What Is It About Edward?

I started writing this late last week while pondering what it is about Edward that has folks so addicted to the Twilight series, and so willing to overlook or excuse what critics find to be some creeptastic behavior on his part. Since then, the first 12 chapters of Midnight Sun have been leaked, much to author Stephenie Meyer’s dismay, and she’s halted progress on the project indefinitely. Whether the leak was a publicity stunt or whether someone she gave the chapters to was too tempted not to share them, there remains a LOT of interest in Sir Edward of Sparklyville, and I’ve been spending way too much time comparing him to Alpha Heroes from Days Of Yore to determine what it is about him that’s so transfixing, so addictive, so amazing that people are literally going bananas over the idea that they won’t get the rest of his perspective from Midnight Sun. And of course, I’m reading Midnight Sun and wondering how much time I can spend in this guy’s head before I go bananas. I warn you: this entry is holy shit long. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

While there seems to be some divide between the folks who love them some Jacob, I remain fascinated with the people who are over the moon about Edward, particularly as he’s portrayed in Twilight.

The more I think about it, and look back on Edward’s appearances and interactions with Bella in Twilight, the more he reminds me of the same old-same old Alpha romance hero —specifically, the old-school Alpha hero recast in glittery YA paleness. The same Alpha hero characteristics that so many readers find either tiresome or downright terrific are present in Edward, and serve to make him addictive and alluring.

Many people have noted how conservative and conventional Twilight is as a romance. They are not wrong, in my opinion. Joanne Renaud was the first to give me the heads up on her opinion that Edward was old-skool all the way down to the punishing kisses. I agree: Bella and Edward’s romance echoes the old skool romances of the beginnings of the romance genre: stories told deep within the point of view of the heroine, wherein the hero is a mysterious figure whose desires and intentions are not known, let alone his feelings. The old skool romance hallmarks are all there, most notably, as Candy pointed out to me after her glut of the old skool romances earlier this year, the idea that the hero’s worldview must be adopted by the heroine in order for her to secure her happy ending, complete with increased social status, wealth, and possible title.

Twilight fits that mold. Bella must become complicit in the secrecy of Edward’s world, and in fact she’s the one who presses to adopt his worldview – by becoming a vampire herself. Within Edward’s family, Bella is special merely because she is Edward’s choice and is absorbed into his family simply on that basis, leaving her father’s home for his, literally and figuratively, following the traditional pattern that takes a virginal woman from her father’s possession and guardianship to her husband’s, do not pass go, do not collect $200.

What set me on the Edward-as-Alpha road to much pondering were the interactions in Twilight after Edward has decided to cease ignoring Bella. Every time he shows up after he’s decided to talk to Bella, he rescues her, and immediately following sweeps in and manages every detail of her life. Moreover, that first occasion of rescue is telling; it comes at a moment of great vulnerability for Bella.

She’s alone at home on a snowy day, convinced she’s going to fall down on the icy sidewalks or wreck her truck on the roads. But she realizes after she gets to school that her father had put chains on her tires early in the morning, before he left and before she woke up, purely to keep her safe. As Belly realizes that her father was quietly watching out for her, an experience she has little familiarity with, in swoops Edward-  literally – to save her by bending flying vans to his will. It’s a subtle moment of underscoring: Bella literally travels from her father’s care to Edward’s care in that moment. From then on, Edward saves her over and over again, sweeping in and managing every detail for her.  Her father’s role is merely as a figure in the household, and readers of Midnight Sun know that Edward was as much a figure in that household as Charlie, whether Charlie or Bella knew it or not. Consider the sequence of Edward and Bella’s interactions:

She gets nearly crushed by a van. He saves her life.

She faints in science class. He carries her to the nurse, then gets her excused from classes so he can bring her home.

She is followed by creepy guys in a coastal town. He shows up after reading the thoughts of the villains and rescues her at the last moment before they act on their intentions.

