Thursday, January 14, 2010

CharacterExploration: Jane - World's Scariest Tween



Jane is one of those “minor” Twilight characters that just sort of jumps out at you. (Okay, technically, she sort of stares menacingly at you, but you know what I mean.) She was actually one of my favorite characters simply because I love a good villain. Jane is one hell of a villain. Why is she so good? Well, she represents several very basic truths:

1. Appearances can be deceiving.
2. Not all power is physical.
3. Tween girls are frightening. (Think about it... After all, that's how Britney and Miley started.) **shudders**

What really got me thinking about her, however, was when I decided to use Jane as a minor character in my story Frozen Spring. In it, she is a figure from Edward's past – a long lost, young love. I took what I considered to be canon Jane attributes (willfulness, youth, and a sense of entitlement) and put them in a human girl. After all, aren't most sixteen or seventeen-year-old girls like that? She's only mentioned in passing, but the response I received was overwhelming. People hated her, and the poor girl didn't even speak a single line! While some of that hatred stems from the fact that Edward was in love with her once, the majority of it is that some people just don't like her. Which led me here. So what makes Jane so terrible?

Canon Jane

Or, That Bitch That Hurt Edward In Volterra
Canon Jane boils down to a caricature of our typical “evil child” fears. She's “Children of the Corn” meets “The Bad Seed,” with her angelic face and ability to cause debilitating pain from a single glance. We don't really get any background on her, just that she and her twin are powerful despite their size. To add insult to injury, in New Moon she committed an unthinkable sin: she hurt Edward! **insert fandom gasp here** Therefore, we must hate her. Right?

Well, when she's a supporting character, pretty much. Jane retains her “evil for the sake of evil” creepy vibe in most canon vampire fics. She's seldom shown as anything more than Aro's doll and pretty weapon. She is usually depicted in this role, and she appears in canon fiction whenever there is conflict between the Volturi and the Cullens.

In “
created a sympathetic but completely in-character Jane. Taking place during Edward's visits to the Volturi in New Moon, Jane's thoughts shine some light on her character, including the effect that her physical age has had on her development.

Algonquinrt found
this to be a very important point about Jane and said:
She was a tween/young teen at her change. Why would Edward be frozen as a teen with many teen reactions, but not Jane?

This theme is continued in “
Becoming Jane
creates a history for Jane. Her imagined “creation” of the Jane that we know now is completely believable. Her story is dark, violent, and utterly engrossing. It's obvious that Jane is still very much a child at the time of her death and thus retains that mentality. It's also apparent that Jane is a monster that was made as much as born.

and I talked about Jane a little bit, and this is what she had to say about why she wrote about her:
I am also a firm believer that people can be a product of their environment. Jane is no different. I set out to create a story for her that would explain her behavior and hopefully make readers feel something powerful for Jane, whether it is sympathy, revulsion or a begrudging understanding for who she is. I wanted her to live and breathe, I felt she deserved that.

Canon Alternate Universe Jane

Or, That Bitch Who Hurt Edward in Volterra But Maybe Isn't All Bad
People who don't hate Jane seem to want to redeem her, or allow her to 'evolve.'

For example, Jane in
Aro's Heir
” begins with the usual “babysit the Cullens and use force if necessary” role. The story assumes canon through Chapter 21 of New Moon before branching and becoming AU. Instead of letting them go, Edward and Bella are viciously assaulted in Volterra, and Jane is ordered to accompany them home to Forks. Her character grows over the story, and even though she's not a main character, her involvement – and personal growth – become central to it.

I asked
what she likes about writing Jane:
I love misunderstood women, and I love asking people to see the other side of the coin. If she's so evil, what made her that way? Is there something in her past that could make readers feel sympathy for her? Like Rosalie, people often tend to write her as a one-dimensional ice queen, relishing her role as the Volturi's torturer. I wanted to explore Jane's motivations for using her gift the way she did, as an instrument of the Volturi.

The Jane in “
” by
is ruled by a very AU (but very believable) premise: she's in love with Aro. SulpiciaDoesntApprove views her Jane as trapped in a young body but decidedly mature mentally. I'll admit that the thought of a Jane/Aro pairing turned me off at first, but when I started reading I was totally sucked into the story. Sure, Jane and Aro are vampires and incredibly powerful, but that doesn't mean they don't feel and want and need.

