Chris Vogler’s 12 stages of plot patterns


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The main plot concerns Harry's quandary against the evil wizard, Lord Voldemort, who killed Harry's parents in his quest to conquer the wizarding world and oppress non-magical people. (Harry Potter, 2010)

  • The main plot concerns Harry's quandary against the evil wizard, Lord Voldemort, who killed Harry's parents in his quest to conquer the wizarding world and oppress non-magical people. (Harry Potter, 2010)



Chris Vogler’s 12 stages of plot patterns. 

  • Chris Vogler’s 12 stages of plot patterns. 

  • He clearly states that the Hero’s Journey is a guide, not a rigid formula. 

  • Some steps can be out of order. 

  • Or some steps can be missing entirely.



Most Hero’s Journeys start in the Ordinary World.

  • Most Hero’s Journeys start in the Ordinary World.

  • This setting usually allows us to get to know the Hero and identify with him

  • Let’s us see the flaws and special attributes

  • Is important to set up a contrast with the special world.



Most Hero’s Journeys start in the Ordinary World.

  • Most Hero’s Journeys start in the Ordinary World.

  • This setting usually allows us to get to know the Hero and identify with him

  • Let’s us see the flaws and special attributes

  • Is important to set up a contrast with the special world.



Although most Hero’s Journey stories start in the Ordinary World, there is a short prologue where the Special World comes to the Ordinary World.

  • Although most Hero’s Journey stories start in the Ordinary World, there is a short prologue where the Special World comes to the Ordinary World.

    • This is the opening scene where Dumbledore and McGonnagal meet in Privett Drive and await Hagrid’s arrival with baby Harry.  And if we didn’t know there was magic in the air we’ve got Professor McGonnagal changing shape from cat to woman and Dumbledore casting spells to dim the street lights to tell us.
    • McGonnagal doesn’t think Harry should be left with the Dursleys, but Dumbledore tells her they are the only family he has. And that he will be better off being brought up in ignorance of who he truly is.
  • And so he is left with the Dursleys.  This becomes his Ordinary World. 

  • They  don’t want to bring him up. 

  • His bedroom is a cupboard under the stairs. 

  • He is treated poorly – the story opens on Dudley’s birthday and Harry is making the breakfast and fetching coffee whilst Dudley counts his presents.



Disrupts the comfort of the Ordinary World

  • Disrupts the comfort of the Ordinary World

  • Presents a challenge

  • Gets the story and excitement going

  • Delivered by the Herald: letter, riddle weather, arrival of the villain, death, abduction, etc)

  • Consequences for refusal



Set up by the conversation with the snake

  • Set up by the conversation with the snake

  • An owl drops a letter, and it  pops through the doorway addressed to Harry. 

  • That letter is the invitation to come and study at Hogwarts School Of Wizardry And Witchcraft.



Hero refuses the call or is reluctant

  • Hero refuses the call or is reluctant

  • Insecurities and fears of the Hero are outlined

  • Risks of the journey are outlined



Letters are torn up and burned

  • Letters are torn up and burned

  • The mail box is sealed, and the Dursleys even leave Privett Drive and to an isolated lighthouse. 

  • Because Hagrid arrives, and delivers the letter to Harry along with a birthday cake.

  • Harry is reluctant to accept that he is a wizard, but he is excited to get out of his dreary world.



Meets a mentor

  • Meets a mentor

  • Gives Hero confidence, knowledge, and insight.

  • Is a profoundly knowledgeable character

  • Gives wisdom

  • Reassures the Hero



For the first part of HP1, Hagrid is Harry’s mentor. Hagrid starts as the Herald, but must wear the Mentor mask in Dumbledore’s absence.

  • For the first part of HP1, Hagrid is Harry’s mentor. Hagrid starts as the Herald, but must wear the Mentor mask in Dumbledore’s absence.

  • Introduces him to his destiny and the wizarding word

  • The primary mentor will become Dumbledore



Hero commits to the journey

  • Hero commits to the journey

  • Hero confronts a special event

  • Commits to entering the new world

  • No turning back



Starts with Ollivader’s test at the Wand shop

  • Starts with Ollivader’s test at the Wand shop

  • Ends when he boards the train to Hogwarts

  • Harry has to board the Hogwarts Express by himself.   His ticket is for platform 9 ¾ .  Harry asks a ticket inspector, who thinks Harry is playing a joke on him.

