In Bella’s defense (and my thoughts on the Twilight series)
Since getting hooked on the Twilight series, I find myself clicking on the links on anything I see on the internet that has to do with Twilight. Click here and there and then I bump into spoilers and I get disappointed. I also couldn’t help reading the negative comments about the series and Bella’s character. I think the number one problem people have is that they compare Ms. Meyer’s books to the Harry Potter series. They’re both fantasies, all right. But one is a romance and the other is not. And Ms. J.K. Rowling’s work has already been established as a classic, and Ms. Meyer’s, I don’t know, but she’s still fairly new. So I think people should stop comparing the two series.
There was this article that I read about Bella’s character being a bad model for teen-age girls. At first I asked myself, did Stephenie Meyer intend to write her novels for the teen-agers or the (young) adult? Okay, her main character was a teen-ager, a 17-year old, but her plot has more of an adult theme. Another question I ask, is it a writer’s responsibility to determine if their young characters would be a good or bad model for the young readers? What if they did not intend their novel to be read by pre-teens and young teens? Doesn’t an author write to share his stories or ideas? Or do they also have to take in consideration whether they’re sending a good or bad message? Isn’t it the parents’ responsibility to monitor what their young children are reading? After reading the third and fourth books, Eclipse and Breaking Dawn, I wonder how pre-teens are grasping the sex issues in the story. This is one of the times when I’m glad that I don’t have a daughter. I do have a pre-teen and two teen-aged boys but they’re not interested in reading these books. But if they were, I would have to explain to them that it is about the choices we make, and how we have to consider them carefully and I would explain to them what Ms. Meyer is trying to point out in the story. Try to do the moral thing. But then again, I’m also glad that Ms. Meyer did write about the sex thoughts in what Bella would say, a “polite way.”
You might be asking, why am I defending Bella, when I have mentioned in my New Moon post, that unlike Bella, I would not be willing to give up my human life just so I could be with someone forever?
Well, you see, I have mentioned how my girl friend and I have been discussing the series. It’s like we’re in this two-member book club and we sometimes disagree with how the characters behave in the novels. It’s fun though. I’ve always wanted to join a book club, but I think this is better. No hassles of going to the meetings and I can read at my own pace. My girl friend and I both loved Twilight, the first book in the series, for different reasons. Then she started reading New Moon and Eclipse and she started to get annoyed with Bella. Why does she put a man above everything else, above herself? So Edward goes away on a hunting trip for a few days, and she gets bored and doesn’t know how to pre-occupy herself? She’s so needy. It’s like she can’t get on with her life without a man. My first reaction was to laugh at her comments. Why? I had to admit to her that I see Bella in myself. I was that girl with the low self esteem, and that plot in New Moon resembles my first experience of a heart ache. I was the same age as Bella when “my Edward” left me. And he had the same reason as to why he left. Only, he told me the reason after 20 years. (long story) Same thing Edward told Bella. It was for your own good, he said. But how could he have known what was good for me, right? I was also devastated, but I wasn’t catatonic, like Bella was. But it sure was also one of the darkest days of my life. And then I met a guy who was somewhat like Jacob. Someone who was funny and made me laugh again. And I was also torn between the two, kind of like the song “Are you gonna stay with the one who loves you, or are you going back to the one you love?” I know, it was kind of corny. But that was me back then. And no, I did not end up with “my Edward.”
I know that the way Bella handled her feelings towards the two men in Eclipse wasn’t the best one. She ended up hurting the two people that she loved. But see, like some of us, she made her decisions based on her emotions. Not the smart thing to do. But as Edward said, she’s only human.
I also had a theory on why Bella was so “needy.” See, like Bella, my parents were also separated. And though she spent summers with her dad, she grew up mostly with her mom. And I thought maybe the absence of the father figure is what made her “needy” for the love of a man. Sure, in the novels, she was living with her dad Charlie, but she met Edward early on in the series, just when she started living with her dad. I can relate to that. Because when I started to notice boys, or when boys started to notice me, I immediately got attracted to anybody who would give me attention. I guess I was also longing for that male figure in my life. Just so you know, I don’t have any brothers either. But my girl friend disagrees with that, too, because she also didn’t grow up with her father and she said that she was never that needy for male attention.
But see, Edward is not really your typical 17-year-old. He’s actually over a hundred years old. It’s just his physical appearance is frozen in a 17-year-old body. And Edward watching over and protecting Bella (against Tyler’s crashing car, or against bad vampire James) is sort of very fatherly. Sure we are in modern times now and we are way past the women’s liberation phase. We want to teach the young women that we can stand up on our own and defend ourselves. But this is just a novel, a fiction. For some of us, reading is an escape from the realities of life. I know for me it is. I was just thinking about this a few months ago. Why have I been reading fiction so much? Because there’s so much going on in my life right now, and reading gives me an escape.
Once in a while we come across stories like the Harry Potter series and readers get engrossed for different reasons. Twilight, as I see it, is your once-in-a-while fairly tale told with a modern twist. There’s a few women out there that long for that knight in shining armour (or sparkly skin ) to save the damsel in distress that they are. Maybe they’re tired of trying to defend themselves and they fantasize to be rescued and taken care of once in a while.
Or maybe, the men should start reading it, too. They can learn a lot from Edward. Like how to be romantic, how to make a woman feel safe, or how to be understanding, considerate and patient. But then again, maybe you have to live over a hundred years before you can achieve the level of Edward’s patience.
Summaries of the books in The Twilight Saga:
My reviews of the books in the series: