Friday, April 17, 2009

Edward & Bella: An Abusive Relationship?

Blogger of the Week/Guest Blogger:
Sara Raasch...


This week Sara Raasch, who blogs at SeeSaraWrite offers a guest post delving into the underbelly of the relationship between Stephenie Meyer's Twilight characters Bella and Edward.

A lot of conversation has rolled around the book/movie phenomenon Twilight. But there is one topic that has not yet been breached (at least, not that I have read), and it's a subject I'm personally familiar with, so the insane glorification of it lately has left me fearing an epidemic. Hopefully you have recognized it too; it's one of those silent-but-deadly things that
far too many girls (because, let's face it, guys aren't as widely affected by this) are unaware of. What am I talking about? Here I go:

Abusive relationships.

Everyone knows they're "bad." Everyone knows they don't want to be in one. But what I'm seeing lately is a slow and completely unintentional brainwashing of young, impressionable girls into thinking abusive relationships are okay. Magical, even. Quite frankly, I am sick of this. This is both a PSA and a plea, a desperate beg, to writers everywhere to stop writing characters like this.

Characters like Edward Cullen. Remove the actual story and look at the facts of what Edward does: he keeps Bella from her family; he won't be with her unless she changes very materialistic things about herself (the car she drives, her stance on wearing engagement rings/getting married); he breaks into her house and hides in her room while she sleeps; he does all this under the banner of "I know what's best for you. You don't." While Meyer (probably) wrote these things to be charming in a young-love way, they ARE NOT charming. Hearing them for what they are (alienation, ultimatums of the petty and controlling sort, stalking, manipulation) automatically evoke the response of "No. These things are wrong." But in the context Meyer put
them, they're disguised as all right.

Maybe I'm blowing it out of proportion. But hearing my 16-year-old sister say that these things are CUTE is disgusting and terrifying, and I'm very angry with Stephenie Meyer for telling her legion of tween-age fans that these things are all right. Thousands of girls get into abusive
relationships without seeing it, and don't realize until afterward how they could've avoided it. But now, with Edward Cullen as the prime love example, will girls be LOOKING for men like him? I can't stomach that.

The most disturbing part of all this is the response girls have to being told Edward Cullen is a horrible example of a boyfriend. I went to the Breaking Dawn release party last August, wearing a "Team Jacob" shirt. Edward fans, whom I didn't know, would come up to me and make snide remarks about "that stupid dog." When I asked what Jacob did wrong and pointed out what Edward did wrong, they got red-faced angry and stomp away. People at this release party throughout the night continued to get angry because of my Team Jacob shirt. At first it was funny; now, though, it's a little worrisome.

Again looking at the facts, Jacob was what should have been the "perfect" boyfriend. He accepted Bella for what/who she was; he helped her become a stronger person; he supported her and comforted her, never pushing her into any decisions about herself; her friends and family approved of him. And yet, despite his good qualities, the Edward fans HATE Jacob. HATE him.
And none of them has ever given me a straight answer as to why. They can only say that Edward is better, Edward is better, Edward is better. Which, if you ask someone who is in an abusive relationship why they stay in it, they are so blinded by it that all they know is that he is the one. He is the one. He is the one.

I take advice from a lot of what I read and know that if I had read these books before my own relationship, it would've been a lot harder to let go and get out. Books like these give girls a battle cry:

"Edward did it, so it's all right."

"Maybe my boyfriend really does know what's best. Maybe there's some secret,
magical reason he's doing this to me too."

THERE IS NOT a good reason. There never will be. And girls need to STOP being told this is all right behavior.

I know if any hardcore Edward fans read this, I'd probably get some nasty hate mail. And maybe it's just my rather cynical view of the male species that makes me pick out every bad detail about Edward, but I honestly do like Jacob. He was the one thing Meyer did right. And he, not Edward, should be who all the tween-fans swoon over and hope for.

Sara Raasch started blogging in December 2008 and just celebrated her 100th blog post on Monday. "My mission behind blogging was to connect with other writers and authors to delve even deeper into the world of writing. I'm a writer of YA fiction and am actively seeking an agent. Through having a blog, I've found a network of support and encouragement that I can't imagine facing the publishing world without!"

Sara served as a staff member of Passages, Ashland University's literary magazine; placed second in the Dayton Daily News Short Story Contest in 2008; and her poem "Who Do You Want To Be?" was published in *Credo* magazine in February. Click here to visit her blog, SeeSaraWrite.

