Category Archives: Heroine’s Journey

Moana and Feminine Symbolism

As Moana’s grandmother retells: “In the beginning there was only ocean until the mother island emerged with the greatest power ever known–it could create life.” The mother island Te Fili is beautiful and serene – an all-powerful mother-creator. However, it is beset by monsters and Maui, the disruptive trickster, steals her heart amid menacing music and a glaring green light. “For generations this peaceful island has been home to our family, but beyond our reef a great danger is coming. Legend tells of a hero who will journey to find the Maui, and together the demigod Maui, and together they will save us all.”

 

Grandmother: The legends are true. Someone will have to go.
Chief Tui: There are no monsters. No reason to leave the island.

 

She is right and he hopes he can ignore what’s happening – a strategy that will only make the world worse. Likewise the mother’s defeatist talk – “Sometimes who we wish we were, what we wish we could do—it’s just not meant to be” – is a challenge the heroine must rise above.

Hikar, a demon of earth and fire, defeated Maui and he lost the heart in the ocean. Hikar represents the grief and vengeance of the goddess – the stronger side used to defend herself in times of loss and war. As she lashes out in fury, a spreading black cloud fills the world.

Moana, among the toddlers, is the only one responding to the story with bright-eyed curiosity and joy. She is the innocent but she’s already a savior. She begins as a baby, protecting a baby turtle with a protective leaf over it. In doing so, she turns down the pretty pink shell that is a physical reward, like a shiny toy. Impressed by her goodness, the ocean offers her a pathway of pink shells, along with a glorious ocean tour and finally the lost heart. This is a green glowing stone marked with a spiral. Of course, this entire encounter represents a toddler’s make believe more than anything the heroine remembers sincerely.

Moana’s feminine symbols are perfect. In fact, “moana” is the Polynesian word for ocean, emphasizing her destiny as a voyager. The sea is the source of all life and thus a feminine power, with Moana cast as goddess in training. As for the heart, green is the color of immaturity and growth, the fertility and health of the land. “The spiral was connected with the idea of death and rebirth: entering the mysterious earth womb, penetrating to its core, and passing out again by the same route” (Walker 14). It is the image of women’s mysteries, or of journeying to the deep secrets hidden within the self and the world.

Pink conch shells are actually a symbol of the woman’s sex organs, emphasizing that good-girl Moana will not be tempted by sex but only by the heart. Pink suggests femininity and also sensuality, because it’s similar to flesh tones. A shell, especially the cowrie shell, represented the feminine gate of life as far back as 20,000 BC (Campbell the Masks of God: Primitive Mythology 376). The cowrie was used as a feminine symbol to avert the evil eye in India, with a name likely derived from the goddess Kauri. “Cowries were used throughout the Middle East, Egypt, the South Pacific, and the Mediterranean countries as charms for healing, fertility, rebirth, magical power or good luck” (Walker 507-508). Symbolically, the conch is a vessel filled with the water of life and thus a womb symbol. The spiral conch-shell symbolizes infinite space that gradually expands in a clockwise direction. Thus it’s the Human Journey through birth, life, resurrection, and more. The shell’s hard casing protects life, while its pearly luster and aquatic nature connect with puirity. In Buddhism the conch shell’s call is meant to awaken one from ignorance, and signals victory over suffering.  In Chinese Buddhism, the conch shell signifies a prosperous journey, and in Islam it represents  hearing the divine world. All these resonate with Moana.

Moana’s actress, Auli’i Cravalho is the youngest Disney Princess voice in history, being only 14 years old while filming (16 by the time the film came out). One critic describes her as “a fully rounded character with an idealized yet believable body, flaws that she acknowledges and fights, and a resourcefulness that makes her admirable even when she’s failing” (Robinson).

 

Only 14 when she performed Moana, having never done any film acting before, Cravalho is remarkably self-possessed, with a bold singing voice—perfect for the role. In addition, the tunes (by the harmonious trio of Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Miranda, Disney regular Mark Mancina and Samoan singer Opetaia Foa’i) are stirring, and the gorgeous visuals make Motunui an inviting place to dwell indeed. Lush, colorful and intricately detailed, the CG imagery is captivating throughout the movie, from the tops of the mountains to the depths of the sea.. (Gingold)

 

Moana has two living, loving parents in an unusual break for Disney. More unusually, she has a real female mentor. Her grandmother proudly describes herself as the “village crazy lady.” Gramma Tala (Rachel House) teaches her to dance by the ocean side that “misbehaves” like them and celebrate her feminine gifts. The ocean is the source of feminine power, bringing endless fertility and connecting the islands. As Moana accepts her role as future chief, she struggles to protect her island as the coconuts die and the fish vanish. Finally, she accepts that as Chosen One she will have to quest to save them all.

 

The queen goddess in mythology was not a warrior but a creator, the earth itself worshipped as the Supreme Mother. Imitating her, the girl becomes a life-giver and protector, a goal which heroines risk everything to achieve. Dorothy saves Toto over and over, for he is her most childlike and sparkling self, her vulnerable side most in need of protection. Lyra of The Golden Compass quests for her best friend Roger; Bella Swan rescues her true love, daughter, and vampire clan; Coraline saves her parents. Katniss volunteers for the Hunger Games to save her sister, and Tris risks everything for her own parents and brother. These repeated rescues symbolize building a family and fighting to the death to defend it. By accomplishing her task, the heroine grows from child to mother-protector, ready to take her place as head of the household. (Frankel, Chosen One, Kindle Locations 204-210).

 

The film offers the sensitive cultural imagery of The Lion King or Elena of Avalor along with the impetuous restless teen of The Little Mermaid and the irritable buddy comedy of Frozen. Unlike almost every Disney Princess, she doesn’t sacrifice everything for love of a man but finds a way to be an independent heroine. “Directors Ron Clements and John Musker are veterans of the ’90s Disney Renaissance (they crafted Aladdin, Hercules and The Little Mermaid). But that era’s girl-power animation also feels nimbly rebooted here, via Moana’s Pocahontas-style leadership and Mulan pluck” (Stables).

Unlike other Disney heroines she doesn’t have elaborate costume changes into princess gowns – she’s an adventure heroine who gets the job done and climbs mountains and swims all in the same sturdy outfit. Moana wears an elaborately patterned white skirt and a coral colored top and sash – the pink of femininity blended with the red of the mature woman. “Coral was called the ocean’s tree of life, its red color attributed to life-giving feminine blood” (Walker 507). The white skirt suggests the immature virgin just beginning. As From Girl to Goddess, a book exploring the stages of the heroine’s journey, says of the mythic heroine: “She is a maiden (white) longing to become a grown woman (red). To accomplish this, she faces death and gains powers of the spirit (black)” (Frankel 57). This last comes from the red and black lava goddess.

Moana’s father Tui (Temuera Morrison) intends for her to be “the next great chief” with a red feather crown – an unusual role indeed for the Disney heroine, once seen with almost no one besides Elsa. She’s filled with yearning to strike out and explore what adventure might await beyond the forbidden reef that surrounds and protects them like a wall. Her father insists she has responsibilities at home. However, as he guides her to the highest mountain where his forefathers have each piled a stone in a tower of masculine pride and lineage, it’s clear he intends her to take a man’s path. “No coronation in the latest Disney-princess movie Moana happens. Still, the future of the titular princess is insinuated by contemplative shots of Moana staring at an elaborate headdress, the tribal equivalent of a crown, with both trepidation and anticipation” (Cao).

The heroine of Brave tries to do this for herself, rejecting marriage to shoot her bow. (In fact, these are the only Disney Princesses who aren’t retelling a classic fairytale or finding a love interest.) But Moana feels a feminine yearning for herself – being not a king but a queen. She takes the men’s boat out, trying to emulate her father’s journey beyond the reef (pig companion in tow) to find fish for her people. She tries to solve their problems and protect them as she once aided the turtle, but she realizes she will need a greater act of heroism. And as her father stays home where it’s safe as the world dies, she will need a far different path. “You told me to help our people. This is how I help our people,” she insists.

Her grandmother shows her what she lacks by guiding her to the feminine sacred place of the island – a cave. A cave symbolizes the dark innermost place of the self – all the person has repressed or forgotten. Within, Moana sounds the drum (another feminine symbol, suggesting the power of the earth and the heartbeat) and discovers her people’s forgotten legacy – they sailed all the oceans joyously – men women and children. Together they would settle for a time then travel ever on in a great golden fleet with dolphins playing around them. “To protect our people voyaging was forbidden, and we have forgotten who we are,” her grandmother tells her. Among all the ships, she sees a small one with the heart’s spiral shape – the symbol of a woman’s labyrinthine journey into the spirit. Her perfect vessel awaits.

The grandmother gives her the heart and tells her her ocean encounter was a true one. “I was that there that day. The ocean chose you.” As she adds, “The question you keep asking yourself—who are you meant to be?” She insists a hero must take Maui to the goddess to return the heart.

As her grandmother lies ill and likely dying, she gives Moana her locket to keep the green heart in. The locket is blue mother-of-pearl, perhaps a mussel – color and shell are both feminine symbols of the mature goddess-woman as are the pearls that it’s strung between. “The pearl signifies humility, purity, innocence, and a retiring spirit,” Jones notes in History and Mystery of Precious Stones as he describes the “modest splendor and purity of the jewel” (94, 113). They were said to be a combination of masculine and feminine, male fire and female water.

Blue, the color of sky and sea, represents the life-filled goddess. “Blue has also come to symbolize purity: Christians associate it with the Virgin Mary, and it is the Roman Catholic liturgical color used on her feast days” (Shepherd 344). She is always pictured as wearing a blue gown with red scarf or cloak.

Moana leaves behind Pua the Pig, her childhood pet who suggests the safe family life (and perhaps a willingness to be lied to as she assures him she’s not eating pork). Instead, she takes along Hei-Hei the rather insane rooster, as she insists, “Sometimes our strengths lie beneath the surface. Far beneath.” People have hidden talents buried deep within, much as she does. “Every winged being is a symbol of spiritualization,” as the mind reaches like the bird for the heights (Cirlot 26). Though Hei-Hei is mad and can’t actually fly (or swim), he suggests breaking boundaries and finding freedom. At the climax, she drops the spiral stone and he saves it for her, contributing a moment of aid at just the right time. As she sails, her grandmother as manta ray sails in her wake like a beautiful glowing butterfly, symbol of the soul.

As her grandmother insisted, Moana finds Maui at last (voiced by Dwyane “The Rock” Johnson), only to discover he’s completely full of himself. “Do you who Maui is? The greatest demigod that ever lived, who stopped the sun, who pulled up islands out of the sea, and battled monsters. Do you know why I know all this? That’s because, I am Maui!” Dressed in green leaves with luxuriant black hair and black tattoos, he’s covered in the fertility symbols of the wise, mature creation force – one whom Moana must learn from. His small Maui tattoo, over his heart, appears to be the voice of his conscience or his shadow, expressing the thoughts and impulses he keeps bottled up. His constantly changing tattoos emphasize his shapeshifter powers. His favorite form, that of a hawk, is a quintessentially masculine image. The hawk suggests swiftness and keen sight with great skill at the hunt – it’s a symbol of striving for great heights.

 

“In another Disney Princess first, theirs is an odd-couple adventure rather than a love story, more True Grit than true romance” (Stables). As the powerful ancient god, he’s skeptical of the “self-taught” heroine.

 

Moana: The ocean sent me.
Maui: You’re what, 8? Can’t sail? Perfect choice.
Moana: It chose me.

 

He also acknowledges the film tradition they both come from, noting snarkily, “If you wear a dress and have an animal sidekick, you’re a princess.”

“He gives the movie a jolt of vainglorious energy that both contrasts with and complements Moana’s earnestness” (Gingold). While he sings about his greatness, he shuts her in a cave and takes her boat. She climbs out of the cave using her grit and tells him firmly, “I am Moana of Motusi. You will board my boat and restore the heart to Te Fili.” Maui self-centeredly retorts that he stole the heart as a gift for mankind and they should be grateful. It takes his journey with Moana for him to realize he was wrong to take the goddess’s power and that his success shouldn’t come from another’s possessions.

When he first arrives, the heart seems to be one more trophy from one more adventure, like his celebratory tattoos. Around his neck are more toothy trophies and he has a crowd of fans…at least as tattoos. He signs Moana’s paddle, her chosen tool, with his fishhook symbol and the heart that has become hers, suggesting her journey from the sea to the goddess’s island. A paddle, like a wand or a hand, suggests impacting her world and allowing her to travel.

Maui’s chosen weapon is a giant swordlike fishhook – without it he feels completely impotent and can’t exercise any of his superpowers. “Without my hook, I am nothing,” he insists. By contrast, Moana’s subtle, all-pervasive ocean magic (or rather the ocean as her helper) keeps popping her back onto the ship, letting her outmaneuver even the ancient god of sailing. She taunts him with the heart, adding, “Are you afraid of it?” in fact, he is, realizing the awesome creation force of the goddess – he can steal it, but not understand or truly own it.

She learns to persuade him, leaning on his need for adoration to convince him to quest with her:

 

Moana: Maui, shapeshifter, demigod of the wind and the sea, let’s save the world.
Maui: I’m not going on a mission with some kid.
Moana: You’d be a hero. That’s what you’re all about, right?
[Maui imagines crowds chanting his name and hears the chant]
Moana: Maui, Maui, Maui.
[we see that it’s Moana quietly chanting his name]
Moana: You’re so amazing.

