THE ROAD OF TRIALS: TESTS, ALLIES AND ENEMIES: The hero encounters tests and helpers. The hero is forced to make allies and enemies in the special world, to pass certain tests and challenges as part of his training.
- Lord of the Rings: Samwise Gamgee.
- The Wizard of Oz: The Tin Woodsman, Scarecrow, and Cowardly Lion.
- Star Wars: Luke’s sessions with Yoda.
No matter how many schools a hero has been through, he’s a junior boy or girl all over again in this new world. The terrain is different – you need to explore it; the rules seem unfair – you need to learn them; everyone seems a stranger – you’re going to need some friends. This is the time of testing. Greek heroine Psyche was put through a series of almost impossible tests by Venus before winning back her lost love, Cupid (Eros). Friends advise her on the way and lend a hand. At school, this stage would be your class tests or ‘mock’ exams – the hero’s training before the ‘real’ end-of-year exams. Most of the work happens now – it will be too late by the end, the real test.
Enemies can be made, e.g. gangster Jabba the Hut in Star Wars. This stage often extends out from the previous one, so may happen in a bar, with music – the catchy tune played by the alien band in the cantina in Star Wars, or in Rick’s Café Americain in the classic film, Casablanca (1942), when there is a musical duel between the passionate Marseillaise sung by the French patriots, and the brutal Deutschland uber Alles sung by the Nazis. Or there may be flirting – a different kind of ally/enemy situation. There may be gambling – in the Hindu epic The Mahabharata, a cosmic family feud is set in motion by a rigged, cheated game of chance between two sets of brothers.
Questions to consider:
- Is there a testing phase in a story you know?
- What has been a testing phase in your life?
- Do some heroes have no allies?
- How do you turn an enemy into an ally?