Good questions, Thedasian and Fuckyeahaveline (FUCK YEAH AVELINE). Let’s see if I can answer them without rambling too much. :)
Joseph Campbell’s The Hero With a Thousand Faces remains the gold standard in discussing mythological influences on fiction, and for good reason — it’s an exceptionally elegant theory about how humans construct a certain type of story, one that every student of fiction, mythology and literature should be familiar with.
But the truth is, The Hero’s Journey tells only a very limited story: The process by which a boy — usually a Western boy — becomes a man (i.e., a hero).
But that’s not the total of human experience, is it? The female maturation cycle gets completely ignored, for starters, not to mention the experience of becoming a father, becoming a mother, raising children, facing one’s own mortality, easing into death, finding God, losing God, the delight of invention, the onset of menses, and so on, ad infinitem.
It doesn’t even tackle how other cultures outside the West show boys becoming men. I mean, just go look at the Monkey King myths from China, or how Buddha grows into his spiritual enlightenment — very Heroine’s Journey! — or even look at Native American tribal myths, or those from Central Africa. Often, the resemblance to the Hero’s Journey is very superficial.
Campbell himself even acknowledged this, saying (and I paraphrase, because I don’t have time right now to dig up the exact quote) that he was only interested in studying the stories that describe a very narrow subset of the human experience. This he chose as his field of study, and it didn’t mean that there weren’t other ones out there, or that those ones weren’t worth studying; it’s just that this monomyth, the one of the heroic myth, was the one that interested him the most.
But we seem to forget that in the face of just how elegant the Hero’s Journey is. It’s amazing. It speaks to us. We’d like to apply it to everything, if we can.
Yet other monomyths will speak to us just as strongly, if we let them.
I’m hardly an expert in mythology, or in the Heroine’s Journey, but a few fun starting books and links include:
And how I first heard about this theory in the first place:
The Heroine’s Journey is a relatively recent school of thought, IIRC, and that’s probably one reason why you haven’t heard about it yet. As time goes on and academics become more interested in understanding myths outside the traditional heroic myth framework, you’ll likely see awareness rise of alternate monomyth models.
But —and I hate to be that person, but this does need to be brought up — consider also the context in which we study myths: A patriarchally-organized society such as ours will inherently place more value on stories that describe the experience of men, particularly Western men, than on women or people of other cultures. That’s just the way it is.