Hercules is a hero archetype

May 6, 2018 General Studies

In the animated film, Hercules, the viewer can watch the modern day twist on the legendary Greek hero Heracles (Hercules) as he advances through his heroic journey. Although the original myth slightly varies from the film, both sources carry strong and necessary elements that are needed for the completion of the hero’s quest. Therefore the basic plot of the movie must be explained for us to discover the many hidden archetypes within. Hercules’ quest begins when he is challenged to find out whether his true identity is godly or ordinary. That’s when the departure stage of the story comes into effect.

He visits Zeus’s temple and the statue of Zeus comes to life and speaks with him. Therefore, it comes as a shock when he finds out that he came straight from the god family tree. The acceptance, or initiation, of the challenge comes in the second stage. Hercules is initiated when he takes up training with his mentor Phil. He is crossing the threshold of his youth and gaining a more mature perspective towards the world and what it means to become a hero. Hercules is faced with many hardships as he comes up against numerous foes and monsters galore. This stands as the hero’s journey.

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This is also the time Hercules’ femme fatale is introduced. Meg starts out as a enemy, but after Hercules falls for her, she falls for him as we, and helps him in the end. Also, throughout this time Hercules’ is given a supernatural partner or aid named Pegasus. This flying horse acts as his trusted companion ever since he was gifted to him as a child. As life seems to be going good, Hades causes Hercules a “death” of his strength in attempt to save Meg. After he gets his powers back due to a loophole, he experiences his “rebirth”. Towards the end of the story Hercules literally goes through hell when faced with the ultimate challenge.

He must undo Hades plans by defeating the Titans. At the same time he risks his life to save Meg’s soul from the underworld, which proves his change from an average to true hero. This internal change enforces Hercules true heroic nature. In the final stretch of the film, we see Hercules confirming his past identity with the one he has created as a true hero. He final decision to not become a god and remain on earth shows how he has grown in wisdom and self-confidence. He is now welcomed and appreciated for who he is by society and Meg the one he loves. The story ends with his reformation to society.

Archetypal symbols are shown throughout the movie; but especially the colors. Mt. Olympus is a glowing white, standing for pureness and timelessness. Hercules’ mentor, Phil is brown, which stands for harmony, and is what he and Hercules share during the film. Purple signifies dignity, and is also the color of Meg’s dress and eyes. Blue can have negative meanings, like evil; the first monster Hercules fights is blue, as well as Hades. Black can mean danger in most stores, and whenever Hercules faced an enemy, or went on a dangerous path, the background would be black.


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