Last but assuredly not least, Cassandra Jean’s Tessa and Will and the DSDS in Clockwork Princess.
I have a question about TID. *CONTAINS SPOILERS* Why does Jem make sure to see Tessa one day a year when he’s a silent brother and not Will? I know he loves Tessa, but he also loves Will and I always thought they were much closer than either boy with Tessa. Just something I couldn’t stop thinking about :) thanks so much!! — tessherondayl
I think there’s an innate tension between what TID is about — three people who love each other equally — and what we’re societally programmed to believe: that some loves are better, that love is always ranked somehow, that a bigger love requires a bigger gesture, that love is in any way measurable.
Jem doesn’t love Will more than he loves Tessa. He doesn’t love Will less than he loves Tessa. They’re different people. Different gestures mean different things to them. It isn’t as if Jem doesn’t see Will again during Will’s life — if you’ve read The Midnight Heir you can see he comes by enough for James to call him Uncle Jem.
A good amount of the idea that Jem and Tessa would meet once a year on the bridge forever was that Jem and Tessa have forever. They’re both immortal. They’re commemorating not just their relationship but their unchanging state and the nature of immortality with the yearly meetings. It doesn’t make sense for Will and Jem to meet in the same way because Will isn’t immortal and all the yearly meetings same-time same-place would do is highlight that in what seems a rather cruel way.
Tessa and Will are different people; they have different relationships with Jem and need different things from him. That doesn’t make anyone closer than anyone else (hard to imagine Will is closer to Jem than he is to the mother of his children, or that he is closer to Tessa than the boy who gave his life meaning for years) — it just makes them different people with different needs and different relationships. It’s as okay for Jem and Tessa to have something that’s theirs alone as it is for Will and Jem to have things that are theirs alone and Will and Tessa to have things that are theirs alone. Which - as you’ll see in TLH more - they do!
More of Cassandra Jean’s flower cards — we’re now onto The Infernal Devices, and these cards are done in oils, not watercolor. Jem and Will, together as always!
teresasmaze said: I have a question that’s been bugging me, and I don’t know if somebody asked you this before or not. But I have to ask anyway sorry. OKAY so did Tessa ever try to change into Will after he died? I feel like it would have been something that occurred to her, and even though she probably didn’t it would have been tempting don’t you think? I think it’s an interesting idea. Love your books, by the way! They’re filling about 75% of my second shelf on my bookshelf right now.
I think it would actually have been incredibly sad for Tessa to do that. It might almost have been like a drug, having that sort of almost-contact with Will and then not having it. Also Tessa was very firm about not “Changing” into people without their permission or some necessity, as she considered it invasive and disrespectful of their privacy — I don’t think she’d do it to Will, even after his passing. (But on the other hand I don’t want to kill anyone’s headcanons, though…so….)
congratu-freakin-lations said: Why doesnt Jem want to be a shadowhunter anymore? Is he at least still involved in the shadowhunter world?
Epilogue of Clockwork Princess:
“But—after today? Where will you go? To Idris?” Tessa asked.
Jem looked, for a moment, honestly bewildered—and despite how old she knew him to be, so young. “I don’t know,” he said. “I’ve never had a lifetime to plan for before.”
“Then … to another Institute?” Don’t go, Tessa wanted to say. Stay. Please.
“I do not think I will go to Idris, or to an Institute anywhere,” he said, after a pause so long that she felt as if her knees might give way under her if he did not speak. “I don’t know how to live in the world as a Shadowhunter without Will. I don’t think I even want to. I am still a parabatai, but my other half is gone. If I were to go to some Institute and ask them to take me in, I would never forget that. I would never feel whole.”
“That depends on you.”
City of Heavenly Fire:
“… Zachariah? He is no longer an active Shadowhunter,” Jia was saying. “He left today before the meeting, saying he had some loose ends to tie up, and then an urgent appointment in London in early January,* something he couldn’t miss.”
