The hero of both stories is someone beaten down by modern society – Neo in The Matrix is a depressed office drone who finds no fulfillment in the industrial cityscape he finds himself in, while The Fisher King’s Jack is a radio jock whose earthly mistakes, leading to the suicide of a listener, haunt him and drive him to suicide. Over the course of the story, these two characters must go on their respective journeys to better themselves and conquer their corresponding demons – represented in The Fisher King by the imaginary Red Knight and in The Matrix by the computerized Agent Smith. Neo and Jack are helped along by the archetypal mentor – the person who knows the truth of the world around them. However, in these films they are also painted as unstable figures who are of dubious motives or sanity. Morpheus is shown to be a blind believer in the idea of the One, perhaps to a fault, while Parry in The Fisher King is a mentally unstable homeless man on a fool’s errand for the Holy Grail. These three archetypes appropriately update the fantastical nature of the hero’s journey for a more grounded real world, which necessitates creating divides between the real world and the fantasy world and blurring the lines between them.
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