The Twilight Saga

Hello, everyone. I'm a new user, and I am, admittedly, new to Twilight. I have not read the books, and I have not watched the movies. But I intend to watch the movies, and then maybe move on to the books.

Unfortunately, I'm sure that you all know the stigma going around about Twilight. Accusations of bad character development, anti feminism and even relationship abuse and messages about abortion.

I still want to watch the movies, but the critics have gotten me thinking. What is true about these accusations and what isn't? Is there an alternative perspective? If so, what is it? So I have decided to ask questions about the characters. I have done some research with the Twilight wiki, and have come across a few things that bother me. Hopefully, you "twihards" can shed some light on these issues for me. (And they can sparkle, like the vampires do, LOL.)

First, I will ask about...
... Bella Swan.

In all the time I have spent on researching the criticism of Twilight, Bella ' s name comes up very often.

Of course, with her being the main protagonist, a lot of the attention would be on her.

Unfortunately, Bella has been dealt a bad hand in regards to critical reception, as it turns out. And I am pained to say that I happen to agree with some of it.

NO WAIT, DON'T LEAVE YET! Let me explain, and then make up for it.

The first major criticism of Bella is that she has family issues. Again, I have not read the books or watched the movies yet, but lucky for me, some of the people who say this give examples.

First, there is the question of Bella ' s relationship with her mother. Maybe some of you know where I am going with this. Maybe you don't.

The criticism is that Bella and her mother are best friends of sorts, as you all know, and that Bella moves in with her Dad to give her Mom a chance to be happy with a new guy. Critics ask this: if they were really good friends, then why would Bella leaving make her Mom more happy?

Second, there is the relationship with her father that is called into question.

The criticism is that she takes care of her Dad, and yet he (allegedly) isn't all that attentive toward her needs. More on that in a later point, so please keep this in mind.

The next major criticism is that Bella has bad people skills. Again, I was lucky enough to come across some examples.

Oh sure, Bella has no trouble getting attention and making a list of groupies on her first day of school, but people who hate the Twilight Saga have a problem with the way she handled it, I guess.

For example, she kind of seems to forget about them when Edward comes along. This bothered me a little bit, because I never understood why Meyers brought them in if they were not as important as Edward.

Another example is that Bella at some point (I forget when the author of the article said it was) uses one of her friends to hear Edward ' s mental telepathy thing again. And then when her friend figures it out and confronts her about it, Bella gets indignant. Why? I don't understand.

The next criticism is that of Bella ' s beauty. Some say that it lacks any detailed description, and others say that she is portrayed as too beautiful. All I have to say about this one is that Meyers explained this, and that she was intended to be an everyman... or woman, I guess.

Okay... That's passable.

The next criticism is that she has no major flaws. Having not read the books or watched the movies, I can't say a lot about this. However, I can comment on her supposed clumsiness.

Yes, I say "supposed" clumsiness, and here's why. This supposed weakness, this vice of hers, is never really exploited to the fullest. Nor does it really fit in with her overall personality. Personally, I feel that this trait, klutziness, would be better suited for Alice. (More on that in a later discussion.)

The next criticism is that Bella is too perfect. Some have even gone so far as to call her a Mary Sue. Having had some experience with the Fanfiction world, I know what that means too well. I have run into Mary Sue ' s too often, and I find them intolerable!

But what is a Mary Sue? In basic terms, a Mary Sue has everything go her way, everyone instantly falls in love with her, she is usually perfect, and she is immune to certain rules that the rest of the universe follows.

For example, she never has trouble with her bloodlust (according to the critics). She learns a few other skills really quickly as a vampire, if they are right

As stated before, some have criticized Bella for being too perfect. In this case, she would be classified as a Mary Sue. Her klutziness doesn't seem to get in her way either.

The next criticism of Bella is an unfaithful girlfriend. Of course, this one is a serious accusation to make, so this must be examined carefully. Unfortunately, the critics simplify it greatly by simply pointing out that she was about to marry Edward, and then fooled around with Jacob anyway.

Of course, there is a simple explanation for this, right? She had the hots for both of them, so she would naturally be torn. But she agreed to marry Edward. So she would feel guilty about how she feels about Jacob.

But still... My head hurts, so never mind. Moving on.

So, all in all, this criticism is painting Bella in a pretty bad light. But she's the main protagonist! She pretty much IS the story. Was Bella made the way she is in this regard on purpose, or by accident? Because the way that the critics portray her could still work, interestingly enough. She could be this boarder line psychotic, arrogant, manipulative anti feminist, and the story could work out very well. It really could. But there doesn't seem to be any evidence that this was intentional. Could someone explain this for me, please? Someone come to Bella ' s aid (again).

Someone please explain these things to me. And remember, I am not trying to pick a fight, I am trying to understand.

Tags: Twilight, Understanding

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Unfortunately, Bella has been dealt a bad hand in regards to critical reception, as it turns out. And I am pained to say that I happen to agree with some of it.
--  I'm curious, if you have not watched the movies or read the books, then what makes you agree with them.  What are you basing your opinion on?  

The first major criticism of Bella is that she has family issues.

-- Yes I would agree that Bella has family issues, but I don't really see how that is Bella's fault.  Also these "issues" is what makes Bella interesting.  It is how she deals with the issues.  I don't think Bella's mother is a very good mothers.  She is said to be pretty flaky and Bella handles paying the bills, cooking for them, etc, from a young age.  The fact that Bella decided to sacrifice her own happiness to live with Charlie is not really her mother's fault or a neglectful mother.  Bella made a decision to put her own mother's happiness above her own.  That is admirable. 

--  Bella's relationship with her father is not as admirable.  She is kinda a selfish kid mostly because she doesn't like Forks and so she makes her father travel to visit her two times out of the year.  Yes Bella does take on the cooking and cleaning for her father, but it is never said that he actually asked her to do it.  I think Bella had these habits from living with her mother and carried on the same habits when living with her father.  And while she is shown to love her father and want him to remain safe, she was still willing to give up both her parents in order to become a vampire. 

The next major criticism is that Bella has bad people skills.

--  Yes I agree that she has bad people skills.  Her opinions of her classmates are pretty shallow.  Bella is not the first girl (nor will she be the last) who forgets to spend time with other people once they get a boyfriend.  A young couple becoming obsessed with each other is extremely common.  It is not really healthy, but almost everyone has done it.  I don't think she had a choice but to bring in classmates for Bella.  Bella is going to a public school therefore obviously she has classmates. 

Another example is that Bella at some point (I forget when the author of the article said it was) uses one of her friends to hear Edward ' s mental telepathy thing again. And then when her friend figures it out and confronts her about it, Bella gets indignant. Why? I don't understand.

-- That really isn't an accurate summary of what happened.  I'm not sure if the person you read was inaccurate or if you summarized too much.  So I understand why you are confused, but I can't really help you to understand because it isn't accurate or it is just too summarized.  


The next criticism is that of Bella ' s beauty. Some say that it lacks any detailed description, and others say that she is portrayed as too beautiful. All I have to say about this one is that Meyers explained this, and that she was intended to be an everyman... or woman, I guess.

-- Part of this is because it is written in first person.  Most teenage girls do not consider themselves to be beautiful, BUT those around them often do consider them to be beautiful.  So while it seems contradictory, it makes sense. 



The next criticism is that she has no major flaws. Having not read the books or watched the movies, I can't say a lot about this. However, I can comment on her supposed clumsiness.

Yes, I say "supposed" clumsiness, and here's why. This supposed weakness, this vice of hers, is never really exploited to the fullest. Nor does it really fit in with her overall personality. Personally, I feel that this trait, klutziness, would be better suited for Alice. (More on that in a later discussion.)

--  I don't see how Alice would be better suited for clumsiness, so I don't really understand that statement.  Vampires really can't be clumsy, which was basically the point of Bella being so clumsy.  Meyers wrote her as being the opposite of vampires  (except for being very pale) in many areas of her life. 

The next criticism is that Bella is too perfect. Some have even gone so far as to call her a Mary Sue.

--  Bella is far from perfect and she makes a lot of mistakes.  However, I do think she is sort of a Mary Sue just because in the end everything is "perfect".  She didn't really have to give up anything and everything was "happily ever after". 



The next criticism of Bella is an unfaithful girlfriend.

--  I would agree with that statement, but I think it is exaggerated.  Bella kissing Jacob when engaged to Edward was very WRONG and certainly a moment when she is not faithful.  But I wouldn't call what she did with Jacob "fooling around" so that is where the exaggeration comes in.  It was one very, very deep kiss. 


So, all in all, this criticism is painting Bella in a pretty bad light. But she's the main protagonist! She pretty much IS the story. Was Bella made the way she is in this regard on purpose, or by accident? Because the way that the critics portray her could still work, interestingly enough. She could be this boarder line psychotic, arrogant, manipulative anti feminist, and the story could work out very well. It really could. But there doesn't seem to be any evidence that this was intentional. Could someone explain this for me, please? Someone come to Bella ' s aid (again).
--  I think that Meyers writes Bella as the type of person who is sort of stubborn and doesn't change her mind easily.  So Bella believes something and stands firm on that belief (whether right or wrong) and then will suddenly have an epiphany and sometimes Bella will then change her mind.  Other times the epiphany confirms what she already thought and so in that case she doesn't change her mind but the epiphany confirms that she was right.  I'll give an example for each.

