Character Archetypes Series: #3 Mentor

Character Archetypes Series: #3 Mentor

In the third article of Character Archetypes Series, we talk about Mentor.

To do this, let us resume our Hero’s Journey.

Character Archetypes Series: #3 Mentor - Hero's journey.
Illustration by Valentina Forni @cloudandcowfish

Our Hero, whom we talked about extensively in the previous article, has now just passed the third phase also called “Refusal of the Call”. Being faced with a difficult situation, he initially refuses to understand or undertake the physical journey.

It is precisely at this moment, in this fourth phase called “the Meeting with the Mentor” that he meets one of the most important characters for him and for the journey itself: the Mentor.

The Mentor acts as a compass for the Hero, advises him and guides him through the narrative.

The characteristics of the Mentor

This is the most important character in the Hero’s Journey and the one most discussed. The relationship between the Mentor and the Hero takes up, in some ways, to the relationship between a parent and a child. The mentor is an essential figure in any narrative. He is Obi-wan Kenobi for Luke Skywalker, to whom he teaches the ways of the Jedi.

This archetype acts as a shoulder to the Hero and guides him in facing his Journey. He is normally a person whom the Hero trusts.

Often he is a former hero. Someone who has already faced the same kind of difficulty and path in his time. He is a very wise person, sometimes an elderly bearded man who aims to motivate the Hero and pushes him to embark on his Journey.

The Mentor explains the rules of the Special World to the Hero

In “The Lord of the Rings”, for example, it is Gandalf who explains to Frodo what he is about to run into and urges him to flee by embarking on the Journey. He will always be close to him, in one way or another.

The same goes for Morpheus in “The Matrix” in search of the Chosen One. When he finds Neo, he saves him from the Matrix by explaining to him what reality is built by machines and what is real, concrete. Morpheus is also a Mentor who trains Neo, the Hero, advises and stands by to guide him to the completion of the Journey.

“The Matrix is ​​everywhere, it is the world that has been placed before your eyes to hide the truth from you”.

MORPHEUS

The Mentor can be one or even more than one.

In Harry Potter, for example, there are two Mentors: Hagrid and Dumbledore. Hagrid follows Harry Potter from the beginning, worrying about saving a small baby from Voldemort by entrusting him to his uncles until he is fourteen years old. Dumbledore who will take care of Harry and to grow him as a wizard on his Journey.

What is the Mentor’s job?

His task is to prepare and instruct the Hero for the difficulties and trials he might find on his path. For this reason, he sometimes gives him gifts that can protect him or make him stronger.

Continuing with the example of Harry Potter, even after his death, Dumbledore makes sure that Harry Potter has gifts that can be useful to him in the final challenge of the narrative. Think of the resurrection stone, or the same cloak of invisibility given to Harry in the first year of school.

The Mentor, however, leads the Hero towards his goal, until the completion of the mission but can never face any test in his place. Even in the final difficulty, the greatest, the Mentor steps aside. The Hero learned everything he needed from the Mentor. Now he must be able to complete the Journey on his own.

This is why the relationship between these two is fundamental: one needs the other. Without the Mentor, the Hero would not be able to undertake the Journey. But without the Hero, the Mentor would not achieve his purpose or something that completes his life path.

In “Hercules” Disney animated film, the ancient hero trainer Philoctetes has the dream of educating a hero so strong that his image will be painted among the stars by the Gods and everyone will remember him “that’s Phil’s boy “. It is with this motivation that Hercules, the Hero of history, finding himself in the position of having to leave his Ordinary World to begin his Hero’s Journey, convinces him to train and instruct him.

The next phase: Crossing the First Threshold

In the stage of the “Crossing the first Threshold” the Mentor has instructed his Hero, giving him all the tools he needs and the Hero is ready to embark on the Journey. He then crosses the First Threshold.

It is the complete abandonment of the Ordinary World from which the Hero had begun to detach himself.

Thinking about Neo taking the red pill when he decides to discover the truth. It is the moment of decision and the first action that will lead the Hero to never go back. The challenges that await him are endless and unknown. But now, ready and supported by the Mentor, he cannot help but continue.

In the other stages, the Mentor will always be present but other characters will also intervene. I will explain them with the subsequent stages of the Journey in the next articles.

Develop the character of the Mentor thanks to a novel writing software like bibisco

As explained, the Mentor is one of the most important in the Hero’s Journey. It can be an older and more experienced character, a former hero, a friend or family member.

Character Archetypes Series: #3 Mentor - bibisco character's interview
bibisco character’s interview

bibisco’s interview mode, helps you to understand how to create this important character, what characteristics and what structure to give him so as to guide your Hero on an exciting journey that will thrill your audience.

Conclusions

We become fond of the figure of the Mentor, almost as much as that of the Hero. It is thanks to this character that the Hero is able to face his Journey and trials, even the most complicated ones.

On the other hand, when we have to face a difficult choice, all of us look for our mentor. Be it a friend, a parent, a brother or sister, we seek advice from someone who has more experience than us or who has already faced the same choice. His closeness and his advice give us comfort, strength and make us feel less alone.

Because, as in every narrative and life story united we stand, divided we fall.

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