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Subject: So, are there any female mentor/heroine stories out there? rss

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Rob
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Literature is full of examples of the wise, male mentor helping the young, male hero on his saga/journey. Just off the top of my head I can think of:

Obi-Wan / Luke Skywalker
Gandalf / Frodo
Dumbledore / Harry Potter
Merlin / Arthur

The list is virtually endless. Are there any female analogs to this classic storyline?
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EGG Head
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none that spring immediately to mind-girls do it on their own
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Jack van Riel
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hmm... maybe Xena & Gabrielle, although Xena was the real heroine

Demeter was a bit of a 'wise mentor' (mentrix?) to various other mythological figures when she walked the earth as a human, but again, the story was about Demeter.

Possibly also Athena / Nausicaa and Artemis / Atalanta

In Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon the character played by Zhang Ziyi is mentored by the character played by Michelle Yeoh
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Well, one that I can think off the top of my head is the book of Ruth in the Bible. Her mother-in-law Naomi mentors her [Ruth] throughout the story regarding life lessons, etc.

-DK
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Good observation!

The only one that pops into my head is Grandma and Thorn in the Bone books.

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There's the great-grandmother and Princess Irene in "The Princess and the Goblin" by George MacDonald.

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/708/708-h/708-h.htm

Admittedly I had to ask my wife. There's also a number my wife mentioned in more historical fiction aimed at women, such as that by Dorothy Dunnett.
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So the obvious f/u question is why not! in popular or classical literature (not counting materials aimed at specific audiences)
More male authors?
Are women perceived as being too competitive with each other?
Women mature much younger than their chronological male counterparts?
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Rob
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lorna wrote:
So the obvious f/u question is why not! in popular or classical literature (not counting materials aimed at specific audiences)
More male authors?
Are women perceived as being too competitive with each other?
Women mature much younger than their chronological male counterparts?


Here's my (somewhat) educated guess: Almost all Western heroic saga literature owes its themes to classical Roman/Greek/Norse/Biblical stories and legends. Nearly all of those are male-dominated stories. In other words, female saga literature has almost no classical precendent to imitate.
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It has been many years since I read this, so I don't know if I am recalling correctly. But there is some semblance of such a relationship between the the High Priestess Viviane and her niece, Morgaine, in the book, "The Mists of Avalon", by Marion Zimmer Bradley.
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Princess Leia is a huge part of the SW verse...

Hermione in Harry Potter...

If you mean lead characters (actually I'd argue they are lead characters) but if you are saying the primary focus, Ripley in Aliens is a good one. I'm sure there are more.

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I have no idea what this story is (unless I forgot it along the way) but:

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH

-DK
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The Godmother books by Elizabeth Ann Scarborough
She also wrote the Seashell Chronicles, which have a bit of mentoring

Terry Pratchett, admittedly cranky mentoring, but mentoring by the older witches of the younger ones

Also Suzette Haden Elgin has a young/old woman theme in her Ozark books, but it switches around a lot.

There must be more. I have been actively mentored by so many women in my life.
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Artemis is in the Percy Jackson series.
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Sinister Dexter wrote:

Here's my (somewhat) educated guess: Almost all Western heroic saga literature owes its themes to classical Roman/Greek/Norse/Biblical stories and legends. Nearly all of those are male-dominated stories. In other words, female saga literature has almost no classical precendent to imitate.


Aphrodite/ Pygmalion
Lysistrata/ Calonice & Cinesias
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My wife has these books in her collection:

Wise Women: Folk and Fairy Tales from around the World
retold and edited by Suzanne I. Barchers

Gray Heroes: Elder Tales from Around the World
edited by Jane Yolen

Jane Yolen does a lot with fairy tales and children's books, and my wife strongly recommends her works.

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lorna wrote:
none that spring immediately to mind-girls do it on their own


I've been racking my brains and I think that Lorna is right!

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Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Cafe. Ninny mentors Evelyn and Evelyn, to some extent, mentors Idgie. Not surprisingly, the author of the book was a woman (Fannie Flagg).
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EgorjLileli wrote:
lorna wrote:
none that spring immediately to mind-girls do it on their own


I've been racking my brains and I think that Lorna is right!



I think this is baloney.

I think that the concept of the work mentor for a woman is new as women were traditionally homemakers, wives, barmaids/alewives, nurses, working on the family farmer and teachers. Pink Collar jobs didn't get written about as much historically as books' main subject matter. As a writing trope there isn't much for authors to fall back on. The bulk of the stories around women seemed to be cast in marriage and inheritance roles. Now in these, the mother, the aunt, or the maidservant trend toward the mentor.

Outside of old english stories (which are sadly no longer complete) these stories just aren't heroes' tales.

