Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Major Jasper Whitlock Hale

While we're talking about deus ex machina characters (*ahem* Alice), let us turn our attention to Jasper. I'm sorry to sound like a one-note nag, but here is another character that has been totally misinterpreted by the fan base, particularly in fan fiction.

Why? Whenever Jasper makes an appearance is (to fail) to diffuse a confrontation. "Oh, there was going to the big fight between the characters of this story, but Jasper diffused it, so everyone went home confused, because I needed to write my way out of this corner I wrote myself into."

So, why have the confrontation at all if nothing develops from it? That is, that the characters learn that they can be as irascible as they desire, because Jasper will simply eliminate animosity?

Or, worse: "Jasper tried to calm x but his power didn't seem to affect x's rage."

How many times have I read this in fan fiction? Too, too many times.

If Jasper's power has no effect, and his inability causes no change in the story or the characters, why mention it? You are trespassing on Jasper when he tries something and then you throw him back into the cobwebbed plot corner you pulled him forward from. I mean, what are Jasper's feelings when his powers fail? Have you considered that? Nobody that writes the ineffectual line in the fan fiction I've read considers how that affects Jasper, the empath.

Certainly, Jasper's ability can fail, and that failure should be written about, but only in the context that there's some price to be paid. Do not parade a super power if there is no consequence to it.

But really, so what? Jasper has a deus ex machina super power. This makes him extremely difficult to write well, but behind that super power is an entity; does anybody think about who that Jasper is?

Yes. Minisinoo's Cowboys and Indians and Mandi1's You've Kept Me Waiting.

So, you've read those stories. So you know that Jasper is a philosopher: a philosopher that thinks and that is willing to act on those thoughts.

But he's also an officer and soldier. Now in the canon, he was put into situations where he could not show forth his vast strategic knowledge. Like the following:

Did he charge at Victoria and her Newborns in Eclipse, or did he sit in Forks, waiting for them to come - long enough for SM to set up her plot lines wherein Edward and Jacob would both end up with Bella in a tent? Did he charge at the Volturi threat in BD, or did he take off and leave with Alice to go to South America in order to bring back some [lame] half vamp? And where was he in New Moon when Edward was going to sparkle himself to death? Really, I don't remember, but he sure [...] wasn't charging at any threat. Oh, but let's not forget his masterful leadership in Twilight - sitting in the hotel room while Alice drew pictures and then allowing Bella to give him the slip.

- Thanks to LiLa for the comprehensive analysis

But what if he were put into a situation where he could and should act as a soldier. Let's say Bella is kidnapped and held as a pawn to blackmail the Cullens to do or to abstain from certain acts. If they refuse, she's destroyed, and they are next. What would Jasper do?

Here's my take:

Jasper is a Major of the Confederate Army that successfully held off a more-powerful more-well-equipped with supplies, arms, and men and more-surrounding Northern Aggressor. He knows the score. You play the enemy's game for any length of time, you lose. It's as simple as that. You make your own plan that lulls the enemy into thinking they have you over a barrel, and then you strike hard.

Jasper was also the leader of an army of volatile and every changing newborns, training them very, very quickly (as they only had a year of effectiveness before their innate advantage wore off) and killing them with utter ruthlessness. His army outnumbered him at least 20 to 1, yet he still replaced every one of them every year.

Jasper, outnumbered 20 to 1, facing a powerful and better prepared enemy, is advising playing the waiting game?

No. "When the enemy attacks, charge." He's read the lessons learned from the Great War, WWII, Korea and Vietnam. He knows his own army's strength, and he already knows the strength of the enemy.

The strength of the enemy is this. They have no strength. They SAY they have strength, but this is a bluff. They can only give the illusion of strength, but behind the enemy's bluff is a force that is strained to the gills holding a prisoner. Jasper knows that as soon as the enemy starts talking is the time not to fool around with strategy and tactics, its time to lay down an all-out frontal assault with his very powerful family, route the enemy and kill every last one of them, mercilessly, as they make their hasty attempt to regroup or to retreat.

Jasper has fought in more wars than this little hostage situation to know that sitting still and accepting enemy's terms, even for one second, is admitting defeat. Attack, and attack now, this is the only way to create the possibility of winning.

Ask the Special Forces guys. Ask the Marines. I have. I've lived with them. I've trained with them. "Let the enemy come to you" or "wait it out" ≡ "wet yourself and die."

No. "Attack." "Keep moving." "Shock, awe, confuse, kill, win."

But Edward cries: "But Bella will die!" Sorry, Edward. Bella is already dead. If we don't attack right now, we'll all be dead. If we attack now, we may recover her. If we don't, she will certainly die. This is war. People die. So sorry, but anything else is Disney fairy tale. The only way to save Bella is to kill and kill and kill until every last one of the enemy is dead.

That is the only way.

Or, like most fan depictions of our "slacker" Jasper, he could just cool his heels and let the enemy dictate the terms and pace of the unfolding events. Hm. Good advice, Jasper. Which war did you fight in again?

Jasper has read Sun Tzu, yes? And the Go Rin No Sho? Yes, he has. And he's read Rommel (he keeps up) and Patton's speeches, and philosophy in general. What does philosophy say? "Let life happen to you"? Or "the best way to predict the future is to invent it"? Are you listening, Alice?

Do you see Jasper, in this situation where he's assuming a leadership role, saying "Let it be" or "Carpe Diem"? Jasper, in the canon, advises patience and caution: wonderfully wise-sounding strategy in fiction. How does it measure up in real life: "A good plan today is better than a perfect one tomorrow."

Jasper, you are the leader: lead. The battle lines are drawn. Break through them and kill the enemy, every last one of them, left, right and center.

Or die, slowly, playing the enemy's game.

You touch one Cullen, you have Jasper to deal with, and you do not want to deal with Jasper. He, himself, has destroyed over THREE THOUSAND vampires. This is canonical. And he didn't do this by sitting back, and he's probably handled at least 10 hostage situations, and he knows paralysis is death.

Kill, Jasper, right now. Or you will get what you deserve: watching your loved ones burn, one of them being your Alice before you, and then you.

Jasper, in the canon, in his hesitancy, sounds wise and philosophical, but I argue the character here is not Jasper that his history and experience formed. Put on his ragged, deeply scarred, marble skin, put on his burning golden eyes that have seen more than three thousand destructions. Put on the major's uniform of a man who has turned defeat after defeat into decisive and all-encompassing victories by his heartless, vicious, rapid, direct action.

So, I implore you to look beyond the easy-going, slacker, image Jasper projects. Look at him with fresh eyes. Look through his eyes. You need to become, to become truly, the character in the spotlight. Who is Jasper? What is Jasper? Why is Jasper? You must answer those questions down to the spurs on his boots, his cheer in front of his men, and his absolutely winning record on ever single one of every battlefield he's ridden or run across, killing, killing, guiding his army, killing, and winning.

You must become 187 years old for Jasper.

"When the enemy attacks, charge."

Or, as Jasper shouted over the sound of muskets and the rallying bugle cry: "Charge!"

Jasper: ineffectual slacker boy?

No. He is Major Jasper Whitlock Hale. See beyond his easy-going demeanor to the true asset the Cullens have: a charismatic man, a soldier, a strategist, a philosopher.

Who has changed a habit of over one hundred years: he stopped drinking human blood to drink that blood that tastes worse than excrement. All for the love a little bubbly girl.

Jasper Whitlock 'Hale' can entirely change what he thinks he is.

Old dogs can learn new tricks. A leopard can change it spots. Jasper's shown us that.

Can you?