So no, he’s not an active Shadowhunter any more, but that’s nothing we didn’t know. :) Whether he decides to take an active interest in Shadowhunter goings-on is his business — he is interested in Emma. He and Tessa have something of their own agenda too.
*Yes, this is the epilogue of CP2. That’s where it fits into the narrative of CoHF - not long after the end of the last chapter before the epilogue.
xo-fairytalespirate-xo said: Hi Cassie. I just finished reading Clockwork Princess and absolutely loved the whole series. The epilogue in CP made me cry, especially when talking about Will’s last day and Jem playing his violin for him. But I was wondering why Magnus didn’t come to say goodbye?? Was it because he was waiting for Tessa to come to him?? I loved reading the development of their friendship. Sherrie
Magnus really hates being there when a mortal he cares about dies. He does talk about being with his first girlfriend while she died and I think he will do it in some circumstances, but I also think he would have considered this an event for family only. He would have come when Will was sick, and then he would have gone back to Paris. I don’t think he would have known for sure Tessa was going to come, but he would have known she might.
I think there might be a story, really, in the last time Magnus saw Will, perhaps sat with him through the watches of the night, the last time they talked.
the-flowers-are-blooming-love said: Hi Cassandra! Like most asks you probably get I wanna say that you are an amazing author and your books really have had an amazing effect on so many people. I have loved reading all your posts about Tessa and Will and Jem, your reasoning to it all makes a lot of sense and is easy to understand. I was just curious to know if Tessa ever felt like she would have to distance herself from one of the boys and just because when you are in that kind of situation it might be painful for Will and Jem.
She did distance herself from Will. Tessa talking about Will:
Months, she thought. Months since they had been alone together for more than a moment. They’d had only accidental encounters in hallways, in the courtyard, awkwardly exchanged pleasantries. She had missed his jokes, the books he had lent her, the flashes of laughter in his gaze.
For months they had avoided each other, had barely spoken.
All that is on purpose — Tessa is avoiding Will to try to make it easier on him and to make it absolutely clear she isn’t dithering between Jem and Will. She’s made her choice. She’s given Will no encouragement. She believes she has to do this in order to free him to love someone else.
Perhaps it did depend on the book, she thought. But in this, the book of her life, the way of dishonor was only unkindness. Even if she had hurt Will in the drawing room, over time as his feelings for her faded, he would someday thank her for keeping him free. She believed that.” — Clockwork Princess.
Clockwork Princess is the best book I ever read mainly because of the of the way you ended it. It was the saddest and happiest ending ever. So I was wondering is COHF going to have the same kind of ending? — weleylaworld
Well, hopefully, by now, you know! :) I wrote a bit about loss and sadness and genres when I wrote about death in CoHF. While the Clockwork series takes place in the same world as TMI, it’s historical, which has somewhat different genre issues. While you can always write a fun, happy historical, sometimes you feel like you need to grapple with the fact that just about everyone you’re writing about, in today’s world, is dead. I think there’s an elegiac feeling about Clockwork Princess, a sense of a sorrow that is about facing mortality and death. By contrast the loss that is in City of Heavenly Fire is more specific to the people involved in the story and their dangerous situation.
I hope that makes sense. These are just my thoughts about why I wrote things the way I did; hopefully they’re interesting but if you have a different reading that’s cool too.
"Cassie, as a huge fan, I want to thank you for writing such magnificent books. And…. here’s my question! I read your post in which you explain why Tessa’s relationship with Jem was more than friendship and I’m fascinated by the way you explained and pointed out things so as to make clear that they were more than friends. I was wondering if you could do the same with Will&Tessa. All characters show us they’re thoughts and therefore, we can deduce what they’re feeling but I’m sure there’s something you can add, just like you did with Jem and Tessa :) Daniela."