Edward’s Alpha Heroism is solidified by the degree to which he micromanages Bella after those three rescues. He knows whats best. But he takes it one step further by becoming an overseer in her life. Because he doesn’t sleep, he can literally stay with her all the freaking time, aside from when he’s not hunting, and even then he worries about her safety. He makes sure she eats; he watches her as she sleeps.  He pretty much rebuilds his entire day around being with her. He meets her after class, he follows her home, and her day in the Twilight narration becomes measured by when she’s with Edward vs. when she’s not.  He pays a great deal of lip service to the idea of keeping her safe but it’s more a taming of the Alpha Hero, on speed with added crack and angst, because not only does Edward hover over her and pretty much glue himself to her side, but she wants nothing more than to be with him. Every. Minute. All. Day. He drinks blood to survive; she drinks the experience of being with him to avoid depresson.

He tames his desire to kill her and eat her, but he still consumes her, which is the point that made me the most uncomfortable, but may also serve as a primary reference as to why Edward is so alluring a character. While Edward and Bella don’t knock boots in Twilight, Edward manages to insert himself figuratively into her life and become the center of every moment of Bella’s life – and she’s all for it. More than one person commented to me privately after reading my review that the manner in which Bella subsumes her identity and becomes absorbed by Edward almost symbiotically made them as readers profoundly uncomfortable, because it echoed abusive relationships they witnessed or experienced. It wasn’t romantic for them, that totalitarian management – it was creepy.

Plus there’s the fact that Edward doesn’t really do anything else with his endless days.  The only one who does anything with that whole vampiric sleeplessness is Carlisle. He doesn’t need sleep? He’s a butt-trillion years old with light years of medical experience? Holy shit, he’s the best ER doctor ever. Imagine what patient lessons he could relate (thanks to Taylor for the link).

But Edward doesn’t DO anything aside from attend school in presence only, play baseball, and drive cars rather quickly. He plays music but he’s already excellent – a virtuoso, in fact. Bella, for all intents and purposes, becomes his hobby. Being near her, whether she knows it or not, is what he does. But because he has more of a life and routine than she does, she is absorbed into his world, partly because she has no real life in Forks herself, and partly because the secrecy of their society demands it.

The biggest characteristic of an Old Skool Alpha Hero is The Rape of the Heroine, which doesn’t literally occur in Twilight, though one could argue that James’ biting Bella could be interpreted as rape, and Edward’s refusal to change her into a vampire as the refusal to do so. Edward does invade Bella’s privacy and home without her permission in order to watch her, and if his commentary is to be believed, to try to resist killing her. That leashed intention to kill, I think, can be interpreted the same as the leashed intent to rape. But in a strange turn, Bella begs for that violation: she wants to be the same as Edward, and she wants him to kill her and change her.

Regardless of who asks for what form whom, Edward’s possession and possessive attitude are alarmingly Alpha. When anyone—his brothers, random serial rapists hiding in small towns, or another vampire—threatens the human he considers his own, Edward goes berserk. His possession of Bella, even in his mind, is complete and total, and her willingness to follow that possession, since he knows what’s best for her, casts her in a sheepish model that I never recovered from as I read Twilight.

Reading Midnight Sun’s first 12 chapters (while I try to intersperse reading The Jewel of Medina at the same time, speaking of going berserk) hasn’t helped much. Edward’s self-loathing is evident, but the “I’m not good enough for her but she’s MINE MINE MINE EDWARD SMASH” attitude reinforces my suspicions: that Edward is an old-skool Alpha male hero in the classic model, dipped in sparkles and dispensed to a younger audience. Perhaps that explains his allure – there are many, many readers who adore the Alpha model in their romance hero, and Edward is no different.


Random Musings

Comments are Closed

  1. Chicklet says:

    I swear, every description of this hero and heroine, and their behavior toward each other, makes me loathe them on a cellular level. *recoils from screen*

  2. Ri L. says:

    Yikes, me too.  The idea of the “alpha male” as somehow romantically appealing has never sat well with me.

  3. Jana Oliver says:

    Thank you, Sarah. You have just explained exactly why I couldn’t warm up to the novel or the characters. There was something about the story that chafed me, but I couldn’t put my paws on it.

    As to the news she’s pulling the next book for the time being:  It is extremely frustrating when something like this happens, but she’s only dissing her readers by withholding the book. They didn’t do anything wrong.  I value my work as much as any and will fiercely protect it like a mother her cub, but it’s not like it came down from Mt. Sinai on stone tablets. In the Grand Scheme of Things(TM) the world has bigger issues to deal with. If she believes otherwise, she needs to do a Reality Check. Pronto.

