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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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Thoughts on The Day of the Doctor

Thoughts on Day of the Doctor

Day of the Doctor delighted fans across the world.

The Classic Who opening on “The Day of The Doctor” was perfect as the original credits and scene of the junkyard panned over to see Clara teaching in Susan Foreman’s old school. With Ian Chesterton listed as Chairman and the clock showing the exact time the first episode “The Unearthly Child” was broadcast, there are plenty of in-nods in just the first few minutes.

In some ways this episode is meant to be a blessing from old Doctors to new. John Hurt represents the old style of Doctor—a grouchy curmudgeon like the first who’s repelled by the fresh-faced young Doctors kissing girls and showing off. “Am I having a mid-life crisis?” Hurt wonders. The banter is fun as eleven calls his “coconspirators” sand shoes and granddad and Ten calls Eleven “chinny.”

Ten: “Allons-y!”

Eleven: “Geronimo!”

War Doctor: “Oh for God’s sake! Gallifrey stands”

The duplicate mannerisms emphasizes how Ten and Eleven aren’t just both Doctors, they’re the popular young New Who Doctors who have much in common.

However, by the end, the War Doctor gives them his approval, using their age gap to escape from prison (or so he plans). They stride into battle side by side, blowing up daleks and finding the way to peace. At episode end, the Fourth likewise blesses the Eleventh as he embarks on a new stage of his quest.

As such, the 50th was sweet and charming. However, other aspects are more problematic.

The Zygons make an awkward villain. They’re new for New Who fans but they’re not terribly classic, appearing in a total of ONE classic episodes (fittingly, “Terror of the Zygons,” a Fourth Doctor episode). Their body takeovers are more laughable than threatening. Admittedly, the Doctor’s solution of confusing the humans and Zygons and forcing them to thus negotiate is clever (though similar to “The Almost People”). But this doesn’t feel like a true apocalypse from the sucker people. Likewise, Elizabeth manages to slay one all on her own with a small dagger.  The battle with one’s double and the game of who is real has appeared in many Who episodes already.

So the Elizabeth plot is pure fluff. The Zygon plot isn’t much threat. The Doctors exchange snark but basically trust each other. The Time War is barely seen.  

In fact, the Time War, a war through time and space, is shown more dramatically with the aftereffects in the Eighth Doctor prequel than in anything from this episode, with Gallifrey scenes that indicate a very conventional war, in fact. People are shooting and screaming, the Gallifreyan high command is giving orders, they have a cellar of doomsday devices. It’s a scene of “insert standard war” rather than the more unusual mythos and interesting Gallifreyans of “The End of Time,” for instance. The Doctor invades Gallifrey only to leave a desperate message, then walks off with the Moment with no trouble at all. Gallifrey felt like it should have been an entire episode in itself, not this shorthand.

Then comes the War Doctor’s conflict. For the John Hurt Doctor, this episode is a question of when he’ll press the button and what it will do to him. The Big Ideas, mostly about the Doctor’s guilt and responsibility for destroying his own race, are dealt with but briefly and somewhat shallowly.

The weapon as mass destruction that would stand in judgment of its user is a clever touch, forcing morality into even an attempt at genocide. Bad wolf tests the War Doctor to his core, forcing him to face what he’s planning and how it will affect him as well as the galaxy. As the Gallifreyans note, only the Doctor, who tries to be a good person and is quite self aware, could withstand such a challenge. The main arc of the plot thus is meant as a psychological study, as the War Doctor faces his future and the 11th Doctor faces the incident he has denied and forgotten. When Ten insists, “This is a decision you won’t be able to live with,” he makes it clear what destroying Gallifrey has done to him.

Most Who episodes don’t actually use time travel tricks after arriving at the destination in space and time. In this episode, Matt Smith and friends appear Time Lords, those who have mastered time and can use it to advantage, as in “The Pandorica Opens.” Granted, this might get convoluted and painful if used too often, but it’s nice to see the time travel tricks being used well.

This is meant to be an Eleventh Doctor episode, happening after the evens at Trenzalore when he was forced to confront the War Doctor in his memory. As such, he’s the one with a companion and his theme music plays. While the other two have their memories wiped, he is expected to grow and change from the encounter.

