On the Mortal Instruments series
Jace, Clary, and the Function of Taboo
There’s a reason that stories end at Happily Ever After. Happy couples are boring. Bo-ring. It’s all kissy faces and “honey-bear this” and “snuggle-pie that.” It’s sweet, and deep, and meaningful. And it makes us want to close the book. As readers, we’re drawn in by the struggle, by the drama, by the desires of the characters. There are few things in literature more enthralling to read than the tale of two people who yearn to be together. The great love stories tell us that to be truly engaging, couples should yearn against seemingly insurmountable obstacles. The more a couple has to overcome, the more forbidden the romance, the more we root for them. The young lovers of Romeo and Juliet defied a family feud and married in secret. Jack Twist and Ennis Del Mar fought against societal constraints and shame in Brokeback Mountain. Lancelot and Guinevere overcame the constraints of common sense and decency. In Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series, Jace Wayland and Clary Fray overcome the taboo of sibling incest, and they do it without ever crossing the gross-out line.
Taboo as Titillation
Taboo (noun): a custom prohibiting or restricting a particular practice or forbidding association with a particular person, place, or thing
When Jace is shown to be Clary’s brother, the two have been falling in love for the better part of a book. The reader has invested in them. But the introduction of incest still should throw up a significant barrier for romantic enjoyment. It should stop us …