Every student deserves to be treated as a potential genius. – Anton Ehrenzweig
The mentor is an experienced and trusted advisor. If experience is the greatest teacher, then the mentor is the master professor. He has been through what the hero is going through, maybe many times, and he has succeeded and possibly failed in the past, but he is too old to go through it again alone, or the task at hand is bigger than anything he’s taken on before, and our hero has more potential than the mentor ever did.
Essentially, the mentor is a coach, and the hero is his highly talented but undisciplined student. The mentor has the power to help the hero avoid problems and pitfalls along the way, but often the hero won’t listen, or the mentor sees the greater wisdom in allowing the hero to figure things out on his or her own.
Most mentors are positive guides for the hero, however, mentors can also create conflict for the hero by getting jealous, refusing to help, withholding information, giving wrong information, resenting the hero, or compromising the mission.
Mentors in film:
Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guiness), the exiled Jedi Knight in Star Wars (1977).
Mr. Kesuke Miyagi (Pat Morita), Daniel Larusso’s sensei in The Karate Kid (1986).
Bruce Pandolfini (Ben Kingsley), the master chess teacher in Searching for Bobby Fisher (1993).
Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), the captain of the Nebuchadnezzar in The Matrix (1999).
Gandalf (Ian McKellen), the wizard who aides Frodo in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001).