Writing

The Heroine’s Journey: Meeting the Mentor

The heroine has refused the call to adventure through fear of change and needs a push to get her moving. She is ready to Meet the Mentor and receive help or advice for the journey ahead.

In the heroine’s journey the mentor can often be seen as quite ruthless and uncompromising. Her guides may be experienced as captors, but with supernatural aid, she can break free of them. She may receive an object to help on the journey, but this is unlikely to be the kind of object a hero would receive, such as a sword.

Jane Eyre’s Mentor

At Lowood, Jane attends classes with the other girls. She connects with one of them when they share a glance across the room. This is Helen Burns, who then gets into trouble for not paying attention. Mr Brocklehurst watches as Helen is beaten with a cane. Jane drops her slate in shock at Helen’s treatment so Mr Brocklehurst punishes her by making her stand on a stool. The other girls are told to shun her and deny her their love. Jane is left standing on the stool for hours, but Helen sneaks in to give her some bread.

© Focus Features
Helen Burns – the mentor

Later, Jane and Helen talk in the garden and become friends. Helen shares her philosophy of love and forgiveness. She tells Jane that she is loved and guarded by invisible spirits all around her.

Flash forward to the Rivers household and one of the sisters admires Jane’s drawings. She shows them to her brother who is impressed. St John looks at the drawing of himself and asks if this is how Jane sees him and comments on how fierce he looks.

So the mentor is Helen Burns who shares her spiritual philosophy with Jane. She doesn’t receive an object to help on her journey, but an idea – that she is loved, that despite appearances, she is never truly alone. The bread that Helen gives her can also be seen as spiritual sustenance, as in ‘give us this day our daily bread’.

Meanwhile, Jane’s drawings reveal her true feelings for St John. She sees him as fierce, cold and aloof. He is undoubtedly a good man, but where’s the passion? Jane is ready for the next stage of her journey.

Next: Jane Eyre Crosses the First Threshold

Images: Focus Features

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