Check out Moll Flanders and her surrogate mother, and Les Liaisons Dangereuses Cécile de Volanges corrupted by Madame de Tourvel (still technically a mentor relationship). Hey what about Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which from Wrinkle in Time to Meg Murray or Miss Stacy to Anne of Green Gables?

In reality you can look to the great relationship between Hellen Keller and Anne Sullivan. It is because of her mentorship that Keller became the strong public persona that we all know. Her mentorship led her to becoming a suffragette, a pacifist, an public opponent of Woodrow Wilson, a radical Socialist, and a birth control supporter.
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In Christy by Catherine Marshall, Christy Huddleson's mentor is Alice Henderson.

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I thought of another one!

The book Wise Child by Monica Furlong has a nice older wiser mentor passing on wisdom to a younger female. http://www.amazon.com/Wise-Child-Monica-Furlong/dp/039482598...

That's a lovely fantasy book that I very much enjoyed, I've always meant to read the other ones in the series, I need to that!
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sisteray wrote:
EgorjLileli wrote:
lorna wrote:
none that spring immediately to mind-girls do it on their own


I've been racking my brains and I think that Lorna is right!



I think this is baloney.

I think that the concept of the work mentor for a woman is new as women were traditionally homemakers, wives, barmaids/alewives, nurses, working on the family farmer and teachers. Pink Collar jobs didn't get written about as much historically as books' main subject matter. As a writing trope there isn't much for authors to fall back on. The bulk of the stories around women seemed to be cast in marriage and inheritance roles. Now in these, the mother, the aunt, or the maidservant trend toward the mentor.

Outside of old english stories (which are sadly no longer complete) these stories just aren't heroes' tales.

Check out Moll Flanders and her surrogate mother, and Les Liaisons Dangereuses Cécile de Volanges corrupted by Madame de Tourvel (still technically a mentor relationship). Hey what about Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which from Wrinkle in Time to Meg Murray or Miss Stacy to Anne of Green Gables?

In reality you can look to the great relationship between Hellen Keller and Anne Sullivan. It is because of her mentorship that Keller became the strong public persona that we all know. Her mentorship led her to becoming a suffragette, a pacifist, an public opponent of Woodrow Wilson, a radical Socialist, and a birth control supporter.

Uusually, a female mentor is just regarded as a mother or foster mother figure.
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EGG Head
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sisteray wrote:
EgorjLileli wrote:
lorna wrote:
none that spring immediately to mind-girls do it on their own


I've been racking my brains and I think that Lorna is right!



I think this is baloney.

I think that the concept of the work mentor for a woman is new as women were traditionally homemakers, wives, barmaids/alewives, nurses, working on the family farmer and teachers. Pink Collar jobs didn't get written about as much historically as books' main subject matter. As a writing trope there isn't much for authors to fall back on. The bulk of the stories around women seemed to be cast in marriage and inheritance roles. Now in these, the mother, the aunt, or the maidservant trend toward the mentor.

Outside of old english stories (which are sadly no longer complete) these stories just aren't heroes' tales.

Check out Moll Flanders and her surrogate mother, and Les Liaisons Dangereuses Cécile de Volanges corrupted by Madame de Tourvel (still technically a mentor relationship). Hey what about Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which from Wrinkle in Time to Meg Murray or Miss Stacy to Anne of Green Gables?

In reality you can look to the great relationship between Hellen Keller and Anne Sullivan. It is because of her mentorship that Keller became the strong public persona that we all know. Her mentorship led her to becoming a suffragette, a pacifist, an public opponent of Woodrow Wilson, a radical Socialist, and a birth control supporter.


Well since the OP originally referred to "heroines" in literature, I discount "bad" influences and I did consider Wrinkle in Time but feel that the actual time spent-haha-not using tesseracts and advice given didn't really feel like a mentoring process but YMMV and Miss Stacy to Anne - I have to disagree here, I mean she may have been a model for Anne to follow, but really she didn't help her get out of little scrapes like floating down the creek on the raft or turning her hair green!

And I did think of The Miracle Worker after my original post but it took some thinking-I'll agree there but they still seem far and few between for most of the reasons I mentioned later.
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There is some such pairings in Kathrine Kerrs Deverry series, but there is a rather big spoiler warning for some of thoose.
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lorna wrote:
Miss Stacy to Anne - I have to disagree here, I mean she may have been a model for Anne to follow, but really she didn't help her get out of little scrapes like floating down the creek on the raft or turning her hair green!


I think she gave her guidance and she was an example that shaped Anne to become what she was over the course of the series of books. That to me is a mentor.
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What about Electra woman and Dyna Girl? That was some good stuff.

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