RELATED TERMS: Exhibition design; Narratology; Protagonist; Human Actantiality

In The Hero with a thousand faces, Joseph Campbell examines many of the world’s heroic myths and stories. He ties the processes of transformation in those stories of the heroic journey to the quest to know the truest self, a task which, he avers, takes much time.

Campbell shows how,

“the heroic self seeks … a higher way of holding and conducting oneself. This heroic way offers depth of insight and meaning. It is attentive to guides along the way, and invigorates creative life. We see that the journey of the hero and heroine are most often deepened via ongoing perils. These include losing one’s way innumerable times, refusing the first call, thinking it is only one thing when it really is, in fact, quite another — as well as entanglements and confrontations with something of great and often frightening magnitude. Campbell points out that coming through such struggles causes the person to be infused with more vision, and to be strengthened by the spiritual life principle — which, more than anything else, encourages one to take courage to live with effrontery and mettle.” (Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Introduction to the 2004 Commemorative Edition of The Hero with a thousand faces, p.xxiv)

Hero object in Exhibition design

The ‘hero object’ in an exhibition is the main or central object.

Hero in Narratology

Typically, the hero is the protagonist of a story, the good guy or good girl with whom the audience identifies, empathises and sympathises. The hero has the connotation of being ‘good’, which the notion of a protagonist does not carry.


Campbell, J. (2004, 1949) The Hero with a thousand faces. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.