1) Epiphany change:  Bella says over and over that Jacob is her friend and she loves him like a brother.  Then she has an epiphany (in the process of kissing him) and Bella changes her mind and realizes that she DOES love Jacob romantically. The epiphany helps her to realize that she had been wrong about what she thought was true. 

2) Epiphany confirm: Bella says over and over that she wants to become a vampire.  Then once she becomes a vampire and everything is "perfect" she has the epiphany that she was born to become a vampire.  So her epiphany confirms what she already believed.  

If you decide to read the books and watch for it, you'll see several examples of Bella saying something over and over and then having an epiphany moment that either confirms or denies something she had previously said. 

To JJ-


Well, I have run across people who have backed up their cases very differently. Some where just irrationally saying "oh, Twilight is so stupid". Others gave examples. So to form my opinion, I cross examined the criticism with the Twilight wiki. I'll admit that at this point I should not have any opinion, and that's why I'm here. To hear the other side of the argument. 


Okay, I'll give you that. The issues are what show us what is underneath, and the handling of them is what the critic I found had problems with. Now that that is out of the way...


Okay, so she was raised to be the way she is? Great. Reminds me of myself, to be honest. My parents were both in the military, so they are big on teaching responsibility. 


From a young age, Bella was paying the bills? Where did she learn to do that? And why would the parents dump that responsibility on her like that? What's up with that? Did her Mom teach her taxes and bills when she was little? I have a problem with this, and I don't think any discussion can help with this. I'll have to look into the source material to find out for myself.


If she loves her parents that much, then why did she make the decision so lightly as to make it at the end of Twilight. (Is my limited knowledge correct?) I would think that she would be more conflicted about it than that.


So you agree with that part? Okay, then. But I would like to point out that that part about becoming obsessed with a boyfriend or girlfriend has not happened to me. Yes, I am a happy, unapologetic Bachelor, probably never going to get married. Haven't found anyone yet, and I have been around this country once already. But enough about my boring life...


But as for the necessity of adding the classmates, you could just mention them without naming them, if they are not very important. It's not that hard to do.


Okay, sorry. Let me try to remember and explain it. I think there was a trip to the movies, and two rapists, and (the way this one critic put it) all because she wanted to hear Edward ' s voice in her head. Does that help? Because that's all I can remember. 


Okay, I guess. So when Meyers writes the book in Edward ' s point of view, the description will be way better?


What do you mean vampires can't be clumsy? I thought that personality quirks and stuff we're frozen and amplified as a vampire. 


Oh. Well then, maybe that is the criticism. Although, she does overcome her bloodlust with little to no effort, and Edward can't read her mind. Then again, maybe that last part is explained somewhere, I'll have to find out.


Oh, I see. And I think I came across that quote somewhere. In that case, she was torn.


Oh, great! Examples. Thank you. And I'll keep that in mind.

I think that if you would take a break from "research" and just read the books it would be very helpful for you.  You have obviously spent a lot of time reading opinions, you should just read the source instead.  Because honestly what fans think or what anti-fans think doesn't really matter.  It should be what you think. 


Okay, so she was raised to be the way she is? Great. Reminds me of myself, to be honest. My parents were both in the military, so they are big on teaching responsibility. 
From a young age, Bella was paying the bills? Where did she learn to do that? And why would the parents dump that responsibility on her like that? What's up with that? Did her Mom teach her taxes and bills when she was little? I have a problem with this, and I don't think any discussion can help with this. I'll have to look into the source material to find out for myself.
--  Honestly I think this is over analyzing something that really wasn't an important detail. The point of Bella taking on these "adult" responsibilities was to show that she really wasn't a teenager.  She was an "old soul" and mature for her age.

 

If she loves her parents that much, then why did she make the decision so lightly as to make it at the end of Twilight. (Is my limited knowledge correct?) I would think that she would be more conflicted about it than that.

--  I think Bella should have been more conflicted about her decision.  At the end of Twilight her desire to become a vampire was some what impulsive.  The point of Eclipse was for Bella to really think about what she would be giving up and to THINK and then make that decision. 



So you agree with that part? Okay, then. But I would like to point out that that part about becoming obsessed with a boyfriend or girlfriend has not happened to me. Yes, I am a happy, unapologetic Bachelor, probably never going to get married. Haven't found anyone yet, and I have been around this country once already. But enough about my boring life...