50 comments:

Michelle said...

This is an interesting take on the story. I had looked at it from the point of view of Bella not being the kind of character I'd want teen girls to look up to. She's willing to sacrifice everything for her boyfriend. When he leaves her temporarily, she is devastated and withdraws from others in her life. I had not seen Edward as an abuser, but you have a point.

Livia said...

Interesting. I agree that Edward and Bella had an unhealthy relationship, but not for the reasons you mentioned. What did bother me was that he was trying to control the people she visited -- siphoning the gas from her motorcycle, having Alice kidnap her to keep her from seeing Jacob, etc. To be fair to Meyer, she does portray that aspect as unhealthy, and Edward eventually realizes he can't do that, but yes, he is still a controlling character.
I actually don't have a problem with some of the examples you mentioned -- many college students will "secretly" spend the night in their sig. other's room without the parents knowing, for example. I don't quite remember enough details to address the other ones..

sraasch said...

Chello, all! Guest-Blogger here!

Michelle: Bella is definitely not a good role-model. I had no problem with her starting out as a rather weak character, but by the end of the series she should have grown to be independent in some way, yet she continued to rely completely on her relationship. Not someone I'd want any girl looking up to.

Livia: I forgot about the motorcycle incident! Didn't Edward also take the battery (or some part) out of Bella's truck? And spending the night in your boyfriend/girlfriend's room isn't the problem; the problem was him hiding in her room, watching her sleep, without her knowledge of it. Even seeing it portrayed in the movie was just -- off. He's a 100+ year old man hiding in a 17 year old girl's bedroom. Weird, much?

lynn said...

I agree. If any guy in real life was watching me sleep without my knowledge or permission, that would be utterly creepy, not sexy!

Livia said...

Ah, I guess it would depend on whether you imagine it as Edward hanging out in Bella's room at night vs Edward creepily watching her sleep all night. I always thought of it as the former (doesn't he read books while he's over there?), but I don't claim to know the series inside and out.
It just occurred to me that Jacob isn't a model boyfriend either. I think he purposely got Bella grounded to keep her from seeing Edward, and also physically forced himself on her more than once. And I believe it was Bella's father who disconnected her car battery. Maybe Forks is just full of manipulative people :-)

KAG said...

Okay, I am in the minority here, but I have yet to read any of the Twilight series. I am not a fan of vampire books, movies, etc., and I am not interested in reading Meyer's books. However, the constant chatter about the books, and the wide age range that I have witnessed being "fans", I would like to read them. I would enjoy to know what the hype is about, and become part of the discussions. I would like to put in my two cents and say that I do find it disheartening that so many authors focus on unhealthy relationships, or self indulgent pursuits. I would love to see a focus shift in movies and books. Let's be the positive change we hope to see, and trust they will sell!

Laraine Herring said...

Thank you for this post!! :-) I am 40, a writer, and I teach creative writing at the college level. For some reason unbeknownst to me, even the 18-21 year olds have embraced Twilight -- it seems even more sacred to them than Harry Potter. My stepdaughter had read Twilight before I knew about it (I'd have never censored her from reading it, but I'd have loved to have been able to chat with her about it at the time). She's very bright & has a high b.s. meter. She spotted the problems in Edward right away. This may be because her biological mom has been in an abusive, unhealthy relationship since divorcing her father, so she's tuned in. I also had an abusive relationship when I was in my early 20s. It sneaks up on you. Like Edward. And yeah, watching someone sleep when they don't know it? Yeah. It's a problem. Besides the fact that Stephanie Meyer's prose leaves a lot to be desired as a training ground for would-be writers, the story, for about-to-be women, is horrifying.

It is such a relief to read this. I thought I was the only one. :-)

Allie said...

Very interesting! I was disappointed in Bella too, I can't put my finger on it but it's probably my own disappointment in my dependence through my formative years on boyfriends.

I admit to swooning over Edward, more than any grown woman should, but all these points are valid and I am embarrassed I didn't see them on my own.

Wesley Allison said...

Very interesting. I thought the story was a bit corny, but realized that as a middle-aged man I was missing some of the sub-text. So much of the relatiionship details in the story are in code, this is a valid way of examining the story. Very interesting indeed.

diesel said...

