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Secret motifs on the Screen: Part 4: Why the Guru dies

Updated on March 17, 2011

Have you noticed that the hero’s guru or fairy godmother is never there when desperately needed? Why didn’t the Fairy Godmother, with a swish of her wand, reunite the prince with Cinderella? Why does Dumbledore have to die? Why should Obiwan Kenobi? Why, asks the hero, why have you forsaken me, Father?

Who is to blame for the guru’s disappearance? The villain? The writer? No, gentle reader, or movie-goer, it is you! You? One who wouldn’t hurt a fictitious fly? Sorry, yes.

The Secret

  1. All of us have, deep in our minds, the structure of a good story.
  2. We look forward to the hero’s adventures and want him or her to win.
  3. The effect is spoilt if the hero is sidelined and someone else does what the hero must do.

These are the basic premises. To satisfy us, the storyteller gives the hero, and us, a guru: a parental figure who teaches the hero everything about the world of adventure and trains the hero. That world is sort of alien to the hero at first. Hagrid, Dumbledore, Morpheus, Obiwan, Yoda, Gandalf, the Fairy Godmother, Getafix, M, Q…

If you notice, the guru disappears when he is needed most, and leaves the hero to solve his major problem or fight the arch villain. Yes, yes, sometimes the guru fights the villain, like Obiwan fights Darth Vader, but you will see that that is not the major fight in the Star Wars original trilogy. Usually the guru dies, as Dumbledore does, or as Obiwan does, later.

That’s because you would not like it. You would want a good strong hero who battles his own demons himself. Or herself. That’s why, in old movies, the cops come in after the hero has defeated the villain.

The guru’s job is to teach skills like Yoda does, give weapons like Q gives James Bond or Godmom gives Cinderella, explain what’s happening like Morpheus does and pass on, leaving everything in the hero’s capable hands. Now you know why Dumbledore had to pass through the veil?

They killed their gurus for your sake!

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    • profile image

      Iðunn 8 years ago

      lol! thank you, I actually had no expectations but it's great that you accepted this mission. this mission, should you accomplish it...

      will make me very happy. :D

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Ashok Rajagopalan 8 years ago from Chennai

      Hey hang on! I'm doing the first first. :)

    • profile image

      Iðunn 8 years ago

      'the rest' by picasso would be a good alternative also. I love that painting.

    • profile image

      Iðunn 8 years ago

      well, take a peek and let me know. I can pick something else if you don't like it. I'm fond of lempicka, so any of that work would do. :)

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Ashok Rajagopalan 8 years ago from Chennai

      Sure will do. As long as it's not a nude, I can do it here. LOL

    • profile image

      Iðunn 8 years ago

      I think she's contemporary but could you do:

      La Dormeuse - Tamara Lempicka

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Ashok Rajagopalan 8 years ago from Chennai

      Sure, make yours. Will do my best to decode that. :)

    • profile image

      Iðunn 8 years ago

      Are you still taking requests on art? I remember how much you enjoyed decoding the Kandinsky. hehe

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Ashok Rajagopalan 8 years ago from Chennai

      Aw I haven't written a hub since Obama won. Have to get back to speed. My hubs will always be there, Iðunn, waiting for you. :)

    • profile image

      Iðunn 8 years ago

      actually doing really great now. you seem to be doing very nicely. it's going to take me forever to catch up on your Hubs, but I don't wish to miss any of them. :)

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Ashok Rajagopalan 8 years ago from Chennai

      Great to hear from you after ages,Iðunn!

      How have you been?

    • profile image

      Iðunn 8 years ago

      Back on heroes, are we? :) Great hub.

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Ashok Rajagopalan 8 years ago from Chennai

      Thank you, tdarby, delighted!

    • tdarby profile image

      tdarby 8 years ago

      I enjoy your other hubs also.

    • tdarby profile image

      tdarby 8 years ago

      I appreciate this hub. Thanks for the insight into why the hero has to get it done on his own.

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Ashok Rajagopalan 9 years ago from Chennai

      He is never unarmed, Ram. He has reasons, the right weapon and his wits. The villain rests on the security that his den gives him. But did you have a particular story in mind?

    • profile image

      Ram 9 years ago

      The unanswered question is why is the hero or his girlfriend dumb enough to walk unarmed into the villain's den? And why is the villain dumb enough not to bump them off when he has the chance? I know I'm digressing from your topic, but this question bothers me no end.

