Percy Jackson's Hero Journey Part II: Characteristics of the Hero

So before we can talk about Percy’s journey, we also have to talk about what makes Percy the archetypal hero. Now, not all heroes have all the qualities, but many of the heroes have many of the qualities. I used Harry Potter to explain the journey, but I’ll use Percy Jackson to explain the qualities of a hero.

And away we go.

  1. The hero has mysterious origins.
    1. In the case of heroes from Greek Mythology, more often than not, one parent is of divine origin. For Percy, his mom is a mortal and his father is Poseidon.
  2. The hero is vulnerable. He can be killed, maimed, wounded, what have you. But he goes anyway.
    1. The camp directors didn’t want to give Percy the quest since they knew that he hadn’t been trained properly. He also has every monster from Greek mythology coming after him. Oh, no. What if our hero gets killed!?
  3. The path of the hero is dangerous and confusing.
    1. And it doesn’t help for Percy that someone stole Zeus’s lightening bolt, blamed it on him, and Ares keeps getting in the way.
  4. The hero is essentially solitary, his friends don’t share his sense of purpose.
    1. Percy is trying to clear his name. He’s also one of the children that’s not supposed to be, so his friends can’t really identify with the fact that everyone wants to kill him.
  5. Hero has a mentor/teacher/guide
    1. Percy’s guide/mentor/teacher is Chiron, the centaur. Unlike other centaurs, who are known for being wild, Chiron is civilized, and works with demigods at Camp Half-Blood.
  6. Hero has a magical weapon that only he or she can use. It is given to the hero by the mentor.
    1. Percy wields a sword given to him by Chiron. The first time Percy uses it, it’s to kill his math teacher, one of the Furies. His sword is disguised as an ink pen and returns to his pocket whenever he loses it.
  7. The hero has to go on a journey/quest to find something. He has to complete impossible tasks, battle monsters, etc. in order to either be a role model or save civilization as the people know it.
    1. Percy has to save Camp Half-Blood from the friend that becomes an enemy. In the first book, The Lightning Thief, Percy has to find Zeus’s lightning bolt to prove his innocence and to convince the Olympians not to kill him.

There are actually more elements to the hero journey. The most interesting graphic representation of the hero journey is found at the Monmouth Website, ORIAS, UC Berkley. The journey is set up counter clockwise, and if you hover over each element, it explains what each piece means to the hero’s journey.

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