Clara doesn’t seem right as the episode’s only genuine companion (aside from Bad Wolf of course). Her immaturity on Who and in general are stressed as she has little to offer in this great conflict. With all the humor and ego bruising, someone like Donna Noble would have been the perfect snarky companion watching these scenes play out, yet filled with the maturity of “The Fires of Pompeii” to help the Doctors make the ethical choice. And for once, there was even a plot that would allow her to come back.

Speaking of “The Fires of Pompeii,” the end of this episode felt like a colossal cheat. The Doctor can destroy millions to save billions, in a decision much like his at Pompeii, or others he’s faced, in “Genesis of the Daleks” and “The Parting of the Ways,” for instance. He’s been suffering from his choice for seven years (that we’ve seen) or over 400 (that we haven’t). The Pompeii story, with the horrors of letting people die, or the other two, where the Doctor chooses to find another solution because he can’t bear to save through killing, all have the emotional ring of truth. But how seriously could anyone take a movie about the people who can go back in time, save Hiroshima, and find a no-consequences method of ending WWII? It just feels wrong.

Of course, this does spin off Eleven and Twelve’s next story arc (one presumes): the search for Gallifrey. It’s likely no coincidence that by Christmas the Doctor will be on his last life (For Nitpickers, that assumes the John Hurt Doctor’s odd regeneration with help from the Sisterhood of Karn DOES count, whether he calls himself “the Doctor” or not, and his metacrisis mess in which the Tenth Doctor did APPARENTLY die and regenerate DOESN’T count). As shown in the series, the High Council can award people with an entire new set of regenerations, among other rewards. It promises to be a fun storyline…despite the dramatic feel of “undestroying” the tragically lost Gallifrey.  

Unraveling the science in science fiction tends to never end well, but I must ask: Nine said Gallifrey is time-locked, so he can’t interfere. Is that so different than “locked in an alternate dimension”? While they may be quite different, the concepts feel the same. Either way, it’s mostly impossible to get to and a fitting quest for the Doctor. Is it worth mentioning that all the Daleks being under Time Lock and destroyed from all of time, space, and history really isn’t working out?

Certainly everyone loved the hoard of Doctors rushing in to help, and the Fourth giving his bit of advice to a purposeless Eleven. The fangirl in the Fourth’s scarf was also a lovely touch, as we, the asthmatic, gushing viewers, got to be in the episode too.

If anyone’s aiming for a final count this episode offered…Three TARDISes. Two companions (counting Bad Wolf but not Queen Elizabeth). One companion’s descendent (the Brigadier’s daughter). One crazed fangirl, times two. Two 4th Doctor scarves. One fez (that bounces between many timestreams). The second wedding a Doctor has had onscreen.  More of the Time War than ever seen. Zygons, Daleks, a Cyberman head. Two giant rooms of doomsday devices. Several time loop paradoxes. 13 Doctors (with some as old footage) 5 Doctors with new footage for the show (and an additional one in Night of the Doctor). And the count can go much higher if one includes the lovely scenes from The Five(ish) Doctors (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01m3kfy ) (with John Barrowman getting a bonus for the driving). If 5, 6, and 7 are indeed hiding in the episode, the count can go up to a whopping NINE Doctors, from 4 through the one who doesn’t yet exist, with John Hurt as a bonus in the count. And Doctor #9 is present in spirit as John Hurt regenerates into him.

So happy 50th to all and to all a good night. It was fun, it was delightful, but it was more of a giggle than the great confrontation with the Time War.  All in all, it felt a bit like the Stargate 200th, more fan nods than great epic plot for the ages.