    Note to Ms. Meyer: finish the book and move on. Choose your beta readers more carefully in the future. Consider it a lesson learned. Just don’t burn your readers in the process. That only compounds the original offense and violates an author’s Prime Directive.

  4. Sarah F. says:

    Wow, that does sound like the case descriptions of relationships that lead to domestic violence that I read in college. Ugh.

  5. lila says:

    As Sarah F. said, their relationship does sound like the pathway to abuse. 

    I think it’s interesting that you can also reinterpret Edward as representing a higher spiritual power :

    ~He’s always looking out for her, even when she can’t see him
    ~He’s always there to rescue her
    ~She wants him in every part of her life
    ~He’s a healer (? did I read that right?  I haven’t read the books)
    ~She has to go through some sort of ceremony to be part of his community.

    Maybe the relationship appeals to so many because it reflects a deeper spiritual relationship.

  6. Erastes says:

    Well, I suppose stalkery cliche alpha mormon vampire does add something to the mix, just not in a good way.

  7. Jana Oliver says:

    Sarah F –
    You know, you’re right. That’s exactly the pattern. Why is “stalking” okay for an Alpha Male but not cool any other time? Because, in essence, that’s what Edward was doing. He would say he’s hovering to protect her, but so would some seriously creepy guy.

    I think that’s the thing that really bugged me—the fact he just doesn’t give her some space, let her work out her own mistakes. Maybe because I’m older I find that irritating. If you’re a teen, it’s possible it doesn’t set off the same alarm bells.

  8. Madd says:

    Is it just me or are the links not working?

  9. Tina C. says:

    Admittedly, I haven’t read the books and only learned they even existed maybe 6 months or so ago.  However, the descriptions I’ve seen, with all the stalking and completely imbalanced power structure, puts me right off.  This combined with the synopsis I saw of the last book pretty much guarantees I won’t pick up the series.

    As for why it really appeals to some, though, I’d have to say it’s because there are times when everything sucks and blows and it sounds, if only in theory, absolutely wonderful to have someone that wants to “take care of you”.  Then there’s the whole broody, moody, Angsty McAngst hero who’s uber-powerful, but putty in the hands of his true love.  She’s ordinary, weak, and even clumsy, but she still “controls” all the power that is Edward.  I can see where the fantasy of that would be horribly romantic to many a teen (and not-so-teen) girl.  Angsty Teen Tina would have done handsprings to have super-hot-super-jock fawning over me (once I got past my suspicious “why is he talking to me” phase, that is).  Adult Tina Who’s Been In A Few Bad Relationships And Recognizes The Signs would be feeling creeped out and smothered in about 5 minutes or less.

  10. Jessa Slade says:

    I admit I’ve always liked Alpha heroes. Maybe it’s because I come from a very sheltered childhood myself and never had that sense of safety violated, but the imbalance of power doesn’t set off alarm bells for me… in a fantasy.  And I’ve always considered romance novels a fantasy.  Whatever life lessons can be learned from them are the same as a fairytale: don’t play in the dark unless you want to get eaten; dressing well gets you noticed; you can have it all, etc.

    To switch up what Lila said, I also think at the end of most Alpha hero stories, the Alpha too has been changed by the meek heroine.  His impulse toward violence is mitigated, his cold isolation ended, his empty soul filled.  The beast is tamed.  Yes, it’s a fantasy, in a way a subversive one, that a woman who has nothing, who is nothing compared to her powerful lover, still manages to capture and subdue him.

  11. SB Sarah says:

    re: Links. My bad – Fixed them. Stupid curly quotes.

  12. Mel-O-Drama says:

    this may be long. Sorry.

    I read TWILIGHT and fell in love with Edward. Immediately. And somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew it was because he was the alpha-dog and damn he was hot. I was compelled to continue the series and by the end of NEW MOON I was wishing Bella dead and for a new, real heroine to appear. One that could match Edward’s alpha. Bella is not that girl.