  • Harry meets the Weasley Family about to make the transition to platform  9 ¾ .



Hero faces tests and throughout the process figures out allies and enemies

  • Hero faces tests and throughout the process figures out allies and enemies

  • Learns the rules of the Special World

  • Each test prepares Hero for the Ordeal

  • Allies can help guide the Hero

  • Enemies reflect the Hero’s dark side



Starts on the train, meets Ron and Hermione

  • Starts on the train, meets Ron and Hermione

  • First test is to shake Draco’s hand (potential enemy)

  • Sorting hat (not slytherin)

  • Classes: Draco and Harry feud on brooms

  • Fluffy (3-headed dog)

  • Troll

  • Quiddich Game

  • Wraith of Voldemort

  • Philosopher’s Stone



Hero makes preparations

  • Hero makes preparations

  • Leads to the Ordeal

  • Often involves planning: maps, reconnaissance, picking off the enemy

  • Hero faces biggest fear

  • Consists of reorganization and the rekindling of morale



Fluffy’s guarding, but is asleep. 

  • Fluffy’s guarding, but is asleep. 

  • Fluffy wakes up.  They are forced to jump down the trapdoor as Fluffy tries to attack them.

  • They must now find the Philosopher’s Stone.

  • Before reaching the Inmost Cave and the Supreme Ordeal – there are 3 more tests.  And each of the trio take the lead in one test.

  • Hermione uses her spell and herbology knowledge to rescue them from the Devil’s Snare, Harry puts his ‘seeker’ skills to good use to find the flying key with the broken wing to open the door, and Ron leads the game of Wizard’s chess to get them through this obstacle.

  • Ron falls at this obstacle, and Harry leaves Hermione to look after Ron as he descends to the Inmost Cave to confront Snape and The Supreme Ordeal.  Only it’s not Snape, it’s Quirrell.



Central life-or-death crisis

  • Central life-or-death crisis

  • Confronts his greatest fear, most difficult challenge, “death”

  • On the brink of failure

  • Climax

  • Can witness the death of an ally

  • Often faces the villain



Quirrell is revealed as the adversary, with a creepy Voldemort under his turban.

  • Quirrell is revealed as the adversary, with a creepy Voldemort under his turban.

  • The Supreme Ordeal is about the hero facing his biggest fear – and also facing death.  And Voldemort is always Harry’s biggest fear – the wizard who killed his parents when he was a baby and left him with a permanent scar.

  • And Harry faces down both of these – even though he ends the Supreme Ordeal unconscious, and wakes up in the hospital.



Hero survives death

  • Hero survives death

  • Overcomes greatest fear

  • Earns the reward:

    • A magical or special item
    • Greater insight
    • Knowledge
    • Their life
  • A moment of celebration



Delivered in the End Of Term banquet.

  • Delivered in the End Of Term banquet.

  • Gryfindor is transformed from 4th place for the Hogwarts Cup into first place by the extra points that Dumbledore awards for Ron, Hermione’s and Harry’s actions in stopping Voldemort gaining the Philosopher’s Stone.



Hero completes the journey and heads back to the ordinary world

  • Hero completes the journey and heads back to the ordinary world

  • Often needs a push to get the Hero going in the right direction

  • Changes the direction of the story



The stage of ‘The Road Back’ is symbolized by the Hogwarts Express getting ready to depart. 

  • The stage of ‘The Road Back’ is symbolized by the Hogwarts Express getting ready to depart. 



Harry wakes up in the hospital

  • Harry wakes up in the hospital



The final reward

  • The final reward

  • Earned the right to return to the Ordinary World

  • Can be love, acceptance, survival



And there are two things that signal the ‘Elixir’ that Harry takes away from his first year at Hogwarts.

  • And there are two things that signal the ‘Elixir’ that Harry takes away from his first year at Hogwarts.

  • The first is the picture that Hagrid gives to Harry of his parents and Baby Harry. 

  • The second is a line of dialogue.  “I’m not going home.  Not really.”



Archetype characteristics:

  • Archetype characteristics:

  • Unusual circumstances of birth; sometimes in danger

  • Reluctant, or uncomfortable with role

  • Leaves family or land and lives with others

  • An event, sometimes traumatic, leads to adventure or quest

  • Hero is special in some way, but not all ways

  • Hero has supernatural help

  • Hero must prove himself many times while on an adventure

  • At the end of the journey: hero has an unhealable wound, must change in some way



What kind of hero is Harry Potter according to Carol Pearson, PhD?