--  I didn't mean that becoming obsessed happens to everyone, but just that it is normal.  Teenage couples spend hours and hours on the phone with each other, talking constantly.  They think about the other person constantly.  Etc, etc, etc. 

But as for the necessity of adding the classmates, you could just mention them without naming them, if they are not very important. It's not that hard to do.

-- True, but what is the harm in naming them?  School is an important part of Bella's life and if she were surrounded by faceless and nameless people, then most "critics" would complain about that too. 



Okay, sorry. Let me try to remember and explain it. I think there was a trip to the movies, and two rapists, and (the way this one critic put it) all because she wanted to hear Edward ' s voice in her head. Does that help? Because that's all I can remember. 

- Yes Bella goes to the movie, but not with the intention of hearing Edward.  However she does come near a few guys that were questionable (not necessarily rapists, but were outside of a bar) and Bella hears Edward's voice and continues to go towards the guys in order to continue to hear his voice.  And Bella does do some other things to continue to hear his voice that is pretty stupid.  I personally find these stupid things that makes Bella a little more normal.  I like that she is not perfect. 



Okay, I guess. So when Meyers writes the book in Edward ' s point of view, the description will be way better?
-- I don't think she will ever finish writing it, but IF she did, yes I think the description would be far, far better. 



What do you mean vampires can't be clumsy? I thought that personality quirks and stuff we're frozen and amplified as a vampire. 

- There positive characteristics are amplified and that is where their "gifts" as vampires come from.  But all vampires are graceful and smooth. 


True, I suppose. Nevertheless, I do like to know what I'm looking for or at. I actually intend to go into the Twilight Saga as an exercise, because by the sound of it, the series is a lot different than the kind of reading I'm used to. I'm used to the classical literature, timeless stuff like Sherlock Holmes and Pride and Prejudice. I want to be sure that I can look into the smaller details and still enjoy the story, because that is the skill and preference that I have been blessed and cursed with.

Well, I consider it important, because it helps to get a look into the character of Bella. It's more than looking into her mind, it's looking into her very being. I'm an analytical person, unfortunately. It's an impulse of mine to ask these questions.

Oooh, okay.

Okay, then, I guess. I guess it's something I'll have to experience for myself in order to understand.

There is no harm in naming them. I'm just saying that if they were to be named, why not make them important to the plot in some major way. For example, you could have maybe that Asian kid accidentally give the answer to some problem. Or have the girl with the glasses there for Bella after Edward dumps her and point her toward Jacob. Or something like that. There are hundreds, if not thousands of ways to do it.

Oh-kay... I'll have to read or see that.

Then we are agreed. There are so many possibilities that reading the story from Edwards point of view opens up.

But there have to be exceptions, right? Some sort of genetic defect or freak disease?

Well, I consider it important, because it helps to get a look into the character of Bella. It's more than looking into her mind, it's looking into her very being. I'm an analytical person, unfortunately. It's an impulse of mine to ask these questions.

--  Unfortunately I don't think Bella was developed well enough to go into that amount of depth into her character.  However, I will say that Bella would love you same choice of reading material, lol, so that is sort of cool. 



There is no harm in naming them. I'm just saying that if they were to be named, why not make them important to the plot in some major way. For example, you could have maybe that Asian kid accidentally give the answer to some problem. Or have the girl with the glasses there for Bella after Edward dumps her and point her toward Jacob. Or something like that. There are hundreds, if not thousands of ways to do it.

--  I think the human classmates were worth naming because Bella does interact with them.  Some of them have important roles such as one of them almost killing Bella when his van slides on the ice.  Edward saves Bella's life.  He could have remained nameless and still had the event take place but it would have been very impersonal.  Bella would have appeared to have even WORSE people skills than she does if she didn't even bother to remember anyone's name.     

One thing about the Twilight books is that there are a million "Bella should have"  or "What if this...?" type of thoughts and questions that can come up.  It is one of the many reasons that site like this enjoy talking about the books so much and why there is so much fan fiction.  People are able to answer some of those questions or make Bella do something that they wished that she had done. 


But there have to be exceptions, right? Some sort of genetic defect or freak disease?

-- There are vampires who have gifts that aren't really all that pleasant.  For example on vampire smells really bad and that is his "gift".  I personally think that is a very crappy gift, but oh well.  The "exception" for the vampires are the werewolves.  That is why the werewolves are the "protectors" they protect people from vampires..  But there is nothing that a normal HUMAN can do to protect themselves from vampires.  That is simply how Meyers chose to make them. 

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