Hi, Daniela! The thing is, I don’t really get questions from people who think Will and Tessa were just friends. The opposite side of the argument (taken to an extreme) seems to be that Tessa and Will only felt lust for each other, not Love.
I think probably obviously that’s not what I was thinking when I wrote it. But shipping has a lot to do with personal preferences about kinds of relationships and kinds of personalities. Do I think Tessa and Will loved each other? Yes: I don’t think you’re willing to give your life for someone you just lust for (Will, Clockwork Prince), nor do you burn your hand with a poker because the emotional pain of someone you just lust for hurts you so much (Tessa, Clockwork Prince.) I think the fact that after Jem left, Tessa and Will didn’t touch each other for months while they dealt with the grief of his going, and sincerely tried to build the foundations of a solid emotional relationship with each other, speaks volumes in itself. And of course a marriage of fifty-odd years, in which one person grew older and one continued to look twenty, in which there was never a failure of passion or commitment, speaks to a deep love indeed.
The problem with the Lust narrative isn’t in thinking that Jem and Tessa have a deeper connection — that’s normal; we all react to fictional relationships in ways that reflect what we prioritize or prefer in life — the problem is that it sometimes winds up in blaming Tessa and slut-shaming her, which I have to admit, does bother me. So, I’ll share with you a brief clip from a post from a professed Jem fan (though God knows I love my Jem fans and would never tar them all with this brush, not even close) about Tessa herself. The link to the post was sent to me by a very upset fan, and I think it’s better if I don’t mention their name or the name of the poster. But here it is. Trigger warnings for rape culture, calling women bitches, misogyny.
Post: “Good lord, I knew she [Tessa] had no fuck to give for Jem, she only wanted to bang Will, but jesus christ, have some empathy, respect… Boys were doing everything for this bitch, got hurt, one finally died for her and because of her, all she could do was demand, put people in trouble and act out and never appreciate neither feel bad, and she did so much bad she was not sorry for, she was so fucking selfish and wanted to get the best out of it for her and all she could do was play them, disrespect them as people, and their lives, and describe their looks whether they were dying or not and care about nothing else but her own good.
I wish someone bought her [Tessa] a dildo because her hormones obviously made her incapable of sorting out her priorities. And it killed Jem.”
Wow. Just, I mean, WOW.
In other words: Tessa being a woman, specifically a woman capable of sex, killed Jem.
Well, I’m not exactly sure. She didn’t sneak into his room at night and smother him with her thighs. He was dying when Tessa arrived. There was no cure for his illness. There is absolutely nothing Tessa could have done to keep him alive — and remember, she was the one pushing to find a cure, not Will. If it wasn’t for Tessa, Jem would never have chosen Silent Brotherhood, he never would have lived to be Brother Zachariah, he never would have been cured, and he would not be alive and happy today.
“Boys were doing everything for this bitch, got hurt, one finally died for her”
I’m seriously curious which one died for Tessa since Will died of old age and Jem’s still alive. In fact, he’s 135 years old. The thing is, Tessa saved Jem’s life. She saved Will’s, too. It takes an enormous effort of deliberate, willfull misogyny to miss that.
POST: “ all she could do was demand, put people in trouble and act out and never appreciate neither feel bad”
From the books:
“I’m sorry,” Tessa said. She couldn’t count the number of times she’d told him she was sorry over the past hours. (Clockwork Princess)
“You saved my life at the tea warehouse, and I am grateful, Will.” (Clockwork Prince.)
“Oh, Will. This is all my fault. Jem threw away his life for me. If he had taken the drug more sparingly—if he had allowed himself to rest and be ill instead of pretending good health for my sake—” (Clockwork Princess)
She shook her head. “How can you bear to have me near you?” she said in despair. “I took your parabatai from you. And now we will both die here. Because of me.” (Clockwork Princess)
Tessa, actually, often feels bad for things that are not her fault: so do Will and Jem, but when they do it, it’s because they are poor sweet babies, when Tessa does it, it’s because — yeah! It IS her fault! You can’t win for losing when you’re a lady. Of course Jem taking all his yin fen at once isn’t her fault: she didn’t even know about it. Obviously Tessa feels bad often, is eaten up with guilt often, but unfortunately no woman can ever feel bad enough about herself to be satisfactory. Society as a whole tells women they must hate themselves and each other, and this sort of thing is the result.
