Writing Assignment Medusas Head

The Hero's Journey is a framework that scholar Joseph Campbell came up with that many myths and stories follow. Many storytellers and story-readers find it a useful way to look at tale. (That's actually putting it lightly. Some people are straight-up obsessed.) Chris Vogler adapted Campbell's 17 stages of a hero's journey, which many screenwriters use while making movies. Vogler condensed Campbell's 17 stages down to 12, which is what we're using. To read a general explanation of the 12 stages, click here.

Perseus' story doesn't fit perfectly into the Hero's Journey structure, but we're giving it a shot. As the gross old saying goes, there's more than one way to skin a cat. Here's how we've diced up the story:

Stage 1: The Ordinary World

We start the story on the island of Seriphus, the home of Perseus and his pretty mother Danae. Though Perseus doesn't know it yet, Polydectes, the king of Seriphus, has the hots for Danae, but he needs to get Perseus out of the way before he can marry her.

Stage 2: The Call to Adventure

King Polydectes orders Perseus to bring back the head of Medusa. (That sounds like a pretty effective way to get Perseus out of the way – permanently.) Perseus accepts the challenge even though it seems like an impossible task.

Stage 3: Refusal of the Call

There's no refusal in this story. Though he might be inwardly freaking out a bit, Perseus hops to it.

Stage 4: Meeting with the Mentor

Athena and Hermes guide Perseus to the home of the Graeae and give the guy some advice.

Stage 5: Crossing of the Threshold

Perseus really commits to his adventure when he blackmails the Graeae into telling him how to find the Nymphai. At this point, he has entered the mythological world of strange creatures and gods.

Stage 6: Tests, Allies, Enemies

Perseus' main test is finding out the location of the Nymphai. To do this, he has to trick and blackmail the Graeae, which he successfully does.

Next, Perseus gains two important allies. First of all, the Nymphai loan Perseus lots of useful stuff, like Hermes' winged sandals, Hades' helmet of invisibility, and the kibisis. Second, Athena offers Perseus some great advice about how to defeat Medusa (only look at the monster through the refection on your shield). Good thing Perseus has some friends.

With his borrowed magical gear, Perseus flies off to find the Gorgons' cave. The Gorgons will certainly be his enemies.

Stage 7: Approach to the Inmost Cave

How convenient – the Gorgons actually live in a cave. When Perseus reaches the Gorgons' lair, he's about to embark on the most dangerous part of his adventure.

Stage 8: Ordeal

Perseus finds Medusa sleeping and chops off her head. The other two Gorgons chase him, but Perseus escapes with the help of Hades' helmet of invisibility (a.k.a. Helm of Darkness).

Stage 9: Reward

Perseus has got Medusa's head, which is certainly a kind of reward. While flying home to Seriphus, though, he also wins Princess Andromeda's hand in marriage.

Stage 10: The Road Back

Perseus flies back home with Medusa's head packed away in his kibisis.

Stage 11: Resurrection

This stage has a kind of funny name, because it isn't necessarily about death and resurrection: "This is the climax in which the Hero must have his final and most dangerous encounter with death. The final battle also represents something far greater than the Hero's own existence with its outcome having far-reaching consequences to his Ordinary World and the lives of those he left behind" (source).

What's at stake for Perseus is his mom's freedom. Perseus' last battle is with King Polydectes, who has be trying to force Danae to marry him. Perseus takes care of Polydectes by using Medusa's head to turn him into stone.

Stage 12: Return with the Elixir

Perseus has returned home and saved his mom. His quest is over. He came home with the cure to his mom's desperate situation, and now he returns his magical artifacts to the Nymphai and gives Medusa's head to Athena.

Common Core Standards for English Language Arts

Grades 3–5

SPEAKING AND LISTENING
3.1 Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 3 topics and texts, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.
3.4 Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking clearly at an understandable pace.
4.3 Identify the reasons and evidence a speaker or media source provides to support particular points.
4.6 Differentiate between contexts that call for formal English (e.g., presenting ideas) and situations where informal discourse is appropriate (e.g., small-group discussion); use formal English when appropriate to task and situation. (See grade 4 Language standards 1 and 3 for specific expectations.)
5.1 Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 5 topics and texts, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.
5.3 Summarize the points a speaker or media source makes and explain how each claim is supported by reasons and evidence, and identify and analyze any logical fallacies.

WRITING
3.3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences.
3.4 With guidance and support from adults, produce writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task and purpose.
4.4 Produce clear and coherent writing (including multiple-paragraph texts) in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
5.10 Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes, and audiences.

Grades 6–8

WRITING
Text Types and Purposes
1. Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
3. Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.

SPEAKING AND LISTENING
Comprehension and Collaboration
1. Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas
3. Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.


Language Arts Content Standards for California Public Schools

Grade 4

2.0 Writing Applications (Genres and Their Characteristics)

2.1 Write narratives:
a. Relate ideas, observations, or recollections of an event or experience.
b. Provide a context to enable the reader to imagine the world of the event or experience.
c. Use concrete sensory details.

Grade 6
2.0 Writing Applications (Genres and Their Characteristics)

2.1 Write narratives:
a. Establish and develop a plot and setting and present a point of view that is appropriate to the stories.
b. Include sensory details and concrete language to develop plot and character.

Grade 7
2.0 Writing Applications (Genres and Their Characteristics)

2.1 Write fictional or autobiographical narratives:
a. Develop a standard plot line (having a beginning, conflict, rising action, climax, and denouement) and point of view.
b. Develop complex major and minor characters and a definite setting.
c. Use a range of appropriate strategies (e.g., dialogue; suspense; naming of specific narrative action, including movement, gestures, and expressions).

2.2 Write responses to literature:
a. Develop interpretations exhibiting careful reading, understanding, and insight.
b. Organize interpretations around several clear ideas, premises, or images from the literary work.
c. Justify interpretations through sustained use of examples and textual evidence.

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