Sunday, August 28, 2011

Bored on Sunday? Write an Essay!

So after a releated conversation on facebook, without anything better to do with my Sunday afternoon I found myself five pages deep in Cruce. Not that I mind, I do loooooove him. But LOL I guess I am NEVER going to be done coming to his defense. MAJOR Fever series spoilers ahead if you found this on accident. I call this essay:

The Brilliance of Cruce:
He Would Have Gotten Away With It If Not For That Meddling MacKayla.

Rarely does an antagonist really make you think twice about all that he has done. Sure, it has happened in other stories, but in reference to Cruce of Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series, there is a gray area of ambiguity that remains in his wake. This area can be taken either way in many instances, and most readers believe the rapes of Aoibheal and MacKayla Lane leave Cruce a closed case that can never find redemption. To some extent I agree; rape is NEVER justified and is a terrible act of selfishness and violence. However, the point of this article is not to focus on the mechanics, motivations, or morality of the rapes, but to analyze the character of Cruce and expose him for who and what he is. As far as redemption goes, Cruce may be able to achieve it, but he is really going to have to work for it.

There is no denying, at the end of Shadowfever, that Cruce is an antithesis of himself: he is revealed to be both incredibly brilliant, but hovering on the cusp of complete insanity. He makes it to his end game, absorbs the Sinsar Dubh and is just moments away of completing all he set out to do a million or so years before. But because he could never drink from the Cauldron of forgetting to escape the threat of insanity, his final moments reveal him not so much as the glorious Unseelie prince who defies everyone to free a wrongly imprisoned race of beings and escapes prosecution for merely existing, but as a mad man who seeks complete and utter control as well as the destruction of anyone who stands in his path.

In a way, Cruce could be a heroic character if certain situations could have been avoided. There is an obvious undertone of the civil rights movement in the series. The Dark Fae were killed and imprisoned for merely being different than the Light Fae, for instance. But freeing the Unseelie was only half of what Cruce is after, he also wants ALL the Fae to be free of the Compact made with the human race, which would, in turn, make the human race victims to the Fae and making the hero of an act of prejudice the dictator in another one. However, as the books go on, his views on humans begin to change. He even works with them closely to keep them safe, fights alongside the protagonists, and is quite infatuated with one human in particular. There is a lot of hope for him to change his views, until the end of Shadowfever.

Though the change is sudden, his whole personality shifts when he drops the V’lane glamour and fully becomes Cruce. Even his dialogue changes from the arrogant, flowy, long sentences used as V’lane to shorter, choppier sentences that are blunt and to the point. For example, the first time we meet V’lane in Darkfever, this is what he says:

“'It is nothing I do, sidhe-seer,’ it said. ‘It is what I am. I am every erotic dream you’ve ever had and a thousand more you’ve never thought of. I am sex that will turn you inside out and burn you down to ashes.’ It smiled. ‘And if I choose, I can make you whole again.” (Darkfever, 154)
He's very articulate and chooses his worrds in order to assure the best impact. That being said, this is  the kind of dialogue we get after he drops the V'lane glamour:
“‘They would have killed you. They had never had a human woman. Darroc underestimated their ardor.’” (Shadowfever, 571)
The sentences are very straightforward and defensive. The short, simplistic sentences continue on as Mac pushes to find out why he would take part in the rape at the end of Faefever.

“‘I desired you. You refused me. I wearied of your protests. You wanted me. You thought about it. You were not even there. What difference?’” (Shadowfever, 571)
Again, there is little feeling involved in what Cruce has to say. He appears to not be concerned about how Mac may feel about what he is saying. He is not even giving her the curtesy of putting thought into what he is saying. He says it point blank, knowing all the while it hurts Mac to hear it. Like a machine gun shooting several bullets per second, the short sentences are driven home in a rat, tat, tat, tat quick fashion.

While the whole scene reads out as though, in the presence of the Unseelie King, Cruce is a disobedient child who is merely acting out because daddy just showed up to take the T-bird away, there is more to it. The father-child issue is too obvious and Cruce allows it to be in the forefront to divert the attention away from what lies underneath it. The main reason why he goes from the character we think we know to an almost unrecognizable one in the blink of an eye is summed up into two words: MacKayla Lane.

Cruce has the series of events all set up from the very beginning. He takes over V’lane’s persona and establishes Aoibheal as, first, his concubine, then a Fae princess, then as the Queen. By his own admission, “‘I encouraged where encouragement was useful’” (Shadowfever, 570) He molds Darroc into the perfect scapegoat and diversionary tactic. Cruce ensures that while everyone is watching the Lord Master free the Unseelie, tear the walls down, and hunt the Sinsar Dubh, he can place himself on the chess board and continue moving the pawns around unnoticed. However, he does not consider the fact he would develop feelings for one of the chess pieces on his game board. Inevitably, his feelings for Mac both save and destroy him.