 

When she realizes he’s a far better sailor than she is, she persuades him to teach her (of course, when she’s unsuccessful, the ocean intervenes and even hits him in the rear end with a sleeping dart). She high-fives the ocean for its help. Meanwhile, Maui teaches her to be more than a princess—to be a Wayfinder with the ancient powers of her people.

 

She doesn’t even need a love interest to define her story. Maui, a tattooed trickster with all Johnson’s gleaming-toothed charm, is compelling, but he’s also ageless and inhuman, so it’s a relief when he doesn’t start giving his traveling companion the hey-baby eye. Moana is all about familiar patterns, refined to their ultimate forms, and presented with a satisfying energy and power. But Musker and Clements also have the sense to pick and choose which tropes make sense for their story. As perfectly as these old beats work in this new context, Moana functions as well as it does because the story team ultimately focused on finding everything about Disney stories that worked in 2016, and improving everything that didn’t. (Robinson)

 

She insists she’s the chosen one and “the ocean chose me for a reason.” Maui debates that the ocean is flighty and unrealistic – common criticism aimed at women. As with the father-grandmother clash, Maui’s patriarchal attitude versus the ocean’s small interventions and gentle pushes soon fail. “I have no idea why the ocean chose me. You’re right. But my island is dying and it’s just me and you,” she insists. She also discovers Maui’s famous generosity for mankind hides a deep insecurity that gives him much more depth:  He was abandoned by his human parents so he seeks humanity’s love.

 

Moana: You did everything for them so they’d love you.
Maui: It was never enough.

 

Moana insists: “The gods aren’t the ones who make you Maui, you are,” but it takes him some time to learn this lesson.

To regain his hook they journey to a towering stone island. There, Maui employs his superbreath then chants and dances on a stone face which opens and swallows them.

 

Moana: We’re going to the realm of monsters.
Maui: Don’t worry, it’s  a lot further down than it looks.
[Maui jumps in and screams with glee, Moana keeps looking down the opening]
Maui: I am still falling!

 

They land in a psychedelic realm of monsters where Moana knows nothing. This is a typical journey for the heroine, dragging her to the tall patriarchal tower where she has no power.

 

In many fairytales from Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid” to “The Six Swans,” the heroine’s most dire struggle takes place high in the prince’s castle, far from the mysterious protection of the forest or ocean. This, like the wicked witch’s castle or the Death Star, is the world of order and tyranny, where the young heroine is truly helpless. Other heroines descend to the underworld: Lucy and Susan witness the White Witch murdering Aslan deep in the forest, while Lyra Belacqua crosses into the land of the dead. Katniss falls unconscious at the climax of all three of her own books. (Frankel, Chosen One, Kindle Locations 336-340).

 

Enemies include the greedy glittery giant crab Tamatoa and the violent but semi-inept coconut people, the Kakamora. The first is an enormous god with an enormous treasure pile; the latter construct massive ships. Both thus are symbols of patriarchy. Moana defeats both with agility and cleverness.

 

With an eco-conscious story favouring redemption over outright villainy, there’s just a bit less tugging on your heartstrings. As Disney baddies go, Jermaine Clement’s giant treasure-crazed crab Tamatoa is a ball of fun (‘Shiny’, his Bowie-ish disco celebration of all things bling, is a highlight). But he’s no Ursula the Sea Witch. (Stables)

 

While the coconuts and fish are dying because of a spreading evil and heartlessness, it resembles an oil slick. Thus a subtle environmental image appears as well.

The pair fight the lava god in the climactic battle with Moana providing the support for Maui’s heroic hawk flight. However, his brute force approach fails and his fishhook is damaged. At once, he decides that another blow would destroy all his power and he will not try again. When he leaves her, Moana’s courage and certainty vanish. She tells the ocean to choose someone else and returns the totem. As she despairs, her grandmother comes to her in a beautiful blue glowing manta ray and offers to guide her home. However, as her grandmother adds, “Scars can heal and reveal just where you are.” At this moment of comfort, Moana reconsiders. She reclaims the heart and her mantra changes to one of solo power: “I am Moana of Motusi. Aboard my boat, I will restore the heart to Te Fili.”

Though Maui’s frightened to fight and risk destroying his hook, though he does the right thing in the end. “Moana, I got your back! It’s Maui time!” he announces and flies into the crucial fight. “Hook, no hook, I’m Maui,” he concludes, basing his heroism on more than possessions.

“What resonates strongest as the story concludes, however, is its heart—as embodied by its title character, who forges her own path among both her people and her Disney sisterhood” (Gingold). Moana solves the riddle when she sees the ancient spiral on the lava goddess’s chest. “Let her come to me,” she tells the ocean. She faces this deadly force and responds with sympathy and love, comforting her and returning her heart to the spiral’s center. “They have stolen the heart from inside you. This is not who you are. You know who you are.” Her heart restored, the goddess turns green and loving once again.

The goddess sends her home in a pink and yellow flower covered boat. These are a reward, celebrating her feminine power as her island’s new heroine.

 

The full round, the norm of the monomyth, requires that the hero shall now begin the labor of bringing the runes of wisdom, the Golden Fleece, or his sleeping princess, back into the kingdom of humanity, where the boon may rebound to the renewing of the community, the nation, the planet, or the ten thousand worlds.4 Campbell, Hero with a Thousand Faces, 193.

 

Back home, Moana lays a pink conch on the stone pillar, acknowledging the tradition but making her own feminine mark. She then takes her people back to the ocean where she teaches both her prents navigation. In a pink feather dress, she’s achieved the next stage as, perhaps not a chief, but an explorer, leader, and teacher.

 

Unlike Queen Elsa, Moana does not undergo a coronation. She does become a wayfinder for her people to teach them to sail toward the horizon. But even without seeing Moana reach the status of chieftain, the audience understands that she heads a mile closer to her ascension. She does not wear the traditional headdress introduced in the opening, but she does wear a flower wreath, her own crown, suggesting that she both cherishes and transcends her traditions.

Moana reminds us that the Disney heroines—some of royal birth, ordinary bookworms, maidens—should be allowed to outgrow the title of Princess and the limitations instilled upon them. (Cao)

 

 

 

 

Campbell, Joseph. The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1973.

Cao, Caroline. “Moana Won’t Stay A Princess Forever.” BirthMoviesDeath, Nov. 30, 2016 http://birthmoviesdeath.com/2016/11/30/moana-wont-stay-a-princess-forever

Cirlot, J.E. A Dictionary of Symbols. New York: Routledge, 1971.

Frankel, Valerie Estelle. From Girl to Goddess: The Heroine’s Journey in Myth and Legend. Jefferson, NC: McFarland and Co., 2010.

Gubgold, Michael. “Movie Review: MOANA Joins The Pantheon of Great Disney Heroines.” BirthMoviesDeath, Nov. 18, 2016 http://birthmoviesdeath.com/2016/11/18/movie-review-moana-joins-the-pantheon-of-great-disney-heroines

Jones, William History and Mystery of Precious Stones. London: Richard Bentley and Son, 1880.

Robinson, Tasha. “Moana review: after 80 years of experiments, Disney has made the perfect Disney movie” The Verge, 26 Nov. 2016. http://www.theverge.com/2016/11/26/13749060/moana-film-review-walt-disney-animation-dwayne-johnson-diversity

Shepherd, Rowena and Rupert. 1000 Symbols. New York: The Ivy Press, 2002.

Stables, Kate. MOANA REVIEW: “WAVE-TAMING MOANA GETS a TRUE HERO’S JOURNEY IN THIS SOUTH SEAS STUNNER” 28 Nov. 2016. http://www.gamesradar.com/moana-review/

Thomas, William and Kate Pavitt. The Book of Talismans, Amulets and Zodiacal Gems. London: William Rider & Son, Ltd., 1922. The Sacred Texts Archive. http://www.sacred-texts.com/sym/bot.

Walker, Barbara G. The Woman’s Dictionary of Symbols and Sacred Objects. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1988.

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Filed under Disney, Fairytales, Heroine's Journey, Pop Culture, Uncategorized

Guest Blog Posts

With my monthly column for legendary women and occasional posts on Thought Catalog, I guest blog more than I blog on my own site. The thought occurred that I and others might want to find them all. So here they are:

Legendary Women

Game of Thrones Season Six Wrap Up June 2006

DC Bombshells Rewrite History Mar 2016

“Is it more sexist not to hit you?”- The Women of Deadpool Feb 2016

Comparing Rey Amberle and Wonder Woman Jan 2016

2015 Geek Girl Power Comics Shopping Guide Part 1

2015 Geek Girl Power Comics Shopping Guide Part 2

2015 Geek Girl Power Comics Shopping Guide Part 3

Skye’s Heroine’s Journey 2015

Supergirl Pilot 2015

Joss Whedon’s X-Men 2015

Doctor Who and Missy 2015

CW’s Vixen 2015

The MCU Black Widow 2015

Game of Thrones Season 5 2015

 

Also article and interview about my Buffy and the Heroine’s Journey:

http://www.legendarywomen.org/content/buffy-and-her-journey-heroine

http://legendarywomen.org/content/valerie-frankel-author-buffy-and-heroines-journey-interview

Thought Catalog

Hot Teen Vampires And Werewolves: How Did They Start, And More Importantly, Who Gets The Girl? 22 Mar 2016

Game Of Thrones Season Five Wrap Up: The Book vs The Show And Where We’re Going

One of the big disappointments for me (and I’m not the only one) were the Sand Snakes.

28 Jul 2015

How Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Is Very Joss Whedon

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has returned, and to no one’s surprise, Skye’s new plot expands the Marvel Cinematic Universe while simultaneously transforming her into a superhero.

8 Apr 2015

The “Strange, Young-Old” Peter Capaldi Will Bring Doctor Who Back To Its Origins

More to the point, this Doctor is on a mission to find the Time Lords and restore the balance, returning the series to, perhaps, its mid-series premise of a “secret-agent-man” Doctor taking orders from the higher-ups and interpreting them to his rebellious liking.

20 Aug 2014

12 Game Of Thrones Mysteries That Are Going To Drive You Crazy

Who will win? Who will finally take the Iron Throne?

11 Jun 2014

“The Day Of The Doctor” And The Hero’s Journey

“The Day of the Doctor” is a perfect Hero’s Journey arc…if “The Night of the Doctor” (the brief online minisode available here) is included.

26 Nov 2013

Game Of Thrones Recap: Thoughts On The Season 3 Finale And Beyond

After last week’s WHAM! of an episode, viewers approached with trepidation. However, this episode was mainly wrap-up. Walder Frey gloated, Joffrey gloated, Tyrion and Tywin debated ethics, Tyrion broke the news to Sansa, Arya took a very small revenge.

10 Jun 2013

Other Websites

Hogwarts Professor: Aug 21, 2013 – Mortal Instruments: City of Bones and Alchemy

Denise Derrico’s Key of Dee: Jan 2016  Why Rey Needs a Light-Chakram 

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Filed under Books, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Comics, Doctor Who, Films, Game of Thrones, Heroine's Journey, Star Wars, Superheroes, Uncategorized, Young Adult Fantasy

Clary Fray and the Heroine’s Journey

(This traces her story through the six Mortal Instruments novels, and as such, spoils them completely during its deep analysis. Of course, fans of the show Shadowhunters would certainly find the novels delightful.)

 

The hero’s journey, or story of the Chosen One, is the basic format for most myths, epics, and fantasy novels. The Chosen One is a heroic child like Harry Potter or Luke Skywalker destined to fight the forces of evil. In the darkest place of all he faces his tyrant father or wicked stepmother, the darkest impulses he keeps buried within himself. He faces death and returns to life stronger than before, for death is a metaphor for crossing from child to adult.

The heroine’s most typical quest is rescue of family members, especially the little sibling that represents her child. The heroine often quests to find her best friend or little brother, in The Golden Compass, A Wrinkle in Time, and other series. Clary spends City of Bones questing for Simon the rat then kidnapped Jace, all while seeking her mother. Jace calls Clary “the girl who walked into a hotel full of vampires because her best friend was there and needed saving” (Lost Souls 522). As she rescues Simon and Jace over and over, while saving her mother and stopping her father’s slaughter of the innocent, Clary’s family sphere becomes the motivation for a much larger epic. At last, she becomes the savior of all the Shadowhunters, teaching them to bond with the Downworlders and save them as well. Her inspiring love and creativity preserve the world of magic in the ultimate triumph.

 

The Call to Adventure: Losing the Mother

Clary grows up in Brooklyn, living a normal childhood. When her geeky friend Simon takes her clubbing, she sees three powerful teens destroy a demon…and no one else sees anything. Her mother is so worried she tries to drag Clary off to the country. One of those teens, Jace Wayland, seeks Clary out later to tell her she has the sight and is clearly more than she seems. However, at that moment, demons invade, destroying her home and kidnapping her mother. The quest has begun.

