This took ten times longer than it should have.
So, I’m going to take a break from whining about characters. If only because there is one major, major issue that I’m going to need to get out of the way before tackling the character of Jacob Black. An issue that, ever since Eclipse has haunted the series. An idea that was so very wrong, that I have to wonder if an editor actually read it or if they just decided that Meyer could, at that point, vomit rainbows on paper and everyone would buy it.
The thing that is somehow managing to bleed into other, even less intelligent works such as House of Night.
This stinking concept.
I’m not sure what Meyer was thinking when she introduced this concept into the series. I know that it was there from the very beginning when Meyer wrote Forever Dawn, where the werewolf pack had much less of a role, and Jacob apparently imprinted on Bella’s kid. What I’m confused by is how it was the Meyer thought that this was going to be a good idea. Maybe it was advantageous to the plot, since it gave the wolves a reason to help them, but there is no angle that I can look at it that isn’t disturbing as all get out.
What’s worse, Meyer honestly sees this as romantic.
So, in order to do this without throwing a bunch of verbage at you, I’m going to discuss the various reasons for just what is wrong with this idea.
“Sam did love Leah. But when he saw Emily, that didn’t matter anymore.” (Eclipse 122)
“Everything inside of me came undone as I stared at the tiny porcelain face… All the lines that held me to life were sliced apart in swift cuts, like clipping the strings to a bunch of balloons. Everything that made me who I was—my love for the dead girl upstairs, my love for my father, my loyalty to my new pack, the love for my other brothers, my hatred for my enemies, my home, my name, my self—disconnected from me in that second (Breaking Dawn 360)
“No matter the age or living conditions of the human, the werewolf automatically becomes whatever the human wants him to be, at the loss of his personal free will.” (The Official Illustrated Guide 311)
So, often when critics tackle this, the first thing they mention is the pedophilia angle and how this affects the women who are…lucky…enough to be the subject of this. This isn’t why I’m going to point out at first. This isn’t to say that those elements aren’t just as much there or just as horrible, but there is something else that critics sometimes don’t seem to see.
This is brainwashing. In the quote from Meyer’s own guide, she admits that imprinting essentially removes the free will of the werewolf, causing their entire personality to alter in a way to become better suited to the imprintee. As you can see from both the Eclipse and the Breaking Dawn quotes, the former relationships, families, even normal hobbies are essentially utterly erased along with, apparently, their entire personality.
For instance, let’s say that before Sam imprinted, he liked to watch really stupid horror movies. Like…Troll 2 level bad. Emily, however loathes horror movies and loves period romances. That would mean that Sam would suddenly think that the movies that loved were trash. Another example, the wolf loves there imprint more than anyone or anything. This means that one, close family and friendships would be completely forgotten, and if the imprintee decided that she didn’t like a certain member of the family who they had been really, really close to, the wolf would, without a second thought, cut that relationship off completely and not care.
They can’t care about anyone.
Quil will love everything that Clare loves. Always. Mindlessly. Because all he really is an extension of Clare. As far as Meyer is concerned, imprinting leaves the werewolf as a pretty boy toy with no thoughts or will of his own, able to live out every single self-indulgent, kinky, or just flat stupid fantasy that they have. And there is nothing more to them, because everything that made them them has been completely emptied out of their heads. Every one they ever loved, everything that they ever enjoyed is so completely gone that it might as well have never been there in the first place.
There is a fanfic called For You, I Will that discusses just what kind of power that an imprintee could have, and honestly, it’s pretty chilling.
“It’s not love at first sight, really. It’s more like…gravity moves. When you see her suddenly, it’s not like the earth holding you here anymore. She does. And nothing matters more than her .And you would do anything for her, be anything for her…” (Eclipse 176)
So, in case you’re not slightly creeped out by the fact that these characters are essentially losing their entire personality in order to be good boyfriend material so that precious babies can be made, this is also slavery.