    I read ECLIPSE because I wanted the backstory of the vampires and werewolves. Which I think says a lot. I really didn’t care about Bella’s plight. And Edward lost his appeal to me because I could never figure out what he saw in Bella.

    I will not read BREAKING DAWN because I just don’t care anymore. Plus, I know how it ends, and I am not surprised by it at all.

    Now that I’ve taken some time to dwell on the story and the underlying message in it, I have to say, I’m just this side of disgusted.

    Bella cannot take care of herself. Hell, she can’t even walk on her own. She’s literally carried everywhere by Edward and Jacob and figuratively carried by everyone else. The message that sends to teenagers everywhere is frightening. I wouldn’t want my children to read this and think this is how relationships should work.

    Bella talks about wanting to be independent, but the truth is, she’s all talk. She’s fully dependent on someone else at all times, but the author would have us believe she’s the caretaker because she cooks meals for her father. Um. No. He was doing just fine without her before. He didn’t NEED her to cook for him. But as a reader, we’re duped into believing that she is an independent, mature, responsible caretaker.

    As the story goes on, we realize she’s not that at all. Not only is she carried (can I tell you HOW MUCH THAT BOTHERS ME????) everywhere, she also needs Edward to keep her alive, daddy to keep her car maintained, Jacob to take the place of Edward in book two because she can’t muster the strength to get over him alone. She is one of those girls who ALWAYS HAS TO HAVE SOMEONE IN HER LIFE. She can never be alone. She is not strong enough to live life without someone else.

    And that is not the message I want my kids to come away with.

  13. I have no problem with alpha males as such, but they have to evidence some growth and change because of their relationship with the heroine.  That’s one of the reasons why I like SEP’s heroes so much.  Each of them undergoes a change for the better because of the heroine.

    How did Edward change after meeting Bella?  He didn’t kill her, but he was already committed to being a “vegetarian”, so I don’t buy that one as being a change.  Bella changed, Bella adapted, Bella gave up herself for love. 

    And I never realized until you mentioned it how much it bothered me that Edward wasn’t doing anything with his “life”. If you look at vampires in modern lit,  Lestat became a rock star, St. Germaine is an alchemist and healer, even Jean-Claude ran a nightclub!  Edward goes to high school.

    Thank you for your thoughtful essay.  It was eye-opening.

  14. Leah says:

    I’ve not read these books, but I’ve followed various discussions about them.  When I was a teenager, and even an inexperienced college student, I truly thought that a romantic relationship required that the lovers be completely consumed by each other—that we would just kind of melt into each other and become one being.  Not just during sex, but in life in general.  I saw nothing silly about boys and girls kissing each other passionately before the long, dreadful separation that was, oh, English class.  Later on, though, as an adult, I was completely weirded out by guys who came on too strong after one date.  And while it is fun to think of a guy who is just consumed by his passion for you, after awhile, it would get a little tiresome, and make me wonder if maybe he didn’t have some psychological problems.  I’m not that great, after all.  I dunno.  And the rescue stuff—that still works for me, esp if it involves household repairs! I can see the appeal of this Edward guy for teenage girls, but I can’t really see why a grown woman, who has been married for years and presumably has a mature relationship, would sustain this view of a relationship for so many books.  When people are secure in a relationship, they are able to give and take some space.  I would want my teen readers to see that, as much as I would want them to see characters who abstain from premarital sex. And I truly love the commenter who wondered, what in the world is Edward doing, wasting all this time when he could be learning and trying and excelling in all sorts of endeavors?  He’s hanging out in high school?  He’s the vampire equivalent of the tortured artist who moves in with you, is all moody, and never gets a real job. Hmmmm.

  15. Katie says:

    I loved Twilight, but thought the second two books, Eclipse and New Moon, went downhill fast, with the storylines becoming both more unbelievable and the action slower, if such a thing is possible.

    I don’t quite agree with the Alpha Male characteristic, although I haven’t read so many of the older bodice-rippers as you would think. The biggest reason is that Bella is the one pressuring Edward for sex, and Edward is the one continually refusing her advances.