Thinking Tessa killed Jem with her lady parts as opposed to what she actually did do, which is save and prolong his life, requires an absolute dedication to misogyny and the belief that women are significant and important only in how they treat the men in the story. If they make them happy constantly, the women are okay. If they ever seem to be making them unhappy, if a man ever does anything stupid or life-threatening because of a woman even if she doesn’t know about it, if he’s unhappy even if she couldn’t prevent it, if she sleeps with someone else even though she thought he was dead and he couldn’t give less of a damn anyway, if she doesn’t prioritize the imaginary pain of a dead man over what she needs for her own survival and mental health, she’s a bitch who needs to die. If she observes with surprise and no lust that a man is naked because she’s a Victorian girl and she’s shocked to be in the same room with a naked man, she’s a whore. And if she wants to have a consensual pleasant sexual experience before a lifetime of being raped (by the actual villain of the books — his name is Mortmain, by the way, and he’s the one who actually makes everyone unhappy) she’s not just a whore, she’s a murdering whore.
It’s the mentality at the heart of rape culture: that women are vending machines, and if you shove a few coins of attention or affection into them, they better respond with sex and obedience or they’re … broken.
Because he is such an absolute boss >w<
It’s just another doodle that I’ve been having fun with experimenting with the backgrounds and shizz
I love the scene in TID when the bromance is back:
Will: ‘Nice stick.’
Zachariah: ‘It’s a staff.’
Will: ‘It’s a stick.’
Man I couldn’t believe how much I screamed when I read that book…
“@GeorgiaBellXx: “Why don’t the herondales like ducks?”
For those who haven’t read it: WHY WILL HATES DUCKS.
Takes place at the beginning of Chapter Nine of Clockwork Angel, “The Conclave”
About Will and Jem…
Thanks again for your response to my question about Tessa! I originally wrote this the day after Heronstairs day, but with CoHF and TBC, I know you’ve been super busy!
I have a question regarding two big players in the Shadowhunter ‘verse: Will and Jem. Yesterday a lot of people were posting about them due to the date (November 10th) and it got me thinking.
How are we as readers meant to interpret their relationship? After CP2, you posted about the relationships between Tessa, Will, and Jem and said “At no point do Will and Jem discuss their need for a chaperon, lest they give in to irresistible temptation and sully the senses out of each other.”
Online, however, there is a lot of discussion about it in terms of a relationship including romantic love. They are talked about as the third love story of TID, the third side of the triangle.
Platonic friendship is wonderful and I think their relationship is great no matter what, but I also think there is something inherently different though about how something “could be canon. the evidence is there” with a queer vs hetero relationship. (Harry and Hermione are probably the biggest example I can think of this, with huge numbers of people viewing it as friendship and a very large number seeing romantic love. Their relationship is meant to be seen as friendship, more like family. They even spell it out in the last book!) It’s more of a representation issue. If Harry and Hermione don’t have those feelings, there are still plenty of other straight couples in HP.
So, as Will and Jem, are your creations, what are your thoughts on all of this? Are readers meant to understand that Jem and Will are bi of some sort (romantic and or sexual)? Is it part of the goals of writing about a not typically portrayed love triangle? Are the love interests of the protagonist queer? How would you define their relationship?
P.S. I really enjoy all of your posts regarding representation in fiction, as someone who isn’t straight.
Hi! Thank you first for your kind words about my posts.