As we have a complete and total destruction of free will, the werewolf will, by Meyer’s own admission, do anything for her and be anything. And, if Meyer’s constant denying that there is ‘nothing sexual’ about this is true, then that means that, theoretically, Bella’s little hellspawn could easily have Jacob literally stand guard outside of some tent in the middle of the night so that she can be alone with whatever boyfriend that she has, and he honestly wouldn’t care.
Because that’s what she wants.
In Breaking Dawn, Bella gets Jacob to essentially abandon the little pack that he’d suddenly be ‘alpha’ off because it would keep her little hellspawn safe. Jacob will hang out with the people who have belittled and made rather racist comments to him and honestly not care.
In the case of Quil, heaven help the person that that child has a fight with. Clare’s already being shown as a spoiled brat. She’ll probably just sick her guard dog on anyone she’s unhappy with.
The fact that Meyer found this to be something that the audience show find romantic rather than terrifying tells me that either Meyer hasn’t thought this through, which is very possibly, she honestly kind of has a brainwashing kink and doesn’t care too much if the audience doesn’t care for it, or Meyer desperately needs to write the creepy horror novel that she really wants to deep down.
The Imprintee has no more choice than the Imprinter
“…it’s hard to resist that level of commitment and adoration.” (Eclipse 123)
“Doesn’t Clare get a choice here?”
“Of course. But why wouldn’t she choose him, in the end? He’ll be her perfect match. Like he was designed for her alone.” (176)
So, the fact that this is brainwashing and slavery just isn’t enough. The other issue is deeply ingrained in the story of Emily and Sam. In New Moonthey are presented to us as one of the few couples who are at Edward and Bella’s level of adoration. Make of that what you will. We also learn that Sam was responsible for the fact that Emily’s face was horrifically scared. Because she called him out on the fact that he’d imprinted on her.
So, in other words it’s implied that Emily honestly didn’t want to do this, but in the end it didn’t matter. Sam just lurved her so much that nothing else really mattered and she could stand there barefoot and cook for Sam and his buddies until she died. The same holds true with Clare. Given the Westermark Effect, it’s really likely that she’s going to grow up thinking of Quil as a brother, and she’s not going to be interested in sleeping with him and having wolf babies, but Meyer hasn’t even considered that.
It seems that she honestly cannot imagine that someone could not necessarily be interested in someone even if they really, really liked you. And, given that Emily was attacked when she did try to get out…well…I’m saving that the for Unfortunate Implications.
There’s no reason to have it. The fact of the matter is that there is really no useful purpose being served by the very concept of Imprinting on a plot level. For instance, in Forever Dawn Jacob, who had a much smaller role, was supposed to imprint on Nessie, which would give a reason for the wolves to be involved and help the Cullen clan win.
But, by that time, there were other ways this could have gone. For one thing, Bella had been hanging with the wolf pack plenty, so it is possible that the whole (pointless) subplot about the werewolves thinking that Bella was going to give birth to a kid who was a full vampire could be scrapped. Rather, that section could have been more about the werewolves and vampires actually learning to get along or rather than Cullen clan stop being racist jerks to the people who could literally eat them.
Jacob’s subplot could have been more around his realizing the problems with Sam’s rules, distinguishing himself as an actual leader, learning to be sympathetic to people who weren’t himself. Possibly even involving Leah’s character arc. After all, as I’m going to rant about in a later thing, the love triangle was an utterly pointless aspect of the series anyways.
The stuff involving Sam and Quil also honestly could be cleared up. Seriously. Everyone already hated Sam anyways. Just making him a jerk is honestly not going to change too many of the readers minds about him, and Quil’s subplot added nothing to the plot other than making the whole thing creepy beyond reason when he said that he ‘couldn’t see women’s faces anymore’ so why bother putting it in?
Not only that, but since the implication is that imprinting is done to make the best werewolf babies, there’s already a huge gaping plot hole in the whole thing. Renesmee is going to be a mule. If she can reproduce, I’ll be shocked. Thus, other than because the plot demanded it, there’s no reason for Jacob to imprint.
