On Feyre, Tamlin, Rhys, and the Question of Agency and Children
So, I haven’t really seen anyone talking about this, but can we take a moment to appreciate the differences between Tamlin’s and Rhys’s reactions when it comes to Feyre and her choice in having potential future offspring? On one hand, we have Tamlin, who just assumes that of course Feyre will want to have children, and of course they will keep having children until a male and potential heir is born.
Tamlin during the Tithe scene: “‘Because that’s the way it is. That’s the way my father did it, and his father, and the way my son shall do it.’ He offered a smile, and reached for my hand. ‘Someday.’”
We find out shortly after this that the subject of children has never been broached (according to Feyre), but Tamlin doesn’t even seem to consider that Feyre might not want to have children, let alone multiple children until they have a male. (We later find out in the scene below that Feyre doesn’t want to have children, at least not right away. She wants to get used to being immortal first, and experience adventures of her own – she wants to feel ready before she has children of her own.) Tamlin only acknowledges her agency in this matter to the extent that she might not want to have children right away–just “someday.”
Rhys, on the other hand, doesn’t assume any such thing. As he has done throughout ACOMAF, he continuously affirms Feyre’s right to agency over her life, her body, her sexual choices, and now her right to want or not want children.
This is so important because this topic about female agency when it comes to pregnancy/children isn’t discussed very often in YA lit.
Feyre and Rhys’s discussion about children and pregnancy comes up right after they mate.
Feyre: “If I am a High Lord’s mate, I’m expected to bear you offspring, aren’t I? So perhaps I shouldn’t [take the birth control tonic].”
Rhys: “‘You are not expected to bear me anything,’ he snarled. ‘Children are rare, yes. So rare, and so precious. But I don’t want you to have them unless you want to–unless we both want to. […] I would be happy beyond reason, though, if you one day did honor me with children. To share that with you.’” <–unitalicized/underlined words indicate stressed words in the original text. If it isn’t showing up (Tumblr is being dumb), the words he stresses are “anything” and “both”.
Feyre: “‘I want to live first,’ I said. ‘With you. I want to see things and have adventures. I want to learn what it is to be immortal, to be your mate, to be part of your family. I want to be…ready for them. And I selfishly want to have you all to myself for a while.’”
Rhys: “His smile was gentle, sweet. ‘You take all the time you need. And if I get you all to myself for the rest of eternity, then I won’t mind that at all.’”
Feyre starts off the conversation burdened with the expectation that she must have Rhys’s children, because that is what tradition would demand out of a High Lord’s wife. That’s what Tamlin expected, and she never had much of a voice in the matter except perhaps when that would happen. She believes this so much that she believes it’s selfish of her to not want children, to want to just be with her mate.
But Rhys is vehement in that she doesn’t owe him–or anyone–anything. Just as he has throughout ACOMAF, he reminds her that this is her choice, and always will be. He doesn’t expect her to bear him children, especially if she doesn’t want to. If they have children, he wants it to be because they both want it. Together. And while he lets her know that he welcomes the idea of children–that he would be “happy beyond reason”–he honestly doesn’t mind if they don’t. He is more than happy to just have Feyre with him, his mate, and he will be content with whatever decision she makes, no matter what it is or when she makes it. She can take all the time she needs, and if she decides that she wants children with him, he’ll consider it an “honor”–him, a High Lord.
I just…I find this so beautiful and respectful. He doesn’t push his own agenda but lets her know how he feels about it and gives her plenty of space to decide for herself. I just feel like there is always this expectation that women should want children, and I love that Sarah puts it out there that you don’t have to want children right away, or even later. Feyre is enough, and she will always be enough for Rhys–and I think Feyre really needed to hear that, because so often she hasn’t been enough. Not to her family, and not to Tamlin. She has had so many expectations forced on her, and she’s buckled beneath them before, and Rhys just…lets her know that she has a choice. That just like with her life and her sexual choices and her body, children are also her choice. He will support her no matter what, and love her no matter what.
Feyre is her own agent, and I love that so much. I want to see more Rhys characters in YA because this is such a great, powerful message that all women should know: You are in control of your own body, always.
Pairing: Dealer!Jungkook X Agent!Reader ft. Agent!Jin, Agent!Yoongi, Agent!Hoseok and Dealer!Taehyung
Summary: Y/n aka Agent 23, undercover as a rich slut to try and get Jungkook, a drug dealer to break. Of course, at first, she tortures him to try and test his loyalty to her. But Jungkook believes that two can play at that game. She has 336 hours though to get out of that place, get back home and help take down Jungkook but how can she when she’s tied to a chair?
I disagree that lack of agency is ‘boring’. It depends what you’re going for with the story. Certainly don’t have a hero or 'strong female character’ lack agency, but if your story is about, say, a small child surviving a war, it would feel unrealistic and fake if they have the same amount of agency as a typical hero character does. Sometimes the character isn’t supposed to be in control or even meaningfully impacting events at all.
Except this is when giving a character agency becomes even more important! Because when a person can’t control huge events going on around them, what becomes crucial is the things they can control, even if those are small, everyday life sorts of things.
Maybe that small child can’t control a lot of things. But they CAN make empowered choices, and those choices can impact their direct environment, even if it can’t stop a war.
Good example: Ellie from The Last of Us (video game). Events in the game are largely out of her control, and Joel is the “hero” character. But Ellie does make choices, and these choices do make a difference. Ellie disobeys Joel and saves his life. Ellie runs away when she thinks Joel is going to abandon her and makes him realize there’s a bond between them. Ellie is really the driving force behind her and Joel’s developing relationship, and so she’s really the reason the game ends the way it does.
So yes, any character can and should have agency. It’s just that you really have to understand what agency is. Remember: Butterfly Effect. Any small choice can make a big impact.