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Day of the Doctor Easter Eggs and In-Joke References

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  • The original credits, then 76 Totter’s Lane and the Coal Hill School begin the episode as they began the series.
  • The school sign reads “Headmaster: W. Coburn” and “Chairman of the Governors: I. Chesterton” … Anthony Coburn wrote that episode, “The Unearthly Child.” Ian Chesterton was a teacher at the school and the Doctor’s companion…he might even still work there.
  • The clock Clara motorcycles past shows the exact time the Unearthly Child was broadcast. And she writes No More on the whiteboard. Hmm….
  • They don’t dwell on the bit where Clara has met Hurt and Ten before during her splintering into souffle girl adventure, but that could just be confusing and awkward.
  • Smith hanging from the TARDIS mirrors his own first episode The Eleventh Hour. Both times dramatic and fun.
  • 11 wears Amy’s reading glasses. 10 wears his own “cool” glasses.
  • “Reverse the polarity” is the Third Doctor’s line.
  • The fangirl is wearing 4’s scarf of course. She also uses it as a weapon, as he frequently does.
  • Zygons hail from the 4th Doctor and Sarah adventure “Terror of the Zygons” (in which people dramatically back up when menaced by them, as in this one). This is their first New Who appearance.
  • Clara uses Jack Harkness’s vortex manipulator. River Song presumably has a different one.
  • Elizabeth the First and 10’s courtship and wedding (teased in several episodes) are finally shown.
  • Even the War Doctor uses a gun to shoot the wall, not the enemy.
  • The sealed message from the past, paintings as messages, etc, are seen in “The Pandorica Opens,” among others.
  • The escape from a dungeon scene nods to many moments, especially 3 and Jo scenes.
  • The oft-mentioned Time War described by 9 and 10 is shown.
  • Gallifrey and the Time Lords’ terrible collars. Also their vault of doomsday devices.
  • The fez of “The Pandorica Opens,” itself a nod to the fez 7 wears, returns (many times over!). Even 10 wears it.
  • In “Night of the Doctor,” 8 meets the sisterhood of Karn from “The Brain of Morbius,” toasts his audio adventures companions, and transforms.
  • Earth is doomed to fall to alien invasions, a nod to many many episodes.
  • The Moment comes to life with a personality very similar to the TARDIS of “The Doctor’s Wife.” They’re both even wooden boxes.
  • Bad Wolf played by Billie Piper
  • 11’s signature high-energy theme music
  • In UNIT, Clara sees a cyberman head and a wall of old companion photos, starting with Susan’s. River’s red sparkly high heels are also there and Amy’s “Angels Take Manhattan” pinwheel.
  • Hurt: “Timey wimey?” 10 “I don’t know where he gets it from.” 10 first said this in “Blink.”
  • The concept of the Doctor protecting children is emphasized in “The Beast Below” and “The Doctor the Widow and the Wardrobe” among others
  • John Hurt regenerates, noting he’s “Wearing a bit thin,” the words 1 used on changing to 2.
  • This show uses several of Moffat’s signature loops and paradoxes.
  • The concept that the Daleks will be terrified of three Doctors. Also, the plan to move Gallifrey so the Daleks all shoot each other is similar to the solution in “Blink.”
  • Rewriting and preserving timelines
  • Obviously, “The Three Doctors,” “The Five Doctors” and “The Two Doctors” all dealt with the same sort of paradox and snarky comments towards the other Doctors’ dress, mannerisms, etc. It’s no wonder 10 isn’t shocked to see 11 after all that.
  • This one particularly mirrors The Three Doctors, with the old crochety one complaining about the ridiculous clown and the “cool” charmer. In fact, that was a Brigadier episode, as this is a Brigadier’s daughter one.
  • 11 mentions Trenzalore and their fate there
  • The need for a Big Red Button
  • Daleks daleks daleks
  • 10: “I don’t want to go.” 11: “He always says that.” 10’s last words on the show are…still his last words.
  • 11 warns 10 about SPOILERS! for the future…by this point in Ten’s life, he’s met River and heard her catchphrase in the Library.
  • On the Doctor getting kissed: Hurt: “Is there a lot of this in the future?” 11: “It does start to happen, yes.” A reference to the asexual attitude of the first seven Doctors in contrast with New Who.
  • “They’re getting younger all the time,” Hurt notes (though he thinks 10 and 11 are companions).
  • Eleven has the same phone number as Ten had in “The Stolen Earth.” Seems he still has Martha’s phone.
  • The Tardis is switched to its original white circles décor. The museum had a similar wall pattern.
  • “Is it important?” “In twelve hundred years I’ve never stepped in anything that wasn’t.” This actually seems a parody of Eleven’s Christmas Carol line that he never met a person who wasn’t important. While the latter was sweet, the former just seems silly.

