THE hero’s journey can be viewed as a composite of two sorts of paths through the story world.
The one is an outer journey that contains the physical events that play out in this world. The other is an inner journey that motivates the hero’s actions.
Think of the inner journey as the path that takes the hero to a state of higher knowledge and self-awareness. Only when he has achieved this state will his outer actions be of sufficient quality to defeat the antagonist in the external world.
Defining the hero’s journey in The Matrix
In The Matrix, Neo’s love interest, Trinity, and his relationship with his friends, provide some of the most important reasons he embarks on his outer journey.
His goal is to defeat the antagonistic forces that keep humanity slumbering in a virtual world. That is his outer journey.
But in order to complete his outer journey successfully he has to undertake an inner journey that will culminate in the realisation that he is the only one capable of defeating agent Smith and the machines. This march to self awareness is a prerequisite for wielding the power he needs to achieve success.
His friendship with Morpheus and his crew, and his love for Trinity, therefore, are spurs to Neo’s outer journey.
Often, the inner and outer journeys intersect in one powerful scene. In The Matrix, Neo dies at the hands of agent Smith only to be brought back to life through Trinity’s love, symbolised by a kiss.
The inner journey provides the explanation for the hero’s actions that comprise his outer journey.