).


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.


One Hour Virtual Coaching for Euro 150 (excluding VAT)

One Day Journey for EUR 1,200 (excl. VAT)

Two Day Journey for EUR 2,150 (excl. VAT)

Three Day Journey for EUR 2,950 (excl. VAT)



Who can sign up for The Hero’s Journey?

Creative professionals who wish to improve their storytelling, mindset(s) and develop their leadership skills.

What language do we speak in the journey?


Can I bring my own topics?

Yes, you get to choose your own topic.

Are journeys confidential?

Yes. Peter will not share anything that is discussed in the journey.

Where will the journeys take place?

Sessions will take place travelling with Peter a world city like Paris, Rome, Florence, Barcelona, Amsterdam, London, Antwerp, Venice, New York, Berlin, Madrid.

How do I sign up?

Send Peter an email to

How do I pay?

After you booked The Hero’s Journey by sending an email to Peter you will receive an email with info how to pay.

How do I book and reschedule a journey?

Once we’ve received your payment, our Program Coordinator will book your journey. She will also support you with rescheduling journeys if needed.

What is your cancellation policy?

Individual journeys can be postponed up to one week before the journey.