The Fairytale Heroine’s Journey

“When I first started teaching fairy tales at the university level, I noticed that certain tales had a similar underlying structure. They were all tales about heroines, from childhood to marriage, and in those tales the heroines went through a series of life stages: they received gifts, they were required to leave home or lost their homes in some way, they wandered through dark forests, they found temporary homes where they could stay for a while, they encountered friends and helpers along their journey . . . I describe those stages in more detail on the Journey page of this website.”

Source: The Fairytale Heroine’s Journey

Author, researcher, and college professor Theodora Goss* is doing for fairy tales what Joseph Campbell did for myths. That is, she is looking for underlying themes that can be found in many tales. It’s a developing process, and I’m looking forward to seeing this website evolve over time.

*Goss is the author of three wonderful novels, “The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter,”European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman,” and “The Sinister Mystery of the Mesmerizing Girl.”


Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of the heroine’s journey novel “Sarabande.” 


4 thoughts on “The Fairytale Heroine’s Journey

  1. This looks really interesting.
    When I was writing Forging the Blade, my hero was a woman and I came to realize that women, even in this day and age, don’t have the same journey that men do. The fairy tales help with the first part of life, but they always end with marriage and the ensuing line, “And they lived happily ever after”–which in many cases, they probably didn’t. They always ended this way because at the time they were written, the social structure made marriage and child bearing a woman’s sole purpose. Studying them, as Goss has found, is helpful, especially for young adult fiction.
    I wish I’d known about this website then.
    However, I did find “The Heroine’s Journey” by Maureen Murdock, which seems to be saying the same stuff, but is contemporary and includes life after, and also without, marriage.
    It helped tremendously.

    1. I’ve also read Murdock’s book. I hope Goss is able to continue her study of the journey and add to the website. When I wrote “Sarabande,” which is a heroine’s journey, my favorite resource was “Descent to the Goddess: A Way of Initiation for Women” by Sylvia Brinton Perera. Goss initially started talking about this in blog posts that appeared on Facebook; she might not have had the website set up yet when you started “Forging the Blade.”

Comments are closed.