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The Matrix A Hero’s Journey Analysis Essay, Research Paper
The Matrix: A Hero’s Journey Analysis
The Ordinary World
For Thomas A. Anderson, his ordinary world is ironically, a computer-simulated world, known as The Matrix. The real world is only a fake but the adventure world is real. By day, Thomas Anderson works as a computer programmer for a software company called Metacortex. By night, he is a computer hacker for hire known as Neo. In the simulated world, Thomas seems very bored and he doesn’t care much about his job. He is always late for work and almost risks losing his job. The only thing that seems to be on his mind is his search for the truth. The answer of the question: “What is the matrix?” Ironically, when Thomas is in the unreal, simulated world, he uses mostly his real name, Thomas Anderson. Only as a hacker is he known as Neo. When he exits the matrix and enters the real world, he is known as Neo.
Call to Adventure
There are more than one calls to adventure in this film. There is a minor call and a major call. The minor call would be when Neo receives a message on his computer stating: “Matrix has you follow the white rabbit”. Later, when some customers Neo has worked for come to pick up hacked goods, he is invited to join them. At first, he is reluctant but when he sees a white rabbit on one of them, he decides to go. When he gets the bar where they were headed, he meets with Trinity, a woman who later becomes an ally. She warns him that “they” are watching him. She tells him that there is a man who has the answer to his search for the truth.
The major call to adventure happens to Neo when he is at work in the morning. He receives a phone call that warns him that “they” are coming for him. At this point in the movie, we, the audience is not sure who “they” are but we know they are the enemies. The person who calls Neo is Morpheus, who Neo later meets. Morpheus tells Neo what to do step by step. He tells Neo how to escape being caught. Neo escapes his cubicle just barely before the enemy gets there. He is directed into an office. The only way out of the building without being caught was to climb out the window in the office and climb to another window nearby.
Refusal of the Call
After finding out the only way out of the building freely is to climb to another window, Neo steps out onto the window ledge. He says to himself: “Why is this happening to me?” As he takes a few steps, he looks down. From the ledge on the skyscraper, he sees it is a long way down. He is terrified and he drops his phone. Seeing it fall downwards, as if sucked down. He says: “I can’t do this” and climbs back into the building. This is the refusal of the call to adventure because Morpheus had told Neo how to escape but Neo had refused. This incident shows the audience that Neo has character flaws. He is not a superman hero who is not scared to do anything, even put his own life in danger to escape. Rather, Neo is an average guy with many weaknesses. He was scared when he was out on a ledge on a twenty-story building. He would rather get caught than risk his life.
Meeting with the Mentor
After Neo is released from the agents that caught him, he is again contacted by
Morpheus. Morpheus tells Neo that he (Neo) is “the one”. Morpheus offers a chance to
meet and Neo agrees. When Trinity and another woman come to pick Neo up, he is requested to do as they tell or get out of the car, which ultimately means give up his chance of meeting Morpheus and finding the truth. At first, he decides to leave and almost does. This can be noted as another refusal of the call to adventure. When Trinity tells him that this is the only way to find the truth, Neo decides to go on.
At last, Neo meets Morpheus, the man who becomes his mentor. Morpheus tries to explain to Neo what the matrix is. He calls the matrix “a prison for your mind”. He says the no one can be told what the matrix is and that Neo will have to see it for himself. Morpheus gives Neo two choices by eating pills. If he eats the blue pill, he will wake up like nothing happened. If he takes the red pill, he will find out the truth. Neo decides take the red pill, of course.
Later on, in the real world, Morpheus also trains Neo. He teaches Neo how to harness his own power when he is in the matrix. He teaches Neo not to see things as impossible but rather anything is possible in the matrix, since it is not real.
Throughout the whole film, Morpheus believes that Neo is the one. He believes Neo is the one to deliver them and the earth from the computers that control the matrix. Morpheus even sacrifices his own life to save Neo’s life. Morpheus seems flawless throughout the whole movie. He seems to be the all-knowing wise man. The audience feels a sense of pity for Morpheus because although he knows so much, he can not be the one to save the world. Instead, he is the one that spends his whole life looking for the saviour.
Crossing the First Threshold
Neo crosses the first threshold when he decides to take the red pill. He decides to go through whatever he needs to go through to find out the truth. He is unplugged from the matrix and he wakes up in the real world. Morpheus tells him what the matrix is and he shows him what the real world is like now. At first, Neo is in denial and he doesn’t want to believe it. He asks if he could go back. Everyone on board the ship has also been unplugged and all of them believe Neo is the one. Neo begins his training to fight the machines and free the humans. During his training, Neo fails many times. For example, he does not make a jump when he is training in a jump program. This makes Neo identifiable with the audience. Although he is the hero, he is not perfect. He was not successful the first time and sometimes even the second time.
Tests, Allies and Enemies
When Neo is in the real world, he encounters new concepts and new challenges. He starts to understand the rules of the matrix, or rather the lack of rules because it is not real. Morpheus takes Neo into many different training programs, teaching Neo about the matrix. Although the matrix seems real, it is only simulated and rules can be broken. He takes Neo into combat training programs, trying to free Neo’s mind, telling him when in the matrix, rules can be bent and sometimes broken. He takes Neo into a jump program in which Neo is supposed to jump from the roof of one skyscraper to another. Neo fails on his first attempt. He learns that if he dies in the matrix, he also dies in real life.
Neo is also introduced to his enemies, the machines. In the matrix, they are agents. They are pieces of software that can become anything or anyone who is connected to the matrix. From an archetypal point of view, they are shapeshifters. Neo is told that no one has ever defeated an agent and he is told that he is the one to do it. In the real world, there are also enemies. They are sentinels, machines which sole purpose is to search and destroy humans that know the truth of the matrix.
