Writing

The Heroine’s Journey: Crossing the Threshold

The heroine has met her mentor and been nudged into changing. Now she must enter the Special World of the story and Cross the First Threshold. This is where the stakes are raised and the challenge must be faced. It is a leap of faith.

In the heroine’s journey this may be experienced as a fortunate fall or failure. Things may not seem to be improving but there’s a chance of freedom. She is released from her captors and seems to have temporarily escaped imprisonment. Here is where the heroine enters the sensory world of romance, emotion and fantasy, and moves beyond the rational world where she knew and understood the rules, even if they did her no good. In this special world, she will begin to discover her true self.

Jane crosses the threshold
Jane crosses the threshold

Jane Eyre Crosses the First Threshold

At Lowood, Helen is ill with typhus and dying, but is happy that she is going home to God. She tells Jane she has a passion for living and that one day she’ll be blissfully happy. Jane stays with her friend through the night. By morning, Helen is dead. Jane is carried from the room, distraught.

Flash forward to the Rivers household and the sisters are leaving for their jobs as governesses. St John tells Jane he has found her a job as a school mistress and somewhere to live. Jane is pleased to accept the job but St John is surprised. He thinks the job is too lowly for Jane, but she doesn’t mind, saying her accomplishments can be saved for later.

Jane sweeps her new cottage while St John lights a fire and watches her surreptitiously. Jane wanders outside and hears her name being called on the wind coming across the moors. St John is worried Jane will be alone out here, but Jane is pleased to be here. This is her first home where she’ll be independent. He says it is small and plain, but she replies that it will suit her very well.

Flash back to Lowood and Jane is leaving as a young woman having become a popular and much loved teacher. She says goodbye to the children and heads off to start work at Thornfield.

So Jane has found a kind of freedom with St John and the chance of a job as a school mistress. She is happy she has found a degree of independence but she is still repressing that passion for life Helen saw in her all those years ago. Clearly Jane is in need of some healing. She can still hear her past calling to her. It is time for her to enter the Special World of the story and awaken her deeper femininity and sensuality. She can’t stay locked in her intellect forever. Jane escapes from Lowood and is on her way to Thornfield – a world of romance and fantasy.

Next: Jane Eyre’s Tests, Allies and Enemies

Image: Focus Features

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