Writing

The Heroine’s Journey: Tests, Allies, Enemies

Our heroine has Crossed the First Threshold and entered the Special World of the story where she will be tested before confronting the ordeal to come. This part of the story brings out the heroine’s potential for change.

In the heroine’s journey this stage may be marked by a rape trauma of some kind. She is challenged to recognise the true nature of her seducer and choose between the dark and the light man – one will imprison her while the other will set her free. The heroine awakens to the romantic love myth and confronts the dark lover. She may find herself enclosed in another domestic imprisonment and must use her instincts to outwit her adversary.

Mrs Fairfax and Jane make friends
Mrs Fairfax and Jane make friends

Jane Eyre’s Tests, Allies and Enemies

Jane travels to Thornfield at night and is greeted by Mrs Fairfax who welcomes her warmly. Jane is to work as a governess and is confused when she discovers the house doesn’t belong to Mrs Fairfax, but to a Mr Rochester. Mrs Fairfax is the housekeeper and chatters away as she shows Jane to her room.

The next day Jane admires the house. Mrs Fairfax tells her they keep it in a constant state of readiness as they never know when Mr Rochester will be home. She introduces Jane to Adele, a French orphan whom Mr Rochester has adopted as his ward. Jane teaches Adele and they develop a warm, close relationship. Adele tells her tales of the woman who is said to walk the halls at night and can walk through walls. Jane tells her it’s nonsense.

Later, Jane gazes wistfully out of the window across the countryside. Mrs Fairfax tells her how isolated it is here and Jane shares her wish that women could have action and adventure in their lives like men. She wants to see beyond the horizon, see a city, and speak with a man. Mrs Fairfax sends her out to post some letters and get some fresh air.

© Focus Features
Dark or light seducer?

While Jane is walking in the woods to the village she comes across a man riding a horse. The horse is spooked and throws the man to the ground. Jane helps him back to his horse, despite him being rather grumpy and rude. She tells him she is the governess at Thornfield but he doesn’t tell her who he is.

Jane arrives back at the house to discover Mr Rochester has returned and wants to meet her. She discovers it was Rochester she ran into in the woods. They sit by the fire and talk. He tells her Adele has improved in the short time she has taught her and tries to find out more about her; he wants to hear her tale of woe. Jane says she has none. He is rude, abrupt and callous, teasing her about how she bewitched his horse, and calls her an imp. Jane hits back with some of her usual sass and there’s an obvious attraction between them. Rochester admires Jane’s drawings but then calls them peculiar, and dismisses her curtly.

So Jane finds herself in a strange isolated house which may or may not be haunted. She makes friends in the form of Adele and Mrs Fairfax, but can’t quite understand Mr Rochester. There is something attractive about him but he is also dangerous and unpredictable. Is he an ally or an enemy? She is getting drawn into a world she doesn’t understand.

Next: Jane Eyre Approaches the Inmost Cave

Images: Focus Features

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