*The Illusion of a Perfect World- the Heroine is living with a false sense of security and is trapped in a world where she is denied her power. Often, our Heroine uses some sort of coping strategy to deal with (or deny) the suppression of the world she lives in.
*Betrayal/Realization- the Heroine faces her ‘Calcination’, the first stage of alchemic transformation. Everything important in her life is taken from her and she approaches a divergent path.
*Awakening- the Heroine prepares for her Journey. She has decided to actively reclaim her rightful power.
*The Descent/ Passing the Gates of Judgment- the Heroine faces fears and/or obstacles that make her want to turn back, but she is unable to do so.
*Eye of the Storm- the Heroine comes to terms with the ordeal just faced. She may think her Journey has ended, but it hasn’t.
*Death- the Heroine must face her own literal or symbolic death and, in doing so, she learns more about herself.
*Support (or not)- the Heroine must come to terms with the fact that she is connected to the larger whole. Hopefully, she finds support at this stage. Schmidt notes that many ‘feminist’ novels end with this stage because the newly independent Heroine cannot fit into society as she is now, often with tragic consequences.
*Moment of Truth- the Heroine finds renewed strength and support to carry on and she strives for her goal in earnest. She has faced her trial by fire, confronted her worst fears, and managed to come through whole and awakened to new ways of seeing the world.
*Full Circle- the Heroine returns to her formerly perfect world, far wiser than she left it. Now she can get a good idea of just how far she’s come. From here, the Heroine may tap the next person to make the descent within, so that they may grow to know themselves as the Heroine has grown to know herself.
The Coping Strategies
Schmidt mentions coping strategies in the first stage of the Feminine Journey. These strategies help the Heroine cope with the world she finds herself in, the illusory ‘Perfect World’. However, it really is just an illusion, holding her back and keeping her passive. We, as readers or viewers, can usually see through the illusions and know that she is better off going forward than in turning back to that Perfect World.
*Naive- this Heroine has the initial view that bad things happen to other people, but they won’t happen to her. She also usually believes that good things happen to those who wait.
*’Cinderella’- this Heroine holds the initial view that she must rely on males for protection and that they will always be there to protect her, whether it is father, brother, spouse or other family member. She also usually believes that she must be beautiful in order to have males protect her.
*’Exception’- this Heroine has the initial belief that she is just as good as any male and may have this belief affirmed by others. She believes males appreciate her because she acts like them, fitting in to their group as the quintessential tom-boy. She also often finds it easy to ignore instances of sexism by the males she associates with because she doesn’t see herself as ‘female’.
*People-pleaser- this Heroine holds the initial belief that she must make others happy and put them before herself. She will go out of her way to not ‘rock the boat’, so to speak, and she gets her validation from outside herself, through the whims of others. She’s all about fitting in with the group.
*Disappointed- this Heroine starts out very angry, bitter even, with her life circumstances. She knows it’s not all it’s cracked up to be, but she fears change too. This fear keeps her locked in her current status, though deep down she nurtures (or broods over) her true goals. She may be depressed, sarcastic, or act the martyr.
*Frankel, Valerie, From Girl to Goddess: The Heroine’s Journey through Myth and Legend, 2010
*Schmidt, Victoria, Story Structure Architect, 2005
*Schmidt, Victoria, 45 Master Characters, 2007