    I don’t interpret Bella’s immersion in “Edward’s world” the same way that SB Sarah does. In my opinion, to use another wildly popular YA series as a parallel, the excitement is in the hero/heroine’s introduction to a paranormal/magical world much different than everyday life. I think it’s similar to Harry Potter’s immersion into the world of Hogwarts. I wouldn’t assume that loving the magic of Hogwarts somehow means Harry’s personality is “subsumed” in the new world. That’s how I read Bella’s love of the vampire world, because she’s not just infatuated with Edward, but she also loves the rest of it: the sparkly/forest parts, the speed, the mythology, etc.

    I think the fantasy of the first book is that Edward is somebody who spends all his time thinking about Bella and protecting her, and that is a very powerful fantasy to a lot of women.

  16. kalafudra says:

    You know, I think Robert Pattinson (who plays Edward in the upcoming movie) said it best:
    “When you read the book,” says Pattinson, looking appropriately pallid and interesting even without makeup, “it’s like, ‘Edward Cullen was so beautiful I creamed myself.’ I mean, every line is like that. He’s the most ridiculous person who’s so amazing at everything. I think a lot of actors tried to play that aspect. I just couldn’t do that. And the more I read the script, the more I hated this guy, so that’s how I played him, as a manic-depressive who hates himself. Plus, he’s a 108-year-old virgin so he’s obviously got some issues there.”
    (For the source of this quote go to my blog. You can also find links to some hilarious recaps of the books there.)

    I never saw much in Edward, but then I usually don’t go for the main heros in romance novel. I don’t know why… But Midnight Sun just makes everything seem even more creepy than it already was.

    [But I have to admit, I still like the books… I don’t know why. I might by addicted…]

  17. Rebecca says:

    Yeah, those Old Skool Alpha’s could be pretty annoying – as could the doormat heroines – but I don’t remember reading any of the OSAs exhibiting the extreme behavior that Edward does.

    His behavior is creepy – as is Bella’s doormat self.

    There’s Alpha and then there’s Creepy Alpha (CA).

    I have no interest in reading the books and think that a good antidote to these would be Andre Norton’s Witch World series, where adolescent and older teenage girls are actively involved in their lives.

    Thanks for the critique. I haven’t noticed any other critiques picking this up.

  18. katiebabs says:

    I saw Edward as more of a quiet alpha hero. I am so used to the alpha heroes in other romances being big, brawny, larger than life it is my way or the highway. Edward’s manipulation of Bella, even if we can call it that was more sneakier and yes intense but more intelligent and much like a predator who corners his prey. And why because Edward is a 100+ virgin means he has issues? When Edward became a vampire he lost all feelings even sexual. The only needs he had was to feed. When he saw Bella, he became alive again, much like Christine Feehan’s heroes. Edward saw the light per say. Rememeber it is a YA novel, so it makes sense Meyer would make Edward a virgin, just like Bella.
    I found the fact that Edward sleeping next to Bella almost every night, holding back his urges to kill her or whatever, was very sensual and sexy, especially if I were a teen reading this book.
    Sarah, I think you should read the next 2 books in this series and see what Jacob is all about. Many have compared Edward and Jacob non-stop and it would be interesting to see what you think of Jacob, Edward’s nemesis.

  19. TracyS says:

    Edward almost symbiotically made them as readers profoundly uncomfortable, because it echoed abusive relationships they witnessed or experienced. It wasn’t romantic for them, that totalitarian management – it was creepy.

    Disclaimer: I have not read the books so I am responding to what I have read around the ‘net.

    Edward’s behavior definitely sounds like it’s going down the path to abuse.  Relationships that mimic domestic violence are not sexy and not hawt and not romantic.

    And, in my opinion, there is a difference between the Alpha hero and the ASSHOLE Alpha hero.  A man can be Alpha without being an ass or a stalker or an abuser.  Some heroes cross the line and that is when they turn into the Asshole Alpha.

  20. handyhunter says:

    And Twilight is the least offensive/cracky/misogynistic of the books…

  21. handyhunter says:

    Jacob, Edward’s nemesis.

    Also, (Eclipse spoiler) his BFF tent buddy. And (Breaking Dawn spoiler) soon to be son-in-law.

    Edward’s behavior definitely sounds like it’s going down the path to abuse.

    But it’s okay because he loves Bella and it’s just fantasy (it doesn’t have to, you know, make sense or anything. See Breaking Dawn FAQ on Meyer’s site).

  22. LOL, Stephenie Myers is epically flouncing from her career.

    But seriously, I love Edward because he’s shiny like tinfoil, and just as abrasive.  Also, he looks *just* like Cedric Diggory.

  23. SB Sarah says:

    When he saw Bella, he became alive again, much like Christine Feehan’s heroes.

    Thank you for reminding me, katiebabs! That aspect of the Twilight narrative reminded me heavily of the Feehan universe, particularly the part where after the male bonds the female to him, she is completely bereft and suicidal without him while he’s “sleeping” in the ground, if she’s not with him. IIRC, in the first book, the heroine is still mortal after the binding oaths are spoken, and while the hero is taking his dirt nap, she’s nearly incoherent with anxiety and grief because she isn’t with him and cannot sense him.

    That degree of dependence was echoed in Twilight and from what I understand in the subsequent books as well – Bella is bereft without Edward. Her mood depends on his presence – a rather parasitic relationship model, really.

    That said, I appreciate the allure of the overwhelming management skillz of the Alpha Hero (not, as we call them in The Book, the Alphole Hero, which is another species entirely) who subjects the heroine to a very fantastical Calgon-take-me-away rescue – as does Edward.

    I’m absolutely fascinated by the idea of Edward as religious figure, though. What an enormous allegory if so. Holy cow.

  24. Alyssa Day says:

    From the first book, here’s what I immediately saw as the irresistible draw to teen girls:  Edward is completely, entirely committed to Bella.  Deep, forever, world-bending kind of love.  I don’t disagree with your interpretation of the alpha hero construct at all; I simply believe that it was a minor factor in the book’s success compared to the utter laser-like focus Edward had for Bella.  In this generation of “He’s Just Not That Into You” where all girls hear about is lack of commitment, boys being players, etc. etc., to have this complete “you are the one and the ONLY one for me” kind of attention is very seductive.  Not to mention that HE was the one holding off on sex, so that it was clear that he didn’t want her just as an easy lay, which is also a big concern among teen girls.  (Does he want/love me or does he just want to get lucky?”)

    Also, and not particularly on topic, I’d like to throw out a message of support to Stephenie.  Never in the history of writing, as far as I know, has an author been so excoriated by so many.  She wrote a novel.  She didn’t harm little children, betray her country or become an axe murderer.  But wow has she been ganged up on in a holy shit and (not on this site but almost everywhere else) very personal way, with people questioning her motives, her morals, her religion, etc. etc., which really fries my bananas.  Absolutely every reader has the right to express her opinion and thank goodness for it!!  But I can’t even imagine how much all the personal attacks must hurt and I wish I could send her a hug or three.

  25. NHS says:

    My YA daughter refuses to read these books. And the friends of hers that do are the exact ones that shouldn’t. They are already having self esteem and relationship issues from dealing with messy divorces, absent fathers and mothers consumed in their own problems. (Geez were the hell did that self righteous crap come from!) Anyway the bottom line is, these books only reinforce already skewed teen behavior and nobody needs that.

    I would rather any teen girl out there never ever read anything than read these books and admire Edward and Bella.

  26. Madd says:

    I have a thing for alphas, but I know it’s because I have ISSUES, all caps for emphasis, and almost all of them pertaining to men. I’ve got daddy issues, abandonment issues, trust issues, codependency issues and so on. My sister has the same issues which has resulted in a 15 year relationship with her physically abusive “baby daddy” who has spent most of those 15 years in and out of prison, mostly in. If I didn’t react violently to hostile physical contact I too might have gone that way. I can see where a woman might want an alpha male. There is a part of me too that likes the idea of a strong solid man who wants only me. Wants to take care of me and protect me. Would rather rip his own heart out than hurt me. It helps that he might have issues so that he understands me. Ok, wait … shit … I just described my husband! Damn … but, hey! He’s also a tech geek and an artists … so that’s something!

