Twilight: In Which We Leave Chapter 5

Content Note: Fainting, Falling, Violent Relationships, Abuse

Twilight Recap: Bella has left the nurse's office, having been given permission to go home sick for the rest of the day.

Twilight, Chapter 5: Blood Type

It hit me last week that I have spent a lot of time on this chapter. Today I went back to count and we've had eleven posts on Chapter 5. Eleven! This will be the twelfth. No wonder I'm feeling kind of done with this chapter. So while I usually go with something topical, let's power through, okay? I'm done with Chapter 5, and there is green grass over the horizon in Chapter 6 and beyond. Tally-ho!

   We were near the parking lot now. I veered left, toward my truck. Something caught my jacket, yanking me back. 
   "Where do you think you're going?" he asked, outraged. He was gripping a fistful of my jacket in one hand.

How much could I write one post on this exchange alone? So much! But do not weep, dear readers, for we will see many similar exchanges in the upcoming pages. Or maybe you should weep. I suppose it depends on your point of view. But in brief I will express my extreme distaste for the physical manhandling in this chapter:

I am not at all comfortable with the physical manhandling of Bella in this chapter.

I was sort-of kind-of on-board with Edward sweeping Bella up to carry her to the nurse's office. I mean, yes, it was a dreadful thing to do (medically-speaking) and inexcusable in the light of the fact that a simple Google search will tell you that's basically the worst thing you can do to a fainting person. And, yes, it was basically him overriding her stated will in the matter and helped to reinforce the narrative that Bella's boundaries are there specifically to be overridden by Edward. And, yes, the act itself seemed at least as much about putting Mike in his place than about doing what was best for Bella. And I definitely did not like that a fair portion of the sweeping thing seemed to be able proving that Edward was Masculinely* Strong and Bella was Femininely Slender.

* Firefox tells me that Masculinely is not a word, but thinks nothing of Femininely. I have to think this says something about our society.

So I guess I did mind it, quite a bit, actually. But! The sweeping-off-her-feet thing is at the very least a tried-and-true facet of the Romance Genre and additionally is a good way to get physical closeness in a manner that will be approved by the chastity set. So, alrighty. Fine.

But now Edward is yanking Bella away from her truck by grabbing a "fistful" (not at all a word that carries violent connotations!) of her jacket and probably very nearly causing her to slip on the almost-certainly-wet parking lot pavement. This is not something that you do to someone you barely know. This is not something you do to someone who has just fainted. This is not someone you do to someone who has severe balance problems. This is not something you do to someone because it is creepy and controlling and violent. If you need to stop someone, you do it with your words, not with your hands.

If you really really really must use your hands, like if Bella was bee-lining straight for a busy highway that is occupied by stampeding buffalo, you do not freaking "yank" her. You place a hand on her shoulder, or touch her arm, or say "Wait! Stop!" because Bella is an adult and she is more than likely to wait and stop at all those things. Yanking her around and exerting physical force to remind her that you are stronger and Not To Be Messed With is creepy and controlling and extremely problematic.

   I was confused. "I'm going home."
   "Didn't you hear me promise to take you safely home? Do you think I'm going to let you drive in your condition?" His voice was still indignant.

And now let's talk about how crappy our society is for a minute. Shall we?

I went to my scoliosis specialist the other day to complain that my pain levels had been really elevated through December-January. He asked how my medication was working. I said I took it very rarely because it made me dizzy about 10% of the time. He asked if I took two pills at once or one. I said that was with one pill; two pills upped the dizzy odds to about 40%. He nodded, and wrote me a new script. I went to the pharmacy to pick up the new pills. The first thing the pharmacist said to me was: "These will make you dizzy."


The new pills did not, in fact, make me dizzy. They made me perpetually sleepy for several days which was (a) miserable and (b) meant that I fell behind on my advance blogging, which is something that I do not like to do. The new pills also conflicted with other new pills -- a muscle relaxer -- which apparently, when combined together, can result in seizures. Yay for doctors who don't check drug interactions. So we eventually went back to the old pills which still don't do anything, but I prefer a 10% chance of dizziness for 30 minutes over a 100% chance of sleepiness for 10 hours.

And I mention all that so that I can now mention this: all of my pills, the old pain pills, the new pain pills, and the new muscle relaxers say, in very clear words on the bottles, that I should not operate heavy machinery while I'm on these medications. Ahahahahahahaha. Really? For basically my entire life I've been on pills that have said the same thing, that I'm not to operate heavy machinery. But I can drive, right? That's not dangerous at all. And I'd better drive, because being on pain killers that preclude the operation of heavy machinery isn't good enough to classify me for government disability aid (I'm guessing). Bootstraps!

Bella probably isn't in a good condition to drive right now. She's weak, she's faint, she's disoriented. But apparently Bella is like that all the time, what with her "fainting is oh-so-common for me" characterization earlier and her constant clumsiness. The answer isn't to reflexively condemn Bella for wanting to drive, as Edward does now. That's victim-blaming. The answer is to silently curse the society we have where "public transport" is a pipe dream in many (I'd say "most", but I can't back that up) areas, and very few people can afford to hire a driver for themselves. (And not only are carpools often difficult to organize, they would also indebt Bella who would have little to offer in return for being picked up and dropped off every day.) And the other answer is for Edward to politely and kindly offer to either take Bella home or follow her in his own car. Not -- and I know I'm repeating myself here -- to yank her around by the jacket.

   "What condition? And what about my truck?" I complained.
   "I'll have Alice drop it off after school." 

Dear S. Meyer: Stop reducing the effectiveness of Bella's valid concerns with weasel words

Also, how much do I hate it that Alice is the one who will run around taking care of things for Edward? There's a reason for this, of course: Alice is the most pro-Bella of the Cullens because she can see into the future and she sees that Bella is perfect for Edward. (...somehow. I'm not sure I understand how she can "see" that without seeing useful "don't hang out with the Volturi" stuff.)

But I don't really understand why, say, Jasper isn't just as likely to be pro-Bella, and therefore just as capable of driving her truck home. He's not quite an Empath, but I'd still expect an emotional-manipulator to have a fairly good feel for what other people are feeling (so that he knows when to manipulate them), so you'd think he'd be in-sync with whatever his brother Edward wants. And Emmett seems like an upstanding kind of guy, no reason why he can't pitch in to help. It's just annoying to me that Alice's first real mention so far (outside of pixie-thin girl who doesn't eat and dances when she walks) is of her tidying up after Edward.

   He was towing me toward his car now, pulling me by my jacket. It was all I could do to keep from falling backward. He'd probably just drag me along anyway if I did.
   "Let go!" I insisted. He ignored me. I staggered along sideways across the wet sidewalk until we reached the Volvo. Then he finally freed me -- I stumbled against the passenger door.

How uncomfortable does this make me? So uncomfortable! Like, cold-knot-in-the-center-of-my-stomach uncomfortable. The image of Edward Cullen literally dragging a slipping, staggering Bella Swan across the parking lot as though he were some kind of cartoon cave-man creeps me out so very much! How uncomfortable am I that when Edward glamoured the school nurse into allowing him to leave school with a fainting female student this very thing is the sort of thing that those circumvented school rules were created to prevent? How uncomfortable am I that this scene and a scene of domestic violence are exactly identical? So very very uncomfortable!

This? Is not romantic to me. This is creepy and controlling and abusive. The vertigo feeling of stumbling and staggering and falling against a car door is profoundly uncomfortable, the pain of twisting and turning and trying to keep up without falling down is deeply unsettling.

   "I am perfectly capable of driving myself home!" I stood by the car, fuming. It was raining harder now, and I'd never put my hood up, so my hair was dripping down my back.
    He lowered the automatic window and leaned toward me across the seat. "Get in, Bella."
   I didn't answer. I was mentally calculating my chances of reaching the truck before he could catch me. I had to admit, they weren't good.
   "I'll just drag you back," he threatened, guessing my plan.

In the context of Twilight, this exchange is not a serious one. I do not think we're meant to read this and immediately think OMG DO NOT GET IN THAT CAR. I do not think we're supposed to be on the edge of our seat waiting for Bella to scream, for her yell for help to pierce the silence of the school campus, for her to make her way to the nearest building, possibly after kneeing Edward in the groin if he tries to stop her.

I do not think we're supposed to want Bella to say, "Look, Edward, thanks but no thanks, I'm going to gym after all." I do not think we're supposed to want Bella to turn and walk back to class because she's suddenly realized that no matter how pretty Edward is, he is dangerous and violent and frightening. I do not think we're supposed to want Bella to vocalize in her narrative that she's uncomfortable getting in a car with someone who thinks nothing of handling her the way Edward did just now.

So why do I think all these things? Am I over-reacting here to have such a viscerally strong aversion to Edward in this passage? Please tell me I'm not. Or possibly, considering the popularity of these books, please tell me that I am. It's a perspective thing again, I guess.

   As he pulled out of the parking lot, I was preparing to give him the silent treatment -- my face in full pout mode -- but then I recognized the music playing, and my curiosity got the better of my intentions.   "Clair de Lune?" I asked, surprised.
   "You know Debussy?" He sounded surprised, too.
   "Not well," I admitted. "My mother plays a lot of classical music around the house -- I only know my favorites."

And now, The Twilight Drinking Game! Take a shot every time Bella reacts childishly to a very real and potentially dangerous crossing of her boundaries! A boy she barely knows literally drags her across an empty parking lot and physically forces her to get in his car? She pouts! *drink*

And here's one more for her previous fuming. *drink*

And another for her complaint about leaving her car behind. *drink*

You're lucky I'm drinking Canada Dry, folks, or we'd never get through this chapter.

   "What is your mother like?" he asked me suddenly.
   "She looks a lot like me, but she's prettier," I said. He raised his eyebrows. "I have too much Charlie in me. She's more outgoing than I am, and braver. She's irresponsible and slightly eccentric, and she's a very unpredictable cook. She's my best friend." I stopped. Talking about her was making me depressed.

It's interesting (but perhaps not surprising) that Bella's first description of her mother is (a) one of physical appearance, and (b) one that denigrates her own beauty in favor of the subject in question. We've already seen that in Bella's descriptions of Alice and Rosalie -- who, thus far, have no description at all outside of their respective beauty -- and now we get to see it in Renee.

I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing that Bella is visually focused. I'm not sure that my first description of why my mom is like would be a visual one, but I'm sure for a lot of people that would be a reasonable place to start. And maybe "looks like me, but prettier" is a fair enough starting place as it cuts through the "same height as me, same width as me, same eye and hair color as me" basic physical descriptors.