Slowly, Neo makes many allies. Most of them are from the crew of Morpheus’ ship. Trinity, the woman that first led him to Morpheus. Although nothing is said, the audience can feel a subtle sense that she is in love with Neo and that Neo is also in love with her. The character of a lover makes the hero’s journey more interesting and more meaningful. Many times Neo was about to back out or refuse and it was Trinity who reassured him. Another ally is Tank, the operator on board their ship. He trains with Neo a lot and he is very excited that Neo is there with them because if Neo is the one, earth will be saved. One other major ally is the oracle. She is a woman of prophecy. She tells Neo that he is not the one and that soon he will have to choose between his life and the life of Morpheus.
Approach to the Inmost Cave
After Neo meets the Oracle in the matrix, the crew prepares to return to the real world. However, they did not know that Cypher, one of the crew, has sided with the agents and have told them of the crew’s location. An army attacks the crew. In the struggle to escape, two crewmembers die and the agents capture Morpheus. The rest of the crew returns to the real world. Morpheus is injected with drugs to make him talk because the agents want to know where the rest of the humans are. Because the crew would rather see him die than suffer, tank decides to totally unplug him. Neo realizes what the Oracle said was true and he decides to go back to the matrix to save Morpheus. He thinks that Morpheus should not be sacrificed for him since he is not the one. Trinity decides to return with Neo. Here, we see another quality of the hero. Neo is willing to risk his life to save Morpheus’. The rescue of Morpheus is also the most action-filled, showing that Neo is the most active character. He has great responsibility in saving Morpheus and also the greatest risk. As he returns to the matrix to save Morpheus, he encounters agents and he finds himself able to confront them. He literally dives to save Morpheus and hangs onto his own life.
After Morpheus is saved and sent back to the real world, Trinity and Neo prepare to return to the real world. Unfortunately, before Neo could get connected, an agent shows up and confronts Neo. They fight at a subway station continually until it seems as if the our hero is really defeated. Neo is trapped on a subway track as an oncoming subway approaches. All of a sudden Neo fights back and jumps out of the track just as the subway passes, hitting the agent. The audience breathes a sigh of relief for an instant but is cut short when they we see the agent appear again, unharmed. Neo then runs for his life and ends up in a building, approaching a connection to return to the real world. At the same time Neo is fleeing the agents in the matrix, the crew in the real world is begin persued by sentinels. It is a race against time as Neo must get back to the ship before they can resist against the machines. As Neo approaches the connection, an agent is already there and he (Neo) is shot. Neo looks at his own blood as if in disbelief that he’s actually dying. He is shot many times more and he dies, or so it appears. Morpheus stares in unbelief. Trinity then admits that she is in love with Neo and kisses him. All of a sudden, Neo awakes and is reborn! This is very effective because when the hero dies, the audience is temporarily depressed. When the hero dies, it is as if all his weaknesses and flaws die too. When he resurrects, he is reborn and flawless.
After Neo resurrects, he does not receive any actual object as a reward but rather knowledge. He receives the knowledge of the matrix and the belief that he is the one. He as received an enormous amount of self-confidence. He now knows how the matrix works and can see the matrix as it is in coding.
The Road Back
This stage of the hero’s journey seems to be very short in this movie and is not emphasized. This happens after the Resurrection (stage 11), after the evil powers get their last shot. Neo must hurry back after he destroys the agent. He must get back to the real world before the crew activates their resistance against the sentinels. Neo returns just in time and the sentinels are destroyed. Here, the hero once again saves his allies and he is now back in the real world.
Neo comes back to like and the agents turn back. They bombard him with gunshots but Neo simply puts out his hand and says “no”. All of the bullets stop in front of him and fall to the ground. One of the agent runs and attacks Neo but he is no match for him. Neo fights him off one-handedly and sends him flying. Neo runs and jumps into the agent, destroying him from within. The hero, Neo, appears holy and flawless as he destroys the agent. The hero has finally grown and has learned his powers. He has defeated not only the evil powers but he has also defeated his own fear. All along, Neo did not want to be the one. He didn’t believe that he would be the one to save the earth so he was not able to succeed. Because he started to believe in himself, he conquered his own fear and became the one.
Return with the Elixir
Neo returns to the real world with the knowledge and strength. He returns with the power to heal and to save the rest of the human race. He also unites with Trinity and they kiss passionately. The matrix is starting to fail because it cannot stop Neo. Neo is going to show the humans what the machines have hidden from them-the real world.
Psychological Journey of Neo
At the end of the movie, it is not the physical journey of the hero that has been fulfilled but rather the psychological journey. Aside from the physical hero’s journey, there is also a psychological hero’s journey. Although many stages are not apparent, the most important stages are there.
When Trinity leads Neo to Morpheus, Neo is called to the adventure. He is about to refuse the call when he feels threatened by Trinity and the other crewmembers. He decides to go because his mind won. He decides he wanted to find out what the matrix was, he wanted to know the truth.
Another apparent stage is the ordeal. Neo has to decide what to do when the agents capture Morpheus. He decides that he has to save Morpheus because he believes he is not the one and he does not want Morpheus to die for the wrong cause.
In the resurrection, Neo has obviously overcome his fear of being the one and has started to believe in himself. He knows he is the one to save the earth. He destroys the evil powers and is reborn with new strength and power.
In the end of the movie, it is only the beginning of the human resistance. It is only the beginning of the end of the matrix. Although the matrix has not totally been destroyed yet, Neo’s psychological battle has been won.
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