  • What kind of hero is Harry Potter according to Carol Pearson, PhD?

    • The Warrior
    • Gift/Virtue: Courage, discipline
  • Examples: flying, explores threats, fights a troll, defeating Professor Quirrell

  • Orphaned.

  • Special: survives Lord Voldemort’s attack



Archetype characteristics

  • Archetype characteristics

  • Usually a profound philosopher

  • Distinguished for wisdom and sound judgment

  • Characters usually have beards

  • Kind and wise

  • Offers guidance that in a mystical way may impress upon someone a sense of who they are, thereby acting as a mentor

  • May appear as an absent-minded professor



Widely known as being wise, yet odd.

  • Widely known as being wise, yet odd.

    • Chocolate frog card describes him as being “the greatest wizard of modern times” and indicates that he “enjoys chamber music and tenpin bowling.”
  • Does not fear death, and claims that choosing money and life are precisely the things that are worse for humans.

  • Cautions Harry to always use the proper name for Lord Voldemort, as “fear of a name increases fear of a thing itself”.



Archetype characteristics

  • Archetype characteristics

  • Protects the special world

  • Beyond the guardian lay danger

  • May be a character, locked door, secret vault, animal, weather, etc.

  • Provides a test of some sort

    • Hero must pass the test by:
      • Ignoring
      • Outwitting
      • Overcoming
      • Appeasing
      • Befriending


Possesses the last of Harry’s supplies

  • Possesses the last of Harry’s supplies

  • Makes Harry test the wands

  • Gives Harry information about Voldemort:

    • Danger ahead
    • Twin cores/wands
    • Harry might be the “chosen one”


To warn and challenge

  • To warn and challenge

  • Can be a person or a thing, but must call the Hero to adventure.

  • Can be combined with other characters. Even the Hero (in the form of dreams, etc).



In Harry Potter, the letters herald him to come to Hogwarts.

  • In Harry Potter, the letters herald him to come to Hogwarts.

  • As the carrier of the final letter, Hagrid, is also a herald.

  • Gives the call to adventure: “Harry yer a wizard!”



Archetype characteristics

  • Archetype characteristics

  • Misleads the Hero

  • Ambiguous intentions and loyalties

  • Can put doubts into the hero’s mind

  • The audience is usually left asking, “Whose side is this character on?”



Head of Slytherin (a word we associate with snakes, an allegorical symbol of evil); name SNAPE almost SNAKE

  • Head of Slytherin (a word we associate with snakes, an allegorical symbol of evil); name SNAPE almost SNAKE

  • He makes Harry’s scar hurt

  • Seems to pick on Harry

  • Stares at Harry intensely during the Quiddich game, and Harry is almost killed

  • Even when Quirrel is revealed, he states “Severus does seem the type, doesn’t he? So useful to have him swooping around like an overgrown bat…”



Archetype characteristics

  • Archetype characteristics

  • Forces within and outside of us of war against the power of positive life and change

  • Enormous resistance to the very experiences or insights that would lead to healing

  • Embodies all that is dark in ourselves



Main antagonist and archenemy of Harry Potter.

  • Main antagonist and archenemy of Harry Potter.

  • He is so feared that no one dares to say his name, known as “He Who Must Not Be Named” (Rowling, 1997).

  • Killed Harry’s parents, and many other wizards and muggles (non-magical people)

  • Video: Voldemort’s purpose is to murder



Disrupt, cause chaos, or provide comic relief

  • Disrupt, cause chaos, or provide comic relief

  • Funny, witty, or titillating dialogue

  • Physicality is meant to entertain

  • They may not change, but may cause change in their world



Archetype characteristics

  • Archetype characteristics

  • Driven by loyalty and a need for harmony

  • Can always be counted on

  • Usually provides comic relief (trickster)

  • Ready to lend a hand, yet may fail to realize that he or she needs to take the lead

  • Stable, supportive, tolerant

  • Chief flaw: being too compliant or unassertive



Harry’s first friend when they meet on the Hogwarts Express.

  • Harry’s first friend when they meet on the Hogwarts Express.

  • Ron and Hermione are selected to be Gryffindor (like Harry) because they are all brave at heart, with daring, nerve and loyalty.

  • Hermione is also the Guardian of Knowledge and Mother Figure

  • Ron also acts as a trickster, providing some comic relief




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