Joseph Campbell's Mythical Story Structure and the Movie Tombstone

Essay by political_truthUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, June 2005

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In the movie Tombstone, we can find several characters and events that fit into Joseph Campbell's mythical story structure. Wyatt Earp, who is the mythological hero in the movie, arrives in Tombstone, Arizona with a reputation that is larger than life. Wyatt and his brothers are looking to settle down and make a living. Wyatt is resistant to the call of adventure for a while, but he eventually reaches the threshold of adventure after his brother Virgil becomes sheriff of Tombstone.

When they arrive in Tombstone, they find that Wyatt's friend, Doc Holliday. Doc Holliday is seen by some to be a sort of supernatural helper to Wyatt because he is dying of tuberculosis and has no fear of death, and he shoots a gun with speed and precision that is ungodly. In fact, it appears at times that he is trying to bring about his own demise via gun fighting, rather than dying in a hospital bed.

A prime example of the seemingly supernatural aid Wyatt receives from Doc is when he has accepted a challenge to a gunfight with Johnny Ringo. Doc knows that Wyatt has no chance of winning the duel, and goes in his place and slays Ringo. Although I don't view them as supernatural as Doc Holliday, Wyatt's brothers, Virgil and Morgan, act as his helpers during the tests he encounters, such as the shootout at the O.K. Corral.

After reluctantly accepting the call to adventure, Wyatt encounters many tests. First, there is the shootout at the O.K. Corral. After that, the Cowboys shoot up the Earp brother's wife's house. They then shoot and kill Wyatt's brother, Morgan. All of these events cause Wyatt to go on a rampage to eradicate the Cowboy gang. This fits into Campbell's circle in the flight...