Clary’s quest begins with her mother’s kidnapping, as Clary struggles through three books to save her. Of course, the mother is usually absent during the heroine’s story. Disney’s Beauty, Ariel, Jasmine, Mu Lan, and Pocahontas are raised by their fathers. Snow White and Cinderella have stepmothers. Fairytales, like other heroine’s journey tales, follow this pattern for a reason. The mother, who was the childhood protector, cannot continue shielding her daughter from everything or there will be no adventure. It’s time for independence. Sheldon Cashdan explains in the fairytale study The Witch Must Die:

The mother’s exit, paradoxically, is empowering in that it forces the children in the story to confront a cruel and dangerous world on their own. Lacking a mother or protector, the hero or heroine must draw on inner resources that might not have been tested were the mother still around. (42)

This is particularly true in City of Bones: Joyce has more than sheltered Clary from the hazards of the demonic world and threat of Valentine: She has hired Magnus Bane to erase all of Clary’s paranormal sightings and memories of them in order to keep her completely innocent. She seeks to blind Clary of the sight and strip her of her magical perception as well as her heritage. In this way, the mother becomes too protective, to the point of stifling the heroine and preventing her from adventuring. She has become the adversary, like Rapunzel’s stepmother, who locks her in a tower. The dark side of the loving mother is “anxious nursing and over-instructing, far beyond the needs of her charges. She may fail to affirm their own need for a sense of strength and independence, and thus delay the maturing process (Molton and Sikes 42). With Joyce’s kidnapping, Clary is released, and discovers the world of magic and evil for the first time.

The Good Mother is perfect kindness, love, and protection. As such, she has few defenses. To have the forces of wickedness kill the mother would be like having one’s inner demons devour one’s gentle, kindly side – a horrifying development for the psyche. The best way to protect or insulate the mother from such a fate is to leave her out of the story (as fairytales often do) or even have her quietly perish. “Though her absence makes the child highly vulnerable, her peaceful departure is preferable to a scenario in which she dies a violent death” (Cashdan 42). Such a thing is its own death-rebirth cycle, as the death of the mother leads the child to sink into despair and then rise strengthened, channeling the mother’s spirit into her own developing self. (Frankel, Buffy 121).

Another reason for the mother’s vanishing is the Jungian Mother Complex, which is one of the earliest and most central forces in a girl’s psyche. A baby views the mother and itself as inseparable – one person in fact. Therefore, it’s impossible that the mother should yell or punish or upset the baby, any more than its own arm might. Therefore, the baby imagines two mothers: one completely loving, selfless, and perfect, the other the “Terrible Mother” – the punisher and evil force. She is a killer of children, like the White Witch of Narnia or Wicked Witch of the West. These two figures – protective, angelic mother and vicious cruel mother – represent two conflicting voices within the self.

Valentine, though a man, is the child killer and evil parent of the first trilogy. He’s a killer of children: decades ago, he experimented on Downworlder young. He tortures and experiments on his own children as well, as Jace and Clary soon discover. Now he will kill all the marked Nephilim who haven’t pledged loyalty to him.

The protective mother is the force inside Clary that wants to keep her a child, safe and innocent yet unable to affect the world or find her destiny. The dark mother within wants to force experience and pain on her to compel her to grow. Lilith, the evil mother figure, takes this role in the second trilogy. The Inquisitor is another monstrous mother – burned by grief, she becomes a figure of ruthless, merciless, cruel order corrupted by revenge. Watching her, Clary decides who she doesn’t want to become. The capricious fairy queen and Dorothea, inhabited by a demon, represent other cruel mothers who echo the darkness inside Clary herself. Without Joyce for protection, Clary must confront all these forces and learn the harsh skills she needs to survive. Luckily, she has friends.

 

The World of Magic

The first gift Clary receives from the magical world is the Sensor, which she takes from Jace, her first guide. The Sensor is an appropriate tool as heroines often receive tools of perception as their talismans on magical adventures: golden compasses, magic mirrors or spectacles. Of course, Clary doesn’t use the sensor to see the magical world but to combat her enemies, and she shoves the sensor into a demon’s mouth, slaying it with the protective runes. This signals that Clary will certainly not be a passive damsel on her adventure.

In the first book, she uses her new power of perception to sweep away glamours and see the Shadowhunter world for what it really is. Perception is a significant part of her life, joined with her prophetic visions, magical sight, and lost memories of the Shadowhunter world. Further, visions and images define her: Clary keeps a sketchbook because, as she explains, she thinks in pictures, not words (Bones 204). When she pushes aside a glamour, she imagines cleaning it away like old paint under a rag of turpentine (Bones 133). “Clary is every bookish, fantasy-loving girl who grows up wielding a pencil and a sketchbook instead of mutant powers or a sword,” Sarah Cross explains in her essay on Clary (20). She may be ordinary, but she can use her abilities from our world to change everything.

Jace teaches Clary the basics of the Shadowhunter world, and his teacher Hodge offers her other facts. However, neither acts precisely as her mentor.

The child on the Chosen One’s path leaves his or her unsatisfying birth family to find a better one, a “real” one. “My parents don’t appreciate me, and they’re so boring. I must be adopted and belong somewhere more magical and special,” the child thinks. In fact, Clary’s impulses are correct, as generally happens in Chosen One stories – she has the perception of a Shadowhunter, and with it magical gifts. She’s even uniquely powerful among Shadowhunters, as she eventually discovers. She is not the daughter of Jocelyn Fray the prosaic artist and her husband Jonathan, the dead soldier. In fact, her father is the infamous and villainous Valentine, and her mother was once his revered and powerful wife. Even Clary’s “stepfather,” Luke, is a werewolf.

With her mother kidnapped and Luke rejecting her, Clary must find another guide to who she really is. This she finds in the ancient warlock Magnus Bane, her first mentor. Magnus comments: “Every teenager in the world feels like that, feels broken or out of place, different somehow, royalty mistakenly born into a family of peasants. The difference in your case is that it’s true. You are different” (Bones 231). He has been hiding Clary’s memories at her mother’s insistence. Like Gandalf and other great wizards, he provides help whenever the heroes cannot solve their own problems. Clare notes: “In writing about Clary, I am writing about the feeling that a lot of teenagers have that they are different somehow, alienated, unlike others. Only Clary actually very literally is another kind of species of human” (Enchanted Inkpot).

The mentor’s task is to give the hero or heroine a talisman to protect and strengthen her. Most male heroes receive swords, from Sting to Excalibur to Harry Potter’s dueling wand. For heroines, along with tools of perception, books are very common, appearing in Inkheart, Ella Enchanted, The Spiderwick Chronicles, The Kane Chronicles, and A Series of Unfortunate Events. Katniss of The Hunger Games has her father’s logbook as well as his bows and jacket. Clary is no exception, as Magnus offers her part of her birthright by handing her the Gramarye of runes, which will teach her to understand the hidden world. She hears a click in her head, like a key turning in a lock. After, everything seems clearer, and she’s gained stronger powers of understanding and remembrance. She soon begins writing runes, not only from the book but from heaven itself – runes only the angels know.

Women’s powers often come, not from fighting, but from crafting. Cheyenne and Micmac women cast spells of magical protection through their weaving and beading skills. In Hopi myth, Spider Woman molded people from the clay of the earth and attached a strand of her web to each of them, weaving them together. The Inuit Aakuluujjusi created the caribou from a pair of her discarded trousers and the walrus from her lumpy jacket. Ix Chel, water and moon goddess of the Maya, is a weaver, whose whirling drop spindle twirls the Universe. The Fates and the Norns likewise spun lives, with the gods themselves unable to change their wills. Goddesses are creators, but they use the magic of crafting and creating as much as birth magic.

This too is Clary’s power, as she grows from an artist with a sketchbook to a creator of powerful runes, summoned from heaven itself. She “finds a way to turn her natural talents into the tools of her survival…she draws a better world into existence and she never lets the word impossible stop her. In Clary’s hands, the stele truly is mightier than the sword” (Cross 33).

In Ashes, she puts her enormous power into an Opening rune and blasts open the door of Jace’s cell. She later creates a Fearless rune and gives it to Jace to protect him. When she creates it, she thinks of her mother and when a “soft voice” in her head challenges her, she responds, “I am Jocelyn Fray’s daughter” (Ashes 282). As she imagines her mother’s paintings, the voice fades away. On Valentine’s ship, as she tears it open with her mother’s stele, she even hears her mother’s voice inside her head. Once she’s opened herself to creative, feminine magic, Madeline Bellefleur appears and tells her how to get her mother back. Clary’s feminine side is awakening.

 

The Lover

Jace takes Clary to the Institute, home of the Shadowhunters. These are the warriors who fight demons, protecting mortals who don’t even know they exist. It’s filled with motifs of angels and swords, suns and roses. Angels and swords suggest defense and offense in their constant war, along with the sacred trust to defend the world from demons. The sun is a popular hero symbol, while the rose is a symbol of perfection, round like a mandala or the world.

There, Clary discovers that she is tied to this ancient birthright. She and Jace squabble, but she’s drawn to him as well, far more than to her childhood friend Simon. Jace is mysterious and powerful, magical as she is mundane, aristocratic and old-fashioned. He’s everything she’s not, and thus, incredibly captivating.

The romantic figure in the heroine’s journey represents the unconscious world of dreams and power she’s seeking in herself. By learning from him, she grows beyond her ordinary self to embrace the magic he offers. Jace is not just a Shadowhunter with the dazzling good looks and charm Clary feels she lacks. From her perspective, he’s described with his hair in a “halo of damp gold” (Bones 306) and as a “wounded prince” (Bones 297). He’s also incredibly perceptive, seeing all the nuances of Clary and Simon’s relationship when Clary often misses details.

The heroine’s love is usually a shapechanger, a frog prince or beast. This reflects the constant indecipherable moods the other person has in a romance – he seems so foreign and incomprehensible that this lover must have turned into another person entirely. Jace becomes another person when possessed in the fifth book, but there are earlier echoes: When Jace discovers Valentine’s his father, Clary is horrified by the new obedient Jace, who surrenders all of his beliefs: “This new Jace, fragile and shining in the light of his own personal miracle, was a stranger to her” (Bones 436). His belief in Valentine is described as a kind of glamour. Similarly, Jace shifts names throughout the series, from the moment he’s revealed as Jonathan Morgenstern through his struggle to find the last name that fits him.

The greenhouse he and Clary share is a magical place – it even smells like Idris. The glass roof shines like the lake in reverse, and strange, magical flowers bloom there, in an enclosed magical world. In the greenhouse, Jace gives Clary a witchlight stone for her birthday. He tells her all Shadowhunters have them and adds, “It will bring you light…even among the darkest shadows of this world and others” (Bones 313). Later it pulses in her hand “like the heartbeat of a tiny bird” and shines in her hand “as if she’d cracked a seed of darkness” (Bones 423). Birds and seeds are feminine symbols, of freedom and potential respectively. As Clary uses the stone, she claims both powers and takes her place as a Shadowhunter. The gift of light in dark places is a feminine tool of perception, like Galadriel’s phial or Ariadne’s thread, a flashlight that will let Clary find her way.

When Jace gives it to her, Clary makes an engagement joke about how girls don’t literally want a “big rock” but a diamond. This mention emphasizes how Clary is already thinking she wants an engagement ring from Jace, and thus the “big rock” he gives her takes on that meaning, binding them together. Indeed, Jace follows his gift with their first kiss. In the greenhouse, this kiss is filled with the magical plants of Idris like an Eden or a place of creation magic. He also gives her apples in the greenhouse, a sign of temptation and sin, though apples were also beloved of Aphrodite. His birthday gift of the blooming flower “dusted with pale gold pollen” blooms only for a moment, symbolizing the short-lived nature of happiness in the world. In fact, the symbolism echoes this: they have a perfect moment, a perfect kiss, and then Clary’s messy love triangle ruins things as she stumbles into Simon.

When they leave for Magnus’s party, Jace offers Clary “a long thin dagger in a leather sheath. The hilt of the dagger was set with a single red stone carved in the shape of a rose.” He tells her the knowledge of how to wield it is in her blood (Bones 214). This is a feminine dagger – containing a red stone like Isabelle’s pendant and a rose shape – but set in a masculine weapon. It’s a talisman of the Shadowhunter world and an acknowledgement that Clary can be a fighter like Jace, Alec and Isabelle. Later, it’s revealed that the kindjal dagger was Valentine’s, with his falling star emblem. Luke has its match. As Jace, then Clary take Valentine’s red dagger, they become part of the war he began with the Downworlders decades before. They are the heirs to his dark legacy as well as his weapons.

In the third book, Jace gives Clary his Morgenstern ring when he goes to face death. Though their single night together in Idris is chaste, combining it with the ring symbolizes a marriage. It’s revealed in Clockwork Prince that Shadowhunters give their ring as a betrothal gift, like an engagement ring. While Clary doesn’t know this, Jace certainly does (as do Luke and Jocelyn). She wears the ring through the second trilogy, indicating that she’s given Jace her heart and more. In folklore, a ring is given as a promise of fidelity, betrothal, or marriage. Jace tells her later “It means I trust you with my past and all the secrets that past carries” (Fallen Angels 410). It’s the Morgenstern ring, symbol that Jace’s past will always be his childhood with Valentine but his future will belong to Clary.

 

The Animus

Simon’s mom notes that “you only need three people you can rely on in order to achieve self-actualization” (Bones 303). For Clary, these are her adoptive father Luke, best friend Simon, and boyfriend Jace. Clary notes that through her childhood she has only ever loved her mom, Luke, and Simon. In the first book, her mom is taken and Luke (temporarily) rejects her, and in the second, Simon dies and turns into a vampire. She must learn to do without all of them. She opens her heart to Jace, but discovers he’s Valentine’s son and her brother. Thus one of Clary’s greatest quests is to discover her identity without leaning on any of the men in her life.

Followers of Carl Jung’s philosophy, itself one of the roots of the hero’s journey, saw the need for women to actualize the so-called “masculine” side, the power, authority, and rational thought waiting to be developed within them. The next step is to “legitimize women’s power and authority in its own right” (Wehr 46). In Jungian psychology, the animus is another word for the heroine’s hidden masculine side. All characters represent part of the self, and Luke, Simon, Jace, and even Valentine and Sebastian all act as different types of animus, challenging Clary and forcing her to grow while offering different kinds of comfort and protection. When they are seen as aspects of the questing heroine, rather than individual characters, it becomes clear that their growth is mirroring hers in a traditional pattern. This Animus “evokes masculine traits within her: logic, rationality, intellect. Her conscious side, aware of the world around her, grows, and she can rule and comprehend the exterior world” (Frankel, Girl to Goddess 22).

As Clary matures, the animus figures in her life grow wiser and more useful, or are replaced by other, stronger, allies and enemies to challenge her. The highest level of Animus is as catalyst to wisdom. It “connects the woman with her spiritual side, making her even more receptive to her own creativity. Thus, the heroine, as well as the hero, obtains the mystical feminine energy that offers endless emotion, sympathy, nature, magic, insight, and perception,” as the first book on the heroine’s journey in myth and legend explains (Frankel, Girl to Goddess 23). These wise guides appear to Clary in the third book, as Luke, Simon, and Jace show her how to defeat evil with the power of her runes.

Simon, of course, is all passion without stopping to think. He lusts after Isabelle, snaps at Jace, and gets transformed into a rat because he wants to participate during Magnus’s party. The adventure in the vampires’ house nearly destroys them all. Still, when Simon is transformed into a rat, he acts as Clary’s perceptive animal companion, scouting exits and warning her that dawn is coming.

Several times, Clary is menaced by werewolves, which it turns out have all been sent by Luke. Though he protects her with violence and action, much as Jace does, his rejecting her early in the book has damaged their paternal relationship – he is not seen giving her much fatherly advice. In the first book, both are stuck in the early stages – Luke’s wisdom is seen more in the third book.

At the same time, Clary meets the Silent Brothers, described as being warriors of the mind rather than the body. They’re the ones who aid Clary with their advice and lead her to find her lost memories. Magnus Bane does the same, offering her the Grey Book and runes of her Shadowhunter heritage.

In the second book, Simon is transformed into a vampire because he follows his impulses and destructive jealousy. Jace likewise has become a destructive force for Clary, offering only a forbidden, confusing love. Both boys are eager to rush into battle, but less helpful when they should show restraint. Jace’s passion is his undoing – a fear demon nearly destroys him and the Fairy Queen makes him kiss Clary to upset him. However, he asks Clary for a Fearless rune, as he’s determined to master his weaknesses and become a figure of strength in the coming war. As he strengthens, Clary does likewise.

By the next book, Jace has become a model of order and law, only holding Clary’s hand as they lie together for the single night he requests. He decides to track down Sebastian and offer his life for a chance to kill him and Valentine. However, Jace is too emotional to defeat his father, when he shows up, full of sorrow at his brother’s death. Similarly, Luke’s life is all about restraint – he loves Jocelyn but can’t bear to tell her. All his life is about keeping secrets. In book three, however, Luke becomes Clary’s guide into the world of Idris. Luke takes his place on the Council as the lone voice of wisdom and Clary’s representative to the Clave, standing on the podium and dictating to them all. However, his inflexibility leads him to walk away from Jocelyn and nearly give her up. Luke as he insists on forming an alliance between Shadowhunters and Downworlders, Jace as he tracks Sebastian, and Simon who understands how to defeat Raphael, all learn wisdom in the course of the first trilogy and finally defeat their enemies.

Valentine and Sebastian are the crafty masterminds of the story and stronger adversaries than untrained Clary can defeat. Valentine, like the queen of the Seelie Court is “cool, menacing, calculating” (Ashes 256). He’s the patriarchy, determined to rule the world as the force of pitiless rigidity. While both may begin as incarnations of violence (Valentine leads the Circle in an uprising sixteen years in the past; Sebastian murders Max), they grow beyond this stage into master liars and manipulators. Valentine’s lie that Jace is his biological son haunts Clary and Jace’s relationship for most of two books. Sebastian deceives Jace so well that Jace believes they’re allies and best friends in the fifth book, just as he misleads them all when he first appears. Clary and Jace will need to learn true wisdom and perception, not to mention their own power of deception, in order to win against them.

At the climax of City of Glass, Clary risks her life portaling to the lake to warn the other Shadowhunters there’s a threat. She half-drowns, just like at the book’s beginning, only to discover Valentine has saved her. If Luke represents benevolent rationality, Valentine is the evil: inflexible obstruction and even madness. Clary reflects that he has “lost the ability to distinguish between force and cooperation, between fear and willingness, between love and torture” (Glass 482). He’s an evil Jonathan Shadowhunter, the second to summon Raziel to make a new Shadowhunter race. And he’s killed when Raziel administers the “Justice of Heaven” (Glass 495). The evil force of patriarchy and cruel order is killed by a greater force of order than himself, thanks to the wisdom and perception Clary uses for her final trick against him. In fact, only Clary can defeat him, not through force of arms but through her own cleverness. With intuition, faith, and love, all inspired by her friends, Clary finds the power to fight back silently, subtly. The patriarch, determined to seize total power considers her weak and helpless – very well, she will use that helplessness to defeat him.

 

The Feminine Sphere

Clary is surrounded by feminine role models, though she spends more time with masculine ones.

Toni Wolff, longtime mistress of Carl Jung, described four main feminine archetypes: Mother, Hetaera, Amazon, and Medial Woman. The Amazon is a virginal warrior-girl like Artemis or Katniss. This is Isabelle’s role in the story. (Though Isabelle, like Artemis, has occasional relationships, she remains single and fiercely independent). Jocelyn of course is the nurturing, kindly and absent mother who can no longer shelter Clary.

The Hetaera (a sacred bride of ancient times) discovers her inner sensuality by relating

to her consort. She is his lover or soulmate, inspiration or goddess figure, or on the dark side, femme fatale. She thinks in terms of her companion, just as the mother relates first to her child. Clary has few examples of this, but as she watches Jocelyn examine her past with Valentine and her future with Luke, she decides what she wants with Jace.

The Medial Woman is the most enigmatic of these figures. She is the seer, sage, prophetess, witch, or sorceress. “She is both a puzzle to herself and a mystery to those she encounters. In contrast to the other types, her primary relationship is to the other, the unknown, to God or gods” (Molton and Sikes 225). Thus, her shadow or negative side is in service to the demons. Madame Dorothea, who doesn’t realize a demon has taken her over, is the perfect embodiment of this archetype. Clary seeks out Madame Dorothea for guidance, but Dorothea is a false guide. She is a conduit between the real world and that of dreams and the deep unconscious – it’s no accident that Clary takes the feminine cup from her house.

“A woman’s self-nurture includes an invitation for her to explore and integrate all four of the types into her awareness and understanding, one by one, over time” (Molton and Sikes 295). If she integrates all four types into her personality, she can use them as tools at need. Thus the Divine Child Clary is not clearly any of these types, but she tries each on at various moments as she decides who she wants to become. Mystic Clary receives visions from angels and scribes runes, Mother Clary offers to take Max shopping and cradles Simon as he lies dying. She is Hetaera Clary around Jace and Amazon Clary around the demons. The Shadow, in Jung’s psychology, is “aspects of oneself which are considered by the ego to be undesirable or not useful and are therefore relegated to the dark” (Estés 85). However, the heroine will need to explore these aspects to understand the emotions she refuses to confront in herself.

Clary lacks a wise female mentor or a romantic role model who’s happily in love – Isabelle the Amazon and Jocelyn the Good Mother are only half the archetypes. However, by looking deep within, and listening to the wisdom of Jace, Magnus, Simon, and Luke, Clary manages to become a lover and mystic by the end of the trilogy, saving Jace and the world together with heart and spirit combined. By the third book, and especially the second trilogy, she becomes a nurturer for Simon, a lover for Jace, an amazon warrior who can battle Sebastian, and a seer who dreams with the angels.

 

The Double

The Double is a same-sex friend or companion. Like Frodo and Sam or Don Quixote and Sancho, this is a partner with opposite knowledge and abilities. This double can unlock the creative process and inspire the hero to great heights.

The negative side of the partner is the competitor. Jessamine and Tessa or Clary and Isabelle spend time as both friends and enemies. When they are on the same team, their contrasting skills and outlooks prove an invaluable partnership. When they argue, the Double’s cruelty can spur the heroine to make daring choices and grow from the experience. “The competitor presents a challenge to overcome and thus provides an image of oneself to grow into” (M. Walker 51).

Isabelle is the story’s Amazon, for whom “relationship with a man is through a role of being competitor or that of a comrade and rival who makes no personal demands” (Molton and Sikes 208). Isabelle has only platonic relationships with the boys of the story until the final pages of the third book, when she grows closer to Simon. She is a model for Clary of strength and independence but also their dark side: the Shadow Amazon may spend all her time trying to prove her toughness and superiority but is in fact insecure and displays anger and over-competitiveness. “Socially she can become a social hyena, and at home a jealous fury. She takes little time for a social life. Her relationships are mostly impersonal” (Molton and Sikes 189).

Isabelle goes to Magnus’s party dressed all in silver “like a moon goddess” (Bones 208). To Clary, she’s all Clary isn’t – she’s taller and dresses older and much cooler and more elegantly. Isabelle uses her beauty “like a whip,” while Clary doesn’t know she’s beautiful (Bones 324). Isabelle always makes Clary feel scruffy – wearing Isabelle’s clothes, at the Institute, Clary feels her shortness and lack of cleavage more than ever. In Lost Souls, Clary wishes she were like Isabelle, “so aware of your own feminine power you could wield it as a weapon” (244). “The double often appears with an aura of beauty, youth, and perfection or near-perfection” (M. Walker 49). She’s all the heroine aspires to be, and thus a spur for growth and change.

Isabelle’s room is black with gold and hot pink. Inside, the tables are covered in makeup bottles, vanilla perfume, glitter, and sequins. Filled with beautiful clothes and weapons, it reflects Isabelle – and all Clary isn’t. Her room is orange, a cheerful, androgynous color. Clary usually wears braids, jeans, and plain shirts, while Isabelle wears sexy, dangerous black, white, red, and silver – goddess colors. Above it all shines her red pendent, like a fierce heart.

The ruby at Isabelle’s throat pulses “like the beat of a distant heart” and warns her of danger (Fallen Angels 342). If the heroine has talismans of perception that make her stronger, Isabelle has already completed that journey. When bestowing the necklace on Isabelle’s ancestress, Will says, “It will help keep you safe which is how I want you, and help you be a warrior, which is what you want” (Clockwork Princess 252). When her mother or grandmother passed it on, she offered it to Isabelle with similar sentiments. Its inscription reads, “True love cannot die,” offering another stage for both Isabelle and Clary to reach in time.

However, as Clary puts on Isabelle’s borrowed dress, she takes steps toward becoming a Shadowhunter, dark, powerful, and dangerous. Isabelle dresses Clary in a black spaghetti strap dress with fishnets and boots so that Clary looks “fairly badass” (Bones 210). She even offers Clary a thigh sheath. Isabelle puts Clary’s hair up in an elegant swirl, and Clary finds herself remembering her romantic dream of dancing with Jace and Simon at an Idris ball. Under Isabelle’s ministrations, Clary is suddenly grown up and alluring.

             

Feminine Magic

In the first book, she follows receiving Magnus’s book with questing for and finding her mother’s Mortal Cup. “Raziel’s Cup, in which he mixed the blood of the angels and the blood of men and gave of this mixture to a man to drink and created the first Shadowhunter” is a grail of sorts (Bones 346). As Cassandra Clare comments:

The Cup draws from all sorts of Cup legends – the Grail legend, for one, though it’s not meant to be the Grail. It also draws from the imagery of the Tarot card class of Cups. The Cup is also a symbol of faith, and Shadowhunters are all about faith. (“Interview: Cassandra Clare”)

Grail symbolism goes back for millennia: The top of the chalice is open to spiritual matters, the bottom is grounded in earth (Cirlot 43).

This cup has been hidden in Clary’s mother’s craft, her painted tarot cards. “Jocelyn clearly wanted only one person to be able to find the Cup, and that is Clary, and Clary alone” (Bones 329). The grail symbolizes the quest and is a source of illumination. Losing the grail is like losing one’s inner ties (Cirlot 121). The cup is also a feminine symbol – it’s no accident that Clary is the one to draw it from the Tarot deck where her mother hid it. The feminine is generally hidden in stories: Arthur has Excalibur but must quest across the world for the grail’s elusive power.

The cup, as a universal symbol of the mother-element, water, reflects the womb-vessel, and later, the chalice of resurrection, “the female-symbolic bowl of life-giving blood.” As for its feminine characteristics, the Grail dispenses both material food and spiritual solace. It preserves youth and maintains life. It heals knights wounded in battle. It radiates light and a sweet fragrance; it rejoices the troubled heart. In all these ways it is a source of solace and spirituality, elevating man above the animal and toward the divine. It is the guiding symbol, the anima, for which man quests. (Frankel, Girl to Goddess 58).

In this series, the cup gives birth to Shadowhunters, though Sebastian and Lilith seek to corrupt it and create a race of demonic Shadowhunters through evil birth magic in the second trilogy.

However, Clary must discover that her mother had the Cup’s power all along, as has Clary – it’s been waiting in her house all this time, like the ruby slippers on Dorothy’s feet, waiting for the heroine to call it forth. “Men may quest for the grail, but each woman already bears the feminine deep within, and only needs evoke it” (Frankel, Girl to Goddess 58). Drawing it from the tarot deck indicates Clary is claiming her feminine strength.

The Ace of Cups or “love card” has a rayed sun. Madame Dorothea warns her that love can be terrible and powerful. The suns and rubies decorating the golden cup represent the heroic principle – the heir inheriting the throne. As Clary claims the card, she is taking on her role as Shadowhunter and Chosen One. The sun represents courage, passion, and creative energy, all traits Clary is known for. In tarot, on the positive side, it means glory, spirituality, and illumination, all gifts Clary needs to beat Valentine. On the negative side it is vanity and unrealistic idealism (Cirlot 317-320). These latter traits show up as the teens are overconfident when fighting the demon in Dorothea and Alec is severely wounded.

 

Facing Death

In the first book, Clary follows Jace to Valentine’s stronghold on Roosevelt Island. This ancient Shadowhunter fortress bears the Circle’s symbol on the floors – it is Valentine’s stronghold. In many tales, the heroine ventures from her place of power, like the Little Mermaid’s magical ocean, into the patriarchal castle where she is powerless. As Clary explores, the very building oppresses her. The weapons won’t pull free of the walls, and the rooms are thick with dark shadows and the screams of the forsaken. Worst of all, her mother is chained to a bed helpless and unconscious.

This withdrawal and magical sleep is a time for the woman to adjust to new roles and new situations. “Women and artists know instinctively that there are times in life where we must be unreachable, times when we must insist that those around us, especially those nearest and dearest, remain at a distance if anything significant is to develop inside us,” explains Joan Gould, author of the fairytale analysis Spinning Straw into Gold. (98).

Clary falls asleep or faints several significant times in the series, the first being when she is poisoned and awakes three days later in the Institute. Literally overnight, she has become a Shadowhunter. Metaphorically, she needs time to absorb this change, this entry into a new world, thus the sleep state. Sleeping Beauty and Snow White have similar withdrawals during their own stories. Jocelyn enters the coma herself as a defense mechanism. She awakens to find her own world has changed – Clary is a Shadowhunter and Jocelyn must return to Idris and face the path she thought she’d left forever.

Spiritual gifts are just as important as the physical. Clary’s greatest runes are created in moments of love and classically feminine emotion. At the second book’s climax, the world falls away and she pours all her power, love, and hope, and rage into an Opening rune. Her pure love and desperation tear apart the patriarchal stronghold of Valentine’s ship with all his demons in it. They fall into the purifying feminine ocean, with magical Nixies waiting to save them all (as Jace has called the feminine powers of the cavalry to the rescue). As she falls into the dark ocean in a near-death, she sees a nixie come for her and imagines it is her mother, source of protective feminine power. “Water evokes the deep feminine, interconnectivity and flexibility. It offers a chance to let go, to let intuition and nature buoy the woman forward” (Frankel, Girl to Goddess 63). Before the Council in the third book, Clary feels intimidated. However, she gazes out at Simon and thinks of Jace. Knowing their love and faith in her, she draws a new rune. She creates an illusion of everyone’s loved one – she feels love so she can create it in turn.

Clary’s journey to Jace’s childhood home is a different kind of descent. It is another of Valentine’s strongholds, but this one is hidden underground, the place of initiation. Further, the angel waiting below is the source of Clary’s feminine magic – dreams, prophetic visions, and runes. This place stands on the threshold, blending science and magic, Valentine’s cruel experiments with the inexplicable miracle of a true angel. Clary and Jace together free the angel and decipher its message, returning to the world above with a new understanding.

At the climax of the third book, Clary risks her life to save Jace and stop Valentine. However, Valentine is too powerful for her: Clary is incapacitated and robbed of her voice when Jace arrives, confronts Valentine, and dies. The silenced heroine is common in myths and fairytales, from the story of Echo to The Six Swans and more:

Fairytales show silent, virtuous maids like Cinderella and the little mermaid, who never complain of their vicious treatment, and even more silent, virtuous but dead mothers. Contrasted with this are the vocal witches and stepmothers giving orders. (Frankel, From Girl to Goddess 22)

This theme is found throughout the world, from sleeping princesses to gagged and enchanted questing girls. Disturbingly, this best reflects the real status of women through history: illiterate and confined to cleaning and childbearing. Valentine binds and silences his daughter, then dismisses her as a helpless sacrifice who can do nothing to stop him. The rune Clary carves is tiny, unlike the great binding rune or Mark of Cain. At the height of Valentine’s master plan, he is defeated by his neglected, bound, ignored daughter, who scribbles a single word. This too is the heroine’s journey, often the path of silently knitting coats of nettles or keeping faith for seven years to rescue loved ones and bring an end to evil.

Clary comes to understand Valentine, and even sympathizes a bit with the man who honestly mourns Jace as she does. By watching him, Clary understands how to defeat him with his own runes when he won’t look for a quiet act of desperation. Valentine’s misogyny has made him dismiss her as a threat, just as he once dismissed a pregnant, despairing Jocelyn. This narrow thinking proves his downfall. Further, she makes a wiser choice than he does when Raziel offers her a boon: Valentine chose death, she chooses life.

Like Clary’s other great moments, this one springs from emotion. Jace’s death gives her the clue she needs, for, as she reflects, “there was so much power in a name (Glass 489). As with the rune she draws for the Council, she thinks of Jace and realizes he’d be disappointed if she stopped fighting. When the Angel Raziel offers her anything in the world, Clary once more relies on love and asks for the only person she truly wants: Jace. Her love brings him back to life in one of the heroine’s classic quests. She’s succeeding with the “deep magic” of Narnia or the brave desperation of Katniss and her berries – the older, quieter wisdom the powerful tyrant has discounted.

She ends the trilogy strong enough in herself to face down the all-powerful matriarch, the fairy queen, and refuse her offer of a favor. Further, Simon points out Clary’s strong enough to defend herself with a variety of weapons. By defeating Valentine the Patriarch, Clary can usher in a better world with peace between Downworlders and Shadowhunters. With the lessons she’s learned, she demands that her mother marry Luke and treasure the love in her life, just as Clary has brought Jace back from the dead.

 

Lilith Rises

Changed by her adventure, the heroine realizes that her father is not the omnipotent god in whom she had once completely believed. She has her own power now and her own success. In this moment, the heroine realizes that she need not depend on her father, or men at all, to rescue and protect her. She is the heroine, equally as valid as the hero.

Often, this encounter takes place in the middle of the epic quest, before descending into the final conflict with the witch. Though a resting place, it is also a revelation. By returning home, the heroine can see how far she has evolved. Beauty visits her family and chooses between magic and the mundane. Dorothy returns to the Wizard but discovers him a humbug. Cinderella returns from the magical world of the ball. Now she must cater to her stepsisters and pretend that she is the same person. Her night of glamour is over. Yet, she finds that the status quo no longer fits her, if indeed, it ever did. She is a different person more suited to the prince’s world than her own. (Frankel, Girl to Goddess 104).

The two trilogies fit together as the two halves of Clary’s heroine’s journey – on the first, she faces the patriarch, Valentine. Her second, deadlier adversary will be the Dark Mother, Lilith. The first trilogy is about beating Valentine and the patriarchal Council, both too rigid with their desire for order. The second trilogy is more concerned with the spirituality of Clary’s power as she quests to become lover and mystic, the one who can stand by Jace through the darkest of evils and harness the angels’ power.

However, her first adventure has taught her a great deal. She begins the second trilogy having fully integrated into Jace’s world of the supernatural. She trains in fighting and is fully committed to her new boyfriend. Isabelle and Jocelyn have integrated the lover archetype into themselves, reflecting Clary’s happiness with Jace. Magnus and Alec are equally blissful. All is well in the Shadowhunters’ world.

The second series reflects a shift from male power to female: Robert Lightwood abandons his family. Magnus and Alec quarrel constantly, and Magnus finally leaves the cause. The Council drifts, uncertain how to rule in this new world. Luke is wounded critically, as Jocelyn was in the previous trilogy. Simon loses his godlike power. Jace is possessed and kidnapped.

By contrast, Isabelle is gaining confidence. When Clary loses Jace, Isabelle, her strong female side, grows even stronger and becomes “her staunchest defender” (Lost Souls 12). Isabelle marches her protectively past the glaring Shadowhunters and accompanies her to bargain with the treacherous fairy queen. This time, Clary must confront her without Jace’s clever tongue. When Jace is taken from her, Clary turns all her energy toward getting him back. However, with Isabelle and the fairy queen as allies, she’s coming from a stronger position, with her feminine energies marshaled. Clary also begins wearing the fairy queen’s silver bell rather than Jace’s ring around her neck. She’s seeking feminine power without her boyfriend. Camille replaces the weaker Raphael as another selfish yet strong female, glowing with power. Maia takes a larger role. Clary herself has been trained in battling demons, and she becomes strong enough for a physical battle with Sebastian.

However, Clary struggles with her rune powers because she hasn’t yet explored her dark side, only the lighter side of her nature that mastered physical power over Valentine’s ship, Valentine’s summoning circle, and the hierarchical Clave. Clary has not delved into the mystical feminine side of her abilities. In City of Fallen Angels, she finally tries. However, her first foray into the dark side terrifies her: She revives a Shadowhunter from the dead and is horrified at his agony. Luke warns her that she needs to train and not only use her power for big moments: He comments, “Think of Magnus: His power is a part of him. You seem to think of yours as separate from you. Something that happens to you. It’s not. It’s a tool you need to learn to use” (Fallen Angels 137).

This is good advice modern psychologists would agree with: Clarissa Pinkola Estés, author of Women Who Run with the Wolves explains, “We find that by opening the door to the shadow realm a little, and letting out various elements a few at a time, relating to them, finding use for them, negotiating, we can reduce being surprised by shadow sneak attacks and unexpected explosions” (236). The Shadow is all one’s buried or rejected impulses – rage, selfishness, misbehavior. However, a Shadow is also a force of strength and motivator for growth – it has positive qualities to teach the too polite, too-repressed Chosen One. But Clary has only begun exploring this side of herself. To understand her dark side, Clary will need to face the Dark Mother.

Lilith is the powerful mother to the reborn Jonathan, and to the race of dark Shadowhunters that follow. As she shows in City of Fallen Angels, she will do anything, even kill, to protect her unnatural child. This is a lesson that Clary, future mother to Shadowhunter children, must learn. Her mother cannot teach her the lesson. Estés says that to defend her unnatural child, the mother needs fierce qualities such as fearlessness, vehemence, and fearsomeness (176). Jocelyn, however loving, backed away from raising a Shadowhunter child and instead robbed Clary of her powers, forcing her to grow up “normal” in the mundane world. To learn how to fight and kill to protect her dangerous, powerful future child, to keep her child safe to the exclusion of everything, Clary must learn from Lilith.

She is the strong shadow of femininity, all Clary isn’t. She tells Jace: “I am not a man. I have no male pride for you to trick me with, and I am not interested in single combat. That is merely a weakness of your sex, not mine. I am a woman. I will use any weapon and all weapons to get what I want” (Fallen Angels 371). Ironically, this is the lesson Jace has tried to teach Clary in combat: to be ruthless, pitiless, clever and determined.

Lilith plots to resurrect Sebastian, keeping him in a glass coffin like Snow White’s. She adds, “As Jonathan Shadowhunter led the first Nephilim, so shall this Jonathan lead the new race that I intend to create” (Fallen Angels 331). Clary may think she has nothing in common with this dark mother, but Lilith reveals the truth: Clary’s reviving Jace has let Lilith revive Sebastian: “Thinking you could be the only people in the world who could have their dead loved one back, and that there would be no consequences. That is what you thought, isn’t it, both of you? Fools” (Fallen Angels 385). Clary and Jace have been living in a world in which their love only affects them, but it matters to their families, as the next book will reveal. Clary has played with the power of death, not merely life, and she didn’t understand the gravity of the consequences. Now she is learning them, directly from the dark goddess of the series. Being able to speak with the dead and conjure angels is useless until she can harness her power and understand how to control it.

Clary is dragged into Lilith’s temple in City of Fallen Angels. The words on her altar reference Proverbs from the Bible, describing the woman who forsakes God, as Lilith has:

For her house inclineth unto death, and her paths unto the dead. None that go unto her return again, neither take they hold of the paths of life. (Proverbs 2:18-19)

Inside, all is the dark reversal of the Shadowhunters’ blessed Institute: Clary reads an evil book of runes and is revolted. She also takes an athame, a sacrificial knife used to summon demons as it’s described, and marks it into a Shadowhunter blade, turning Lilith’s dark magic into a source of light.

