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Top 10 Most Interesting Fictional Mentors

Looking back at some of the best franchises and movies, we could all easily recall our favorite characters. However, not many of us pay attention to the mentor figures, who helped our favorite characters get to where they are, by offering advice and guidance. From Star Wars to Harry Potter or Lord of The Rings; we have all seen some of the most popular narratives feature a great mentor figure.

One could say that mentors are truly the heart of the story, and each story should have them. Depending on the type of a story you like, whether you prefer to read novels or watch movies, the mentors often tend to be older males, very rarely do we see older females in the role of mentors. A combination of an older woman/younger man is a pairing we rarely see, while the vice versa tends to be shown often.

As the brilliantly morbid film, Harold and Maude, from 1971 have subverted the notion that sex needs to be the determining factor for an unlikely age-gap friendship. Well, below you have a list of literary mentors who have somewhat different persuasions.

1.      Homer’s Odyssey; Athena

When the legendary king of Ithaca left to fight in the Trojan war, the mentor Athena was placed in charge of Odysseys’ son, Telemachus, However, it was only after the goddess of warfare, Athena has disguised herself as the Mentor, was she able to encourage Telemachus to find his father, was when the roles defined as – the one who imparts practical advice and winsome to someone of lesser experience.

2.      A Picture of Dorian Gray; Lord Henry Wotton

Lord Wotton is an opinionated and hedonistic person, who became a mentor to the young Dorian. He encouraged him to pursue beauty and sensuality. This mentoring, however, led to eighteen years of subsequent debauchery and immoral behaviour, that left a trail of destruction, as well as the murder of Basil Hallward, a painter of an infamous portrait, that ironically enough continues to age, while Dorian stays young forever.

3.      Howards End by EM Forster; The Schlegels and the Wilcoxes

Not many writers have examined in such an adroit manner, the social codes and hypocrisy among the upper middle classes, as Forster. The class mentorship defines his most masterful novel; the intellectual members of the Bloomsbury-Esque bourgeoisie, the Anglo-Germanic Schlegel siblings became mentors to Leonard Bast, a humble clerk, and his wife, “a fallen woman”.

4.      James Bond series; M

Variously described as cold, gruff, curt, and brutal, also seen as the starting point of Bond’s adventures as a younger spy, M schooled Bond in the ways of martinis, espionage, and always being able to maintain the detached sense of Englishness. In the 13th novel, titled ‘The Man With The Golden Gun’, we learn that the name of the mentor is Sir Miles Messervy, and later in the novels as well as screen-adaptations, M is depicted as a female mentor.

5.      The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie; Miss Jean Brodie

A story revolving around a junior school teacher by the name of Jean Brodie, who had a huge influence over her pupils at Edinburgh school in the 1930s, where the six of her pupils, that was also known as the Brodie set, have become enmeshed in their teacher’s complicated life, even after they have all moved to their secondary school. Jean Brodie is a subversive and commanding figure, who promotes travel, art, love, sex, and fascism. She considers herself as the transcending morality, and she is a mentor who dedicated her life to encouraging girls to defy all conventions, which did not always convey a positive method or outcome.

6.      Midnight Cowboy; Ratso Rizzio

Who said that mentors always shave to be magnanimous? Rico Rizzo, also known as Ratso, is an ailing conman who saw a huge opportunity in Joe Buck, a fresh off the Texas Greyhound bus. Soon, a symbolic friendship was formed, as Rizzio taught him how to survive in such a cynical city, as he was earning for both of them, working as a male prostitute. Ultimately, Rizzio was repaid in kindness, as Buck took the role of the protector, in this heartbreaking, yet wonderfully written and unflinching novel.

7.      The Animal Factory; Earl Copen

In this crime and prison fiction, you meet Earl Copen, a recurring mentor figure, though not as many are as archetypal as the one created by Bunker. Copen is described and shown as somebody, every young inmate could hope for; he is an elder there to protect and guide him through a hellscape of predators, teaching him prison etiquette, and easing off with racial tension.

8.      Breath; Sando

After witnessing the huge coiled-up presence of Sando, a veteran surfer in action, Pikelet, and Loonie, two semi-feral adolescents from a small Australian town, start to bond. Sando became their guru and mentor, who first inspired them, and then exploited their infatuation with both the sea and him, instilling an intoxicating combination of fear and sort-of-captivity. In simple terms, Pikelet is always going to be Salieri to Sando’s Mozart, as the book explained it; he is talented enough to understand the level of talent the real geniuses need.

9.      Wolf Hall; Cardinal Wolsey

Cardinal Wolsey and Thomas Cromwell make a classic mentor/protégé coupling, due to the fact that both of them are weighty intellectual and have a lowborn status that marked them out in the court of Henry VIII. Even long after Cardinal Wolsey has died, Cromwell defers to his advice. Over time, Thomas Cromwell also adapts to the mentor role by nurturing all ways of orphans with a disadvantage and urchins who have potential.

10.     Daisy Jones and The Six; Teddy Prince

This book has an incredible way of covering all the rock pitfalls during the rise and fall In 1970s LA, of the Fleetwood Mac, together with their mentor figure in Teddy Price. It offers a reminder that behind every successful performer or group, whether it is imagined or real, there will often be a mentor.

Last modified: March 18, 2020
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