Study Guide

Jaws Hero's Journey

Hero's Journey

Ever notice that every blockbuster movie has the same fundamental pieces? A hero, a journey, some conflicts to muck it all up, a reward, and the hero returning home and everybody applauding his or her swag? Yeah, scholar Joseph Campbell noticed first—in 1949. He wrote The Hero with a Thousand Faces, in which he outlined the 17 stages of a mythological hero's journey.

About half a century later, Christopher Vogler condensed those stages down to 12 in an attempt to show Hollywood how every story ever written should—and, uh, does—follow Campbell's pattern. We're working with those 12 stages, so take a look. (P.S. Want more? We have an entire Online Course devoted to the hero's journey.)

Ordinary World

Brody's life on Amity, while hectic, is pretty idyllic. He has a happy family, a stable, respectable job, a charming oceanfront house… What could possibly go wrong?

Ha.

Call to Adventure

Chrissie Watkins' body is found on the beach and Brody realizes right away that it was a shark attack. He acts immediately and moves to close the beaches. He's just taking his first steps toward a confrontation with the shark, when…

Refusal of the Call

…Mayor Vaughn steps in and tells him to hold his seahorses. He forces Brody to make a choice between doing as the Mayor wants and doing his duty to keep the town safe. Against his better judgment, he caves to peer pressure (boo). He does nothing about the shark attack, and Alex Kintner dies as a result.

Meeting the Mentor

At a town meeting, Quint (Mentor #1) offers to catch the shark for a price. Hooper (Mentor #2) arrives, and he and Brody discover that they still have a shark problem.

Crossing the Threshold

Finally, Brody sets off with Hooper and Quint to kill the shark. They head out to sea in Quint's fishing boat, the Orca, armed with Quint's decades of experience and Hooper's scientific knowledge. Brody just has spare socks and Dramamine.

Tests, Allies, Enemies

The shark proves elusive at first, then slowly reveals its strength, intelligence, and ferocity. Quint and Hooper test each other's machismo, knowledge, and skill. Quint and Hooper also test Brody's humility and courage. Both Quint and the shark are finally shown to be equally dangerous in their own ways.

Approach to the Inmost Cave

The Orca is crippled by the shark's battering and Quint's abuse, and Hooper sees no alternative but to go underwater in his portable shark cage. There beneath the waves, he encounters the full force of the shark's fury when the creature is in its element.

Ordeal

With his two mentors out of the picture, Brody is left to face the shark alone aboard the sinking boat. Against all odds, and with some ingenuity, he attempts to destroy the shark.

Reward (Seizing the Sword)

With a slick "Smile, you son of a..." and the squeeze of a trigger, Brody defeats the shark and is cured of his fear of water. Hooper reappears, having survived his own encounter with the shark.

The Road Back

The two friends build a life raft out of shark barrels and paddle their way home.

Resurrection

Brody mentions, "Y'know, I used to hate the water." The old, fearful Brody has died and a confident, fearless Brody has been born.

Return With the Elixir

They reach the shores of Amity as the screen goes black, presumably bringing the triumphant news that the beaches are safe once again.

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