Yes, thank you! That's what I've been trying to verbalize since I've read them!

Spoiler for later book:

When they finally consummate the relationship, he leaves her bruised, and she accepts that! It's supposed to be romantic; I find it horrifying that it's portrayed as anything but creepy. But because he is "remorseful" and didn't know what he was doing, it's okay? No. And then there are so many other things, that -- ugh.

I really want those "Then Buffy staked Edward" shirts I've seen around.

Shelli said...

hmmmmm food for thought!

Kjersten said...

Thanks for this post. Why is this not obvious when people read these books? It was obvious to me. It made me want to throw the books across the room. Especially because they were page turners I couldn't put down. Why oh why couldn't Ella at least have had a backbone and figured it out herself?

tinkandalissa said...

Ok. I guess I can see your point if you want to take it to extremes. But, remember, this is a work of FICTION. There are no such thing as vampires. If there were, maybe this is how they act. Maybe not. This is the author's view of the lives of these two individuals. While you can look at every negative side of the circumstances, having been in an abusive relationship yourself, you also have to open up to the idea that maybe that is not what the author was actually implying. That is most likely your understanding of it. If you try to read between the lines of any story you could come up with all sorts of theories. Maybe I am biased. I am married. I am 29. And I am a fan of these books. I think if very young girls are reading these kinds of books, that their parents should have conversations with their children and discuss how the child sees it.

Stephenie Meyer herself addresses these issues on the twilightmoms website discussion forum:
Question 10: I was wondering, like, I've seen websites dedicated to accusing that Bella has a physically and mentally abusive relationship, so what's your opinion on that?
Stephenie Meyer: "Um, she asked about my opinion of the kind of theory that Bella and Edward's relationship isn't very healthy. And I have seen things from different sides. I've seen things that say Edward is too mean, Edward is too nice. Bella is too mean, Bella is too nice. I mean, that's an oversimplification, but people seem to read it exactly the opposite way from each other and both find something different. For me, their relationship isn't perfect because they are learning how to do that, how to be in a relationship. And they keep making mistakes. Edward in particular. Bella is a very focused person. She kind of has her eyes on the prize and she doesn't deviate from her course, and she also doesn't stop to look at her alternatives, which is one of the reasons I wrote Eclipse the way I did. I almost felt like a mom in that book, saying "Bella, look at what you're giving up. You think this through, Missy, before you make a decision!" That was kind of where I was in that book.
Edward does a lot more changing, you know, he is a ------- loss. From the moment he meets Bella, everything he's ever thought about how he should live his life is challenged. And so he kind of, if you watch him, he goes back and forth, you know on the one hand he's like very overprotective and he's like thinking "I can maybe shelter her from what I am and from the world," and then he realizes "I can't so I'd better get out of here".& He's very extreme. "I'm going to leave and I'm not going to be a part of it, and she's going to have a normal life." And then that doesn't work out either, and Eclipse he goes back to the overprotective and he's like this isn't working; he's trying to figure out the best way to be what Bella needs and he gets it wrong a lot. I know there's a lot of people that Edward's perfect in their mind, but he's not, he makes a lot of mistakes, but he does learn from them and tries to be better. So I think they have a healthy relationship. They're both trying. They're trying really hard to do what's best for the other person."
Question 12: There's been some speculation on the internet..... about Edward being an abusive boyfriend..... ?

Stephenie: "Yeah, yeah, OK. There's a lot of stuff online that has, honestly, broken my heart recently. It is difficult to read things that take such a negative spin on something that is very personal and also makes a lot of sense inside your head. I think it's, I have a hard time with that one because to me you have this kid, sure, he's a hundred and something, but at the same time he's also seventeen and it's the first time he's been in love. And he fully recognizes that he does things wrong, he's very aware of that. Edward at the beginning of Eclipse goes too far one direction. In the middle he's like, I'm screwing this up, I'm doing this wrong, I'm not being fair. He goes too far in the other direction. He never quite finds the balance because he's so black or white about everything. But he has only the best of intentions pretty much at all times, and to think of him as either mean or controlling or having any kind of neg- wanting to impact Bella's life in a negative way is really not how his character is. On the other hand I get the same thing about Jacob, where he's too pushy and he's too physical and he's causing all these problems. And I don't think people realize quite the layer, the level of desperation that he's at. He's not desperate to make Bella fall in love with him, I mean, that would be an excellent perk. He is desperate to save her life, and if you saw your best friend teetering on the edge of the fifth story of the building, playing with the balcony, you would reach up and yank their arm, even if it would hurt them, because you were trying to save them. And Jacob really is kind of past rationality at that point. So I think that people sometimes will go out looking for the negative when really if they gave them the right intentions, I think they are understanding characters better. But it is hard to read."