Lilith’s temple is a place of terror, with dead and dying perversions of childbirth all around. This stronghold is the dark side of love: obsession, torture, singlemindedness. However, facing this is a part of growing up: Clary, Isabelle, and Maia all must accept that there’s no ideal, perfect love – that their boyfriends can sin and even do unforgiveable acts. All three enter Lilith’s temple to save their loved ones and discover that they can indeed forgive their men. The innermost cave is a place of total truth with all illusions burned away. By accepting this lesson, all these couples can grow and find a real love, accepting the other person’s all-too-human flaws. Clary uses trickery and love once more to write on Jace with his father’s dagger and Lilith’s rune on his heart. Her rune power and force of love save her, along with cleverness – Simon, Clary’s creation and appointed warrior, also uses all three to destroy Lilith.

 

Jace as Destroyer

In the new trilogy, Jace and Clary are finally allowed to be together. In fact, he becomes her occasional weapons tutor and Shadowhunter partner as well as boyfriend. Clary decides that they are soulmates, eternally, perfectly in love. She gives up her mundane world for his, and might even have given up her mother if the laws weren’t in chaos. They spend training sessions making out, and Clary neglects her friends to stare moonily at her boyfriend. He’s taking over her entire world, so much that the old her is in danger of vanishing. The journey involves finding balance between the daylight world and the magical world that represents the subconscious. However, Clary is giving up on all aspects of her former life to spend her days with Shadowhunters. She’s acting like Twilight’s Bella Swan, who offers to give up parents, Jacob’s friendship, college, children, her soul, and her sanity just to be with Edward.

Jocelyn points out that the universe has thrown so many obstacles at their love, from the brother-sister relationship to Jace’s possession that “the two of you are not meant to be together” (Lost Souls 122). The strong feminine voice in Clary’s life, missing from the first trilogy, has returned, and is trying to protect Clary from being completely subsumed in the new relationship. “You love him so much. It scares me,” she worries, voicing the defensive fears inside Clary herself (Fallen Angels 288). Clary hasn’t yet found her identity – she’s hiding from her rune powers and hasn’t decided who she wants to be, aside from Jace’s perfect girlfriend and Shadowhunter partner. As such, the new her could easily become lost.

“There isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for Jace,” Clary insists (Lost Souls 142). Simon must point out how destructive this philosophy is: He would do almost anything for Clary. But he wouldn’t kill innocents or destroy the world. Evil Jace might ask her to do all that and more. In fact, that is what Jace asks, and Clary must make her choice. Describing Jace’s possession, the author adds:

Jace is in this place where he needs to be saved. But he’s not really Jace anymore. So the question is, how much would you do for love? And what if you have to do an immoral thing for a moral reason because you love someone so much? At what point do you have to stop trying to save this person because it’s bad for the world in general, even if you love them very much. That’s the central tension that kind of rips up the characters in Lost Souls. The group that wants to save him more than anything else, and the group that is willing to sacrifice him for the greater good. (Brissey, “Cassandra Clare talks ‘Clockwork Prince’”)

“When a woman is attempting to avoid the facts of her own devastations, her night dreams will shout warnings to her” such as “flee,” or even “go for the kill,” explains Estés (54).

Clary struggles to commit to Jace completely. Their brother-sister barrier is gone. However, when she considers making love with Jace, he takes the Herondale knife and stabs her with it. These are Jace’s nightmares, but they are directed by the dark feminine presence of the story. If all characters are aspects of Clary, Lilith is the cruel Shadow but also Clary’s fierceness, determined to stop Jace from taking her over. The dreams she sends reveal Jace as a killer who could tear Clary to pieces. In the next book, his predatory side is even more pronounced, as he tries to make her drink a demon’s blood “for her own good.” Evil Jace is the Predator without disguise or apology.

Later, he asks to put a binding rune on her, but it ends up being a rune of coercion: ‘Something darker that spoke of control and submission, of loss and darkness” (Fallen Angels 305). All this is the dark side of love, and it frightens her. Clary swoons like Sleeping Beauty confronted with the spindle’s prick (a metaphor for sex, as the rune of total commitment is). The powerful feminine inside Clary is raging against her giving up her identity completely. Once again, Jace is revealed as the Predator, his rune selfish and coercive. With Lilith’s mark on him, Jace becomes a stranger. “Like a recording of him, she thought, all the tones and patterns of his voice there, but the life that animated it gone” (Fallen Angels 336). “Now the naive self has knowledge about a killing force loose within the psyche,” Estés explains (55).

Clearly, Simon was right to warn her that she needs to reprioritize. “Today, it is generally understood that the romantic and spiritual man-god – the male ideal worthy of a woman’s self-sacrifice and worship, for whom she is expected to set aside herself and her life – simply does not exist” (Pearson and Pope 35). This is the lesson Clary must learn – that overpowering love is wonderful, but she cannot sacrifice the world for Jace. Only if she sees him as an equal partner, not her golden angel, can they have a real relationship.

 

Blurred Morality

In City of Lost Souls, Clary comes to realize the world isn’t as black and white as she’d envisioned. With Jace in danger, she would break any rule, betray any loyalty to get him back.

First, she bargains with the fairy queen and steals magic rings from the Institute. After, she keeps the rings for herself. In Venice she happily steals a gondola with Jace and tries fairy drugs. This is Clary dipping into her Shadow, just to try it out. It’s more delightful than she’d expected to ignore her mother’s chiding and her own knowledge of consequences.

Jace, flirting with her, urges her to abandon all control. She sees that Jace has given up his principles and only lives for the moment now – and is happier without ethics. This makes her question her own rules. Together they kill a demon and steal its possessions, and for the first time she feels the rush and joy of fighting. The silvery adamas they had bargained for is darkened as she is, its pure angelic silver marred by her blood. She puts on the dress Sebastian brings her – black lace and beads. In it, her eyes are smudged with “dark shadow” and she has “a certain toughness” (Lost Souls 300). She remembers wearing Isabelle’s dress in book one and taking her first steps into the demon world as she enters an even darker realm this time.

Jace guides her into the Bone Chandelier and references the quote “Easy is the decent into hell.” There, a black-winged angel drips strings of garnets like blood. The gruesome bone chandelier dominates, sprinkling the room with silvery fairy drugs. Under its light, Clary gives in to temptation. She makes out with Jace and drinks the drugs, discarding her good girl role.

When Clary turns into her own evil twin, dressing provocatively and slipping into a demon party (as she did in City of Bones), she’s allowing her Shadow to take over – all the impulses she’s always buried, all the sexy, provocative, bad girl impulses she never allows to surface. With the catalyst of various Shadows – Sebastian and Isabelle, who both offer her sexy dresses, Clary feels her unacknowledged, unexplored bad girl side pushing through. And she revels in it. Campbell describes facing this Shadow as “destruction of the world that we have built and in which we live, and of ourselves within it; but then a wonderful reconstruction, of the bolder, cleaner, more spacious, and fully human life” (8). Allowing the Shadow out, learning its lessons and acknowledging its place in the day to day world is the process of being human.

In Lost Souls, Jace must contend with his Shadow of evil Jace: Clary must contend with Sebastian. He tells her that he needs Jace “But in his heart he’s not like me. You are” (Lost Souls 358). Sebastian even holds up hands like Jocelyn’s and talks about painting. In fact, he represents her buried side: all the seething emotions, power, and desire to lash out people keep hidden under their skins. Sebastian tells her unpleasant truths, pointing out that Jocelyn isn’t as wonderful as Clary always thought: She betrayed her husband, lied for months, and arranged the slaughter of all their friends. “She stole your memories. Have you forgiven her?” he adds, like the angry voice deep inside Clary (Lost Souls 358). He points out Clary too has the potential for evil – she killed their father and doesn’t mourn what she’s done.

As she tries on his lifestyle like the black dress, she finds herself seeing Sebastian’s side, acting on the dark voice that whispers within her. Under the drugs’ influence, she finds herself liking Sebastian. She’s become her own evil twin there in the club, as she thinks of him as her brother and can’t recall why she should fear him. Side by side, they gaze into a pool, and Sebastian tells her how much they share. “You have a dark heart in you, Valentine’s daughter…You just won’t admit it” (Lost Souls 316).

In one of her posted deleted scenes, Clare shows Sebastian’s thought process.

Clarissa was Father’s real daughter too, and who knew what strange brew the combination of Father’s blood and Heaven’s power had formed to run through Clarissa’s veins? She might not be very different from himself.

Jonathan dreamed of a girl standing in the sea with hair like scarlet smoke coiling over her shoulders, winding and unwinding in the untameable wind. Everything was stormy darkness, and in the raging sea were pieces of wreckage that had once been a boat and bodies floating facedown. She looked down on them with cool green eyes and was not afraid.

Clarissa had done that – wreaked destruction like he would have. In the dream, he was proud of her. His little sister. (“City of Glass: A Dark Transformation.”)

He shares her prophetic dreams and also her longing for someone like him, someone who will understand his unique powers. On some level, he respects her and cares for her as Valentine does not.

Talking with Sebastian, Clary comes to realize he isn’t all evil either – he genuinely likes her and Jace, and wants them to be a family. He tells her, “You can’t go back. You’ve already thrown your lot in with Jace. You might as well do it wholeheartedly” (Lost Souls 257). Fighting beside him, she discovers the high of battle, and it makes her feel invincible. “Amazing that it had taken fighting alongside Sebastian of all people to flip the switch inside her that seemed to turn her Shadowhunter instincts on” (Lost Souls 298). By abandoning her good self, she’s embraced the fighter side of her heritage. The gold ring of responsibility, link to her mission and family back home, is her only tether.

After she parties all night, tries fairy drugs, and nearly gives in to Jace, her ring vanishes. Like Bluebeard’s wife, she’s done the forbidden and so been stained with its consequences: she can no longer reach her friends. Of course, cut off from them, she must choose for herself and find a way to save the world without outside help.

By trying to beat Sebastian, Clary must become him, resorting to dirty tricks she would never use under ordinary circumstances. However, pretending to be their ally is bringing her closer to their side. “You’re everything like me,” he hisses. “You infiltrated us. You faked friendship, faked caring” (Lost Souls 446). In the end, Clary realizes she’s come to understand Sebastian, an invaluable skill for their next encounter.

Though she is more comfortable with her dark side, Clary is still a warrior of the light, In the battle, Simon gives her the sword “and in that moment, she was no longer Clary, his friend since childhood, but a Shadowhunter, an avenging angel who belonged with that sword in her hand” (Lost Souls 485-486). The sword, named Glorious, was once given by the Archangel Michael to lead God’s chosen in battle. Clary accepts the sword to do just that.

Clary stabs Jace and Sebastian, and far off, the evil side of herself that has been allowed to whisper to her, screams in agony. It’s over. Clary has another near death as she crumples, feeling like she’s burning alive alongside Jace.

Looking at Jace, Clary realizes his evil Jace persona doesn’t love her, only an idealized picture of her. For fairytale heroines, the test is often to withstand pity – if the heroine turns from the path at every cry for help, she will never reach her goal. Clary’s task is to destroy the Predator taking over her life and ignore the maternal impulse that urges her to spare her lover pain. For Evil Jace to be broken apart and Good Jace to return, Clary must be ruthless. She summons the cruel, expedient side she’s learned from Sebastian, the side that would sacrifice a loved one to win a larger goal. With it, Clary stabs Jace with Glorious, burning away the false images and blurry glass through which each has been seeing the other.

Jace is broken down with the sword and burned by heavenly fire until the evil shatters. After he returns to life, he and Clary begin a more balanced relationship. They discuss their priorities and agree to trust each other in the future. There will be further trials as Clary explores her darker nature and faces death, together with the world’s end, one last time, but she and Jace will approach the quest from a more honest and united place.

 

City of Heavenly Fire

Once more, the women grow ascendant as Tessa and Emma’s stories blend with the main narrative. Maia takes over Luke’s pack and controlled, expedient Rafael and maddened Maureen are replaces by a cleverer vampire, Lily. By book’s end, Meliorn is no longer the fairies representative, and a woman has taken his place. Jia, leader of the Shadowhunters, is cold but fair. Tessa fills Idris with weapons from the Spiral Labyrinth that can block the fairies’ advances, swaddling the city in her protection. All the Shadowhunters team up to defend it, even the children within the Citadel. The Iron Sisters emerge from their Citadel to defend Jace because of the heavenly fire within him and chase off Sebastian himself.

Further, their battle against Sebastian and the demon realm cannot be won by force of arms. Even Jace’s heavenly fire cannot best the other in a straightforward attack, and Jace, impulse and passion, lacks the knowledge of how to wield it. In the demonic realm of Edom, Sebastian taunts him with an image of guilt and Jace lashes out, almost destroying himself with the fire. It is Clary who scrawls protective runes on herself and walks directly into the flames, guiding his fire safely into her own sword, which only lights up at its true bearer, herself.

Along with the fairy rings and her drawing magic, Clary gains a sword at last, generally a masculine icon. Sword seller Diana Wrayburn (destined to be Emma’s trainer in the next series) offers her one of gold and obsidian with a blade of black silver. It’s a match to Sebastian’s light-bringer sword Phaesphoros. Hers is Heosphoros, dawn-bringer. The dawn of course symbolizes hope along with youth and newness—an end to the darkness that’s lingered for so long. Diana tells her, “If you flinch from it, you give it power over you…Take it, and cut your brother’s throat with it, and take back the honor of your blood” (Heavenly Fire 147).