Over the course of the series, as V’lane, he begins to soften towards Mac and form and unlikely “friendship” with the human. He desires her, but he even somewhat respects her wishes and “mutes” his Death-By-Sex mojo on her in order to make her feel more comfortable in his presence. At the same time, while Mac never fully trusts V’lane, she considers him an ally. On several occasions, Mac is even glad to see him; will smile at his appearance or run to greet him. What makes the situation so tragic when she runs to greet the false “V’lane” at the end of Faefever is that instead of saving her from his brethren, Cruce betrays her by participating in the act as well.

His participation is purely selfish. He shows up in the middle of the act, after Mac already begins to turn Pri-ya. His participation in this scene does benefit her in the end, though, and that is because he gives her the elixir that makes her just Fae enough to survive what is being done to her. Does it justify the act? No. But, as a result, Cruce’s elixir saves her life several other times in the series and allows her to be able to live forever alongside Jericho Barrons.

Cruce’s presence is contrasting to the other three princes for several reasons. One being that he is gentle where the others have not had sex for over a million years. Mac states he is the most terrifying of all because of his gentle caresses, but also because she cannot see who it is. Since Mac’s mind was already mostly gone at this point, her fear is moist likely due to the fact that instinctively she knows the person being gentle with her is more than likely someone she knows, and that is why they remain hidden. It is important that Cruce used his true form in this scene; he does not rape Mac in the form of V’lane. V’lane is the handsome, golden prince who lives to obey the command of his queen, or Mac. Cruce answers to nobody, and nothing is going to keep him from what he wants. He takes Mac as himself, but remains hidden still. Not only because no one is aware Cruce is still alive, but because he is not ready for Mac to know him as Cruce despite of what he is doing to her.

The most ambiguous of his actions is in what he plans to do with Mac after the rape has ended. He hovers around as though he is going to allow Darroc to use her in the Pri-ya state to track the book. Yet, he allows Dani to take Mac away when, if he is the shadowy figure that was able to get in her way as it appears he is. He allows Mac’s ally to take her rather than her enemy, all the while he cannot act himself without showing his hand and revealing himself as Cruce. He is furious when the wards keeping Unseelie out of the abbey go down and Jericho Barrons has already taken Mac away. Not only was he willing to be the one to “save” Mac, but he also lost out on a chance to track with Mac’s complete obedience to only him. Because he cared enough to let Dani have Mac rather than Darroc, he made path to the end game more difficult.

When he finally sees Mac again, he apologizes for the sake of his brethren:

“’A thousand apologies could not atone for the harm my brethren were permitted to inflict upon you. It sickens me that you were—‘He broke off, bowing his head even more deeply, as if he couldn’t bring himself to go on.” (Dreamfever, 67).
His head is bowed, he is avoiding all eye contact, and he is not only apologizing for the other princes but for himself. He cannot bring himself to say what it was that happened to her. Not sure if one could go as far to say this is his showing shame for what he did, so much as knowing he took part in hurting her, not being able to admit he took part in it, and knowing humans have a tendency for forgiving over time. Maybe he hoped this would help her, but the fact he bowed at all in her presence showed some respect is there, despite everything that has happened prior to this scene. And is one of many instances that show Cruce cares about what Mac thinks of him.

The moment in which this is really driven home is when Cruce is about to drop his V’lane glamour for good:

“’Still you wear V’lane’s face. What do you fear?’ the king said.

‘I fear nothing.’ But his gaze lingered on me a long moment. ‘I fight for my race, MacKayla. I have since I was born. He would conceal us in shame and condemn us to a half life. Remember that. There are reasons for all I have done.’” (Shadowfever, 570)
Even here, his dialogue begins to get choppy and defensive as the switch is about to occur. After this moment, his attitude makes him uncaring about what he has done or is willing to do. However, his in this instance it is almost as though he is pleading with Mac to remember that he did everything for a reason. He takes a long glance at her, as though remembering her at this moment, before she can grow to truly hate him. At this point she is afraid of him and confused by the turn of events, but it is not until he becomes Cruce that she truly begins to hate him. He is almost begging her to keep what he is saying in this scene in mind as the next one begins to unfold.