I also want to add that there are PLENTY of times when Edward tries to leave FOR BELLA'S OWN GOOD. He is tortured by the fact that he loves her so much and wants to be with her (this is his first love too) but also with the fact that he knows he's a vampire and that's no good for Bella. He insists they marry before they have sex. He doesnt sit around drinking her blood. He tries to protect her. What about the times that Jacob teaches her to ride motorcycles (with no mention of helmets) or when he agrees to go cliff diving with her, or when he tries to tell her what is and isnt good for her. The reason it doesnt make sense for her to be with Jacob is because of the whole "imprinting" thing. Ok, what if she went with Jacob? Then he imprints on someone else and leaves her cold? Like Sam did Leah?
As to the part about going to the Breaking Dawn release party and having someone walk up and say things like "stupid dog" and stalk off in a tizzy, sounds to me like that would be a very juvenile individual which leads me to believe it was probably a child or teenager. Either way, it seriously sounds like that person is very immature and shouldn't be taken to heart. I don't think by reading this book that young girls will grow up to accept being in an abusive relationship any more than they would have w/o having read this book. I wont send hate mail. Everyone is entilted to their opinion. I just think yours is off.

Sheila Deeth said...

Neat article. Certainly got me thinking.

Debbie said...

Wow, you guys! I'm a fan of this series, and NEVER went as far as Alice in my thinking. Abuse takes on many forms, this of which I know. However, I don't feel that Edward is an abuser, just someone wathching out for his Bella. My eye brows are up over this discussion. But, we're all entitled to an opinion.

Heather said...

To me it sounds like b/c of your past you're projecting your experiences and emotional involvement in abuse on these characters.

They're kids. They make mistakes, they can hang on too tight, or give too much slack. Their entire relationship is about learning to make to make it work. To expect to 17 year olds in their first romantic relationship to behave as well relationally-seasoned adults is stupid.

Edward goes from extremes b/c that is the nature of vampires. He is extremely over-protective b/c he loves her, but other than trying to protect her from PHYSICAL harm, never does he force her into any decisions she doesn't want to make.

*He keeps Bella from her family - Oh really? Is that how you would describe buying someone a plane ticket so they can cross the country to see their family? Hmm.
*He won't be with her unless she changes very materialistic things about herself (the car she drives, her stance on wearing engagement rings/getting married)- a) car - he waits until her old truck died of natural causes and replaced. Oh yea, major forcing there. b) engagement ring - He didn't force her to wear an engagement ring, he told her no sex unless they were married, and so they got engaged which came with a ring. Wow, never heard of that before!

All in all, this article was poorly thought out. IF you knew the characters, the context of the story, and the relationship that existed between Bella and Edward there wouldn't be any point to this.

And there isn't.

Nina Berry said...

I basically agree with Sara on Bella and Edward. But then I disliked Bella so much from the very start that I couldn't even finish the book. What bothers me most isn't so much Edward's character, but Bella's. She is so utterly passive, so completely vulnerable, so blah and uninteresting and so NOTHING except obsessed with Edward. To me this sends the message to teen girls that you only exist to love a man, and without him you are going to be physically assaulted, killed by random accidents, or bereft and alone forever. Give me a strong female protagonist! Not this puddle of jello.

slkcivil said...

Thank you TINKANDALISSA!
I am with tinkandalissa on this one! I was thinking the same thing...it is FICTION. I am also married, 31, and a fan of these books. I agree parents should discuss these books with their younger children. When I see really young kids pick them up in Target I think, oh, are they old enough to read this? However, I find the books fascinating & again, they are fiction. I think Bella became very strong by the end of the series, she always knew what she wanted. And Jacob did force himself on her several times. I LIKE Jacob, but thought Edward was the ONE from the beginning. However, I could relate to having a guy as a best friend and marrying someone else I loved. I think they were all just kids and trying to figure it all out, none of them perfect, like Stephenie Meyer said in the quote posted here by tinkandalissa. That's all I'm gonna say for now... No hard feelings here, I hope, I just needed to respond for Team Edward (& Bella). No hate towards Jacob here though, I'm with Bella, keep 'em both. ;-)

atomgirl said...