Later, Clary tells her mother, “I need to find a way to be partly a Morganstern and to have that be all right, not to pretend that I’m someone else” (Heavenly Fire 219). She’s seeking identity and owning the darkness within her. Sebastian comes to her and emphasizes that demons are only the flip side of angels – that both are chosen for greatness and that Clary has the capacity for both within her.

When Luke, her mother, Magnus, and Raphael are taken, she and her best friends – Jace, Simon, Alec, and Isabelle, travel to Edom to save them. It’s a dark reflection of Idris – the geography is the same, but it was taken over by demons long ago. There, Clary and Jace find romance by a lake, protected all around with silvery Shadowhunter runes – a moment of beauty and consummation before the battle to come.

In Sebastian’s stronghold, the darkest place of all, Clary opens a Portal so Jace can snatch and use Jonathan Shadowhunter’s weapon, the skeptron and destroy all the demons “like an avenging angel” (Heavenly Fire 557). However, Sebastian is hers to conquer. He offers to save her world, breaking the link between realms so he can no longer attack it, if she will rule by his side. “Ever since you discovered the Shadow World, haven’t you secretly wanted to be a hero? To be the most special of a special people? In out own way we each with to be the hero of our kind” (Heavenly Fire 589). He reminds her that this way she can save her own world yet have an excuse to embrace her own darkness. She agrees and when she kisses him to seal their bargain, she stabs him with her blade, containing heaven’s fire.

He dies slowly, purged of the demon’s blood and returning to the man who might have been her brother. He gives them the  Infernal Cup and Jace smashes it, destroying the Endarkened. Their world is saved. There are still trials and sacrifices as Clary and her friends make it home, as they discover the Shadowhunters want vengeance more than mercy and set up the conflicts that will follow. Nonetheless, the book ends with Jocelyn and Luke’s wedding at last, as they celebrate a return to life and hope with new chances for alliance and family.

 

If you enjoyed this, it’s a trimmed-down excerpt from the guide book Myths and Motifs of The Mortal Instruments, available in paperback, ebook, and Kindle Unlimited. http://www.amazon.com/Motifs-Instruments-Valerie-Estelle-Frankel-ebook/dp/B00ED8FCA8  Along with Clary’s journey, it traces Jace’s. Simon’s, and Tessa’s, plus lore of angels and demons and other background on Clare’s beloved books.

 

 

Works Cited

Bettelheim, Bruno. The Uses of Enchantment. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1977.

Brissey, Breia. “Cassandra Clare Talks ‘Clockwork Prince’ and Reveals What’s Next for her Infernal Devices, Mortal Instruments Series” EW.com’s Shelf Life 8 Dec. 2011. http://shelflife.ew.com/2011/12/08/cassandra-clare-clockwork-prince-infernal-devices.

Cashdan, Sheldon. The Witch Must Die. New York: Basic Books, 1999.

Cirlot, J. E. A Dictionary of Symbols. New York: Dover Publications, 2002.

Clare, Cassandra. City of Ashes. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2008.

–. City of Bones. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2007.

–. City of Fallen Angels. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2011.

–. City of Glass. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2009.

–. City of Heavenly Fire. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2014.

–. City of Lost Souls. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2012.

–. Clockwork Angel. USA: Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2010.

–. Clockwork Prince. USA: Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2011.

–. Clockwork Princess. USA: Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2013.

–. “Interview: Cassandra Clare.” The Reader’s Quill. 6 Nov 2008. http://www.readersquill.com/2008/11/interview-cassandra-clare.html.

Estés, Clarissa Pinkola. Women Who Run With the Wolves. New York: Ballantine Books, 1992.

Frankel, Valerie Estelle. Buffy and the Heroine’s Journey. Jefferson, NC: McFarland and Co., 2012.

–. From Girl to Goddess: The Heroine’s Journey through Myth and Legend. Jefferson, NC: McFarland and Co., 2010.

Molton, Mary Dian and Lucy Anne Sikes. Four Eternal Women: Toni Wolff Revisited – A Study in Opposites. Carmel, CA: Fisher King Press, 2011.

Pearson, Carol and Katherine Pope. The Female Hero in American and British Literature. New York: R.R. Bowker, 1981.

Walker, Mitchell. “The Double: Same-Sex Inner Helper.” Mirrors of the Self: Archetypal Images that Shape Your Life. Ed. Christine Downing. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1991. 48-52.

 

 

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I’m Back!

Okay, I realize I haven’t posted in quite some time…but I’ve been writing a book! I’ve been so busy writing, in fact, that I haven’t had time to write. Meanwhile, The Many Faces of Katniss Everdeen should be out this summer (though it may have a title change)! It explores the main character and her trilogy across many genres, analyzing Katniss as a dystopian heroine, a warrior woman, a leader in kid power, a child soldier, a character on the heroine’s journey, and so forth. It’s been fun to write, and I’ve been reading tons, from all the popular dystopias, to Collins’s Gregor the Overlander series, to other teen favorites, like Cassandra Clare. Piling on the steampunk novels and fairytale retellings too, so my list is getting quite long.  Many I’ll include lists of all these in the appendix of the book…

Had three conferences in November (National Women’s Studies Conference, ConVolution, LosCon). In December I’ve had a California Writer’s Club one-day workshop and the delightful Steampunk invasion of Dickens Fair. Also fighting off a nasty ailment which is really slowing me down.  So keeping busy as always. Trying to sell books on Game of Thrones, Avengers, and any number of other topics. Meanwhile, my next book after Katniss should be The Heroine’s Journey for Young Readers (almost certainly not the real title). It’s under contract with a small press, and writing’s in progress. I’d also love to finish the Steampunk novel and maybe the fantasy novel that have been cooking on my back burners for FAR too long.

All that said, I want to post lots more on pop culture up here, so The Hobbit film seemed like a good place to start. I’ll be writing that review next. Good to be back…

 

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Thoughts on Snow White and the Huntsman

The beginning of the movie begins with all the innocent of the kingdom sacrificing themselves to save Snow White–the maiden the queen drains, the white horse, the scarred women and girls in their village. Not only is the same scene played out over and over, but the number of innocents dying because of Snow White herself was getting disturbingly high.

The forest in most fairytales is the dark, shadowy frightening place, enemy of civilization. However, since civilization, power, and authority are the queen’s domain, Snow White must channel the wild, foreboding power of the forest. In fact, if the civilized world of law and order is the masculine sphere (as it is traditionally), Snow White is connecting with the wild, mysterious, unexplored feminine sphere of nature and its wild magic. When she meets the forest troll, who submits to her and departs, it’s clear that Snow White has power over the forest.

 

Like Voldemort, the queen snatchers the magic of people’s blood, trying to capture the love, innocence, and life their youth and beauty offers, but without understanding. The devourer of life, slayer of the innocent is the classic villainess on the heroine’s journey, like the Wicked Witch of the West or ice queen of Narnia. Her minions are lifeless monsters, reflections on her inhuman self. Snow White connects with the innocent, as we see her playing with a child and her doll, or speaking with the seven dwarves. Like Harry Potter, Snow White has power from her birthright and the blood of her parent. the ancient theme of the true ruler healing and renewing the land, which suffers under the tyrant comes into play here.

The fairy sanctuary represents the beautiful magical feminine–Snow White can reach it but the queen cannot. There Snow White, like Harry Potter (in the final book) meets the magical white stag, conferrer of spirituality. Following this, Harry descends into the pool and emerges with the Sword of Gryffindor. Snow White sinks into sleep and awakes stronger than before. Both rise and lead an attack on their ultimate enemies. Ending the story with no wedding to either prince or huntsman feels odd for the fairytale and odd for a story of reviving the realm through life and fertility (contrasting this tale with, say Aragorn’s wedding at the end of Lord of the Rings, another story of the rightful king reviving the land). But there is a reason for this ambiguous ending, found in a recent movie with a similar series of events:

 

There are some interesting parallels with Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland—both heroines travel through the frightening woods to reach the sheltering fairy garden of femininity, growing in feminine perception and strength all the while. However, after this, both don concealing, featureless armor and ride to battle, switching from the heroine’s journey of perception and saving the innocent to the hero’s journey of conquest and battle. Both heroines end the tale winning power in the male world of power and rationality, but little feminine understanding, demonstrated most strongly by the fact that neither weds. Before they can commit to another person, both must discover who they are as women, something not to be found under their smooth armor.

The classic warrior woman’s quest involves winning this armored battle and conquering the male realm, and then setting out once more to understand femininity, as Eowyn does in the House of Healing, or Buffy does in the later seasons (discussed in my book Buffy and the Heroine’s Journey). Without this, the warrior woman has indeed closed herself off in armor, becoming a conquering hero but not a balanced woman.

In a world of “strong women” like those in The Hunger Games and Brave, it’s important not to show only the one path to power—strong women fight and don’t want a man and all others are weak victims is a problematic message appearing in increasingly more of the movie industry. The scarred victimized women with their little girls and the young woman drained by the queen are sad sacrifices, with their courage downplayed in the movie. Snow Whtie is a fighter—she lives, the others, like her own sweet mother, die. Buffy, with a warrior woman and her friends who are witches, researchers, and vengeance demons shows alternate paths to power, as do many great fantasy novels. Here’s hoping the movies can catch up.

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Twilight in India

I’ve been reading the Tiger’s Curse series (Tiger’s Curse Tiger’s Quest, Tiger’s Destiny by Colleen Houck with a fourth book coming soon), and I’m struck by how similar it is to Twilight. Perhaps that accounts for its popularity.

This book really feels like Twilight: India in so many ways. In this first person account, a moody teenager starts working for a circus and feels a strange connection with a  tiger. When she’s asked to be the tiger’s handler on a trip to India (despite her total lack of qualifications) she learns that the tiger is actually a cursed prince. Her arrival has partially broken his curse, and now he can regain his hot, smoldering human form for twenty four minutes a day. She’s welcomed to his sumptuous mansion, where she and the tiger embark on a rather jingly poem of a prophecy to break the spell and turn him human. In the forest, his brother, also a tiger, seems a bit more conniving and calculating, compared with the almost-shy, romantic Prince Ren.

Rather than being revolted by his savage tiger side, she’s terribly drawn to it. She’s less trusting of the prince in his human, form, though hse soon succumbs to that side as well. Much like Bella, she platonically cuddles him each night, protected by the fact that he must stay a tiger most of the time.

“Ren’s death was unbearable. If he was dead, then so was I. I was drowning in sorrow; I couldn’t breathe. I didn’t have any will left to drive me”  (193). Her all-consuming passion for Ren is the biggest link with Twilight. Back home, Kelsey has only a foster family, and no friends or activities of note. She’s likely to give it all up to become an Indian princess.

Kels watches in repelled fascination as the two tigers hunt an antelope, admiring the grisly spectacle. She feels incredibly deep, instant, heedless love for Ren, but also an attraction to his brother. She often finds herself in the role of peacemaker between them, though she also incites their competition by allowing them both to show affection and even kiss her. Meanwhile, they both treat her as the helpless, skillless maiden who must always have one of them to babysit her. He also carries her many times, as he has a magical strength she lacks and sings her lullabies to soothe her to sleep. From her fainting spells to her vision of Ren as her protective warrior angel, she has far too much damsel about her. Like Edward, he lived over a century ago, and has spent far too much time not being quite human. He seems to consider her his link to humanity, the only woman he has ever or could ever love. Meanwhile, she’s certain they can never be together, since if the curse is broken, he can marry an Indian princess or supermodel. They have fights and breakups as one is determined not to burden or tie down the other. When she pulls away, he becomes aggressive and pushy, physically grabbing her and tricking her into going on a date with him, for which he threatens to hold her on his lap and force feed her if she won’t talk to him. She even complains that he’s eying her as if she’s an antelope he’s going to hunt. We’re in Tiwlight all over again.

Durga gives Kelsey a gada, a golden club, but tells her it’s mostly for “the warrior at her side” to use to protect her. She give Kelsey a cobra who is “sensitive “and longs to be loved for who she is,” a clear reflection of Kelsey herself. Kelsey is terrified of it.

The author seems to know her mythology, from appointing Durga as the goddess of their quest to inserting obscure fairytales like the legend of the golden fruit. Likewise the foods and lifestyle of India are presented with lots of believable, interesting detail, free of condescension. That said, the introduction of Japanese kappa demons seems unnecessary.

The writing is alluring, but a bit clumsy and teenagerish, with unlikely ccolloquiolisms from the ancient Indians. It’s heavy on Kelsey’s thoughts and emotions. Since they’re going on a fairytale-style quest, with a good chunk of Indiana Jones action-adventure, there’s far more plot than in Twilight. I guess we’ll see if the heroine gets more girl power than her competition…

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Sexism on Game of Thrones

Yeah, there’s problems. The biggest one of course is how one or more women in each episode take off their tops to manipulate men. Obviously, this cable show is trying to show as much female nudity as it can manage, but really? The problem, aside from just making this a peep show for heterosexual men, is that it inaccurately portrays and degrades women. Fully clothed powerful men defend themselves with swords, women defend themselves by showing their breasts or seducing the men. Yes, both use their wits. But there a major disconnect in who has the power. Even when women say they have the power, like Cersei or Jon Snow’s “girlfriend” beyond the wall, the women do little to change the system. The one birth we’ve seen was unnatural, the dark wispy thing that killed Stannis’s brother, and everything surrounding it were treated as pure evil. The powerful gods are male, the powerful kings are male, it’s all lopsided.