  • Kate wants a file from the seventies or eighties. It’s murky when UNIT events of the Third Doctor era happened as they were meant to be in the near future (80s), not the present (70s). Hence the date. 
  • The end credits, with the Doctors’ faces, is reminiscent of the old style.

  • The motorcycle ridden into TARDIS echoes similar stunt riding in “The Bells of Saint John.”
  • Kate Stewart, daughter of the Brigadier from 3’s era (also seen in “The Power of Three”) and UNIT. Their Tower of London base was also in “The Power of Three” There’s a picture of her father and the Doctor sends a “space-time telegraph” for him.
  • The code 11 scratches into the wall is the time and date Unearthly Child aired. 17-16-23-11-63, and the first Doctor Who episode aired at 5:16 p.m. on November 23, 1963.
  • Kate is horrified by “Americans with the ability to rewrite history”…this could be a dig at the American Doctor Who movie or Torchwood season four among other things.
  • 11 mentions he lies about his age. This nods to a few inconsistent counts through the series.
  • Finally all the Doctors unite to save Gallifrey (which is described by 9 and 10 as “time-locked” so this may actually have already worked. They’re seen on screens along with a glimpse of Capaldi, Doctor #12, the first time a Doctor is seen on screen before his regeneration.
  • “Hopefully the ears aren’t as prominent this time.” This nods to the fat that he will soon be Eccleston.
  • The Moment is mentioned in “The End of Time” and several comic books, modified from the De-Mat gun of 4’s “The Invasion of Time.”
  • And of course, number 4…

river-song-shoes-650x364  1466303_10202765631531867_2078523940_n

I wrote an entire book of these sort of references….available free today through Monday at    http://www.amazon.com/Doctor-Who-The-What-Where-ebook/dp/B00GMWKBUE/ Doctor Who: The What Where and How.

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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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The Faithful Companions

Rose Tyler ends her story with a version of the Doctor, with a mission to heal his battle scars. But a Companion’s job is greater than healing her Doctor and keeping him grounded, or even saving his life on occasion. In fact, the Companion must have perfect faith in the Doctor, one that transcends all obstacles. This belief gives him the responsibility to stay ethical in all situations. Donna Noble insists he acknowledge his daughter Jenny, and she demands that he save a single family from the fires of Pompeii. The Doctor asks Martha to watch over him when he turns human but her greatest task comes during the year that never was. She travels the world, inspiring everyone, person by person, to believe wholly in the Doctor, as she does. As she insists he can save the world, the belief makes it happen.

Even traveling with the Doctor takes a tremendous amount of faith, as a stranded passenger would never make it home. In fact, when Adam Mitchell (with a zipper in his head) breaks the rules, the Doctor honorably returns him to his old life. Even returning Sarah Jane to Scotland instead of her old home is a minor inconvenience.

Katarina, who worships the First Doctor as the god Zeus, is an unfortunate example, who was quickly written out.  But the other Companions show faith in not just the Doctor but all of humanity: Barbara Wright believes the Aztecs can change (“The Aztecs”). As Amy Pond sits, eyes closed, resisting the weeping angels, she exemplifies the perfect faith and belief required of a Companion. She shows faith in others as well, trusting the Star Whale, and invoking the humanity in a World War II android.

Faith leads to faith and trust to trust, inspiring the Doctor in his quest to exemplify the best of humanity, with the best of humanity by his side.

 

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Glee Finale–Goodbye Seniors!

At last the Glee students (mostly in their twenties but whatever) are graduating. Moving on, leaving us with touching goodbyes.

In the prom episode, Rachel was cast as the underdog who has nothing while Quinn has everything. Rachel, prima donna, has never really fit well as the underdog, and this year’s final few episodes emphasize how badly that role fits. Rachel’s “president of fourteen clubs,” spoiled daughter of doting parents, the girl who gets a second chance after she blows her audition—really, what doesn’t she have? Then with her arrival as prom queen, and a big send-off scream at graduation, she gets even more.