Thanks for writing this. I used to share an office with a teen dating violence prevention coordinator. When I read Twilight, I couldn't help but think how well Edward matched up to the profile of an abusive boyfriend.

It bothers me that these books promote control, dominance, and unequal partnerships as romantic.

Lisa Schroeder said...

Never looked at it in quite this way, so thanks for the thought-provoking post!

The obsession some girls have with Edward is a tad scary, I have to say.

Lisa and Laura said...

I'm definitely on team Jacob!

The reality is that 12 and 13-year-old girls are reading these books. Not everyone has parents who monitor what they read and discuss the books with them afterwards. It's great if you're reading Twilight as a 30-something woman, with all the maturity and life-experience that age brings, but it's a different thing entirely when you're reading this as an idealistic tween. At that age you develop your understanding of love and relationships from books, movies and real life examples. My concern is that teens who read these books and idealize Bella and Edward will seek this type of relationship in real life. There's no question that Bella and Edward's rather unhealthy relationship is glorified in the books.

I think this type of discussion is healthy and important. Great post!

Gene said...

Mentioning that this piece if fiction is FICTION is not a defense of the message it contains.
That said, I haven't read the book, but it sounds kinda BDSM to me. Like pre-Catholic Ann Rice stuff. Except, watered down for some lame "Promise-Ring" generation. Good list of Edddie-boy's pathos here:
http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20081224214642AA88ojQ

Paul Äertker said...

Damn.

Does this mean that I have to stop trying to make my skin incandescent?

I was so close to getting it luminous with intense heat. |:~)

Kris said...

Very nice post. I have now seen the movie and read the book and thought of Edward as controlling, your perspective takes that a step further, interesting. I've shared this post with my 13yo daughter (who prefers Jacob, by the way, yea!).

AmandaMarrone said...

Very interesting analysis.

My first book Uninvited is about a girl stuggling with self-esteem issues and substance abuse. When her ex boyfriend/new vampire comes to her window one night asking to be let in she's very tempted even though it would mean death. I get reviews from Twilight Fans decrying that my vamp in not romantic Edward and some go as far as to warn other fans away. My book is doing well, so I take it with a grain of salt--can't please everyone after all, but it makes me want to read Twilight to see what the deal is.


Amanda Marrone

write_something said...

thank you, thank you for putting it in such a concise and meaningful way. I have wondered about this book since I read it, Why was Edward attracted to Bella? Why is she such a wimp? Can she not solve a problem for herself? Why is it okay to sleep with a boy if you're not having 'sex'? And why is it okay to constantly lie to your parent?

tinkandalissa said...

I am sticking to what I said earlier. Sure, not every parent can monitor what their kids read. The ones who complain about the message this book is sending should. What I think is that do you seriously think that these 12 and 13 year old girls are going to think it's ok to have an abusive boyfriend because they read a book once that made it seem ok? Do you still act on things based on what you believed and thought at age 13, at age 18 even? I know I dont. At some point you grow up and have life experiences and things change. I just think some of these comments are a huge overreaction!

Ruth Spiro said...

I enjoyed this piece very much, thought the very same things as I read the books, but Sara stopped short of mentioning the one issue that really bothered me: Bella was willing to give up HER LIFE for Edward.

Now, I realize I'm coming to this from the perspective of an almost-middle-aged mother of two daughters. If I had read this when I was sixteen, I'm sure I would have understood Bella's behavior and thought process. However, the fact that she is completely willing to change who she is as a person and essentially die, really scares the adult in me.

That being said, I think it's a great opportunity to discuss the book with my daughters, get past the "Edward is hot" stuff, and really talk about the choices Bella makes, especially those those that can't be reversed.

Donna said...

I think Jacob is just as much of a prick as Edward is. Jacob did try to force himself in Bella, after all. Remember that kiss where Bella broke her hand trying to get away from him? Not exactly commendable. And then there are his pedophilic tendencies with Renesmee. None of the major characters in these stories are worth writing home about. They're all twisted and screwed up and promote weakness, abuse and pedophilia. How the Twihards don't see ANY of this is beyond me.