Arya Stark and Brienne (Lady Stake’s knight) are examples of women who operate in a man’s world, both by hiding their gender and embracing an androgynous life, becoming men in order to beat them. Lady Margaery Tyrell,  Red Priestess Melisandre and Shae, all fully feminine, know what kinds of power they want in life and go get it…however, they do so through sex, seduction, and relationships, once again suggesting that showing lots of body parts is the only path to power. Catelyn is quite strong. But she acts to follow her husband’s and son’s wishes, or gives in to emotion and makes politically poor decisions to avenge Bran or retrieve her girls. She’s not a good example of female power. Her sister, locking the doors of the Eyrie in a burst of feminine irrationalism and refusing to participate as she coddles her son (who seems to be growing spoiled and bloodthirsty as Joffrey) is even worse.

Queen Cersei Lannister in season one knows her family is too powerful for the king to offend, as her sousins fill the castle and her father holds the purse strings. She murders to protect her villainous secret, adopts Sansa as someone she can mold, beats Ned Stark, and takes over the kingdom on her husband’s death.

However, in season two, she’s revealed as the queen who can only get drunk and sulk in her bower. Tyrion out-manipulates her every time, Joffrey ignores her as her father likely will, she has no capable spies that match everyone else on the council. And by this point, everyone knows all her dirty little secrets. She’s been beaten. Finally, her mothering of Joffrey, whom she truly loves, has made him vile and dishonorable – she’s failed as a mother, wife, sister, and daughter as well as queen.

Daenerys Targaryen is of course the empowerment girl. I’m disturbed that she starts the series getting raped in a marriage she loathes and fears and then grows to love her husband as she obediently does his bidding, with a touch of her own manipulation. Once again, we have those seduction lessons and bare skin as her path to power. She’s misled by a treacherous witch woman and sacrifices her own child and husband for nothing. However, surrounded by death, she vanishes into the fire and is reborn stronger than ever. She also redefines the title Khaleesi (which basically suggests a useless concubine in the book) to mean queen over the men who have never served a woman, only warriors. She protects her people and fights her enemies, not with a sword, but with the dragonfire of her children…her own path to power. And, having decided she wants the Iron Throne, she’s going to get it, not by marrying a king or sleeping with a lord (as many other heroines on this series would do) but by forging alliances and taking revenge on those who betray her. She’s cruel but just, and she tries to protect the innocent, as Sansa does.

Sansa is the character I’m having trouble understanding. Season one, she was charmed by the handsome prince choosing her above all others, sweet-talking her, and making her the dazzling queen. But, even as she deluded herself, the final episode left her betrayed as Joffrey valued cruelty over sparing her father.

In season two, she hates Joffrey. She (probably) loathes Cersei and has seen that Cersei isn’t really the power behind the throne. Logically, she might be trying to be a powerful queen someday and doing whatever she must to achieve it…but she’s shown no sign that that’s what she wants. And Cersei’s example shows that she won’t really be a power in the kingdom, even as Joffrey’s wife. Marrying the king and poisoning him a day later would be logical. But we haven’t seen her setting that up. The series has established that most characters are “playing the Game of Thrones” and seeking power. Is Sansa? She’s not manipulating people to achieve her own goals, only acting to save others and convince everyone she’s sweet and helpless.

She might be making the best of a bad situation. But that only makes sense if she has no other choice. Offered several opportunities to let strong, somewhat honorable men escort her back to her family, she refuses. Why? Every character has said she’s in danger. She doesn’t appear to being spying as Arya has been – she’s never in important council meetings only the public throne room. If she’s loyal to the Starks, she should try to sneak back to them, but we haven’t even seen her send a covert letter (which admittedly, could condemn her to death). Imagine how Catelyn will feel upon hearing that Sansa keeps refusing to leave, even with offers of safe passage.

The final possibility is that she’s too scared or traumatized to act, even by running away, and possibly make things worse. She’d rather stand around, no longer queen-elect, and let Joffrey abuse her, rather than acting and possibly being executed as her father was. This is psychologically valid, especially with all she’s been through, from losing her family one by one to her humiliations and injuries at Joffrey’s hands. She’s been taught that nice girls do embroidery, lead the women of the castle in hymns, nod and smile at the men, choose their words carefully, bear humiliation proudly. But this pattern of thought will only lead to a worse and worse life as she gives up her own happiness to be mistreated for the delight of others. If she’s going to be anything other than an anti-feminist punching bag that the Lannisters degrade in every episode for her family’s crimes and for being a “nice girl,” she’s gonna have to get mad. Or at least grow up.

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Game of Thrones: The Real Conflict of Ice and Fire

Game of Thrones has an awful lot of conflicts. But watching the show, I feel that none of the characters are managing to put the pieces together:

  • Daneyris comes from the line of hereditary royalty who managed to unite the kingdoms and protect them all with the might of dragons. They’ve always interbred, probably to keep their amazing dragon magic strong.
  • Over the centuries, the White Walkers have faded until they’re only legends. Likewise, over the centuries, the dragons diminished in size and power, and no one remembered their original importance.
  • The nastiest weapon anyone has is “wildfire” so vicious it can burn armies at a distance and won’t go out…sort of a chemical substitute for dragons.
  • “For the night is dark and full of terrors,” chants the red priestess lady who insists on burning their enemies and worships fire as their savior. She says Stannis will save the world with fire.
  • “What is dead will never die” says the religion of the drowned god…vaguely echoing all these wights we’re seeing up north…
  • Pyat Pree explains that the dragons have returned and brought magic back to the world (though he doesn’t know it, this has happened at the same time as the White Walkers have returned. Perhaps this magic freed them as well). “It is strongest in their presence,” he says, “and they are strongest in yours.” Daenerys apparently IS magic incarnate.
  • Men of the Night’s Watch have always guarded the Southern lands, not from wildings, but from White Walkers. The oath on the show leaves out one line from the books.

Night gathers, and now my watch begins. It shall not end until my death. I shall take no wife, hold no lands, father no children. I shall wear no crowns and win no glory. I shall live and die at my post. I am the sword in the darkness. I am the watcher on the walls. I am the fire that burns against the cold, the light that brings the dawn, the horn that wakes the sleepers, the shield that guards the realms of men. I pledge my life and honor to the Night’s Watch, for this night and all the nights to come.

While the horn part is literally true, the Watch is supposed to fight White Walkers with fire and light, though they’ve only just started remembering that. Admittedly, they’ve sent warnings and requests for more men south, but these have no result. They’re supposed to be calling the alert but aren’t doing enough of a job.

  • Former Night’s Watch Ranger Mance Rayder has made himself King-Beyond-the-Wall and united all the wildings into a single army. Likely he saw White Walkers and realized the time had come to form an alliance of fighters.
  • Old Nan explains to Bran: Oh, my sweet summer child. What do you know about fear? Fear is for the winter when the snows fall a hundred feet deep. Fear is for the the long nights when the sun hides for years, and children are born and live and die, all in darkness. That is the time for fear, my little lord; when the white walkers move through the woods. Thousands of years ago there came a night that lasted a generation. Kings froze to death in their castles, same as the shepherds in their huts, and women smothered their babies rather than see them starve, and wept and felt their tearsfreeze on their cheeks. So is this the sort of story that you like?  In that darkness the white walkers came for the first time. They swept through cities and kingdoms, riding their dead horses, hunting with their packs of pale spiders big as hounds.
  • The books are called The Song of Ice and Fire. Ice VERSUS Fire might be more accurate. A few things are clear: The White Walkers are the real threat. Daneyris Targaryen is “meant” by her birth to destroy them with her fire and dragons as the realm’s true protector. And she’ll probably make it back home before it’s completely desolated.

However, the characters are all ignoring this to kill each other, wasting entire armies that they already need in order to take a castle for an episode or two, destroy resources, and move on. They use the wildfire, dragons, and men only to attack one another. Now at last, winter is coming. And they may all be screwed.

Okay on Game of Thrones, I’m aware much more of the story has been written. I read some of the novels, maybe #1, #3, and part of #4 some years ago.  I need to reread those books…

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Baptism, Sacrifice, and Resurrection: Buffy and the Heroine’s Journey

Buffy the Vampire Slayer has all the characteristics of a superhero. She battles monsters as Chosen One and Slayer, born to defeat the forces of darkness and sworn to protect the innocent. By day, she passes for a teen like any other, with her secret known only to her mentor and best friends. And like Superman, Spiderman, and so many more, she quests on her own version of the hero’s journey.

On the heroine’s epic journey, she places the defense of family, friends, and loved ones above all. Buffy’s foes are misogynists, abusers, power-mad men, and most often vampires: demonic creatures that turn the helpless into murderers and devourers of life. She uses her gifts to defend abused women and frightened children, along with her vulnerable mother and little sister.

In all these great stories, the hero or heroine descends into death, and is reborn, more powerfully than before. This descent is a great trauma, one that frightens away all but the bravest. When Buffy finds out the great prophecies condemn her to die at the hands of the brutish Master, she quits being a slayer. She is galvanized to fight, however, when her innocent friendWillowis hurt by the Master’s senseless murders. As she puts it, “It… it wasn’t our world anymore. They made it theirs.” By traumatizingWillow, the vampires have threatened Buffy’s gentle, vulnerable side at its core. Buffy assures her she will do “What we have to,” and strides into battle, head high. With a defiant “Maybe I’ll take him with me,” she descends into the vampire lair and certain death, determined to protect those she loves.

Despite her crossbow and bravado, however, her slayer power is no match for the Master. However, Xander, her emotional side, and Angel, her love, arrive and administer CPR, bringing her back from her prophesized death through love and loyalty, the heroine’s greatest weapons. When she returns, she feels “strong” and “different.” Within moments she’s standing, determined to rejoin the battle. Empowering music fills the screen. “Oh look, a bad guy,” she says. She punches the vampire in their path and walks past him, not breaking her stride. She strides unhesitatingly up to the Master. With a final “You’re that amped about Hell…Go there!” she tosses him through the skylight, impaling him on a spike far below.

When the heroine resurrects, she is a new person, strong with the mysteries of the underworld and its arcane wisdom. She no longer fears her own mortality. While this first season finale foreshadows her later, more lasting death and resurrection, it also provides a turning point, filling her with inner potency.

Later seasons focus on her other relationships. Her mother dies, and her mentor Giles leaves forEngland, forcing her to grow up. As Willow grows in power, Dawn, Buffy’s younger sister, emerges as her new vulnerable side. In the fifth season finale, Buffy sacrifices herself to save Dawn, dying once again and then finally returning to life in the essential path of the Chosen One.

After this resurrection, Buffy must accept her responsibilities and grow into adulthood as Dawn’s guardian and an independent adult. She transcends her earlier status as misfit high school student and grows into womanhood, eternally protecting the helpless through the power of the Slayer.

 

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Elektra, Catwoman, Sue Storm, and Jean Gray: Superheroes on the Heroine’s Journey

Superman, Spiderman, and many others follow the hero’s journey of Joseph Campbell, battling the dark supervillain who represents their own darkest impulses and dying to return stronger than before. But this conflict is not restricted to the male hero. In their various movies, Elektra, Catwoman, Sue Storm, and Jean Gray each follow the quintessential heroine’s journey, sacrificing their lives to save their loved ones and gain enlightenment.

Protecting the innocent is the crux of the heroine’s journey, and female superheroes devote themselves to this cause. In the movies, Elektra and Catwoman battle assassins and abusers to save the single young girl who represents their own vulnerable psyches. Sue Storm and Jean Gray die defending their families, preparing to become the ultimate guardians and lifegivers. For Sue in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, this sacrifice echoes the major life change of her wedding, as she prepares to enter a new stage, rather like Snow White or Sleeping Beauty returning from near death to wed their princes. Jean Grey dies to save her friends in X-Men 2, but is reborn asPhoenix, amoral shadow rather than heroine. At last she surrenders to her darkest impulses, unleashing a strength that can end the world, unless she has the courage to face what she’s become.

This is the heroine’s traditional battle: facing the shadow, dark side of the self. To triumph she must battle the child-killer, the wicked stepmother and destroyer of life. Catwoman fights a woman whose face is as motionless as glass, while Sue Storm faces the force of entropy itself as the Silver Surfer. Elektra battles the deadly Order of the Hand, who control life and death. This is the heroine’s traditional adversary: sterility as she represents life and growth. For Jean Grey, the enemy is far more intimate and destructive: the passion and chaos raging within herself.

When the heroine conquers the dark side of her soul, she revives far stronger than before, with the wisdom needed to gain adulthood. There are many others who follow this quest of strong women everywhere: Wonder Woman, Buffy, Xena, Sarah Jane Smith, Charlie’s Angels, Lara Croft, Witchblade, and all their friends and sidekicks. These strongest of women hallmark a new era, not just of feminine power, but of feminine enlightenment as these superwomen confront the dark side of the self and emerge from the conflict as the ultimate defenders of innocents.

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