Greetings Twilighters and Twihards and welcome to the second day of our five day long tribute to Twilight leading up to the films release. Today I am happy to showcase the second of a three part series written by guest blogger Kristina Sanchez, an aspiring screenwriter and the author of the amusing blog How To Be A Customer. If you missed her first post be sure to check out Edward Cullen: A Thin Line Between Abusive Teenage Boyfriend and the Perfect Man. Again we want to warn you that there are spoilers in these posts so if you have not finished the Twilight Saga I would recommend reading with caution.
Bella Swan: Human Heroine or Pathetic Wallowing Weakling?
Ah, Bella. There are so few great female leads in books, movies and T.V. so why so many people have to see such weakness in her is beyond me. She’s a very strong character. I find her to be at once relatable as a teenage girl and unique – because she’s not nearly as annoying. I apologize teenagers but you are annoying, and I mean that with love. It’s one of the biggest reasons why I was so surprised at just how much I love this series. I suppose it’s because none of them really act all that much like teenagers, Bella especially since she and Jake are the only ones who actually ARE teenagers, and that’s why I love them.
Bella is SO weak. She always has to be rescued. She’s setting feminism back 100 years!
From page one, EVERYTHING about Bella is quite the opposite of weak. It takes a considerable amount of courage to uproot yourself from a life and a place you love no matter what situation you’re going to. But Bella is going somewhere she hates! Not a lot of us would make that choice. Then, of course, putting aside for the moment the fact that Edward is a vampire, Bella, quite obviously, becomes obsessed with the lad. Now, like anyone, I know a thing or two about crushes. If any of the guys I’ve crushed on invited me to sit with him at lunch, and you don’t know how much I hate to admit this, but I’d be much more of the Jessica Stanley type- omygosh, I can’t believe it, SWOON! Bella is, understandably, occasionally dazzled by Edward, but she more than holds her own during this conversation. Not only does she NOT sit there grinning like a moron, she unleashes the full power of her irritation on him. That’s more than a little impressive. Okay, now remembering the fact that Edward is a vampire…the same vampire who was glaring at her with pure hate in his eyes that first day…and considering the fact that he was trying to be intimidating in the hospital hallway after the accident, I cannot fathom calling Bella weak. Not only is she not intimidated but she stands firm in what she knows is the truth, despite his mocking and his glower.
The fact that Bella has to be rescued all the time is not a product of weakness but of her constant struggle to live in a world of super strong, mythical creatures when she herself is merely human. She is not the demure damsel in distress crying out to Edward for help. Quite the contrary. She hates when her vampire family and werewolf friends have to defend her. She rushed off to meet a vampire, knowing with absolute certainty he was going to kill her, to save her mother. She took off without a second thought to an entire CITY full of vampires to save Edward. She had no problem being in the same field with a plethora of bloodthirsty, uncontrollable and super-super strong newborn vampires. No one is more irritated by her human frailty than Bella is. Listen to what she tells Edward in the hospital after James. “I can’t always be Lois Lane…I want to be Superman too.” It is not a character flaw that all the dangers that endeavor against her can kill her with their pinky fingers.
I’ve heard two facets of the feminism issue. The first is that she blindly follows Edward’s every command. This is just plain laughable. I’m assuming this stems from the handful of times she did what she was told – like drinking her soda. One of the things Kristen Stewart, who portrays Bella in the movie, is constantly talking about is how Bella is actually the aggressor in their relationship. Edward is quite consistently doing all he can to push her away, back into the human existence he believes she should be a part of. Even as late as their wedding in Breaking Dawn, it’s Bella who says “I’m not afraid.” Edward’s answer: “I am.” She almost never listens to Edward. The second is her relationship with her father. It’s been written in several posts how her “lazy” father demands that Bella cook and clean for him. Well, I’ve read each of those books at least 10 times and I have yet to find that demand. A woman who cooks and cleans is not setting feminism back, but if you think that’s the case, I very strongly suggest that you look the word up and reassess your understanding of the term. It has a lot to do with freedom of choice.
Bella is always whining.
Whose inner monologue is all rainbows and butterflies? More importantly, why on earth would I want to read an inner monologue of a 100% content person. It’s uninteresting.
Okay, these accusations tend to fall into two different categories. The first is Bella’s chagrin at her popularity. Oh my God, what teenager would hate to have an entire school worth of friends and admirers at her feet? But that’s what makes Bella so unique among teenage characters. Bella’s popularity is virtually meaningless when you break it down. As she observes, in a tiny town such as Forks, she’s gossip – a freak. None of her friends, initially, are friends with her because they know her. Obviously, that’s impossible. The same goes for her admirers, all of whom are more interested in her shiny newness than her. By stark contrast Edward sees and is interested in HER. During their first conversation in Biology, it’s fairly obvious that in the week she’s been there no one else had bothered to get to know her. I suppose some people just aren’t content with superficial friendliness.
The second complaint about Bella’s whining is her negative self image. This is often construed as unhealthy. Quite the contrary, Bella is merely human. She doesn’t obsess over her looks. She doesn’t wear make-up. She doesn’t constantly obsess over this or that portion of her imperfect body. It is perfectly natural for Bella to look on Edward as a God just because this is one of the befuddling and irritating byproducts of love. But in addition to this Edward is actually God-like. He is supernaturally beautiful and strong where she is…human. Even if she were the most beautiful of humans, which she is not, she would have still felt a certain amount of despair about the difference between them. This is natural and logical. There’s something to be said about truthful characters. Perhaps, in a perfect world, none of us would have any self-doubt, but we all know that’s just not the case.