Just have it be an actual mature understanding between different species. It would have been more meaningful anyways.
And now, the moment that you’ve all been waiting for. Now, I honestly don’t think that Meyer read that deeply into what she wrote. I think that she thought that it was weirdly romantic and filled with devotion and a good reason why they would mate for life. Maybe she even thought that it was a cute tie in to the Quileute legends about how wolves were changed into humans by Qwati because, among other reasons, they mated for life. But in bring imprinting on the table, Meyer opened herself a can of worms in terms of unfortunate implications.
First of all, in the relationship between Sam and Emily, there are a lot of really, really unnerving ideas being brought up. First of all, there is the idea that Sam’s abuse was alright because he just couldn’t control himself, and he felt so bad that Emily was the one comforting him. The reason that this is there isn’t because of the fact that he attacked her, it’s the fact that he was so angry and aggressive that he attacked her. It wasn’t an accident, and, in what happens if she does it again? He already ruined her face. Then, of course, there is the idea that this is an expression of love, and that it doesn’t matter how badly you hurt someone else as long as you’re getting your ‘true love’.
On Emily’s side of things, it’s not much better. Because of everything I’ve said above, there’s even and implication that somehow, Emily likes the violence. She likes the fact that Sam and everyone else rails on Leah. Not only that, but she’s not disturbed by imprinting and what it means and Meyer flat said that Emily already liked Sam, so clearly she’s alright with the whole ‘personality rewrite thing’ so long as she got her man, and if her face was ruined so be it. Which is…honestly kind of creepy. What’s worse is that we never really see much of Emily, so it’s hard to tell what she thinks about anything. All we see is mostly people reacting to her.
In the case of both Quil and Jacob, we have the implications of pedophilia and that this is a legitimate and even romantic, kind of love. Both men imprint on young children and are essentially raising them. It’s far creepier with Clare though, since she is actually two. She’ll never know anything but Quil. She’ll be pressured to marry and have kids with a man who took on the role of a father/brother during most of her life. What happens if she likes someone else? What happens if she doesn’t want to have children, or finds the idea of doing so with Quil gross? What if all the devotion and ‘being nice’ doesn’t do much? But it’s just assumed that she’ll have to, and she’ll like it.
Renesmee is a completely different story, mostly because of how the girl acts in the plot. Now, she’s been somewhat seen as a victim of pedophilia since she was imprinted on as a baby, but I’m going to bring up something else. Renesmee is flat stated not to have a child’s mind. She considers Jacob to be her possession. And her power, while Meyer says it’s projecting thoughts, it might be more that she is able to control people. So, either she has been the victim of a sexual predator from the time that she was born, or she essentially triggered someone’s brainwashing. There really isn’t any good way to see this.
Finally, the things that this says about love are…well nasty. The idea of imprinting being a form of love makes it seem to young readers that love literally takes you over, and that nothing but that person should matter to you. It implies that you shouldn’t like the same things that you did, and that you shouldn’t be the same person that you were. And it might have the unintended effect of readers going ‘if that’s love, I want no part of it’.
Summing It Up
There is literally nothing about Imprinting that isn’t creepy as all get out. No matter what, there is dubious consent at best between the pairs, the very act of Imprinting eliminates the subject’s own personality, and the women have a life of possible fear of just what will happen if they refuse to look forwards to.
Meyer’s fanbase was always a little iffy at best when it came to Imprinting. Most of them didn’t find it overly romantic, and its use as actually one of the things that caused Breaking Dawn to tank the way that it did.
Imprinting was a first draft idea that should have been cut out the moment that the book had stopped being Forever Dawn which essentially catered to all of Meyer’s private fantasies and personal fetishes. It was as sloppy way to tie up the love triangle, and was such a can of worms that it was only due to Meyer’s earlier, more popular books, that it was allowed to see the light of print. I would honestly call this particular element the only thing that needed to be fully and wholly cut out of the entire series without so much as a hint that it was there. It added nothing but disturbing connotations.