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In what way does endurance: Shackleton’s incredible journey qualiﬁes as the archetype hero’s journey? Alfred Lansing’s documentary “Endurance” presents an accurate retelling of Shackleton’s incredible journey in Antarctica; this recount somewhat depicts an archetypal hero’s journey. Undoubtedly Shackleton displays heroic qualities and is faced with a major ordeal of survival throughout the documentary amongst his team members making up important aspects of a hero’s journey. However this archetype is not entirely fulﬁlled since the recount lacks elements including a mentor and refusal of call.
Throughout the textual recount Endurance, Lansing loosely follows a hero’s journey structure in several aspects. Although it appears few fundamental elements aren’t prominent such as the lack of an obvious mentor and ‘refusal of call’. In most cases Mentors have some form of super powers such as in Harry Potter or The Lord of the Rings. Clearly for Endurance, being a non-ﬁctional recount, this is impossible.
Additionally superpowers or not, there is no signiﬁcant ﬁgure mentoring or teaching Shackleton how or what to do on his expedition. In some ways Shackleton, the hero of the documentary is his own mentor. Shackleton makes his own decisions and is not inﬂuenced by anyone else’s opinion however he inspires the party aboard ship. There are people that guide and inﬂuence Shackleton’s decisions along the way such as the whalers at South Georgia. These experts warned Shackleton of the current poor conditions in the Weddell Sea and claimed the ice conditions were “the worst they had ever been in memory of the Norwegian whaling skippers”.
This didn’t stop Shackleton or his team. Additionally, Endurance lacks the ‘refusal of the call’ element of a hero’s journey. The protagonist of the recount, Shackleton, never feels the fear of the unknown or tries to turn away from the adventure. Arguably most people would express fear in this situation, although Shackleton was different, he was a hero. Evidently the arctic seas were the least of his worries, “Of all their enemies, the cold, the ice, the sea, he feared none more than demoralization.” This lends weight to the idea that there is no refusal of call and that Shackleton’s priorities were left of center. Not withstanding these omissions other elements of the hero’s journey are prominent.
However, the recount exposes a crucial aspect of a hero’s journey archetype being a hero itself; Shackleton. It is discovered that this incredible leader possesses several qualities that a hero holds, proving that in fact the hero’s journey archetype is predominantly followed throughout Endurance. Evidently Shackleton leads his party to survival throughout his incredible and harsh journey across the Antarctic seas, and there is no question that Shackleton was “the greatest leader that ever came on God’s earth.” He simply understood his men and had the power to keep them together in the toughest of conditions. Shackleton “was prepared to go almost any length to keep the party close-knit and under control.” Displaying the vital heroic qualities of sacriﬁce, bravery and courage needed to therefore awarding Shackleton his heroic status. Furthermore Endurance explores the hero’s journey archetype by showcasing an ordeal. Shackleton’s journey displays an implausible ordeal against himself, the seas and the severe conditions The sheer torment Endurance and its passengers undergo during its constant ﬁght against the ice pack displays an unbelievable ordeal, “pressure reached new heights. The decks buckled and the beams broke; the stern was thrown upward 20 feet, and the rudder and stem post were torn out of her”. This piece of writing alone qualiﬁes Lansing’s recount of a hero’s journey. Additionally the “struggle against the sea” is described as ”an act of physical combat” with “no escape.” Exposing the improbable ﬁght the men faced against the conditions. At the same time Shackleton battles the challenge of keeping his men sane and occupied whilst stuck in the pack ice. Incredibly he manages to keep hope alive within the group, yet again displaying his natural heroic powers whilst greatly fulﬁlling the archetype of a hero’s journey. Unquestionably Shackleton’s journey typiﬁes the archetype of a hero’s journey. The authentic retelling strictly follows the hero’s journey structure simply by involving a hero and an ordeal. Although the retelling lacks a mentor and the element ‘refusal of the call’ it is evident that the documentary primarily follows the hero’s journey archetype.
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