(Though I do think it's a bit of a cop-out and points to what I feel is Meyer's dislike for descriptions that might hem the reader in too much. Bella has been sparsely described as little more than slender, dark haired, and white. Now her mother is that, plus beauty. Whoa, don't overwhelm us with too many details! But whatever, I prefer that to wall o' text descriptions.)

But it's interesting to me that almost all Renee's descriptions are in contrast to Bella. In order for me to describe my mother as Bella does hers, I'd have to break away from an accurate, "She's blonde, tall, and slender. She loves exercise, sunshine, and suntanning. She enjoys the summer when she can read by the pool," and would instead have to say, "She's taller and more slender than me, and she has blonde hair instead of brown. She exercises more than I do, and she likes suntanning whereas I don't." There's a big difference to me between those two descriptions. In the first, I'm describing my mother; in the second, I'm describing me almost as much if not more than I am her.

Have we really learned anything about Renee in this description, or have we learned that Bella looks a little like her mother but mostly favors her father, that she's introverted and fearful, and that she's responsible, down-to-earth, and cooks predictably? (Or, of course, that Bella is these things according to Bella.) I feel like this is a conversation about Bella, not about Renee. And this might make sense, this description by contrast, if Edward knew the first thing about Bella. But these two are still almost strangers! What is "braver [thank I am]" supposed to signify to a boy who has almost no experience with Bella? Does that mean Renee eats spicy foods or that she flings herself out of airplanes on the weekends?

It's almost like this exchange is a two-fer: we don't get any specific details to knock the reader out of their insertion into Bella plus we get to hear all about Bella (or possibly her low self-image) rather than having to listen to unnecessary details about Renee. This bugs me.

   "How old are you, Bella?" His voice sounded frustrated for some reason I couldn't imagine. [...]
   "I'm seventeen," I responded, a little confused.
   "You don't seem seventeen." [...]
   "My mom always says I was born thirty-five years old and that I get more middle-aged every year." I laughed, and then sighed. "Well, someone has to be the adult."

And this... eeeeh. I will admit to feeling older than seventeen at seventeen. I feel older now than my body. I think it's fair to say that for as long as I've been conscious of "feeling" an age, I've felt older than my age. I don't know if there's a reason for that, like the fact that I was homeschooled and raised to speak to adults as an equal, or if it's a disability thing where I "feel" older because I don't have youthful flexibility and range of motion, or if everyone on earth also feels older than their age group and this is a Mary Sue thing. How about a comment weigh in? Do you now or have you ever before felt older than your body? Younger? Exactly right?

I can say, beyond "feeling" older, that I have rarely gotten on terribly well with people in my own age group. There are notable exceptions, but I tend to work better with people 10-20 years my senior. And Husband, while not 100 years older than me, is 12 years older than me, and my Mother actually is my best friend. So... I Am Bella Swan? (Not sure what her version of Going Galt would be, though.)

   "My mother . . . she's very young for her age. I think Phil makes her feel even younger. At any rate, she's crazy about him." I shook my head. The attraction was a mystery to me.
   "Do you approve?" he asked.
   "Does it matter?" I countered. "I want her to be happy . . . and he is who she wants." [...]
   "Would she extend the same courtesy to you, do you think? No matter who your choice was?" He was suddenly intent, his eyes searching mine.
   "I-I think so," I stuttered. "But she's the parent, after all. It's a little bit different."
   "No one too scary then," he teased. [...] "Do you think that I could be scary?" He raised one eyebrow, and the faint trace of a smile lightened his face.
   I thought for a moment, wondering whether the truth or a lie would go over better. I decided to go with the truth. "Hmmm . . . I think you could be, if you wanted to."

I find this exchange interesting, because it's... well, it's sort of something I agree with. Moreover, it's one of the first real opinions we've seen Bella express, so I'm kind of savoring that too.

Edward asks if Bella approves of her mother's remarriage. Bella's counter-statement challenges Edward, which is a rare thing in the Twilight verse. I like that instead of simply obediently baring her soul to him, she challenges his assumptions about what is and isn't his business. Or, at least, about what is and isn't her business to form an opinion on and then spread around. "I want her to be happy... and he is who she wants." It's Twilight in a nutshell, and the conversation hangs a nice sign over it in case the reader missed the point the first time.

It's More Complicated Than That, of course. We really don't know anything about Phil. We don't know if he's overbearing or controlling, we don't know if he's taking advantage of Renee's absent-mindedness and draining her bank account or running around behind her back. Since this is the Twilight-verse, we can probably safely assume that he's not doing these things. But can we assume that he's not a Volturi vampire stringing Renee along until he kills and eats her? If he was, would that affect the relative importance of Bella's (dis-)approval and/or that of Renee's desire for him?

I think it would, a lot. But I'm not sure. Families and relationships and vampires are tricky that way.

   "So, now are you going to tell me about your family?" I asked to distract him. "It's got to be a much more interesting story than mine." [...] "The Cullens adopted you?" [...] "What happened to your parents?"
   "They died many years ago." His tone was matter-of-fact.
   "I'm sorry," I mumbled.
   "I don't really remember them that clearly. Carlisle and Esme have been my parents for a long time now."
   "And you love them." It wasn't a question. It was obvious in the way he spoke of them. [...] "And your brother and sister?"
   He glanced at the clock on the dashboard.
   "My brother and sister, and Jasper and Rosalie for that matter, are going to be quite upset if they have to stand in the rain waiting for me."

And I am NOT a vampire. Just so we're clear.

Still, points to Edward for answering Bella's questions without throwing in a few gratuitous lies.

   "Won't I see you tomorrow?"
   "No. Emmett and I are starting the weekend early."
   "What are you going to do?" A friend could ask that, right? I hoped the disappointment wasn't too apparent in my voice.
   "We're going to be hiking in the Goat Rocks Wilderness, just south of Rainier." [...] "Will you do something for me this weekend?" He turned to look me straight in the face, utilizing the full power of his burning gold eyes.
   I nodded helplessly.
   "Don't be offended, but you seem to be one of those people who just attract accidents like a magnet. So . . . try not to fall into the ocean or get run over or anything, all right?" He smiled crookedly.
   The helplessness had faded as he spoke. I glared at him.
   "I'll see what I can do," I snapped as I jumped out into the rain. I slammed the door behind me with excessive force.
   He was still smiling as he drove away.

So a couple of thoughts here.

First, Edward needs to be told that "don't be offended" doesn't actually excuse you from saying whatever the heck you feel like saying. I mean, "Don't be offended, but you suck" is not actually a magic talisman to being insulting without being called on it. You would think that someone 100 years old with telepathy might know that.

Second, I know the whole tete-a-tete with Edward and Bella snarking at each other is supposed to be romantic. I know it's supposed to be a staple of the romance genre, with shades of Gone With The Wind. I get that intellectually, I do. But... I don't see how this is supposed to be romantic. I don't *get* it here. "Try not to fall into the ocean"? Edward is reinforcing to Bella that she's clumsy and that her clumsiness could seriously injure or kill her someday. That's not something most people want to be reminded of, certainly not in a teasing manner, and certainly not by someone whose affection and respect you crave. "Please be careful" or "please take care of yourself" expresses interest and concern without the added jackwagonry. Don't "get run over" is just... rude. Mocking. Annoying. Not romantic. Maybe it's just me.

Thirdly, Bella is back to slamming car doors again.

Fourthly, OMG WE ARE DONE WITH THIS CHAPTER. You cannot conceive the Happy Dance I am doing right now. Next up is Chapter 6: Scary Stories. Just a spoiler for you in advance: there are no scary stories.


Nathaniel said...

"We were near the parking lot now. I veered left, toward my truck. Something caught my jacket, yanking me back.
"Where do you think you're going?" he asked, outraged. He was gripping a fistful of my jacket in one hand."

Christ almighty, could the bondage vibes get any stronger? In another story, you could use this quote verbatim as the Edward whisked Bella off to his dungeon to put her in shackles.

" He was towing me toward his car now, pulling me by my jacket. It was all I could do to keep from falling backward. He'd probably just drag me along anyway if I did.
"Let go!" I insisted. He ignored me. I staggered along sideways across the wet sidewalk until we reached the Volvo. Then he finally freed me -- I stumbled against the passenger door."

This though, this is just plain disturbing. This is the man we are supposed to want to bone/be? Where violence is a constant threat, and a injury and death just waiting to burst out of him?


" As he pulled out of the parking lot, I was preparing to give him the silent treatment -- my face in full pout mode -- but then I recognized the music playing, and my curiosity got the better of my intentions. "Clair de Lune?" I asked, surprised."

Ah. Bella. Queen of self debasement- Pouting my ass- and apparently, willing to forget she has been violently abducted so long as you play classical music.

" 'Don't be offended, but you seem to be one of those people who just attract accidents like a magnet. So . . . try not to fall into the ocean or get run over or anything, all right?' He smiled crookedly."

Edward, I have met Mr. Darcy. I know him well. You are no Mr. Darcy.

jp said...

The sexification (?) of Edward's abusive behavior to Bella in the section makes me so very angry.

On the bright side, so glad that you are done with Chapter 5. Because we're moving on, and soon I will have an opportunity to vent in these comments about how much I hate the character of Alice: in herself, as portrayed in all her manic-pixie-dreamgirl twee-ness, and in how she is used by the plot (as Ana notes) to clean up after Edward, be ordered about, commanded, and bribed by him, and to police Bella's actions when Sparklepants is too busy to do his own stalking.

Grrrrr. Hulk smash!

Bificommander said...

I can assure you, based on the quoted lines, that you're not overreacting. I don't pretend to be all that skilled at assessing sex-offender warning signs (my post half a chapter ago showed that, among other things) but I can confidently say I find that description of forcefully dragging a girl to your car and reminding her you'll just grab her again if she tries to escape excessively creepy. It makes the line that Edward 'could be scary if he wanted to' truely baffeling, especially since Bella underlines that she's speaking the full truth here. She has apparently not felt that Edward was at any point scary here, just mildly annoying. And apparently compared to her, Renee is 'braver' yet 'irresponsible'.

As a side note, I do still feel younger than I am, but not in a good way. Frankly, I feel that I am still far lagging behind in emotional maturity compared to what I should be at 28. So yeah, not too much fun either

Ana Mardoll said...