Natalie said...

This is such a fine line to walk, and I think that's what makes this discussion fascinating.

I have no doubt that Meyer didn't intend anything to look abusive, but there are threads. It goes back and forth. It's...close, but not quite. And it's that subtle difference that, I think, Sara is pointing out.

Are young girls going to know that slight difference? Are they going to be able to sit down and pick out an abuser from an Edward? They look VERY much the same at the beginning.

I appreciate the quotes from Meyer clarifying Edward, but let's also remember something: an abuser would never label themselves as one. Again, I'm not saying Edward is a full blown abusive character. Not at all. But just because he has good intentions, doesn't mean it should all be forgiven.

This is probably why Twilight is so successful. Girls are trying to figure out this EXACT thing. Which boys will hurt me? They can completely identify with this, as disconcerting as it is to many.

Summer said...

I started to feel sick to my stomach when Edward revealed to Bella that he had to go hunt mountain lion the night before their big date in order to avoid, well, killing her. And how does she respond? "I hope if this ends badly (i.e. he kills her) it doesn't hurt too much." She is so overpowered by his looks and charm she is willing to risk her very life to be with him. And yes, it makes me sad that young girls are so compelled by this love story, that this kind of blind adoration and dangerous self-sacrifice is "romance." Thank you so much for being brave and strong, and writing this.

sraasch said...

"Are young girls going to know that slight difference? Are they going to be able to sit down and pick out an abuser from an Edward? They look VERY much the same at the beginning.

I appreciate the quotes from Meyer clarifying Edward, but let's also remember something: an abuser would never label themselves as one. Again, I'm not saying Edward is a full blown abusive character. Not at all. But just because he has good intentions, doesn't mean it should all be forgiven."

THANK YOU, Natalie! That's EXACTLY what I meant -- it is such a fine line between abuser and "nice," and teaching girls to WANT characteristics that abusers show is what is dangerous.

I also think I should've clarified what I define as "abuser." I don't mean that Edward is easily identifiable as "abuser" (though that whole bruised-Bella thing in Breaking Dawn crossed a number of lines). Edward is a different breed of abuser, the ones who honestly believe that what they are doing will better the other person. The ones who force their decisions/opinions onto their significant other, all the while honestly intending to transform the person into their idea of "better." But they really just stifle the person in the process and never see how much damage they do. It's an emotional/psychological abuse. Those are the ones that aren't easily identifiable, and most girls never see that they are in a relationship like that until they get out of it and can look at it subjectively.

And yes, I know this is fiction, but when I was younger, EVERYTHING I read left an impression on me. I learned most of my values/ways of belief based on books I read and the opinions of the world I found in them. To say that children could read something at age 13 and not be affected by it into their adulthood is undermining the strength of the written word. Certain things stick with children. Maybe this will, maybe this won't. But that's a rather risky chance.

Awesome discussion, everyone!

Wonderwegian said...

Thanks for posting this. I never liked Edward's character and was hoping to the end that Bella would choose Jacob- but then decided she didn't deserve him. ;)
I never put all the details together like you outlined but it does make sense.

P.S. I have a "Team Jacob" shirt, too.

slkcivil said...

I'm sticking to my earlier post too...
Something to be aware of, but I think there are a lot of GOOD things about these books too.
And if you want to discuss being willing to give up your life for someone, what about "Romeo & Juliet" (not to start another discussion, but this is not a "new" idea here).
I was wondering why Stephenie Meyer is staying out of the limelight this year and in reading this I don't blame her. That's too bad though; I think she writes great books and gets a lot of criticism from writers and reviewers.
That's not to say it shouldn't be discussed though, excellent discussion everyone!

Joyce Lansky said...

This is a very interesting debate, but everyone has overlooked one important fact: Edward is not human. If you look at it from the point of view of a vampire, he is very admirable. What have vampires always done? Stalked women then bit them in the neck. For him to have the control not to immediately bite his love and turn her into a vampire shows an incredible amount of control. It's like a wolf passing on the prey.

Vodka Mom said...

wow- this is an amazing discussion.

We have a huge responsibility to our youth. We need to tread very very carefully- and empower them with strength, hope, courage and self-worth.

sermon over.

slkcivil said...

