Study Guide

Chicago Hero's Journey

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Hero's Journey

Ordinary World

Roxie's ordinary world is as dull as dirty dishwater. She has a lame husband, and she's having an affair with a man because she hopes that he can catapult her to stardom. Her Chicago isn't a city of glitz and glamour. It's a tiny apartment where the L-Train passes at odd hours and keeps her awake at night.

Call To Adventure

Roxie watches singer and dancer Velma Kelly and wants to be her. But Roxie is more Scooby-Doo than Velma, so she needs to take dramatic action to be famous. When she has the opportunity to shoot her lover, Fred Casely, and get her name in the papers, it's a shot Roxie knows she has to take. And she doesn't miss.

Refusal Of The Call

Prison isn't all it's cracked up to be. Who knows what Roxie expected, but prison is full of hard work, crazy ladies, cold nights, and worst: unflattering jumpsuits. She starts to wish she hadn't pulled the trigger.

Meeting The Mentor

Lucky for Roxie, her idol, Velma Kelly, doesn't just kill it on stage. She killed her sister and her husband because they were having an affair. Velma is on the same cell block as Roxie, but she's more of a mean girl than a mentor. Velma isn't going to give Roxie any advice for free. That doesn't stop Roxie from modeling her own path to infamy after Velma's.

Crossing The Threshold

Roxie crosses the theoretical threshold from simple criminal to infamous murderess with her number "We Both Reached for the Gun." During this number, Roxie, with Billy's help, realizes that if she embellishes the facts—or outright lies—she can keep her name on the front pages of Chicago's papers. By doing that, she knocks Velma's name to the back pages and takes her place as the most famous dame in the jailhouse.

Tests, Allies, Enemies

Roxie must fight to keep her name in the papers and to keep her neck out of a noose. By doing this, she allies with Billy and Mama Morton who help her find the right balance between being bad enough to appeal to the public, and good enough to avoid being convicted. In doing so, she strengthens her rivalry with Velma. There's only room for one femme fatale in Chicago.

Approach To The Inmost Cave

When Velma gives an impassioned plea to Roxie, begging her to team up for a double act with the song "I Can't Do It Alone," Roxie realizes that she can do it alone. She has fame. She has a good shot at being acquitted. And she has a jazzy new haircut. Roxie has to make a big choice: to form a duet with Velma, or to go solo. With her newfound confidence, Roxie hopes to make sure her name is the only one up in lights.


Before Roxie can be a famous jazz singer, she has to get herself off death row. The second half of the movie consists of Roxie's trial, both in the court of justice and the court of public opinion. It's a literal life or death situation for Roxie Hart. If she is found guilty, she will be executed. And if she doesn't become famous, she might as well wish herself dead, because that is all she wants.

Reward (Seizing The Sword)

After a couple of show-stopping numbers in the courtroom, Roxie is found not guilty. However, living to see another day isn't enough for Roxie Hart. She wants to be famous, and that's a reward that she doesn't get. As soon as Roxie is found not guilty, another woman commits a crime in Chicago, and Roxie's newspaper headline is literally trampled in the mud. Her reward is snatched from her because of this bad timing.

The Road Back

Roxie reluctantly re-joins the real world. In Chicago, murderesses are a dime a dozen, and she finds herself forced to audition for roles that she thought would be handed to her. The life of a struggling singer isn't what she had planned on. When Velma approaches Roxie again with her proposal to become a duet, this time Roxie takes it.


In one final fantasy sequence, Roxie imagines the stunning career that she and Velma will have together. It's the career Roxie always wanted. Well, except for the fact that Velma is beside her. But Roxie plans on making sure her name is top billed, and that Velma is her second banana.

Return With The Elixir

Roxie is finally a star, but only in her own head. The final number is the flashiest one yet, with Roxie and Velma dancing in unison, holding matching machine guns. Roxie literally envisions her name in lights, and a crowd of people cheering her on.

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