That truck and I have done a lot together and if need be we'll add vampire destruction to that list of things because, as near as I can tell, it's high time this town had bit of pest control.

Heh. I love it.

I'm a little sad that meta-Bella's love for the truck comes across so much more clearly than narrative-Bella's (informed) love for the truck. Oh, for what could have been!

Loquat said...

He lowered the automatic window and leaned toward me across the seat. "Get in, Bella."
I didn't answer. I was mentally calculating my chances of reaching the truck before he could catch me. I had to admit, they weren't good.
"I'll just drag you back," he threatened, guessing my plan.


When your "romantic squabbling" is indistinguishable from "abduction by rapist", something has gone horribly wrong with your writing.

Akedhi said...

I certainly don't think you're overreacting! I've had - prossibly harmless? - male strangers stop and offer me a ride when I've been walking home from wherever because my ride was late/forgot to come get me (which I have just realized is a rather privileged thing to be able to do, because sometimes those walks have been four or five miles long), and my reaction has always been to become hyper-vigilant and get off the road as soon as possible in case they're not harmless and they're going to be That One Guy who circles the block and offers me a ride three or four times, which has also happened. I've also been known to attempt to strike people who have touched me when I wasn't expecting it. Edward is being extremely creepy here and this scene reads far more like an abduction for nefarious purposes than anything close to romantic.


I'm another person who has always felt 'older' than my age, and for similar reasons as Bella is said to - since I was sixteen or so, I've been a parental figure for four of my five younger siblings and occasionally for my parents. At twenty-five, I have essentially raised two young women to adulthood and am still the person to whom they bring the Important Questions, because our mother is either incapable of answering or will, uh, give less-than-helpful answers. There are other reasons, but in general, I've never gotten along well with people my own age. I think it's a common trope for a reason, but I'm sure there must be people who don't experience that physical age/mental age mismatch.

Brin Bellway said...

Bella has been sparsely described as little more than slender, dark haired, and white. Now her mother is that, plus beauty. Whoa, don't overwhelm us with too many details!

That's about as much detail as I ever imagine people in. If I was given more information, I'd just end up ignoring it.

How about a comment weigh in? Do you now or have you ever before felt older than your body? Younger? Exactly right?

Of all the answers to "How old are you?", "I'm eighteen" possibly says the least about what you're like. Eighteen-year-olds are in high schools and colleges and universities and farms of both food and cubicle varieties. They live with parents or roommates or SOs or nobody. They are savvy and they're naive. (To a great extent this is true of any age, but eighteen is when society most recognises it.)

So I can't feel older or younger than I am, because I don't think there is any answer I could give to "How mature do you feel?" that would be considered unusual for someone my age.
(Probably a younger sort of eighteen, on balance, but it's a complicated thing.)

Also: there was a thread--I think it was on Forever in Hell, but I'm not sure which post--in which the general consensus was that they stopped feeling older around 13 - 15. (It hasn't been long enough for me to notice if that's the case for me.)

depizan said...

Because the narrative here is entirely too fucking creepy (I completely agree with Loquat), I'll answer the age thing instead. I felt like both a kid and an adult when I was a kid and teen - though when I was a teen, I didn't particularly relate to my age peers. About the time I actually hit adulthood, I stopped feeling like an adult, maybe because I was expecting adulthood to confir things it didn't - like skill navigating the adult world. So I felt more like a teen as a young adult than I did as an actual teen. My mental age then stalled out completely in my twenties, and I figure I might feel thirty be the time I'm 50 or 60 (I'll be 38 this year, I feel mid-twenties.)

Of course, I have accomplished none of the markers of adulthood beyond a steady job. No spouse, no house, no kids. I'm unlikely to ever accomplish any, so I may well feel 25ish until I die.

So, no, everyone doesn't feel older than their actual age. On the other had, I rather suspect that few people do feel their age - most feel either younger or older, for any number of reasons.

But I haven't seen any evidence that this fits Bella. She describes herself in childlike terms, but, while she cooks and cleans and holds herself superior to nearly everyone around her, she really doesn't give off "feels adult" vibes, at least to me.

Divya Jagadeesan said...

Yes , Lizzy and Darcy are clearly intellectual equals if not social. Edward constantly treats Bella like .. something even less than a child. Why is he attracted to her again, because he can control her so absolutely?
It almost seems like SMeyer read Pride and Prejudice and completely blocked out all of Lizzy's dialogue, thoughts and actions.

GeniusLemur said...

Man, it would have been so easy to at least put some ambiguity in the whole situation. With the right writing, he could have come across as pushing her boundaries, but doing it out of honest concern for her. ("Please. You're too dizzy. It'd be like driving drunk.")
But S. Meyer just had to go straight to grabbing and dragging and "I'm EDWARD CULLEN, and what I say GOES." Why doesn't he just bonk her over the head and drag her to his car by her hair?

How the Hell could anyone think this is romantic? Edward isn't a bad boy, he's a dangerous psychotic. And the further we get into the story, the worse he is.

Akedhi said...

I get more of a trying to be Rochester vibe from Edward, actually, but that might just be because I'm currently reading Jane Eyre, not Pride and Prejudice. Rochester and Jane have a more striking power differential (at least for most of the book, though I think it could be argued that it's partially alleviated toward the end, if not entirely) and he speaks to her like a child and also goes out of his way to fuck with her head (vis. the whole 'I'm totally courting Miss Ingram, won't she look awesome in my new carriage? Are you jealous yet? Are you jealous yet?' thing, which makes me want to smack him with a fish). He also calls attention to her comparative fragility and crosses her boundaries (or tries to). There's also some superficial similarities with Rochester having a sordid past (and present!), but I don't get the impression thus far that Edward views Bella as a redeemer the same way Rochester does Jane. Edward being Perfect and all that.

Ana Mardoll said...

Also: there was a thread--I think it was on Forever in Hell, but I'm not sure which post--in which the general consensus was that they stopped feeling older around 13 - 15. (It hasn't been long enough for me to notice if that's the case for me.)

Interesting point. I said in the OP that I feel older than my body -- and very generally I do -- but at the same time I also feel in many ways as I did at 15 and sometimes worry that someone will point to me and expose me to everyone for a liar and a fraud because I'm not "really" an adult. This usually comes packaged as performance anxiety at work, though. Hmm.

Ana Mardoll said...

which makes me want to smack him with a fish


I didn't like the book the first time I read it for basically this. Just watched the most recent movie, though, and it was good, so I think I should read again...

Akedhi said...

Well, of the two assholes who want Jane to marry them in the book, I much prefer Rochester to St. John. Rochester trolls the hell out of every single person he knows, especially Jane, and I would not personally want to date him, nor do I consider their relationship exactly a healthy one, but I have dated someone much like St. John who wanted me to subsume my personality to what he thought was good and right and God's Will. At the end, when Rochester's been seriously humbled and Jane is no longer dependent on him for everything, their relationship pings a lot fewer alarm bells for me (though I still don't consider it an entirely healthy one). St. John, though... eugh. I'd much rather have Jacob Black, thanks.

I actually prefer Villette to Jane Eyre (except for the ending aslgdslfjds) but I like Charlotte Bronte's work quite a lot. It was interesting to read her books, then Wuthering Heights, then Agnes Grey, all in succession.

Divya Jagadeesan said...

It has been so long since I read Jane Eyre and I was so young when I read it that I don't remember what I felt about him. I do recall not catching on to the romance angle for a while though, when I encountered it I was a bit surprised. :) . I do think that Jane had waaay more of a voice and personality than Bella.
I haven't really read Twilight, all my experience of it comes from similar snarks and decons so I might be wrong .. but doesn't Edward's treatment of Bella get progressively worse. Eventhough the whole thing is in first person perspective do we hear any of Bella's outrage when Edward, Emmett and Alice discuss kidnapping her (to save her from James) like she wasn't even there.
I think that a character like Edward could have worked if the text had acknowledged him to be the horribly flawed person that he is like Darcy, Rochester or Heathcliff and had a heroine who either stood up to him (Lizzy), redeemed him (Jane) or atleast was his equal partner in crime and horribleness (Catherine). Instead we get passive, whiny Bella who is a terrible person in her own right but no where near Edward.

Akedhi said...

I love Jane. I love her polite snarkiness, her daydreams, everything.

Now that I'm thinking about it, there are some superficial similarities between her and Bella (though Jane could clearly wipe the floor with Bella) - pale, fragile, Good (though with Bella that seems to be an informed attribute), observant, and clever (though again, those two seem to be informed attributes.)

Amarie said...

Warning: Personal Story

Edward forcibly dragging Bella to his car reminds me so much about a little conversation my class had with the Good [Christian, White] Girls in my high school…

It was AP Literature, Mrs. Bradshaw. Junior year. The weekly assignment had been to orally present to the class a written, controversial research paper. The topic could be of your choosing. Just the same, you chose whether you were pro or con in regards to the issue.

I talked about this before, but, one of the girls came in with a paper on gay marriage. Or rather, homo/bisexuality in general. Her stance was con. Her single choice of reference was the Bible (no, I am not kidding…yes I remember that source exactly). Needless to say, the classroom got fired up; Good Girls vs. The Others. I think the discussion/arguments literally took up the entire class period.

So eventually, we came to the point where the girl said that she defined marriage ‘between a man and a woman’. And our teacher, who did her best to be neutral/non-biased, asked her what exactly *defines* the ‘right’ relationship between a man and a woman, as compared to a homosexual couple. That is, what kind of roles are there that just simply can’t be found in a homosexual relationship? Our teacher always said ‘go a little deeper’. In this case, she meant ‘go a little deeper than just “Christ Said This, Christ Said That”’.

Almost every single one of those Good Girls said something about Provide and Protect. And almost every single one of those Good Girls applied those verbs to the Man. When I (or most likely, my best friend…I can’t remember) asked if a woman *needs* to be Provided for and Protected, they blew up. What we young Others were trying to articulate was what in the world does gender politics have to do with [healthy] relationships? Long story short, they couldn’t answer that question any more than they could consider it.

And I think that’s the mindset that both produced and liked this clearly abusive and controlling scene. When we *genuinely* think that a Man is supposed to Provide for and Protect a woman, then that mindset calls for quite a bit of ugliness to surface. And, predictably, you get a very, very abusive and controlling male protagonist.

In essence, you assign Roles. The only way the Roles can work is if everyone sticks to them. And that’s true in every day life, yes? The teacher can’t teach if the students already know everything about the subject. The parent can’t parent if the child is born self-sufficient. The chef can’t cook if the diners aren’t hungry. And so on and so forth.

