I’m on a mission to imagine as many different kinds of ‘hero’ journeys as I can at the moment. So, this week it falls to the clottabussed hero. The term ‘clottabussed’ comes from Matlock the Hare, a series of books where the lead character is most certainly on a clotabussed hero’s journey.
The clotabussed hero does not set out to be heroic. They’d probably prefer to be doing something else. They aren’t especially competitive folk, and this is in no small part because they have no stand out abilities. They are never fantastically clever, they aren’t gifted with anything much except their good natures and their desire to do the right thing. Harry Potter, Bill and Ted, Sam Gamgee, these are classic clottabussed heroes.
In many ways, the clottabussed hero is much closer to us than the overtly heroic, dragon slaying, maiden rescuing hero. They end up doing things because those things really need doing, and no one else will, or they do it by accident, or in their ineptitude accidentally trigger the thing that causes someone else to save the world, or foil the plot, or whatever it is. One of the greatest strengths of the clottabussed hero is that most of us can see ourselves in them, and within their stories, it’s their shortcomings that often endear them to those who might help.
The clottabussed hero’s journey is always one of collaboration, because they have neither the wit nor the means to go it alone. Their good natures and willingness to admit cluelessness means help comes to them. They may work in teams with other equally inept but well meaning figures (Labyrinth springs to mind; confused and useless Sarah would be lost, literally, without her team). A great deal of good natured comedy can be extracted from the clottabussed hero, and they don’t tend to mind the laughs at their expense, because they don’t have much ego, and know that they’re all too likely to make a mess of things.
Along the way, big events can happen, but they aren’t essential. The clottabussed heroes of fairytales end up doing things like pulling up enormous turnips, mistaking vegetables for eggs and hares for baby horses, they have to stop their own magic porridge pots from overflowing and drowning the village. However, most of them find friendship and a sense of place in the world. Their cats sort their lives out for them. By the end of the story, the clottabussed hero is in a place of gratitude, appreciating friends, comrades and helpers, conscious they couldn’t have done it alone, but also aware that they may be better than they first thought.
The Hero of Campbell-style hero’s journeys gets to the end and has to figure out how to get back and fit in with their tribe again. The coming back is hard for them, and they feel misunderstood. The clottabussed hero comes home like Dorothy ‘there’s no place like home’ to hug all the people who look very much like the folk who helped her with the adventure. Dorothy is a fine example here – she doesn’t mean to thwart witches or bring down dodgy leaders, she just wants to go home.
In thinking about this blog, it dawned on me that Owen from www.hopelessmaine.com fits this kind of model. He’s not especially clever, has no magical skills (although he learns to make talisman and the like). He seldom knows what to do, but he’s a good team player and he means well.