Excellent point Joyce Lansky! I knew something was missing from my "this is fiction" defense and couldn't put my finger on it...and that is it, he's a vampire! And a GOOD one by vampire standards. Thanks for adding that. Whew.

Great discussion though...lots of good points made.

Wyman Stewart said...

As any good writer knows, it is the reader who decides what a work means. The author can only hope to be skilled enough to convince the reader of the meaning the author wishes to convey.

So, whatever good or bad the book may do, it has been done. Ah, but we have a movie! Those who make movies condense books,giving the book their own movie meaning, which finds far more minds than the book ever will. Therefore, there is now a visual impression on the minds of readers and viewers alike. Often this is both obvious and subtle.

Who was the movie's audience? What themes did the movie try to project onto the audience? Did people leave the movie in debate or did they leave with what the Director tried to firmly implant in their minds? These are not minor details in the hands of a craftsman with a multitude for an audience.

Were the characters "classic" and predictable or did they deviate from the "classic". If so, how and in what ways did they deviate. Did "classic" aspects reenforce a "moral" norm? Did the deviations teach "new morals"? If so, what was taught. Over the course of history, the book may have the greater influence. While in the short term, the movie will have the greatest impact on society compared to the book.

You see, the proper view of this work, is to go back to basics, such as the basics of a vampire, then move ever deeper, until one is viewing the work from a "modern values" perspective. Still, each person will decide the meaning, as a consensus of meaning develops over time. Enjoyed this topic, even though I neither saw the movie, nor read the book. Stephenie Meyer, public opinion will decide the meaning of your book, for better or for worse.

Just A Girl said...

Wow...I was just thinking about the abusive aspect of Bella and Edward's relationship last week. This was a very interest blog with comments to read. Thank you! By the way, I don't have a stand yet on either boy...I'm trying to keep an open mind.

rosepddle said...

I was given Twilight by an super-fan with the warning that I would be totally in love with the book and with Edward. When I fell in love with neither, my friend accused me of not believing in love at first sight (which I do believe in, completely), but when I told her that I couldn't relate to Bella, she said it was because Bella and I are different races...um, okay...if you say so.

Well, I'm not the same race as Hermione or Ginny Weasley, but I related to them, to characters who's pov we never see through in the Potter series. Yet I was able to feel pain and heartbreak--to know exactly what they were feeling when both of those girls were struggling with the boys they loved.

I couldn't relate to Bella because I'm a strong woman. Even when I was a teen and falling for the first time, yeah, I got lost in the brown eyes and soft lips of my first boyfriend, but even that had it's limits of what I would and would not allow. Someone said that Bella never grows and that was my main issue with her. I think, as a writer, that I want to read and create characters who are flawed and learn from some of those flaws to become better characters by the end of the book/series.

No one is perfect and I don't want to read or write perfect characters, but if they are flawed let them grow, let them learn and let them be more than just willing to be the damsel in distress or the fierce protector.

I had a discussion with another friend who has just started reading the Twilight series. I was comparing Bella to another character in another pretty popular YA fantasy book (won't mention that because I didn't really like the MC in that book either). I mentioned that I thought Bella was bland and weak and my friend said, "Well, wouldn't she kinda have to be to fall for Edward's controlling personality and the story kinda needed that."

Well, yes, the story was all about that, but wouldn't it have been so much more interesting if Bella had been this spunky girl who couldn't care less about Edward and told him to shove his controlling attitude where the sun don't shine and then he had to wear her down with his PERSONALITY? Now that would have been a story I would have loved.

wendijo_writes said...

It's amazing seeing this view point. As I was in a similar abusive relationship relationship in my twenties I should have picked up on it when I was reading the Twilight series. Now that it has been said I whole heartedly agree with the blog. I'm happily married now for over 10 years, and the bad relationship is only a memory, which is probably why I ignored the obvious. It's a good reminder to teach my kids (when they become teenagers) that Bella and Edwards relationship is not all right. Thanks for making the obvious even more so by voicing it on Alice's blog.

tinkandalissa said...

One more thing I'd like to throw in here, and then I promise I am done...
People are so critical over the issues they feel this book presents, but this is a drop in the ocean, really. I mean, seriously. There are SO many other horrible things on TV, in songs played on the radio, in music videos, in video games, etc etc. Those are the things these kids are exposed to every single day. I do not feel that reading a work of fiction about one girl falling in love with a vampire is going to make a girl think abuse is ok. But that also puts it back to the parent to discuss with their children morals and these kinds of topics (sex, drugs, abuse, peer pressure, etc) so that the kids are smart enough to know whats wrong and whats right.

tinkandalissa said...