So in order to deal with the fact that you have such a character on your pages, you counteract that dissonance by creating a victim that’s incredibly childish and immature. That is, in order for Edward to:

1.) Fulfill his Appointed Role as both Provider and Protector
2.) Fulfill his Appointed Role without opening up a cognitive dissonance that’s really no different than a can of worms

…Bella must take on the role of a passive-aggressive victim. She cannot respond/think in a manner that disagrees with Edward’s tactics. If she does that, then she is stepping out of her Role as a Victim to Edward’s Role as a Protector and Provider. She can’t act like an Independent Woman; she must act like a Child.

And, to me that’s the problem with assigning Roles as far as [religious] gender politics go. So many don’t realize that, in order for one part of the relationship to fulfill his/her Role…the other part must be of a Role that corresponds to that. Two people must fit like a dysfunctional puzzle. In Twilight’s instance, this means that there must be *something* deficient/undeveloped about the woman that she *needs* a man to take care of her. And, in some ways, Renee upholds that paradigm even more than Bella. Heck, maybe they’re even ironic mirror images of each other.

Nathaniel said...

So in the Twilight Universe, gender roles actually exist in the sense that they MUST be adhered to, and that's how things actually are, as opposed to how they are supposed to be.

Which would go a long way to explaining why the world of Twilight is so incredibly screwed up.

Fluffy_goddess said...

First off, as to age: no, I've never felt my age. I've felt older for most of my life. Then I started feeling younger. Right now I'm feeling frustrated because I haven't done the things that my parents had done when they were ~10 years older than I am now, so I'm feeling frustrated at feeling older than I appear while simultaneously feeling like a helpless teenager. Age: now in combination packs!

Ahem. I think this is one of the first sections where real, inescapable cognitive dissonance enters the books for me. I mean, being fascinated by the bad boy who constantly laughs at you, circling the edges of the great mystery of the cool kids, whatever, these are the traits of many a poorly characterized fictional teenager. But seriously: the boy physically dragged her across the parking lot, and she gets into the car with him. She should be frantically trying to figure out how to signal that she needs to be rescued, if she doesn't think it's safe to try to escape by herself.

Even speaking as someone who would quite casually say to a friend, "hey, d'you mind if I kidnap you to go get chinese?" and get a perfectly calm response, this scene. This scene is such a gigantic mess of red flags I keep waiting for Meyer to say, "and since we had secretly been magically transported to Spain, this was when the encierro mowed us down".

Fluffy_goddess said...

(Have you seen The Lost Boys? The eighties vampire flick, that is. Because there is a vampire-killing-with-car-scene there that just begs for re-enactment.)

chris the cynic said...

I may have seen it. Did it have Bishop from Aliens playing the vampire Jesse James? ("How old are you Jesse?" "Well, lets just say I fought for the South." Or something like that.)

Even if that is the right movie I don't remember the scene in question though.

Omskivar said...

Meyer's tendency to describe characters by what they are not is pretty bad - though I must say, it was worse in Eragon. Two instances of "they looked like humans only different" in the first page? *shudder* No, Meyer's not quite that bad.

I've never felt older than my age; if anything, I constantly feel younger. It's not in denial, either, but more that I don't feel like I'm mature enough to actually be twenty-four. I feel like I should still be trying to figure out how to juggle classes and my social life, not working every day, building a life with my husband. That's for people who have their shit figured out, and I'm definitely not one of those people. I don't think it's manifested in the people I associate with; yes, there are quite a few people my age that I can't stand, and I get along well with people both significantly older and younger than I am, but most of my friends are in my age group.

Ana Mardoll said...

I have seen both Lost Boys and the movie you're referencing Chris. I can't remember the name of that one, though. But I've seen it.

chris the cynic said...

Now that you've confirmed that they're different I'm wondering why I thought they were the same because I have vauge memories of Lost Boys coming in with a sense of, "How did I confuse this with that."

I just remembered that the Jesse James movie had "Dark" in the title and that was enough. Near Dark, 1987. Now how the hell did I confuse it with Lost Boys? (Oddly, I was remembering scenes from both movies when I thought they were the same movie, and not recognizing that they didn't really go together at all.)

Ana Mardoll said...

Well, they're both oldish campy vampire movies. I can see a connection. :)

chris the cynic said...

And on a completely different subject than 80's vampire movies, I finished the post on the part of .hack that Edward dragging Bella around by her clothes reminded me of. I think the thing in .hack actually makes me more sad (though the thing in Twilight makes me more "Get Out Now!") because it's a result of the person doing the abusive stuff having good reason to believe that it isn't abusive. (Indeed that it is physically impossible for it to be abusive.) So she ends up causing real pain and distress to someone over a misunderstanding. And that makes me sad.

Brin Bellway said...

Omskivar: though I must say, it was worse in Eragon.

Hey, wait a minute...
Ah, so it's not that you haven't posted on your blog in ages, it's that I neglected to actually follow you. Clearly I must fix this.

chris the cynic said...

I never addressed the question about age. When I was little I was definitely more comfortable around adults and never was into the things other people my age seemed to enjoy. (Until I joined the robotics team, but I think there's a case to be made that the entire team was strange and thus not indicative of "other people my age" in general.)

Now I don't really see age as meaningful. There are people older than me who I am like. There are people younger than me who I am like. Age seems to be at right angles to personality.

hapax said...

My truck: made of wood*. If you don't start respecting my personal space very soon I will kill you with my truck. I will pick it up and drop it on your head if I have to, and don't say I can't because that truck and I have done impossible things together before.

And people try to tell me there's no God.

★☆ keri ☆★ said...

Oh no, you're discussing Jane Eyre! I have Very Strong Opinions about that book to the order of It Is My Favorite, so I am going to refrain from explaining in detail about how Jane & Rochester are both Other and "Ugly" to society and how the book is extremely feminist and all about Jane refusing to submit to a Man (or to anyone, really) and seeking happiness when/where she chooses it, not when someone else decides she should be happy. It's unfortunate that for Rochester to be "tamed" and become Jane's equal, rather than lording over her, he has to be blinded first, but I'd say a great deal of that is due to societal rules at the time and the way women had very little agency. Plus, I think it's psychosomatic - he can see just fine once they have a baby (though I'm not sure I'd like to go into analyzing that). (Vilette is much stronger when it comes to female agency, though the ending is a bit weird, and is purportedly weird precisely because Brontë's editor/publisher wouldn't let it go to print the way she wanted it, and insisted that Lucy Snow must have a Happy Ending (meaning she must marry)).

Though I guess I did go into detail. BUT not as much as I could have! Having to read it no less than 5 times in the course of my English lit degree, it was either loathe the book or love it, and I chose the path that was less stressful.

The age question - I'm 27, but I group myself with people who are 30. I don't really feel 30, but I identify better with that than I do with many 20-somethings, because I'm so disconnected with a lot of pop culture. Yet I "feel" emotionally like I'm 18 or 19. Depression all my life and possible Asperger's is probably the cause of that - I missed out on a lot of things that teenagers and early-20s kids do, and I'm still living with my parents and haven't had a full-time job yet. Plus I've never been interested in dating or anything. I've always got along better with people 2-4 years younger than me or 2-8 years older than me, but I've never really had friends my own age. As a teenager, I felt like a teenager, I guess? though I also felt fairly disconnected because I was so much more serious than my peers and not interested in MTV or whatever.

chris the cynic said...

Are you, by any chance, me from one year in the future?

Though I have been interested in dating, I've just never actually done it.

Ana Mardoll said...

how the book is extremely feminist and all about Jane refusing to submit to a Man (or to anyone, really) and seeking happiness when/where she chooses it, not when someone else decides she should be happy.

I wouldn't mind such a derail if you'd like to and have the spoons for it. :)

I have to say, I did not read the book that way AT ALL and was always confounded by this viewpoint until I saw the most recent movie-version a few days ago. I think... I think that movie made a believer of me. I definitely think the actress and director were going for a very feminist bent. It helped that they toned down a lot of the Ingram stuff and movie!Jane seemed less meek and more sarcastic to me than book!Jane did.

So now I'm wondering if I could re-read the book with the movie in mind and have that make a difference...

MaryKaye said...

I went to a Pagan festival when I was 28 and they were offering a Rite of Initiation Into Adulthood. I stopped cold and said, my gods, I'm not an adult, am I? I'd better do this.... I think I put a year of substantive work into it and got a lot closer to being an adult. (One thing I really noticed was that at the first festival I was waiting for people to do stuff for me, and did not have a good time. A year later I was doing stuff for people, and enjoyed myself thoroughly.)

I'm 48 now and that startles me. People guess my age wildly wrong--usually younger, sometimes much younger--I don't think it's physical looks so much as dress and body language. I don't think I feel 48; I catch myself thinking of myself as "young scientist" quite often. But in contrast to a lot of my peers I don't think I resent being 48 either; it doesn't come across as an imposition or a problem, it's just weird.

People who get in cars in situations like Bella's end up getting raped. But then again, Bella ends up getting turned, which is probably worse. An outside observer's take on this story would be horror, yes? Not romance.

MaryKaye said...

Oh, one more thought about age. At our last dojo luncheon I ended up with the teenagers, who were good company. The main table was talking "grownup stuff" that I didn't want to get involved with. But it made me feel weird when I realized where I'd sorted myself out. I do that at my inlaw's house, too: we end up with a "kids' table" where the youngest kid involved is well over 30.

The quality I'm looking for seems skew to maturity, though: I want people with shared interests and to some extent worldview. They are more often younger but not always.

One of the TAs for my college course (2nd year grad student) said during a grading party that he had a one-question test to sort people into above-30 and below-30. He'd ask "Third edition or fourth?" I said "Pathfinder" and he said "I could have figured it wouldn't work for you." But every other above-30 in the room said "What?" --which is the diagnostic answer.

depizan said...

One of the TAs for my college course (2nd year grad student) said during a grading party that he had a one-question test to sort people into above-30 and below-30. He'd ask "Third edition or fourth?" I said "Pathfinder" and he said "I could have figured it wouldn't work for you." But every other above-30 in the room said "What?" --which is the diagnostic answer.

I guess I am twenty-something then. What a relief! Though given that D&D is more or less the same age I (actually) am, I think this test might have a small flaw.

*goes to join two more late 30s people and one early 40s person in playing SW:TOR*

hapax said...

But above all, I'm here because you dislike me. There's nothing I enjoy more than making people uncomfortable, and harassing them as much as I can.

