David Moroney
3rd Hour English 12
The Hero's Journey: Yes Man
Yes Man is about a man named Carl who doesn’t open his life to opportunities. Carl is living an unfulfilled life, and is treating his existence more as a burden than a gift. One day, Carl is picking out movies at his local Block Buster (undoubtedly preparing for another lonely night), when he runs into his friend Peter. Peter manages to persuade Carl to join him and fiancé out to dinner, and we find out just how boring and bland Carl’s life is. The next day, Carl puts on a plain suit and leaves for work as a junior loan officer at a bank. After a negative day at work, Carl runs into an ex co-worker Nick. Nick sees how meaningless Carl’s life is and manages to persuade him to attend a ‘Yes’ Conference. At this conference, Carl confronts his fear of opening up and makes a covenant with the ‘Yes’ Guru to always say yes to any opportunity that may confront him. At this moment, Carl’s life changes drastically as he puts himself out into the world for the first time. Carl goes through many fruitful experiences that not only makes life enjoyable, but develop him into a complex character.
The “Hero’s Journey”:
The Call:
Carl’s call is the moment when he decides to leave his boring existence and become a more open and positive person. This specific moment is when he wakes up from his nightmare that was portraying himself as being a dead, empty shell of a person that had absolutely no reason for living. After he realizes how hauntingly accurate his dream was, Carl makes the decision to attend the ‘Yes’ Conference.
The Threshold:
The threshold for Carl’s journey is when he attends the ‘Yes’ Conference. At this conference, Carl is pressured into changing his negative outlook on life into a more open and friendly one. The exact moment that Carl enters the threshold is when he makes the covenant with the ‘Yes’ Guru to always say yes to any given opportunity. This sole decision sets him on his way to start enjoying life and the many experiences that come with it.
In every hero’s journey, the hero must face a variety of challenges. This does not change for Carl in his journey. In the movie Yes Man, Carl has to face many challenges. These challenges include the following: Saying yes to the ‘Yes’ Guru, helping the homeless man, helping his neighbor, finding the courage to approve loans to people that shouldn’t get them at the risk of losing his promotion, the physical challenge of a bar fight, getting arrested for the suspicion of being a terrorist, and the overall challenge of dating Allison and getting her back at the end of the movie.
The Abyss:
The abyss is the moment when our hero faces the greatest challenge of his journey. The hero must sacrifice himself entirely to the challenge and face his greatest fear. This moment for Carl is when Allison asks if he is willing to move in together. Carl is afraid of making that kind of commitment, but due to his covenant, he says yes to her after hesitating. This moment is significant because it shows Carl surrendering himself completely to this challenge, and faces his fear of sharing his life with another human being, which he hasn’t done since his wife left him.
The Transformation:
Carl’s transformation occurs when he is confronted an apparent challenge of his ex-wife’s persistence to be intimate with him. At this moment, Carl realizes that he doesn’t want to go down that path again and says no for the first time since he made the covenant. He quickly leaves her place (while experiencing some bad luck), and goes to find the ‘Yes’ Guru.
The Revelation:
Carl’s revelation occurs after his recent experience with his ex-wife. His revelation is that he wants Allison and that he really does want her to be a part of his life. To go about this, he visits the ‘Yes’ Guru. The Guru explains to Carl that saying yes to every opportunity was just a way to get him started to opening up to life. Carl needs to say yes, but now he also needs to use discretion about when to say yes.
The Atonement:
Carl becomes one with himself after he realizes when to say yes and what his goals are. This sudden clarity brings him to atonement, which is when he accepts himself as a human being and comes to the realization that he has accomplished his journey of saying yes to the world.
The Return:
The return for Carl is when he gets Allison back as his girlfriend, and he begins to return to what is now his normal life. The changes in his life from the beginning of the movie to the end are extreme and portray just how important it was for Carl to go on this journey. Carl now leads a life of meaning and treats every experience as a gift, which is, perhaps, the greatest thing Carl could’ve gained out of his whole experience.
Character Archetypes:
Autist- definition: To live inside your shell. The real world is a terrible place and is the worst possible thing to open up to. Gains willpower by managing to keep someone out of your life. This archetype is portrayed by Carl at the beginning of the film, and is shown by how he spends the night alone frequently and doesn’t want to go out with his friends.
Bon Vivant- definition: One that lives as if there’s no tomorrow. Gains willpower by having a great time and expressing their enthusiasm for life. This is portrayed by Allison and her carefree life style. For example, she conducts a yoga-jogging-photography class.
Jobsworth- definition: Someone that sticks to their routine. Gain willpower by when sticking to your routine turns out for the best. Carl exemplifies this at the beginning of the film as it takes us through his average, boring, and routine of a day.
Renunciate- definition: Someone who is trying to escape their past. Gains willpower by successfully escaping their past without any consequences. Carl portrays this because he is haunted by his ex and is trying to move on with his life, but is finding it difficult to do so, until he meets Allison.
Sycophant- definition: The perfect Yes-man. Someone that will do anything to help others. Carl is a perfect example of this when he makes the covenant with the ‘Yes’ Guru. Carl always says yes, and is willing to help others.
Yes Man uses many archetypes in the film. This is because archetypes are familiar and easily identifiable with the population. Since society can relate, or identify these archetypes, they are more apt to understand the film. By using the archetypes Bon Vivant and Jobsworth, the film is able to relate to the public and their characteristics in order to gain a larger viewer population. These archetypes show up frequently because they are easily identifiable, and are familiar. This indicates that our society doesn’t respond to change well and that is why we constantly return to what is familiar, especially with common archetypes.yes-man-5.jpg