  27. Perhaps some enterprising fanfic writer should redo TWILIGHT in the style of Betty Neels.

  28. Hey!T says:

    Since then, the first 12 chapters of Midnight Sun have been leaked, much to author Stephenie Meyer’s dismay

    You are a better person than I because seriously the urge to use ‘chagrin’ would be too much for me to resist. 😛

    Interesting character analysis. I can see why before the shitstorm hit so many on my LJ flist were going, “EDWARD CULLLLLLENNNNN!!!!”

  29. Jess says:

    Katie, I understand where you’re coming from with the world emersion thing. And there are similarities between Harry and Bella, both getting caught up in a new, magical world that until recently had seemed impossible.

    But I still think the situations are different. Harry is brought into a magical world with many competing view points, personalities, mentors. Additionally it’s a world he’s always belonged to, whether he knew it or not, and though he grows once he joins it, he doesn’t have to change himself completely to be welcome.

    Bella’s introduction and life with vampires is almost exclusively tied to Edward. She experiences the vampire world directly through him for the better part of three books. When she finally becomes one herself, Edward completely orchestrates that change. And it is a complete physical change. But there is no mental change, because as Bella mentioned several times over the last two books, she now sees herself as completely inseparable from Edward. They are the same person.

    That idea really isn’t mentioned until Eclipse, but you can certainly see the seedlings that are planted in Twilight and New Moon. It’s just a creepy thought that this supposedly bright teenager can no longer draw the line between herself and her boyfriend of a little over a year (not counting the several months she spends catatonic because he leaves her again for her own good and don’t get me started at how much THAT part of New Moon bothered me).

  30. karmelrio says:

    I can definitely see why Meyer is p-to-the-issed about her manuscript being distributed further than she intended it to be – but wow, too bad she didn’t assess the risk (certainty) of this happening before she let it out of her hands.

  31. katiebabs says:

    Jess, you make some excellent points. What I wished for Bella to do and I wished this had happened in Breaking Dawn, for Bella to find herself without Edward, go to college, experience life and then make that decision to get married, become a vampire, etc…
    And I read parts of the Edward manuscript and for me, I am not interested in Edward’s POV. For me, the Twilight series was about Bella’s view about a young girl and her decisions. After all that we know, why would we really want to know what Edward was thinking this whole time. What about Jacob or Alice, etc…?

  32. Thanks so much for the shout out, Sarah!  Your comments on Edward’s totalitarian micromanaging personality are dead on.  It made me very uncomfortable too.  I like the occasional alpha hero- old Valerie Sherwood novels are one of my guilty pleasures- but the heroine has to be a match for him, and give back as good as she gets.  The way Bella completely submitted to Edward reminded me of all those old-skool romances (i.e. Victoria Holt’s “The Demon Lover” or Catherine Coulter’s “Chandra”) that I used to hurl against the wall when I was in high school.  After “Twilight,” I felt that I needed to read some Margaret Atwood as a chaser.

    What really bothers me is how I’ve seen some girls argue that they don’t understand why “Twilight” disturbs a lot of people, that they’re not “feminazis,” and that it actually has great ideals in it to follow, and Edward and Bella are wonderful role models, etc.  I know that if I try to start arguing with these girls, I’ll start foaming at the mouth, so I don’t say anything. 

    But I really want to give them a copy of “The Handmaid’s Tale” to read.  Or maybe “The Feminine Mystique”…

  33. MoJo says:

    I have no problem with alpha males as such, but they have to evidence some growth and change because of their relationship with the heroine.

    I’m going to echo Darlene here.  I love the almost-asshole alpha as long as the heroine can kick his ass and he gets over it and turns (or returns) into a decent human being.

    (Sorry, Darlene, I’m so springboarding off of you today.)

    And I never realized until you mentioned it how much it bothered me that Edward wasn’t doing anything with his “life”. If you look at vampires in modern lit, Lestat became a rock star, St. Germaine is an alchemist and healer, even Jean-Claude ran a nightclub!  Edward goes to high school.

    I was bored on Edward’s behalf.  Really, I was.

    but wow, too bad she didn’t assess the risk (certainty) of this happening before she let it out of her hands.

    Well, sometimes your enthusiasm trumps your red-flag-spotting ability.