When you’re dealing with representation, and reader interpretation, you’re always dealing with tricky business. I incredibly appreciate the imagination of my readers. I also know my word is not the last word on what happens in my books: no book follows every moment in the lives of its characters. What happens in the liminal spaces — the time before Jem and Will met Tessa for instance — very much belongs to the reader.
I feel uncomfortable telling readers what they’re “meant to understand.” I want them to feel like their reads are valid. There are readings I disagree with (like that Will and Jem would have been better off if they’d never met Tessa, that Tessa doesn’t really love Will/doesn’t really love Jem, etc) but that doesn’t mean they’re not meaningful for the readers who interpret the story that way.
Jem and Will have an incredibly intense relationship. They also live in a time/place where friendships and relationships between men were romanticized, and were spoken of in incredibly romantic and flowery language. I think they often speak to and about each other in a way modern readers interpret as romantic because it sounds romantic. The Victorian Romantic Friendship Reader describes the era as a time when “when men could openly express an unashamed, unselfconscious, all-consuming love for members of their own sex.” Tennyson, as far as we know (okay, there’s some debate) was straight, but wrote a long elegy on the death of his friend Arthur Hallam in which he calls him “all I love,” “him I loved, and love / For ever,” and “my lost desire.” (The poem is “In Memoriam”, which shows up a lot, not coincidentally, in Clockwork Princess.)
Will and Jem definitely have a romantic friendship, and I do think the love triangle is a true triangle in the sense that Jem and Tessa love each other, Will and Tessa love each other, and Will and Jem love each other. Is their love canonically a sexual love? Here is where this is is a tricky issue because these are two distinct moral goods at play here.
It’s very important to me that I not be given credit for representation that is not explicit in my books. I believe we are at a time when books can show characters who are not heterosexual, and those books can be published (though of course there are still many obstacles for diverse books and pressure on creators not to create diverse works, which makes it even more clear that we have a responsibility to do so.) Therefore queer coding, or later saying “Of course So-and-So was an LGBTQ character, or of course there are LGBTQ characters in my work but we never heard about them in the work and they never had any relationships and nothing would clue you in on their identity…” is not sufficient. There are gay couples in the Shadowhunters ‘verse where their sexuality is explicit on the page: there is no question with Magnus and Woolsey that they are bi and gay; there is no question in TMI about Alec and Magnus, or Aline and Helen, or any question in the Bane Chronicles that Magnus is bisexual and in relationships with men and women. That’s part of why I, along with Maureen and Sarah, wanted to write the Bane Chronicles so much—to have Magnus front and center. He deserves to be, and LGBTQ readers deserve such a protagonist. But I also think they deserve better than queer coding and hints at sexuality that isn’t hetero — that stuff should be on the page, and if it isn’t — if it’s your “headcanon” as a writer — then that’s great, but that isn’t per se representation.
That said, I strongly believe readers should have the freedom to interpret works as they will, without a creator looking over their shoulders: There are liminal spaces in my books which are designed for readers’ imaginations to fill in. No two readers ever read quite the same book. I don’t want to take away any possible interpretations from readers: it would feel like robbing them of enjoyment I believe they should have and depriving my work of some layers. The author’s dead, and to an extent I want to be considered dead—as long as nobody comes and pops me off this mortal coil when I’m eating a yoghurt so they can enjoy my books more. I don’t ever want to get in the way of my readers enjoying my work the way they want to.
So I hope you understand when I say: I can’t entirely answer that question. Do I mind Heronstairs? Not at all. I am totally 100% behind those who ship it. (Ship and let ship, I say.) Do I think Heronstairs makes total sense within the framework of the narrative of Infernal Devices? Yes, it does. Nothing contradicts it. Do I think Will and Jem are bisexual representation? No, and I shouldn’t get any credit for them being so. Does that mean they’re not bi? No. Does that mean they are bi? No. It means you get to decide now.
(Hopefully we can all agree they are adorable?)
Beautiful, really sad alternate cover for Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Jean