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Woman as Temptress


Disciplines > Storytelling > Campbell's 'Hero's Journey' > Woman as Temptress

Description | Discussion | See also


Previous: The Meeting with the Goddess

Next: Atonement with the Father



Along the way, the hero may meet temptation, often in female form.

This offers the hero short-term relief or gratification but giving in to this urge would cause the mission to fail and prove the hero unworthy.


In Star Wars, Leia acts as an innocent temptress as both Luke and Han are beguiled by her. Luke is also tempted by the 'dark side' of the Force.

In Lord of the Rings, Frodo meets much temptation to rid himself of the burden of the ring, from giving it to Galadriel to letting Sam carry it. Yet the ring will not allow these things (and so doing seals its own doom).


The purpose of the temptress is to test (and hence demonstrate) the integrity of the hero by placing easy gratification or other gain in their path. By refusing this, the hero demonstrates himself to be true to heroic values and dedicated above all else to achievement of the primary goal.

In contrast with the perfect love of the goddess, meeting the temptress represents material and carnal love that, whilst providing short-term pleasure has no longer-term value.

Where the journey has a spiritual nature, the temptress may represent material things or the physical flesh of the hero and associated passions.

The temptation may be deliberate and perhaps sent by the villain. It may also happen by chance. The Goddess may also play a role of temptation.

Temptation can have uncertain outcome, perhaps even helping the hero, such as when the goddess has some tempting element. This may be used to further test the hero's ability to make difficult judgements.

Mythology is full of temptresses, from goddesses who seduce humans to nymphs and sirens. Gods also are sometimes beguiled by human women.

In the broader sense, the temptress represents temptation of any kind or distraction away from the hero's main task.

In the Christian religion, Eve represents temptation. Mary Magdalene is also portrayed this way, although she repented and can represent the recognition of woman by woman of their power to tempt.

Men are easily tempted by women, but it is less archetypal the other way around. Female heroes may or may not meet with male tempters -- the real concern is with temptation rather than gender.

See also

The Meeting with the Goddess


Campbell, J. (1949). The Hero With a Thousand Faces, New York: Bollingen

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