In order to make my next point, we must look at how Cruce’s hate for the Unseelie King stems from both the neglect of the king’s full attention or concern and a lack of an understanding of emotions. Because of the Unseelie King’s love of the concubine, Aoibheal, the king does not devote himself to the Unseelie he created and does not really concern himself with what happens to them. Because Cruce does not understand why the king loves this mortal woman more than his own children, the anger continues to build up until, when sentenced to death for merely existing, it overcomes Cruce so completely that it becomes his life’s mission to free his brethren and take his father’s crown; to start over with the Unseelie with a different approach. Cruce believes that by loving a mortal and having no concern for the Fae makes the Unseelie King weak and undeserving of the power he wields. After taking the concubine away from the king and utilizing her as a pawn in Seelie affairs, he becomes comfortable in the V’lane glamour he set in place. He lives the lives of two beings. He is Cruce, calculating, efficient, and struggling to not become a victim of circumstance like the rest of the Unseelie. But he is also V’lane, seemingly loyal to his race, a leader and ,unlike his Unseelie brothers, free.

When he meets Mac and begins to get to know her, he begins to understand what the Unseelie King felt for the concubine. Following in similar footsteps, he alters Mac to where she cannot die, not just because she is useful but because he cares for her. Afterwards, when it results in her becoming stronger and able to see him in his truest form, he begins hoping to take her to be his princess, telling her “’You are queenly in your own right” (Dreamfever, 69). As he hopes to become the future king of the Fae, she would become his queen. Which makes the dual meaning of the following exchange really interesting:

“’Maybe the fourth was you, V’lane. How do I know it wasn’t?’

My skin frosted. When I shivered, crystals of ice fell in a small snowstorm to the sidewalk. ‘I was with my queen.’” (Dreamfever, 73).
To an extent, he was. He was with the woman he would have as his queen during that scene. And when previously she comments that between the queen and herself, she was the expendable one to him, it can be regarded as though he meant the Mac that existed then was expendable in order to find the book. While Jericho Barrons believes the elixir was given to Mac to keep her Pri-ya forever, it does not make a lot of sense to believe Cruce would not have cured her of being Pri-ya after having the book in his possession; he was too proud of her ability to view a Fae in its true form to be satisfied with an empty shell for his queen.

As Cruce began to disregard using Mac for the Sinsar Dubh and planning to keep her for his own, it becomes apparent that his downfall is that he cared for Mac too much. His V’lane glamour allowed him the freedom to care for her. But as Cruce, caring for her would make him weak. One of the themes in the Fever series, especially in Shadowfever, is duality. And Cruce versus V’lane is one of the major examples of duality at work in the series. For example, he even refers to himself as separate entities after it becomes clear he is one and the same:

“’I wanted you to accept me as I was, but—how is it you say?—my reputation preceded me. Others filled your head with lies about Cruce, I endeavored to correct them, open your eyes.’” (Shadowfever, 569)
As long as he is in V’lane’s form, he cannot fully accept himself as Cruce. Whether it is denying his presence in the rape, keeping his existence secret or even making a simple statement about himself, there is definitely a rift between both personalities. Maybe it is because he hasn’t drunk from the Cauldron and is becoming unhinged, or maybe it is because V’lane has become a shield for Cruce. He can do anything in the name of his cause and fall back on the fact that, as V’lane, he has never done those things since V’lane lives to serve Aoibheal. He’s lived a life behind a mask, and now that it is time to take the mask off, what lies underneath may not be overly recognizable to even himself.

To elaborate, the personality shift from V’lane to Cruce can be closely connected to his feelings for Mac. He tells her all he has done is for a reason, then he changes form and does not sugar coat anything else he says. Whereas, as V’lane, he wanted her to want him as he is, as Cruce he seems to want her to hate him. He cannot admit to himself or the Unseelie King he has feelings for a human when he is telling the king he did what he did because the king loved the concubine. He has ultimately trapped himself with a double standard. Had he not cared for Mac, he could have made her Pri-ya at any time and used her to get the book as he ultimately set out to do in Darkfever when he offered her his cuff after trying to seduce her and learning she had a stronger will than he expected.

Cruce would have found a way to get the Sinsar Dubh eventually, but because he develops feelings for Mac, he is trapped within himself. Taking away the freedom the V’lane glamour allowed Cruce forces him into the corner he created for himself by believing that feelings made one too weak to be the king of the Fae. While Cruce may not have been locked away in the Unseelie Prison, he was still a prisoner of his own design. First, he was locked away in the form of a Seelie Prince to keep his existence unknown, and afterwards it becomes represented by the fact that he is now frozen in all his glory beneath the abbey. Should he ever be let out, he will not truly be free until he can stop living for a cause and start living for himself.


jzbfever said...

I loved this. You have a wonderful insight into Cruce. Reading this has given me a deeper understanding of the character.

Starre said...

This is a really interesting insight into Cruce's character. I certainly agree that in other circumstances he might be construed as heroic. I found his character so thought provoking and haunting that I'm hardly surprised he inspired an essay! Thanks for sharing.

Just curious - who is the gorgeous guy in the picture? He's a pretty good match for how Cruce is described!

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