I’ve browsed around a little at some of the reviews of the end of The Clockwork Princess and there seems to be a debate about whether Tessa is just wishy-washy and can’t decide between Will and Jem, that you can’t love two people at the same time, and that the ending is contrived (and maybe, in a post I didn’t read, ruined the whole series). Normally I might not write anything, but The Infernal Devices is my favorite of the series for a couple of reasons (well, more than a couple). It’s set in the Victorian period, and I like historical settings, it was interesting to see the Shadowhunters in an earlier setting, and there were automatons. But, enough of that.
Tessa is confused in The Clockwork Angel, for more than one reason. She has been overly trusting, seemingly her whole life, always looking for the good in people, but recognizing the bad. Will presents himself as an arrogant, uncaring jerk (insert preferred word). The institute is overwhelming, with its own internal struggles and battles and interesting characters. Jem is the one who makes her feel welcome, his music is what draws her to him, and eventually, the language in which they can communicate without words. He knows he’s dying and he’s an addict, not a very good prospect. Tessa is his out of reach ideal.
Tessa, of course, falls for Will first, who treats her horrifically. You can’t help who you fall in love with, but you can help how much you’ll put up with from them. Even though it’s his attempts to drive her away from him, the things he says to her are more than unkind, they are really unforgivable. Working out an “arrangement” when it’s decided she’ll stay at the institute? She doesn’t know he isn’t the bad boy he pretends to be, she seeds glimpses of it. She doesn’t know he’s afraid she’ll die if he loves her. Instead, what he does is continually hurt her with little stings and barbs throughout the books.
Tessa and Jem fall in love because they become friends first, then fall in love. People can say it’s a cliche, but it’s actually somewhat archetypical to have a woman fall in love with two men, or a woman in a situation where two men are involved. Arthur/Guinevere/Lancelot, and Tristan/Iseulte(Isolde)/Mark–although Mark sort of got left out of the deal on that one. Guinevere loved Lancelot and Arthur both, and she didn’t want to hurt either of them, yet she loved them at the same time. I’m sure there are more than that I could think of if it wasn’t 6:40 in the morning.
Tessa, however, and wisely, I think, chooses Jem over Will. Jem has been the one who is there for her in the aftermath of whatever situation Will has caused. By the time Will realizes there is no curse, it’s too late for a relationship between him and Tessa, although he presumptuously assumes otherwise. Tessa understands that for whatever time Jem has left, they are happy together, and sometimes that is the greatest thing you can do for someone–she isn’t doing it out of pity, she does it because she loves him. Yes, she still loves Will, but she loves Jem as well, and she isn’t going to renege on a promise she made him. She’s not wishy-washy, she’s true to her word, which is honorable. She doesn’t let Will push her around.
Neither Will nor Tessa knew Jem was going to become a Silent Brother, which leaves Tessa in an odd position, but Jem says Silent Brothers can’t marry, effectively telling her she can marry Will. So she does and they live a life together, but every year at the same place she meets Jem and they talk–she still loves Jem–after all, they do this for 173 years or so, long after Will has died and her children have died.
I think it’s appropriate they end up together in the end, because they were meant to be together in the beginning. He was always the one who treated her the best, the one who didn’t think she would love him because he was an addict, who thought a girl like her would never look at him when put side-by-side next to Will, because it’s always the guys like Will who get the girl.
She loved Will, there’s no question of that, but she loved Jem, albeit in a different way, a quieter, sweeter way. Jem wanted them to marry–he knew they’d both be suffering and they were the only two who could truly help each other, Will over the loss of his Parabatai and Tessa over the loss of her husband and love.
Widows and widowers remarry. Some people marry their high school sweetheart and live happily ever after. Most people fumble along thinking they are fated to meet their “One True Love.” Well, at 44 years old and after about five long term relationships, I don’t think there is “One True Love.” That’s why we read fantasy and books like these, so we can vicariously experience what something we want to feel is like. Start asking people around you, “Have you met your true love?” and see what people say. I can’t say if people are fated. They control the choices they make, and yes, they do fall in love with more than one person at a time. Relationships and love are messy, painful, confusing things, accompanied by wishy-washiness, tears, ice cream and chocolate (and whatever the male equivilant is, if it’s different. If so, you’re missing out on the ice cream and chocolate. Or fries, it tends to swing toward the sweet end or the salty end).
I hope I’ve made sort of a coherent point. I’m not saying anyone is wrong in their opinion, just offering mine, for whatever it’s worth. I should add that this goes for all relationships, m/f, m/m, f/f. Love bounces people around like silly putty on the comics page (did anyone ever do that? Press silly putty onto the comics and then be endlessly amused that it copied it? Ok. Nevermind). It’s a primal emotion. The only thing holding it back is propriety and manners. Otherwise, you’re crossing into criminal, mug shot territory and that is not a place to go. Love is all about respect. Listening. Really listening.
Like Jem does to Tessa. He respects her. She is his treasure, his dream come true. Will is like the Tasmanian Devil. Dressed nicely and not smelly, and pretty to look at. But he still leaves chaos in his wake.
I will say she and Will blew it in the cave, however. How convenient, invisible walls. Hm. I’ll have to remember that one. “Sorry, I couldn’t make it to work, all of a sudden my car couldn’t move and I just happened to have my Kindle and all the notes for the book and story I’m working on with me. Isn’t that funny?”
See, I even found a cute Tasmanian Devil. 🙂