Hmmm. I'd probably answer "D&D or DSM?"

I'm not sure how old that makes me.

Ana Mardoll said...


Ana Mardoll said...

LOL, I think your computer clipboard has accidentally carried over dross from Managing the Discussion, hapax. :D

hapax said...

OMG. I just noticed that for some reason I cut and pasted the troll from the Slacktiverse instead of MaryKaye's "3rd or 4th ed?" question.

(I'm so embarrassed. Ana, can you fix that, please?)

Although my answer still makes a weird sort of sense to the other comment as well. I ... don't know what to make of that.

Ana Mardoll said...

LOL. I figured. Edited.

That thread. OMG trolls. Head hurting... linguistic skills failing... method acting kicking in...

Ana Mardoll said...

Funny enough, I always hear about Edition 3.5 in the gaming communities. Is that a thing? Having never played any D&D, to my sorrow, I'd probably answer that. Just to be a cool kid. :D

Patrick Knipe said...

Edition 3.5 is basically a patch for Edition 3 that contains different rule changes and tweaks.

On the topic of the 'Being Older than you look' thing... For a lot of my childhood I felt older than I was, which I attribute to people telling me how smart I was over and over.

Now that I'm 22 years old, I actually feel a little younger than my age...

Laiima said...

I remember being 10, and feeling like I was 100 years old, and all of those years had been miserable, and wondering why none of them seemed to show on my face. As I got older, people often mistook me for younger, apparently because of the way I dressed. (I attended my younger brother's high school basketball game when I was 23 to his 16, and someone who vaguely knew him asked me if we were twins. That was weird.)

I tend to make friends with people who are either much younger (10-15 years), or much older (8-15 years), but rarely near my own age. When I was single, I expected I would marry a younger guy, but Spouse is 4 years older. But I'm a very early Gen X-er, and he's a very late Baby Boomer; it does make a difference.

Nowadays, I feel mid-40s, which I am. I also feel like I've lived about 7 different lives. Not in a bad way - it's just that I marvel at all the experiences I've packed into the time I've had. I don't think people think I'm younger anymore. My hair is greying, I move with more difficulty, I'm weighed down by concerns and (sometimes) chronic pain. I gained a lot of weight in an effort to get healthier, and now I don't know how to dress in a way that I recognize myself. That is, I often look dowdy when I want to look creative and interesting.

Cupcakedoll said...

re age: I've always felt much younger than my chronological age, thanks to social awkwardness and bombing out of high school due to mental illness. Now that I'm 31 I feel like I've finally got some of the self-understanding and social ability that most people learn from high school, but I'm ten years behind my age group. Sometimes I worry that when I finally "get" adulthood and am ready to start that part of life my body will be old. The rest of the time I just try to remember that "my life" is not some future thing and whatever I want to "do with my life" I should be doing now, if those things are possible in my current state.

Chris, your idea that Bella is not "real" to Edward because he can't read her mind is brilliantly creepy. I love it. Now I want a story about a telepathic society in which people occasionally lose their readability and then are treated like... reverse-sociopaths? The entire society becomes sociopathic to these individuals?

Gods, Edward is horrible. I have read Twilight, but never really noticed this scene-- I think my mental defenses screened it out, like something out of Buffy. "Oh, people see the demons, but they're convinced that something so horrible could not exist, so their minds edit it out."

And my brain keeps glitching on the words that ought to be there but aren't. There's no "gentle" or "felt safe in his arms, despite myself" or "surprisingly warm smile" or anything that... what am I trying to say... the attraction is whacking Bella over the head rather than inviting her in. Not only does this scene have bits that don't belong in a romance* , it's missing bits that should be there.

*well, except an S&M romance for the 18+ crowd.

Mime_Paradox said...

Physical Descriptions: As somebody who is currently writing a chapter where the first person narrator describes someone by comparing him to her boyfriend, who has neither appeared nor been described by this point in the tale (after all, why would the narrator care what the reader does or doesn't know?), and who in general finds that keeping a high (or is it low?) words spoken to things said ratio works for him as a way of keeping to myself without being obvious about it, I can't say I particularly mind what Meyer does with Bella's descriptions. Is it terribly helpful as a device to get us to picture her mother? Not particularly. It does ring true, however.

Age dissonance: From 2009 to 2011, I totally felt younger than I actually am. It didn't help that I went back to school and had classmates who a) were on average three to five years my juniors and b) generally wouldn't think I was older unless specifically informed. Whenever I hear that a former elementary or high school classmate has gotten married or had children, my initial thought is "so soon?"--and I'm twenty-six.

Rakka said...

Edward gives seriously bad vibes there. I really don't see how this is supposed to be not read as a huge red flag. Apparently a Man Always Knows Better and never has any ulterior motives for dragging women to their car if they are someone the woman knows. Shudder.

Don't "get run over" is just... rude. Mocking. Annoying. Not romantic. Maybe it's just me.

I'm horribly pink and fluffy with my girlfriend (8 years and counting!) and we say stuff like "Don't get run over by an ocean liner*" and "Be careful of the giant ostritches" or "Mind the invisible giant magpies" all the time... but those are intended to be cutesy and expressing the intention of being concerned for the other. "Don't get run over" on itself often comes across as warning against something someone might have had intention of doing, as if the adressee had no idea it was dangerous.

* "How to avoid huge ships" is apparently a real book.

chris the cynic said...

I could see the "don't get run over" line working more or less as written if it weren't all that was written. If it was clear that Edward was trying, and failing, to put his emotions into words, if there were a demonstration of concern on Edward's part such that it was clear he actually cared about Bella, and if the the eventual "don't get run over" was clearly an attempt to end his awkward silence, and sidestep his inability to say what he he really wanted to say, by means of saying something silly.

If Edward were a completely different person, and the scene were written a completely different way, I can see it working.

chris the cynic said...

It just hit me.

We were near the parking lot now. I veered left, toward my truck. Something caught my jacket, yanking me back.

Bella, there's a time sucking bug on your back trying to destroy your life by altering an seemingly minor event. You have to fight it. Not only will your life be horrible if let it win, so to will the world be undone. The universe itself is at risk. The stars will go out you. You have have to fight it. TURN LEFT!

Ana Mardoll said...

If Edward were a completely different person, and the scene were written a completely different way, I can see it working.

I see what you mean. Ha.

lowroad said...

TURN LEFT! Sorry, that's one of my favorite Doctor Who episodes ever, I'm excited to see it referenced.

Hmm...I wonder which of Bella's decisions the bug would change, though. Telling Edward to sod off in one of the many, many unpleasant interactions they had?

Fluffy_goddess said...

This a beautiful line. I want to steal it and hang it on my wall.


JenL said...

When I was a kid, I was always really tall for my age, and was often in charge of my younger brother (5ish years younger than me). So we'd go somewhere (the park, the roller rink) and these men would talk to me. And they were interesting, and it never got weird, and hey - sometimes they'd give my brother quarters to go play video-games, which got him out of my hair, for which I was very grateful. At the time, I kind of assumed they thought I was a few years older than I was (when I was 14 or so, I figured they thought I was 16 or maybe 18). It wasn't until years later that I realized that some of them may have actually thought I was 20ish, and had had a kid really young.

A few years later, when my brother was 16ish (but VERY tall and mature-acting for his age) and I was 21ish, we visited a church (our denomination, just out of town), and both of us went to the "young adults" group. We introduced our selves (using our last names) - and 10 or 20 minutes later, realized this group of young adults (and older adult leader) *all* thought we were married.

It was almost like I grew up to "young adult" (by other people's perceptions of how I looked and acted) really fast and then just stayed there... And to this day, I have people who are at most 10 years older than me making comments about how young I am. I'm about to turn *40*. Tell the 28-year-old that she's a kid! ;-)

Amaryllis said...

Oh, Jane Eyre! Oddly, was thinking about Jane and Bella only last night-- and I swear I hadn't read this post, so you all must have been sending out some powerful thought-waves!

Anyway, I do think that Jane Eyre can be read as a feminist book, in the basic sense that it answers the question "Are women human?" with a resounding Yes. More, it rebuts the concept that external privilege, as we'd say now, has any bearing on what kind of person one is or how one should expect to be treated. Or whether such privilege entitles the privileged to override the moral judgment of the less-privileged.

Jane is a low-status person in her society: she's female, and she doesn't make up for that disadvantage with anything else that society values. She's young, plain, poor, has no family connections or powerful friends. But she doesn't let any of her supposed "betters" tell her that Wrong is Right, or right for her but not for them. There are times when she's physically or economically constrained, as a child in her aunt's home or her abusive school, as an employee in Rochester's house. But she knows injustice when she sees it, and resists it as best she can. And she knows, and lets Rochester know, exactly what his salary buys: her professional services to the best of her ability, and her respect for his directives in that area. But not her free time, not her thoughts, not her judgment, not her disregard for any other obligations.

As for her two lovers, she doesn't let Rochester persuade her, because he's older and male and knows better and Love Conquers All, to do something she thinks is wrong. Neither does she let St. John persuade her, because he's older and male and knows better and God Said So, to do something that externally is perfectly acceptable, and even admirable, but would be wrong for her.

Bella, now, Bella (as far as I've seen her yet) doesn't seem to have any opinions, or moral or practical judgment. And she lets Edward talk into things all the time, even when good judgment would seem to call for a rapid retreat from his company.

Jane wants to do the right thing. She wants to treat others fairly and to be so treated herself. Bella, if I understand the plot correctly, wants to be with Edward and that's the beginning and end of her ideas.

It's fine to want what you want; it's fine to fantasize about getting it. But not every Powerful Man/Ordinary Woman couple are Rochester and Jane, just as not every Quarreling Couple can claim much resemblance to Elizabeth and Darcy.

@akhedi: What did you object to about the ending of Villette? The ambiguity, or the strong implication of Unhappy?

GeniusLemur said...

Isn't it strange how they talk about Bella's unusual maturity at length, even though it evaporated the moment she set foot in Forks?

Ana Mardoll said...

@Amaryllis, you're trapped in the spam filter, and Disqus is being fussy about letting me free it. I think it'll clear up soon; I apologize.

Brin Bellway said...

Mime Paradox: Whenever I hear that a former elementary or high school classmate has gotten married or had children, my initial thought is "so soon?"--and I'm twenty-six.

I tend to assume everyone who has kids does so in their early thirties because that's when my parents did. (I was going to say "gets married and/or has kids", but it occurs to me my parents were actually 29 and 28 when they got married.)

cjmr said...

