TG Universes & Series:
Ms. Jane Thompson
by Tigger & Brandy DeWinter
Copyright © 1997,2012 Tigger & Brandy DeWinter
All Rights Reserved.
Jane Thompson is a symbol and an icon in much the same way that Uncle Sam is a symbol and an icon. She is the essence of School Teacher - strict, demanding, uncompromising on principles; and at the same time, deeply caring, assessing her accomplishments solely on the success of her students. She is the teacher everyone remembers with grudging respect ("Man, lemme tell ya about THAT Ms. Thompson - now THAT lady never took any sh**, but I learned more from her than from any other teacher I ever had."), and an ever growing and deepening affection as the years go by.
She comes from a time when people believed in things like personal integrity and honor; a time when a hand clasp between two people meant more than any ink stains on some lawyer's paperwork ever could mean; a time when manners were a sign of mutual respect - given even as it was demanded in return.
She is a woman of great strengths, and complementary weaknesses. Often, the weaknesses are her strengths taken to an extreme.
First and foremost, a characteristic that seems most unlikely in the beginning yet in the end is most obvious, is love for her boys. They are the family children she is physically unable of producing herself. She truly wants what is best for her students, regardless of the real cost to herself or the apparent cost to them - the stripping of false pride, the surface indignities that demonstrate the deeper source of dignity that transcends externals. And so she becomes, "Aunt Jane." It is, in almost all cases, a very demanding, very tough love, but a person does not put herself through what Jane has over a period of over twenty years for any motivation other than love. It is why she never gives up on any student who will try, and so demonstrate a desire to improve. It is why humiliation of her students is never an end in itself, but the threat of humiliation is used ruthlessly to lift a student to a higher level of performance than they could achieve in any other way.
Her second prime characteristic is intelligence. She can see what is going on in a student's mind better than he can, and so knows just how far to push to mold them without shattering - even when the student himself feels shattered. She is the teacher no student could ever, 'put one over on.' Jane is honest enough to admit that she needs help (aids) to gain the required insights, but she also realizes what they are (a senior student, 'spies' like Caro and Marie) and arranges for them.
Third on the list of key characteristics of 'Aunt Jane' is her pride - pride in herself and just as importantly, pride in her boys. The most fundamental basis for her pride is that she never asks anything of anyone that she's not prepared to do herself, knowing that the most difficult challenges are of discipline and self-control, not of cosmetics and clothes. She can, and so she knows that 'they' can as well, but she is still proud of them when they do because she knows precisely how difficult the tasks she set for them were and how hard the students had to work to meet each of her challenges.
Fourth is moral strength - the kind that means doing the right thing even when no one else is watching. Aunt Jane is not a 'do as I say, not as I do.' type of leader. Had Jane been an officer at Valley Forge, she'd have been out there freezing her tush off with the soldiers instead of in the warm cottages that many of the officers used. That doesn't mean she never relaxes, but she does not "let her hair down" when she's "on duty" (i.e., when there is a student under her responsibility who is not himself allowed to relax). Her moral strength is conscious and deliberate, recognizing that she can never falter in her own perfect compliance with her own rules or she will lose forever the respect and trust her position requires, and the proof that her standards can be met.
Jane's life is based on personal commitment, which justifies her high standards. She does not accept less than the best she or anyone she works with has to give. This shows in every aspect of a Jane Thompson program from the development of a long term strategy to the meticulous tactical preparations for each phase or exercise she plans for a student's particular needs.
As stated above, Jane's weaknesses are, for the most part, extremes of her strengths. Her pride can become arrogance, her intelligence can become hubris, her moral strength can become intolerance, and her commitment can become stubbornness and rigidity. The primary control on these is her love, which challenges her always to justify in her own mind that her actions are based on the good of her student and not just her own self-image.
She makes mistakes, but they are most often mistakes of 'too much' realization of those key characteristics, not too little. Her commitment to her standard program may cause her to rely overmuch on expected clues that sustain her judgments, and not enough on contradictions (like with Kendra or Caitlyn) but in the end, her intelligence will not allow her to reject data just because they conflict with her expectations, once the data are available.
The other important issue associated with her downsides is that Jane always learns from her errors and takes steps to correct those failings the next time. She reflects on these problems (typically taking an inordinate amount of blame upon herself) until she understands what went wrong and has a fix in mind.
Finally, Jane is (and is afraid of this aspect of her personality) more than a little playful. Her initial interests in petticoating and feminizing males first took root in that playfulness when she was still in college. This mischievous and sometimes darker side of Jane Thompson is why she enjoys watching her boys when they are most afraid, and why she takes some pleasure in contemplating their reactions to her wicked tests and tasks. However, her fear of this facet of her personality is why she so ruthlessly controls and restrains it even while she relishes it in her heart. It is why she often doubts and questions herself when she is alone in the dark with only her worst fears for companions.
In the event of an unplanned challenge, Jane's reactive response - energized almost without conscious thought - is to control the situation. If she feels things are getting out of hand, she will retreat to the fortress of her castle and rule there with an iron hand. If there is a threat to one of her students, she will take on herself the rear-guard action at the point of attack, controlling the defense while those for whom she is responsible are shepherded to safety. She will not consider a situation resolved until she is again fully in control, regardless of how tired she may personally be.
If her control is actively threatened, she will react like a mother cat defending her kittens, fierce and uncompromising. In her world the worst thing that can happen is the loss of one of her students, and the most likely cause for this would be an interruption in her program while they are vulnerable due to her manipulation. A challenge to her control cannot be ignored or postponed. She is extremely sensitive to them, but also always ready to recognize and deal with them since *every* student rebels at some point.
If her control of the situation is not at risk, then Jane will react in accordance with her principles. What is the disciplined path back to the plan? What is the moral/ethical approach? What will provide the best lesson for her students?
Any situation in the life of Jane or any of her students can be assessed against these characteristics. If she reacts as the person described in these notes would react, then she 'fits' within the universe of 'Second Season, Losing Season, Darla, Kendra, and Caitlyn - and is at least not inconsistent with Joel Lawrence's original creation in 'Seasons of Change'. If not, then the writer has taken the characters in a different and conflicting direction - which is that writer's right but may mean the story is not what a reader expects if they enjoy the Jane of my vision.
~Tigger & Brandy
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