PS I do not mean to imply that being in an abusive relationship and not being able to get out is "not smart". Just wanted to clarify that as I knew, inevitably, that someone would pick what I said apart and find hidden meanings just like they did the novel!

Kelly said...

Excellent post. Many of these things went through my mind when I was reading the series. Edward is very controlling. Jacob was always my favorite because he truly wanted Bella to be happy and had fun with her. I did thoroughly enjoy this series, but did recognize some unhealthy aspects to it.

Lisa said...

For quite a while now, my circle of writer-friends have been dissecting the Twilight saga and phenomenon. None of us could understand why the books are so popular--Stephanie Meyer is a lazy writer who does not do proper character development (she gives no lead-up to major plot points--like Bella's aversion to both growing older and getting married).

The age difference has been touched on, but the truth of Edward's character (and what moves him from tragic to evil) is that, in nearly 100 years, he hasn't changed, he hasn't grown. Forget that his body is frozen in time--his mind is as well, and so are his emotions. He has not emotionally matured. Someone earlier mentioned Anne Rice--the greatest of her vampires (IMO) was Marius, the Eternal Man--the vampire who immersed himself in every new century, opened his mind to the world and learned.

I would have no issue with this series if it was aimed at an adult audience--an adult reader has the intellectual toolkit and emotional maturity (we hope) to smell the rat. If this series had been pitched as adult lit, it would have gone nowhere--or ended up as a title in one of the romance publishers mass market list. Bella is a cardboard Disney princess in urban rags, Edward a Disney vampire--no depth, no dimension.

I realized after re-reading Breaking Dawn why it upset so many readers--the series went from PG-rated sex and violence (well, G-rated by current standards) into a full-fledged R-rated level. Bella went from virgin to wife, gave birth within a month, went from human to vampire, and then started taking life. And instead of the epic battle, we have the petered out showdown--Meyers breaks Quiller-Couch's Law: she kills none of her darlings. What is the point?

In short, bad writing and bad examples for the young girls reading it.

Mamma Drama on the Hill said...

I can see where Alice is coming from, Edward's character is so old fashioned that he is too over protective. But I was always more fearful of Jacob. Jacob did not seem respectful of Bella's body. He just wanted to shack up on the reservation together and stay there for the rest of their lives. On the other hand, Edward was always respectful of Bella's body. He was proud of her academic achievements and encouraged her in her desire to go to college. He wanted her to see the world and experience life.
I just think that people see what they want to see depending on what their paradigm is. My paradigm is different from the next reader's and their's is different from someone else.
Bella never seemed like a weak female character to me. She just seemed normal, human and imperfect. A lot of readers feel like her obsession over Edward weakened her character. As if the only way to be a strong, independent woman today is to be a complete island of emotion. I'd like to know what female character out there is an acceptable role model to those readers. Because I'm sure that answer could be directly related to what their paradigm is. One reader's strong is another reader's weak. I'd be interested to see what readers in other countries and cultures would say about this blog. As for me, I kind of like that Edward and Bella love each other but don't really know how. I don't think it is weak to care for another person and to keep trying even when you get it wrong. I think it is character building. And quite honestly that is realistic, because do any of you know anyone who is in a perfect relationship? Are any of you in perfect relationships? I mean honestly. For a work of fantasty, I think that one aspect of Edward and Bella's relationship is pretty much set in reality. I would not say their relationship is abusive. I would say it is just imperfect and therefore, realistic. I do not think Bella is a Rihanna.

Solvang Sherrie said...

I am one of 5 people on the planet who has not read a Twilight book. But you make great points in your post. It really is disturbing if tweens want to model their relationships after Bella & Edward.

slkcivil said...

I also agree with Mamma Drama on the Hill, in that it may be where we are coming from in our own lives that determines which characters we see as strong or weak. I actually thought that Bella was more of an "old soul" and that her determination in sticking with what she wanted and never wavering (or changing her mind) was her strong point. How many teens (or even adults) are swayed by others opinions? Lots! I liked that she was not.
This has been a great post subject to read and be involved in! Thanks for letting me add my thoughts too.

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