The Secret Life of Bees

The Concept of Monomyth in Kidd's Secret Life of Bees

In Sue Monk Kidd’s The Secret Life of Bees, Joseph Campbell’s concept of the monomyth is employed to develop Lily’s journey from a lack of familial recognition and worthlessness into a new life of true meaning and appreciation. Joseph Campbell argues that all stories are essentially the same because of their relation to the monomyth. Throughout this journey, the hero undergoes three critical phases, which include the departure, initiation, and return. They must overcome barriers and may drift away into peril, but will eventually gain the freedom to live. Along with applying the theory of monomyth to works of fiction, Campbell also utilized the idea of archetypes created by Carl Jung. He used them to discover the profound meanings behind myth and religion. More importantly, these archetypes are present in novels to express the collective unconscious and are a significant part of the hero’s journey.

In every monomyth, the hero must first leave his or her home in order to embark on an empowering journey. This first step is known as the departure. In Kidd’s novel, Lily follows many of the same steps of the departure as were described by Joseph Campbell. Lily’s first action in the voyage is when she is called to the adventure. After...

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