>>One of the TAs for my college course (2nd year grad student) said during a grading party that he had a one-question test to sort people into above-30 and below-30. He'd ask "Third edition or fourth?"

>>Hmmm. I'd probably answer "D&D or DSM?"

I'm not sure how old that makes me.

Close to the same age I am, I imagine. That's what I thought, too.

Re: relative age to body--

Up until I was around 30, I felt older than I looked, but *other people* thought I was older than I was. I was taken for my sister's mom when I was 17 and she was 12. I was taken for my HUSBAND'S mom when when I was 22 and he was 20 and we'd been married all of 18 months.

When I hit 30, my body suddenly decided to age to 50, and I started feeling younger than I looked. Now I've got a body that still thinks its 50, with a brain that is operating as if it is 60 (except for some weirdness where now I can do mental arithmetic/algebra better in my head than I could when I was in my teens), but I'm only in my early 40s.

Re: grabbing someone by the back of the jacket

I've done that to small children who were trying to run out into traffic because it was the closest part of them I could reach to grab without hurting them. I can't imagine doing that in any other situation.

hapax said...

. No one is thinking, "What this story could use is some more Edward Cullen." ... If you want to be a main character try to be more interesting the inanimate objects in the story.

Oh. My.

On the other hand, I now desperately want to kidnap *this* Meta-Bella and bring her into half the stories I've written.

Except she'd probably kick my ass.

gyroninja said...

"I was confused. "I'm going home."
"Didn't you hear me promise to take you safely home? Do you think I'm going to let you drive in your condition?" His voice was still indignant."

I'm kind of torn about this one, partially because I can't remember exactly how out of it Bella's supposed to be. If we were to convert her difficulty driving right now into some kind of alcohol equivalent, is she the equivalent of just a couple beers, or are her driving skills as impaired as if she was blowing .100 BAC? Because if it's the later, I think Edward has some right to prevent her from being a danger to others.

On the other hand, of all the ways to resolve that situation, I'm pretty sure that physically dragging her into his car is not in the top ten. I'm pretty sure it's called "kidnapping". Especially considering that they're still barely more than acquaintances at this point. Like, if at this point they'd known each other for 10 years, and Bella had been making a habit of losing her head and trying to drive when it was dangerous, and Edward had good reason to believe that if he didn't stop her she'd do something that she'd regret later, and if there was no unresolved sexual tension between them that makes this look like assualt, and if Edward had been less violent, and hadn't resorted to violence as quickly as he did... Then I think this could work. Maybe.

Or in other words, "If Edward were a completely different person, and the scene were written a completely different way, I can see it working."

As for Renee's, the way I see it, Renee isn't actually a character. If this were an SNES video game, Renee's name would be named Bella's Mom, and she'd have one line where she wakes up Bella from bed before Bella moves to Forks. And if you walked back to Phoenix, no matter how far in the story you were, all she'd say would still be, "Me an Phil are going to be fine. I hope you're okay living in Forks!" So I see this as almost being a kind of meta-Bella thing, "My mom? Who cares about her? She's like me, but more of a mom. Now let's get back to how awesome you are and how beautiful our true love is!"

It goes back to the whole protagonists being the center of the world thing, where the characters are Bella and Edward, and a bunch of people who are defined by their relationship to either Edward of Bella. Now, okay, I haven't been reading ahead much, so all I have to go on are the bits you've already covered ( I don't want to spoil myself, after all!), but so far the characters seem to be Bella, Edward, Bella's mom, Bella's dad, Bella's mom's boyfriend, Edward's family, Bella's Teacher, those guys that are trying to get in between Bella and Edward, and those girls that Bella tosses those guys after so she can concentrate more on Edward. You never get the feeling that these characters are real people with motivations that don't relate to Bella or Edward, or aren't related to advancing the plot, and maybe that will change later, but I won't be holding my breath.

Ana Mardoll said...

And now all I can think about is the mom in Earthbound. And, of course, the dad whom you only reach by phone and who puts money in the player's back account...

gyroninja said...

TW: children, fathers, families

There's probably some profound statement I could make about how that represents the effect the social ideal of the hardworking Japanese salary-man puts a strain on the traditional family, and how having such a distant father figure affects the psyche of the Japanese youth.

But I just can't get over the fact that Ness's allowance starts climbing into 5 digits by the end of the game. The bastard.

chris the cynic said...

She might be available for limited excursions. I'm thinking that she's decided to go through Twilight just to prove to herself that she can, and because unlike actual Bella she has made friends there, but whenever it gets to be too much she'd go off for a vacation elsewhere. In her truck.

You see she thought she lost her truck and it was very sad, and then she was in a museum in the distant future. And suddenly it was a case of:

Bella: Truck?
*Runs over to it*
Bella: It is you. I thought I lost you.
Museum worker: You can't touch the exhibits.
Bella: Have you been waiting all this time?
*Bella gets into the truck*
Bella: I missed you so much and-
*Hollow sound*
Bella: Huh? *looks* There shouldn't be a panel here.
Museum Worker: Miss I have to ask you to get out of the exhibit.
*Bella is now upside down, examining the floor*
Bella: What's under this?
*Bella pulls on the panel*
Museum Worker: You can't do that! Security is on it's way already so please make it easy on yourself and-
Museum Worker and Bella in unison as Bella discovers an impossibly large cavity under the floor panel: What the hell?
*Bella disappears in the hole, then pops her head back up*
Bella: I'll just be a minute.
*Bella pulls the panel back into place over the hole, and a locking sound is heard*
*Security arrives, the Museum worker doesn't even attempt to explain what happened, pretends Bella ran away*

Inside the truck.
*Bella walks around a maze of passageways and chambers.*
Bella: You have changed my friend.
*Comes to a control room, a familiar style of hexagonal console made out of the same rusted metal as her truck*
Bella: I like it.
*checks the readouts on the controls*
Bella: Is this because of the coral I left in the glove compartment, by any chance?


Because ... why not? I have no justification for making Bella's truck into a Tardis other than:
1 She's not going to want to travel space and time without her truck.
2 I think it would be cool.
3 Nothing else.



I've been quoted! I've been quoted in a thing that's not actually a response to me because I've apparently said something that's generally applicable! Good times.

Addressing the actual substance of your post, as near as I can tell from the scene as written she's basically completely recovered. She was excused because she faked continuing illness, not because she still was having problems.

It's like you see a way for something to be somewhat less awful, end then it turns out that that explanation was explicitly rejected in the text.

Ana Mardoll said...

No one is thinking, "What this story could use is some more Edward Cullen."

*weeps for joy*

And you worked a River Tam reference in, right? I love love love that scene. "Sad little king of a sad little hill..."

Ana Mardoll said...

And, more seriously,

What do you want to be when you grow up Edward? You've had more time to ponder the question than most people have to live a life. Do you have any goals? No.

THIS. SO MUCH THIS. I still see the ending of Twilight as a tragedy because it's so darn stagnant. "And then we lived in our pretty cottage forever and made lots of love while our telepathic toddler baby grew up in the big house." Buh.

(Not that there's anything wrong with those things. But on an ETERNAL timeline, yeah, it would eventually get old.)

chris the cynic said...

And you worked a River Tam reference in, right? I love love love that scene. "Sad little king of a sad little hill..."

Yes. And if I could talk the way she did in that scene, I think I would do it all the time.

Then again there are various accents for which that is true. If I could talk like the Beatles did back in the day, if I could talk like the woman I met from Dublin. I know there are other examples, but they don't come to mind at the moment.

hapax said...

OT: Ana, do you have my e-mail address? Or could you drop me a PM through my LJ? I was just reminded that I have a question about your WIP.

Ana Mardoll said...

Pinged you at the one I have. :)

Ana Mardoll said...

Seriously. I love her accent there, it's so musical.

I suppose I have an American accent and I know I have a touch of a Southern American one (although that's tricky -- there are many), but I like hers a lot better.

gyroninja said...

Oh good then, at least it's nice of the story to dispel all doubt. I hate being left hanging, you know? Because if Edward had legitimate cause to be concerned for Bella's capability here, and thus the safety of everyone on the roads of Forks, then I could understand him taking actions, even if the ones he took were bad ones. But if he's offering a bad solution to a problem that doesn't even exist, well that's just kind of two big scoops of failure, isn't it?

As for Edward being stagnant, I think that's pretty true. I guess the problem isn't that he has no ambition or plans for his future, but that he doesn't seem to care about it.

Like, it's okay for stories to be happy. And it's okay stories to be sad, or have flawed characters, or anything like that. But when the story has all these flawed characters and warped relationships while the narrative seems to be telling me that no, this is actually one of those stories where everything happy and fine and you should be fantasizing about your life being like this, well, there's going to be some dissonance on the reader's end. Now if you can channel that dissonance into a black comedy, then fantastic, but that takes some serious writing chops, and with all due respect to Meyer, she's no Vonnegut.

Silver Adept said...

I'm guessing that after this incident, Bella will make absolutely no mention of the fact that Edward was physically abusive to her in the parking lot, assaulted her, threatened her with kidnapping, and assisted her with truancy. (Okay, maybe not that last part.) Despite having the Chief of Police as her dad, the one person in Forks that she could complain to and have something done remarkably quickly.

Even if it turned out to be just Charlie mentioning to Carlisle that his boy was rough around his baby girl, and that he'd appreciate it if Carlisle talked to his son about it, then we'd get a wonderful scene of Carlisle ripping Edward a new sphincter about both maintaining the masquerade and about not freaking drawing attention to them by doing stupid things with the humans, love or otherwise.

As for the comments, I like a Bella that's a Time Lady with a working chameleon circuit in the truck. She certainly wouldn't be a Donna.

And as for feeling one's age, well, I'm not ready to be at my next milestone age, mostly because I don't feel mature enough to face life, relationships, and all the rest, and I'm muddling along. I probably sound older than I am, something I always have been... and I tend to be one of the young people at my work. And then I get to be the mature and responsible adult when it comes to working with the kids and teenagers.

So I don't think I've ever felt my age, in a sense of "I am X, and I feel mature enough to be X." Perhaps in another decade...

Mime_Paradox said...