Tina makes a fair point with her disgust at being the real underdog, and this protest echoes one the audience might have—all the stars are leaving! Every character we truly adore is moving on, leaving us with the dreadlocks guy, Irish guy, and mean girl who started her own singing group. But take heart—Tina, with almost no personality, will be the lead singer, the new Rachel-Quinn-Santana-Mercedes character. I’m not excited. All right, we still get Blaine (who should be in college by now if the “Original Song” Sectionals episode is to make any sense) and the fascinating Unique. But they’re graduating all the strong characters and leaving hardly anyone who’s had any storyline at all. Sure the new kids can sing, but that’s less than half of each episode.

In the finale itself, the flashbacks to the very early episodes were fun and delightful, reminding us how far the characters have come. Likewise, having the students sing their goodbyes was a sweet way to have them exit. Kurt’s “I’ll Remember” was quite touching, especially as the other students sang back to him. And “Forever Young” was Will’s perfect goodbye to them all.

All the “surprises” of the students’ futures weren’t all that surprising, truth be told. Three acceptances would have been too pat. Nonetheless, Rachel’s perfect future and final soliloquy song were a bit much.

All the parents’ unconditional acceptance of their children’s singing careers is idealistic of course. They’re leaving their small midwestern high school to try to become famous singers and actors in the top cities of the US—a reasonable plot point given that the show is trying to inspire hopeful teens to reach for the top. But some parents wouldn’t want their kids gambling everything on such a slim chance. In the sudden ending, one detects preachiness—that teens are too young to get married, that if teens don’t get into their dream schools they should try again. It may not be perfect, but the ending is consistent with the rest of the storyline—every single character spends their final moments boosting Rachel to the top. One wonders what Glee will be like without her driving the plot.

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Is Buffy Summers Totally Racist?

Principal Wood: Talk like that is taken pretty seriously where I come from-

Buffy: The hood?

Principal Wood:Beverly Hills. (“Help”)

Buffy is our beloved Slayer, champion of helpless girls everywhere. And yet, her speech patterns reveal a disturbing trend. She mocks Kendra’s language skills several times, imitating her accent, speaking to her in mangled Spanish, and otherwise treating her as inferior or a clichéd foreigner. She acts as if she has nothing to learn from Kendra, while she more eagerly adopts Faith’s lifestyle.

Around demons (the metaphorical “other” of Sunnydale) she’s likewise flip, even toward the proven “good” demons. “I don’t trust you. You’re a vampire,” she tells Angel. “Oh, I’m sorry, was that an offensive term? Should I say ‘undead American’?” (“When She Was Bad”). At this point Angel has proven himself an ally and saved her life. He’s certainly trustworthy, and taunting him about eying her neck as Buffy (along with Xander) does seems as cruel as taunting a recovering alcoholic. But Angel never feels he can drink animal blood in front of her, and Buffy acts disgusted whenever Spike tries. Even ensouled, they will always be “other.”

Buffy calls Riley a racist for his view of all demons as bad, but Buffy is much the same. We only ever see one token “trusted” demon aside from Angel, Spike, and Anya (who all become part of the Scoobies and therefore insiders). This is Clem, foisted on Buffy by Spike in several Season Six episodes before she has conversations with him. All other demons must automatically be killed—there are no innocents in Buffy’s endless battles. While most vampires eventually turn on Buffy, Spike’s trustworthiness in seasons five and six suggests vampires can rehabilitate. An Angel has shown us many nonviolent demons. Ironically, the Initiative does more to explore this question than Buffy ever does.

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Goodbye House–Thoughts on the House Finale

Like House’s Head/Wilson’s Heart, House undergoes a long night of the soul and makes a choice whther he wants to live or die. Once again, a medical mystery is tied to his decision.

The writers brilliantly broughtt in so many characters House would hallucinate in his final moments–Kutner, his guilt; Amber. his abrasive competitiveness; Stacy, his love and possibility of a decent relationship. All of them offer him reasons to live–his fear of a wasteful pointless death, his enjoyment of puzzles, possibilities of finding love again. During House’s long night of the soul, all these aspects of his personality urge him to fight the dying of the light, to live. Cameron by contrast offers him a balm which she counches as a reward of gift, an end to the pain. As she offers him the suicide he’s contemplating on a silver platter, he faces the ugly truths about himelf–he’s arrogant and self-destructive. “You’re a better person dying than you were living,” House realizes of his patient. and this makes him realize that he too needs to face death. HIs hallucinations tell him that without Wilson he can grow a conscience, and after facing death, he discovers that’s true.

