Pocahontas - the Foremost Epitome of a Hero


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Joseph Cambell, an American psychologist and professor said, “A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself,” which allows Pocahontas to be characterized as a hero. She experiences struggles when she is forced to choose her path, which shapes her into the worthy hero she is. She creates tranquility in her native land by uniting the English and the Powhatan Indian. Pocahontas risks being exiled from her home because she warns the English men of how Chief Powanan is planning an attack. 

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Joseph Cambell is ultimately known for his works in the disciplines of religion and mythology. In his world famous book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, he elucidates the theory of fabled structures of the journey of the archetypal hero. In his research, Cambell discovers numerous conventional patterns that traces back to hero myths, stories, and folklore throughout the world. His research brought him to uncover many fundamental phases that nearly all hero-quests follow. 

Cambell states, “the standard path of the mythological adventure of the hero is a magnification of the formula represented in the rites of passage: separation — initiation — return: which might be named the nuclear unit of the monomyth.” He calls his framework, The Monomyth, which is also known as The Hero’s Journey. The Monomyth is a universal pattern of action that is in essence of mythological tales. In the Monomyth, the first stage of action that tries to seperate the protagonist from the known world is when the protagonist is being called to an adventure. 

In the film, Pocahontas, Pocahontas’ call to adventure is when her father, Chief Powhatan informs her that Kocoum, a native warrior, has requested for her hand in marriage and that she must choose her own path. Pocahontas is faced with a choice: to either accept or deny it. The second stage, the refusal of the quest is shown when the protagonist refuses to accept the call. This is seen when she denies to marry Kocoum, as she says she wants something different. 

The third stage of accepting the call is depicted when one accepts the adventure and advances to the next step of her journey. This is portrayed when Pochantas chooses to sail the rapid rivers, which represents adventure and risk, rather than choosing the steady waters, depicting Kocoum and marriage. Pocahontas muses over how the water is anything but steady as she steps into the water, “he [father] wants me to be steady like the river… but it’s not steady at all.” She is trying to get her inner emotions out by saying that the water is always changing and flowing. This means that life manifest change and yet life maganges to continuously flow. 

People can change correspondingly, as they can change their decisions, desires, paths, and their minds, while they continue to flow with the tides. This proves that everyone has a unique approach on things, as one may see things like no one else can. The new phase of initiation begins with the hero entering the unknown by crossing the first threshold. This is stage appears when Pocahontas follows her heart and sees the ship of the English men. She tries to spying in them, while having some close encounters. 

This is the part of the stage where the hero has to let go of their past and try to find their own path to answer the calling. Next, a supernatural aid guides the hero to success. As Cambell says, “One has only to know and trust, and the ageless guardians will appear.” For Pocahontas, her supernatural aid is her Grandmother Willow, a conscious willow tree that serves as a mentor to her. Grandmother Willow(SYMBOL TREE MEANS KNOWLEDGE) is considered to be as an ancient and wise presence that assists Pocahontas by showing what Pocahontas needs in order to finish the quest. 

When Pocahontas asks Grandmother Willow for guidance, she replies, “All around you are spirits, child. They live in the earth, the water, the sky. If you listen, they will guide you. Pocahantas uses the advice by listening with heart to understand what the spirits are telling her. Subsequently, Pochantas enters the belly of the whale, a phase of the hero’s journey termed as the preparation or rebirth stage, when she spies on the English men and gets caught by one of them, named John Smith. 

Now that she has been discovered, things cannot go back to how they were before. By and by, the phase of meeting with the goddess appears when Pocahontas interacts with John Smith instead of choosing to run away. Pocahontas gets to know him and ends up falling in love with him. The roads of trials are depicted when the hero forsees a series of ordeals that make them stronger. This is seen when Pocahontas persistently disobeys her father, Chief Powatan, in order to follow her path. 

One of the English settlers named Thomas discovers that John is with Pocahontas and follow them. But then Pocahontas and John are caught by Kococum, Pocahontas future husband, and tries to attack John. Frightened by this, Thomas shoots Kocoum. Her father and the Natives decide to fight the English men and Pocahontas tries to her her father to reconsider his thoughts on the men. 

The woman of tempress is shown when Pocahontas’ friend Nakoma attempts to stop Pocahontas from going with John Smith and does not support her. Transformation of Pocahontas is shown when John Smith is captured and is death sentenced by the Natives and she defends the English men and saves John Smith by rebelling against her father. Following, atonement with the father is illustrated when Chief Powatan and Pocahontas reconcile with each other and understand each others’ mistakes. 

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