OhmyfugEarthboundreferences. I love that game (and its sequel, even if I can only understand one tenth of it). That said, Ness mom*'s always felt, to me, like a fully realized character within the limits of her screentime. She might always say the same thing when talking to her at home, but the conversations a player can have with her on the phone--where she indicates that she is doing stuff like watching soaps, vacuuming, or giving the dog a flea bath --indicate that she has a life outside the protagonist's. Plus, I'd argue that she is vital to Earthbound's narrative; the game would lose rather a lot, I think, if "homesickness" weren't a status condition, and the fact that talking to Mom is the only way to make it better would seem to argue that she plays a role in Ness' life that is much different from Reneé's in Bella's or Twilight. The fact that the game is called Mother 2 in Japan also says...something, I'm sure.

Brin Bellway: I tend to assume everyone who has kids does so in their early thirties because that's when my parents did. (I was going to say "gets married and/or has kids", but it occurs to me my parents were actually 29 and 28 when they got married.)

This may have something to do with it. It might also be because of my various older cousins, who've served as the most constant points of comparison, only a fraction have gotten married or had children. Marriage just isn't something that happens, much, in my extended family nowadays, and so it feels somewhat dissonant when other points of comparison (i.e.: large parts of the rest of the world) come about. And yet, that first instinct** persists.

* And yes, I realize that giving character a name that describes them solely via their relationship to others instead of as individuals tends to be counter to granting that character fully realized personhood. I don't believe this is always the case, however--Calvin's (Calvin and Hobbes) parents eventually managed to feel like three-dimensional individuals despite their lack of names.

** Note that this is only the first thought. The second thought is that people can marry whenever they damn well please.

Rakka said...

@ Chris, I love your flash fiction. And Bella and the Truck forever!

Amaryllis said...

@Ana: thanks! Although I didn't see your note until after my post had reappeared, so I never knew it had gone missing. :)

And in that post, I see that I forgot to say, @keri:
It's unfortunate that for Rochester to be "tamed" and become Jane's equal, rather than lording over her, he has to be blinded first, but I'd say a great deal of that is due to societal rules at the time and the way women had very little agency.
I think it's equally important that Jane had gained financial agency. "I am an independent woman now: my uncle in Madeira has died, and left me ten thousand pounds." And this after Rochester's assets were diminished by the damage to Thornfield; he's still richer than she is, but it's not the absolute disparity of their former relations, where she was absolutely dependent on him. He doesn't get to be King Copehetua condescending to the beggar maid any more.

Bella and the Truck forever!
Yeah, Team Truck!

Ana Mardoll said...

True! And it can't be a coincidence that when I think Video Game Mom, she's the first one I default to. The next one would be... uhm... Chrono Trigger, I guess.

gyroninja said...

Haha, Chrono's Mom was actually exactly the character I was thinking of when I made the comparison. I agree with Mime, Ness's Mom serves her role in the story admirably. Curing Ness's homesickness and cooking him up a steaming plates of DONGS, or whatever other immature thing I decided to use when I started up the game at 3 AM.

(For the record, I love Earthbound and Chrono Trigger both very dearly).

Calvin's parents are a great comparison, actually. I know it was Watterson's conscious decision to not give them names, but they different appear like 3 dimensional characters that we can only see 2 dimensions of because our viewpoint character is a spoiled little shit.

gyroninja said...

err, *definitely* appear like 3 dimensional characters

Nina said...

Well, also in Calvin's defense, he's supposed to be 6, and I think plenty of 6 year olds, even the non-spoiled ones, have a hard time thinking of their parents as people outside of their roles as parents. I definitely agree that Watterson did a good job of making them three-dimensional characters in spite of their lack of names.

gyroninja said...

Man I don't know about you, but I was an angel at six. :P

But yeah, that's definitely the truth.

But the real point is, Calvin and Hobbes is awesome.

gyroninja said...

TW: Motherhood

Also since I've never turned down a chance to talk about Earthbound, I'd have to say that I don't think Ness's Mom is really her own character in the traditional sense, but that it works very well in the context of the game. Like Mime said, the Japanese name for the series is Mother, and I think there's a huge difference between being "Ness's Mother" and "The Woman Who Coincidentally Squeezed Ness Out of Her Vagina Eleven Years Ago". She's the woman who changed his diapers when he was a baby, who taught him how to walk and speak, who fed and clothed him, and even when she's not next to him, she's always thinking about him, and loving him. She's like the platonic ideal of motherhood, nurturing, loving, and warm. And that's a huge source of strength for Ness, who's really just a scared little kid who's being forced to grow up far too fast. And it's the little scenes like when you call her to relieve your homesickness, or the little memories you share when you reach the Sanctuaries that show you just how deep their love is.

What a wonderful, wonderful game.

Ana Mardoll said...

Or to put it in comparison, if I were to force a pig into a car, and the pig is covered in BBQ sauce, and the back seat is a charcoal fire, and the seatbelt is a rotisserie, I may have the pig's absolute best interests in mind, but the pig would absolutely have reason to worry.

This made me laugh out loud, but it really is a VERY good analogy of Edward and Bella. :D

Izzy said...

I felt much older than my actual age growing up, or at least I thought of myself that way, and indeed, most of my friends are somewhere between two and ten years older than I am.

These days, not so much. I like clubbing and flirting and playing a lot of video games. I have no desire to have kids or settle down with one guy. I find "grownup subjects"--the home buying market and the traffic around I90 and car models and home renovation*--to be stick-myself-with-a-pencil boring.

And I sort of resent not having three months of vacation. ;)

*Well, mostly. Wacky stories and "ooh, this is a new feature and we've painted the table red" is fun. The specifications about fixing the roof, on the other hand, or comparisons of different refrigerator brands...nooo.

Timothy (TRiG) said...

You think "fixing the roof" is an adult concern? Reminds me of my childhood, when we converted the attic under my mother's direction. She was picking the brains of everyone she knew who was into construction, and then managing the whole thing (and doing most of the work herself, but we all pitched in).


Gelliebean said...

I love your reframing of this scene. For all of Sparkleboi's 'dangerousness' to Bella, it sure never seems to show anywhere that he has difficulty not being... well, dangerous to her. (Dangerous in the vampiric way the text wants us to believe, at least; he's definitely dangerous in more mundane ways.)

I edited a story once for a guy whose main character was involved in building up forces for revolution against the ruler - the problem was that this fairly young character never seemed to doubt himself or his chances of success in overthowing a very stable, well established and multi-planetary government with the handful of troops he'd managed to amass, and it just plain wasn't believable. The author's reasoning was that the MC couldn't allow himself to doubt his chances, or the whole mental house of cards that kept him going would fall down.... But it needed to be explicit, that there was a conscious effort on the MC's part to push away his own doubts and fears, that he was trying as hard as he could not to think of failure. Otherwise a reader would see him as either accurately believing there was no chance of losing, in which case the tension is gone, or inaccurately believing the same, in which case he would be seen as cocky and ignorant to the point of unrelatability.

I think Sparkleboi is written very similarly, in that all of his actions imply that there is no chance of his losing control and posing a threat to Bella even though his words try to convince her otherwise. We can either believe that his actions accurately reflect his beliefs, in which case there is no lion/lamb setup (and of all the idiotic phrases, GRRRRR) and he's deliberately tormenting her emotionally into thinking there is for Teh LULZ, or we can believe that his words are correct - well, no, I couldn't believe that his words are correct. His words state that he is a hair's-breadth away from losing selfcontrol and ripping her throat out, and there's no way to reconcile that with the complete lack of near-throat-ripping. I'd much rather have read about some real show-don't-tell internal conflict.

Also, re. Calvin & Hobbes - my favorite comic strip ever. I don't remember when I realized that my own parents actually had actual names, but I think it's normal for any little kid to compartmentalize the adults in their life to just the roles in which they interact - the teacher is always Ms./Mr. Smith, and probably sleeps in the classroom; the mailperson only exists when they're standing on the block; the parents are only Mom/Dad and didn't exist before the kid's conscious memory, let alone kiss and/or engage in other unspeakably mushy stuff, eww.

One of my favorite strips is when Calvin's dad is telling him a bedtime story about the ghost hand, and works his own hand up through his sweater to mock-strangle himself.... :-D There's a lot of characterization in that strip alone.

Nina said...

You know, reading your revised scene made me realize that one thing we don't see (yet?) out of Edward is any sign that he cares about Bella. I mean, we never hear a concerned tone of voice, or see a caring look. It's all snark and unpleasantness. I admit, I haven't read the book, and I get that they are supposed to have a sort of adversarial relationship, but seriously, there should be some level of concern there. Otherwise, Bella should be thinking that Edward just hates her. I mean, it seems like he is either angry with her or laughing at her (or for a change looking disgusted or frustrated with her) all the time.

Also, definitely agreed - Calvin and Hobbes is awesome! My grandparents loved that comic strip so much. After Watterson stopped making it and they stopped running it in the newspapers, my grandmother would comment with a sigh, "there's just no point in reading the funnies anymore now that Calvin and Hobbes is gone."

Kit Whitfield said...

One of my favorite strips is when Calvin's dad is telling him a bedtime story about the ghost hand, and works his own hand up through his sweater to mock-strangle himself.... :-D There's a lot of characterization in that strip alone.

My husband points out that Calvin and his dad are actually a lot more alike than either of them would admit. Both outdoorsy, deep into their hobbies, with an extremely mischievous sense of humour.

Izzy said...

Oh, *doing* it can be a kid thing, and fun.

But the grown-up version--at least the one I've always heard--involves a lot of discussion about Getting A Guy In and How Much It Costs and, I dunno, joists.

It's possible that the distinction involves having to manage logistics and technical details, as opposed to rushing in and nailing things down/splashing paint all over the place/etc.

Rikalous said...

Ah, the old "I hope you have a child just like you" curse is in effect.

Timothy (TRiG) said...

But joists are interesting! We Got a Guy In for the plumbing (and for the stairs, but that was a chap we knew), but everything else we did ourselves. I suppose it helps if you have a mind which is good at three-dimensional visualisation, so you can "see" what you're doing, and why, and what it'll look like when it's finished.

Nails? Screws. Or panel pins for the tongue-and-groove ceilings. This was a proper job. (Though we did use a chainsaw to cut a load-bearing joist at one time to fit my window. It was properly supported first, but yeah, fun!)


Timothy (TRiG) said...

I really must buy the Complete Calvin & Hobbes. My sister and her husband have the books, and every time I visit them (which is not often because they're still Witnesses and I'm an ex (but at least they're still talking to me, unlike my brother)), I always delve into those books.


Timothy (TRiG) said...

Chris, you are awesome.