Human Jane

Or, That Bitch Who Is Whatever We Need For Our Story
This Jane is, without a doubt, the most varied. She's not featured often, but when she is, it's seldom canon. Instead some canon feature is plucked and highlighted to create whatever we, as writers, need.

If that feature is her youthful selfishness, you get “
Bless Me
” by
. It's a simple one-shot in which Jane and Edward meet up for some lemon-y goodness. While most people might shy away from it on the premise alone, I found it interesting to see Jane depicted that way. Einfach_mich wasn't trying to make her sympathetic or savable in any way, but she wasn't making her out to be a one-dimensional villain, either. She's just young, willful, and sexual.

Finally, if that feature is just that of a girl on the verge of womanhood, you get Jane from
's “
Brown Study
”. This is actually my favorite out-of-character (OOC) Jane because she's just, well, a teenage girl. She's trying to be a good friend to Bella and help her find love, but she's also learning about herself. When I asked Littlesecret84 why she picked Jane, she gave me a very simple – and honest – answer:
She's pretty?

(For the record, she pictures Amanda Seyfried as her Jane. I can totally agree with that.)


So, at the end of the day, what do we get out of all my babbling? Hopefully, I've managed to rustle up some Jane sympathizers. Personally, I feel like the biggest issue that we, as readers, have with Jane is that she's a vampire. We like the Cullens because they don't act like vampires. Jane, and the rest of the Volturi, do. So, does that make them inherently evil? In my mind, no. They are who – and what – they were made to be. Hating them would be like hating a lion because it hunts gazelle.

I think it’s really hard to like Jane. She isn’t cuddly and approachable, she puts canon Rose to shame in the bitch department. On the surface it seems as though she doesn’t have any redeemable qualities, but they could be there, if we, as writers, give them to her. Would I want to hang out with her and braid her hair and talk about Edward’s sparkly abs in the plaza scene? Not so much.

Maybe I'm just a product of too many video games and violent movies, but I do think it's possible to like Jane, even without redeemable qualities. Could I be her friend? No - she'd eat me. But can I respect her as a bad-ass vampire? Hell yes. Because sometimes you just want a vampire who acts like, well, a vampire.
began her Twilight-inspired “career” on the website Twilight-Headed, in which she attempted to make witty observations about Twilight and life. She is now co-authoring a general fiction blog called
Whimsical Fic-ery
and writes a crazy little ghost fic called
Frozen Spring
. She finds fanfiction and blogging a wonderful way to hide from her overactive children. When not vehemently arguing for Jane to receive the respect she deserves, Meadow is wasting time on Twitter or stalking other authors and convincing them to talk to her. She finds it odd how easy it is to talk about herself in the third person and may continue to do so from now on. Also, she is considering using the royal “we” when referring to herself. She says this: “We are delighted that you took the time to read. Have a wonderful day!”
Archived Explorations:


  1. Canon Jane was prized for her ability. She was one of Aro's favorites because her gift made her so powerful, a power he utilized for protection and retribution. I believe that the centuries of being prized for the thing that made her the most deadly probably turned her into the sort of stone cold vampire she was in the books. Beyond her gift, she would have no value in the Volturi, they would simply find her disposable and she'd be living a very different life.

    Where Edward did have a chance to somewhat mature over his century, I doubt Jane could because she was never living among humans or trying to assimilate as one. She never needed to fit in, so why bother trying?

    Thanks for writing.

  2. We enjoyed reading your character exploration on Jane. We can honestly say that we hate Jane in the Twilight Saga Books. We mean HATE her. But in most fan fiction she is written as one of Edward's ex-girlfriends, or someone who wants to make Edward pay for something he’s done. We don't hate her in the Fan Fiction world like we hate Victoria who is usually written as WANTING Edward physically, at least in the stories that we have read. You referred to several stories that we have not read and we are looking forward to giving them a try.

    We never thought about trying to understand Jane. Maybe if we thought about it....What if she was "changed" during her monthly period. Not only her monthly period - but one of her FIRST monthly periods. Imagine for all eternity being "on the rag". We can imagine that is where her power comes from. Because, honestly who wouldn't HURT someone during that time of the month if we could do it without even touching them. LOL.

    Excellent Exploration Meadow!! We would just like to remind anyone who is reading, that Meadow also writes a guest review on Southern Fan Fiction Review twice a month. She is AWESOME!


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