  34. Teddypig says:

    Edward does invade Bella’s privacy and home without her permission in order to watch her,

    If my understanding that rape is not about sex but power… Then is breaking in and lurking around the sleeping girl having thoughts of killing her any better?

    And is it even creepier that she accepts the whole setup eventually?

    It’s like those women who hang out at prisons and marry a mass-murderer because the guy loves her and would never ever hurt her.


    Honestly, I would be reading that and egging the hero on to off her NOW so the whole creepy dang story would be over already.

  35. Amy says:

    I’m absolutely fascinated by the idea of Edward as religious figure, though. What an enormous allegory if so. Holy cow.

    You might enjoy reading this analysis of the LDS influence on the books, written by an ex-LDS member:

    The comparison she makes to Joseph Smith is pretty interesting.

  36. SB Sarah says:

    Yo, katiebabs – can I say again how refreshing and interesting it is to discuss the book with someone who is a fan but also can argue eloquently without abject squeeage and rejection of criticism? So yay for you.

    I was fascinated with the opportunity to read Edward’s POV, and reading the two (Midnight Sun and Twilight) concurrently was interesting to say the least, particularly as I tried to figure out why exactly Edward is so alluring as a character to so many readers.

    However, as for the relative flimsyness of Bella’s character, I think it made her a much easier placeholder for the reader who could then substitute herself for the heroine—again, an old-skool methodology of reading that isn’t 100% proven or 100% accurate for every reader.

  37. MS Jones says:

    Great critique.

    For a less cerebral analysis (but funny) check out the snark at the_red_shoes livejournal – the author cites a number of passages that support your thesis, adds pithy commentary, and sums the whole book up thusly:




  38. SB Sarah says:


    Agreed. There is never enough Nutella in the world, ever, under any circumstances.

    Particularly smeared on Nutter Butters.

  39. RachelM says:

    I really agree with Alyssa Day about the appeal this has for YA readers.  But also, many people are losing the reality that this is Fantasy Fiction.  If you want your kids to learn what a real relationship is all about, get them to read nonfiction or go out and make friends.  Fantasy Fiction should not take the place of real life experiences. 

    Also, everyone is analyzing Edward and Bella’s relationship.  But there are other relationships in the novels that demonstrate other dynamics: Alice and Jasper, Carlyle and Esme, Rosalie and Emmett (for crying out loud).

    Just some food for thought. 

    On a side note, I think what Meyer is doing by not finishing Midnight Sun is selfish.  Only you can put yourself in a negative mood.

  40. Lyra says:

    Amy sniped my comment about Edward as Spiritual Power, so I’ll just echo her.

    What really bothers me is how I’ve seen some girls argue that they don’t understand why “Twilight” disturbs a lot of people, that they’re not “feminazis,” and that it actually has great ideals in it to follow…

    And not just girls. Women in their 30s and 40s (the infamous TwiMoms) are also heads over heels in love with Edward Cullen and cannot see how the power dynamic might be disturbing. The fact that such a large contingent of women who might otherwise be intelligent

    SB Sarah, thank you for the thoughtful essay/breakdown of Edward Cullen. He made my hackles rise during my reading of Twilight, and afterwards just made my skin crawl thinking of the implications, the creepy alpha maleness. Your essay distilled the essence of the skin crawling creepiness, and I feel like I can point to it and say “YES. THIS IS THE PROBLEM.”

    Also, I don’t know if you’re familiar with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but Twilight has also drawn a lot of comparisons to the Buffy/Angel relationship (human vampire slayer falls in love with vampire). Many people like to point to that Angel lurks outside Buffy’s window and no one is calling him a creepy stalker.

    What I find most interesting about the comparison is that Angel does go bad (after a night of mindblowing sex, actually), and his stalker tendencies do turn from “aww, creepy cute” to “um, you just left roses on my doorstep with a note threatening to kill me soon.” And Angel is eventually redeemed. There is a lot of growth on the parts of both hero and heroine, and even though they don’t get a HEA, they do become better people.

    Edward though, stops at “you just mentally fantasized about killing me and everyone around me. Now let me watch you sleep.”

    Sorry for rambling, and I think I need to go wash the creepy crawly sensation off myself now.

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