I have no idea what age I feel, so I shall make up for having nothing to say myself by posting links to other people saying interesting things (I'm good at that; I have a whole blog dedicated to it).

1. Randall Munroe (xkcd) on what it means to be grown up.

2. Another clip from Tim Minchin's adaption of Matilda, this one called "When I Grow Up". I really want to see this musical.

3. We all know why I'll never be an adult, don't we? ("Clean ALL the things!")

4. Greta Christina on the liberation of lowered expectations.


Ana Mardoll said...

"She does not spend a majority of her time under water and does not do lobstery things. She is, as I said, almost wholly unlike a lobster."

That is so incredibly perfect. :D

I love descriptions via difference. Is there a name for that? My favorite ones are Adams ("No language on earth has produced the phrase 'as pretty as an airport'" and "hung in the sky in precisely the way that bricks don't") and Yahtzee Croshaw had one in his book that tickled me ("Is there a word for the exact opposite of a mugging").

gyroninja said...

I think my favorite is one that's attributed to Einstein, although it might be apocryphal.

"You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull
his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you
understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: you send
signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that
there is no cat."

bekabot said...

"If you want to be a main character try to be more interesting the inanimate objects in the story."

Right, but given the parameters Twilight sets up, that's what's so cool about vampires. (Vampires in general and Edward in particular.) They are inanimate, more or less. As Amarie pointed out a few threads back, Twilight vampires are hard, like tables, headstones, or Mazeratis. One result of this is that (as long as one stays within the Twilight parameters) vampires can be cool the way inanimate objects are cool: Edward is cool the way a newly-fixed-up antique sideboard or shiny silver automobile would be cool, and that's what Bella responds to in him. Twilight Bella isn't much better than Twilight Edward (I have no opinion about the meta-version of either one of them): like I said, also a few threads back, Edward and Bella are both users.

When Edward stuffs Bella into his car (at least it's the front and not the trunk) the first thing she notices (after "great sound system") is that Edward's got the right kind of music playing on his great sound system, the kind of music Bella will not be lowering herself by listening to. I'm not finding fault with Bella's taste or defending it; what I'm saying is that what's at work here is not taste, but a substitute for taste, because taste, even if it's bad taste, will always involve appetite, and in the Twilight universe appetite is uncouth. (Just think of the problems Edward and Bella both have with it.) The implication isn't that Edward is proving his worthiness of Bella by liking, or playing, the right music; the implication is that Edward is worthy of Bella in exactly the same way as the sound system and the Debussy are. It's Bella who's proving her own consumer chops by liking nice things. In many ways Renee may have been a negligent parent, but she raised a smart shopper.

So Twilight vampires gain in one respect by being so inanimate and so much like objects, which is that they end up making great accessories. And they gain in another respect too: by freeing her vampires from the condition of being even semi alive (since the Twilight vampires are less undead than inert) S. Meyer frees them from most of their weaknesses as well. Not only do Twilight vampires not have to worry about the vicissitudes which accompany run-of-the-mill undeath, they scarcely have to worry about the mishaps which attack creatures which possess characteristics of any kind, because most of their own characteristics have been erased. Hence, Twilight vampires are immune to sunlight and crucifixes, don't have to wait to be invited inside (that I've noticed), and could probably gargle with holy water. What's not to like?

All of this only continues to work as long as one stays within the Twilight parameters; the moment one steps outside them, the spell dissipates. But that's just what Twilight Bella (as opposed to Meta Bella?) doesn't want to do: she wants to stay within the bounds where the trick works. Bella may be a hard sell (though I'm not saying she is; that isn't the impression she makes on me) but once sold she's sold completely: she doesn't mind being made to fall in love with a thing (a thing in the department-store and not the monster-movie sense) as long as there's a chance that the thing might act as though it loves her back, and especially not as long as there's a chance that she could get promoted into thinghood (and hence into lovability) herself. In most fictive systems "thinghood" is a state of abjection to be avoided at all costs, but in Twilight it's a state of elevation to be yearned after and avidly pursued. Twilight is a world in which a copy, by virtue of being a copy, is better than the original.

Ana Mardoll said...

And Edward makes Bella a statue in the end...

hapax said...


But "Paphos" isn't nearly as silly a name as "Renesmee."

chris the cynic said...

I definitely agree with your assessment of Twilight Bella. Twilight-Anyone seems to be about the same as Edward, the only questions are differing power levels. We might be able to find exceptions around the edges, and Jessica could be a saint without Bella ever noticing it*, but in general they all seem to be on about the same level personalitywise and differ only in capabilities. The Cullens are what the entire town of Forks, Bella included, would be like if only they could.


*Sample of the meaningless prattle that Bella tuned out:

So then I was all like: "Demons get out!" and they ran away. After that I was turning water into wine because... Are you listening? You're not, are you?

I cured a leper. Did you hear me? I cured leprosy just by putting my hands on someone.

IS ANYONE FUCKING LISTENING? God Damn It! *Looks up* Not seriously. Sorry. Shouldn't have used your name like that. It's just... *still looking up* I walked on water yesterday and no one noticed. I multiplied loaves and tunafish and didn't even get a, "Hey, that's a neat trick." I singlehandedly healed everyone who was injured on the day that school should have been canceled because of the icing. Not an eyebrow raised.

What do I have to do to get noticed around here?

*looks around*

(To Bella:) Edward Cullen is staring at you again. I wonder why he's sitting alone today.

*Bella's head snaps up, she's instantly paying attention*

*It is not lost on Jessica that this, of all the things she's said, is what got Bella's attention*

(under her breath:) Oh for the love of...

Rikalous said...

See, that sounds like a cool story. Possibly involving robots, so the statue can respond to the human in noticeable fashion.

Brin Bellway said...

No language on earth has produced the phrase 'as pretty as an airport'

Whyever not? I don't remember much about the airports in Philadelphia and Orlando, but Toronto-Pearson is shiny and has weird-neat horizontal escalators and did I mention the shiny? Because it was very shiny.

Ana Mardoll said...

That's true. I think Adams just didn't live to see the day.

hapax said...

Well, the gender-swapped Pygmalion with robots has already been written with Tanith Lee's Silver Metal Lover, and it WILL make you cry.

(And as for Julia Ecklar's filk ... oh, just go get a box of tissues, already.)

Rikalous said...

Ooh, thanks! I see I've cross-pollinated this thread with the inventions one.

bekabot said...

"We might be able to find exceptions around the edges, and Jessica could be a saint without Bella ever noticing it..."

You could be right. Jessica is the only Twilight character with enough integrity to chirp "Really?'What?" when Bella tries to convince her that there is more to Edward than good looks and money. Sure looks like a case of saintiness to me. (Now if Jessica could just team up with a friendly exorcist...)

GeniusLemur said...

I agree with your post, and there was something else there I noticed. I wasn't sure if you realized you made this point, so I thought I'd point it out. As a vampire, Edward's scariness/threat to Bella is a joke. As a human, he's downright horrifying.

gyroninja said...

Oh, thanks for that, it was something I was thinking about when I wrote the post but I never found a way to get it across in such a pithy quote.

I keep going back to this scene where Edward tells Bella that he's dangerous and she should stay away from him. Ana did a really good job of deconstructing just how creepy that line is, and how it should be taken as a warning sign of a potential abuser or even an outright sociopath. And if Edward were a normal human, I'd totally agree. But as a vampire, that line should have completely different context. If any man should be able to say that to a women, and really, totally, understand what he's saying and mean it, it should be Edward. But then when two chapters later he's taken multiple opportunities to be alone with her, I have to assume that either his compulsions towards her are too strong to consciously resist (in which case Bella should have been eaten by now), or that he's just completely unconcerned with the consequences of his actions (in which case given the life he's led, you'd think his family would have woken up to find their coffins nailed shut decades ago).

So we're left with a story that's not scary enough to be a horror story, but is just way too creepy to enjoy as escapist romance. So the story just kind of wallows around. Things happen, but there's no plot. Edward tells Bella he's dangerous, but never seems to pose any real harm to her, other than constant emotional abuse. Characters say that they love each other, but keep behaving in weird, catty, passive aggressive ways that don't betray any emotion or chemistry. The whole thing just falls flat on its face.

Timothy (TRiG) said...

The flash fiction in this place is amazing.


GeniusLemur said...

That reminds me of something else I noticed. Edward seems to have completely forgotten his concerns about wanting to kill Bella. Bella gets unwillingly pulled across an entire wet parking lot, and never falls down. Their big flaws just disappear for this scene. It's like the author forgot them. That's some remarkably bad writing.

bekabot said...

"But in these circumstances, it seems to me that the man with the Deep Dark Secret (TM) should be the one acting all cagey and evasive, and the woman should be chasing him, out of love, or even just curiosity, or whatever, until she finds herself entangled in a world of vampires and werewolves that she never knew existed."

That's more or less what does happen with MacKayla Lane and Jericho Barrons.

Akedhi said...

Hooray, internet!

I did say trying to be Rochester, heh. I love Rochester, even with his penchant for mindfucks (and possibly because of it), I just wouldn't want to marry him. (St. John I hate, even if Jane doesn't, because his personality and the way he goes about trying to talk Jane into marriage reminds me way too strongly of way too many people I grew up with). And I love that Jane really doesn't take crap from anybody. And, uh, basically I agree with pretty much everything you and keri said.

Re: Villette

keri upthread mentioned that the ending of Villette is weird because of executive meddling, which, if true, makes much more sense than Bronte apparently wanting to screw with her readers.

I guess you could say I dislike the ambiguity, but it doesn't actually read as ambiguous to me at all. More like 'So, M. Paul is definitely drowned at the most painful moment possible, but if it makes you feel better, you can imagine he made it back and we got married and lived happily ever after. We didn't, but you can pretend. ^-^' It almost feels a bit condescending, I guess? I actually love tragedy and Unhappy endings (though not all the time) and if it had been more explicit and less implied, I would still have yelled at the book, but it wouldn't have stuck so objectionably in my head. There's no closure, and I do think I got more invested in Lucy and M. Paul than I am in Jane and Rochester, though, which probably doesn't help.

Silver Adept said...

@GeniusLemur -

That's a running problem here. Not only are the disadvantages not really all that disadvantageous, apparently, they tend to be forgotten whenever the plot doesn't need them and remembered when the plot requires them for exposition or for Edward to physically control Bella into what he wants her to do.

Which its why we have such good flash fiction - we can write what really should happen in such a situation...or match absurdity with equal absurdity written better, as with truck-TARDIS.

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