His hallucinations challenge all the pronouncements he’s always made–that he doesn’t believe in God, that he’s happy alone, that there’s nothing after death, that he does’t care about his patients. His final case on the show was treating an injured drug adict who’s dying–a perfect reflection of himself. All these force him to confront the sides of himself he’s repressed–his enjoyment of puzzles, his conscience, his fear of and longing for death. Facing these suppressed shadow selves is a perfect hero’s journey or Jungian moment. And as with the hero’s journey, he follows these realizations with a descent into death.

All of House’s team, past and present, unite to bid him and the audience goodbye–Cameron’s look at the original team’s photo was a fun glance back at the past, as she and other team members establish futures: she has a baby, Chase leads the team, and so forth. At the funeral, Wilson, of course, breaks through everyone’s feeble praise to speak the truth, as House likely would have at Wilson’s funeral.

House’s surprise return wasn’t a great surprise for any fans of Tom Sawyer or Sherlock Holmes for that matter. Holmes’s famous death devastated his best friend Watson, but Holmes returned a short time later, explaining that while “dead” he could accomplish more than alive. Holmes and Watson are last seen driving off together having foiled the Germans in WWII, and heading off to another adventure–retirement can’t stop them! In the US, The Reichenbach Fall episode of Sherlock aired a day before this one, underscoring House’s faked death with Sherlock’s almost identical scene–another fun moment for fans. And indeed, a resurrected House is a House unconfined by the job that once defined him, a House prepared to grow a conscience on his own, find love, or at least find adventure and develop a new identity for himself. With of course, more puzzles and more excitement on his everlasting motorcycle. Drive on, House!

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The Reichenbach Fall Wrap Up

If you’re arrogant and nasty for long enough, the world will turn on you. That’s a theme of “The Reichenbach Fall,” the final episode of the second season of Sherlock, and it’s a theme addressed more realistically here than in the short stories. In those, the police come to rely on Holmes more and more, trusting him implicitly. Even Holmes’ comments that anyone with an ounce of brains and imagination shouldn’t be taken in doesn’t stop the police from coming to Holmes each time. But in Sherlock, all his rude, dismissive comments come back to haunt him.

This episode, like many other mysteries, hinges on the fact that a lie is often easier to believe than the truth. And a lie with a little truth coating it—well, that’s easiest of all. What’s more likely, that Holmes can honestly read people in an instant, find missing children from brick dust in a footprint, outsmart the well-funded police each time? Or that he’s been going behind their backs, searching on the internet, hiring actors, and fooling them all? People don’t like feeling stupid and they don’t like someone like Sherlock, who ignores so many of society’s rules.

However, in the end, Sherlock proves he truly is a part of society. Putting aside his new connection with Molly (some of us likely suspect the favor he asked of her), Sherlock offers his life to protect Watson and his other loved ones, proving that he isn’t nearly so isolated as he wants others to believe. It’s Moriarty who has no one, who knows his life is worth nothing, money is worth nothing, nothing  matters except (like Sherlock) finding a relief from his boredom. The only other thing I can say about him is that he’s definitely wholeheartedly bonkers. Still, in this episode, he’s so classicly, unabashedly Moriarty as he tries on the Crown Jewels and boredly undergoes the trial of the century.  This epiosde is fun and silly, dark and distrubing, emotional and honest. In short, all the things that make a show truly great.

The producers promise a third season at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-16573066. As fans wonder about Sherlock’s “fall,” producer and writer Steven Moffet teasingly tells that “There is a clue everybody’s missed.” (http://www.guardian.co.uk/tv-and-radio/2012/jan/20/steven-moffat-sherlock-doctor-who?newsfeed=true). What could it be? That Moriarty likes Grimms fairytales? Or has been hanging out with actors? (I’m wagering on the latter). Of course, all Moffet’s comment does is build the suspense…

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