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Ashok Rajagopalan 9 years ago from Chennai

      Thank you Research Analyst! :)

    • Research Analyst profile image

      Research Analyst 9 years ago

      Interesting stuff.

    • profile image

      michele 9 years ago

      hi, to all... have a nice day to all..

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Ashok Rajagopalan 9 years ago from Chennai

      That encourages me to do more, Dayzee! May your tribe flourish!

    • dayzeebee profile image

      dayzeebee 9 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      kenny you are a prolific writer and a genius of an artist. i am fascinated by the motif series. thank you.

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Ashok Rajagopalan 9 years ago from Chennai

      Your lighter side is showing through in your kind comment, O Darkside, thank you!

    • darkside profile image

      Glen 9 years ago from Australia

      What a fantastic read!

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Ashok Rajagopalan 9 years ago from Chennai

      I shall mind my own beeswax, hehe. Honeyed comment from a kind Bee! Thanks!

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image

      Zsuzsy Bee 9 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Never be the Guru...mind your own beeswax, let the ungrateful 'hero' work out his/her own problems...it will be healthier for the Guru in the long run.

      Kidding aside Kenny great hub again

      regards Zsuzsy

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Ashok Rajagopalan 9 years ago from Chennai

      Thank you, kind Isabella! :)

    • Isabella Snow profile image

      Isabella Snow 9 years ago

      Fabulous insights, as usual. And so true, the hero has to do it on his own!

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Ashok Rajagopalan 9 years ago from Chennai

      Thanks for coming back, Funnebone!

    • funnebone profile image

      funnebone 9 years ago from Philadelphia Pa

      haha touche!

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Ashok Rajagopalan 9 years ago from Chennai

      Pointy ears matter not. Summer to stay welcome you are. Plenty of beer for you there is. :)

    • funnebone profile image

      funnebone 9 years ago from Philadelphia Pa

      Kenny if you were green, 3 foot tall and had pointy ears I would come stay with you for the summer to learn your wisdom and drink beer.

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Ashok Rajagopalan 9 years ago from Chennai

      Hi Compu-smart! Work drags me away! Thanks!

      Yes, Jimmy, you stumbled on the truth that I was planning to put in the next hub: gurus are usually bearded, sexless old men! LOL!

      Warning taken; I must be very careful! :)

    • jimmythejock profile image

      James Paterson 9 years ago from Scotland

      Apart from the Fairy Godmother, I was beginning to see a pattern with the others and was about to give you a warning Kenny, all of the characters you mentioned have beards lol and i was going to ask you to shave and save your own fate .....jimmy

    • compu-smart profile image

      Compu-Smart 9 years ago from London UK

      Another great Article Kenny! very interesting and again, many things to think about when I'm enjoying these films and plays ..

      My question is, Why do you keep disappearing!? lol...Good to see you back and Happy Fathers Day 2u:)

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Ashok Rajagopalan 9 years ago from Chennai

      Hi Violet! (Hi is safe!)

      Yes to your concept, but I only want to bring these story-telling devices to your attention.

      I shall take a look at the hub, Michelle! Intriguing, that title! :)

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 9 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Aaaahhh okay, got it. Hehehe Too true. I guess that's why I came up with the "Are you My Missing Piece?" hub. Enjoy your day.

    • VioletSun profile image

      VioletSun 9 years ago from Oregon/ Name: Marie

      Morning Kenny, or goodnight, as I am getting ready to go to sleep in the a.m. :), the way I understood your message is that fairytales stories are very much like life, we get to deal with our challenges on our own, to learn, grow, evolve, on our own without depending on an outside power.

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Ashok Rajagopalan 9 years ago from Chennai

      Thanks, Michelle!

      Only meant that one is complete only when one lets go. And that idea is built into our minds. :)

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 9 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Hi Kenny :) Good Morning back to you and Happy Father's Day. :) You lost me there. Could you expound some more? Am I still sleepy? hehe Thanks.

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Ashok Rajagopalan 9 years ago from Chennai

      Good Morning from India, Michelle! :)

      Well, that's not my insight; that idea that we are complete only when we stop depending on our parents and gurus is programmed into our psyche.

      Thank you for the first comment!

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 9 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Kenny, you are so right! We are being taught to fight our own battles. We've been guided. We've been taught. But in the end there is only us. :) Great point as always. I enjoyed this hub. :)

      --michelle