Bella Swan Cullen #3

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Re: Bella Swan Cullen #3

Postby Knives » Thu Jan 28, 2010 11:05 pm

Some excellent responses, parts of which illustrate my point about the difference between trusting the author and trusting the novel. Let me highlight a few general themes, and clarify some of my own points.

Suicidal Tendencies: Look, just because you don't think you're not trying to kill yourself doesn't mean you're not trying to kill yourself. The reckless driving and cliff-jumping were suicidal, and even other characters (like Jacob) point it out. Aside from that - and this ties into the Martyrdom Complex point - Bella constantly seeks ways to put herself in danger, usually without thinking about or paying heed to the consequences. The intelligent thing to do with James, for example, would have been to tell the Cullens and let them deal with it, rather than going off to face an invulnerable super-predator on her own. What did she do? When she heard the tale of the wives, guess which wife she chose to emulate? Bella consistently puts her self in reckless, needless danger, and in only one case (her pregnancy with Nessie) does it have any kind of real justification (in this case, her overwhelming desire to be a mother/unwillingness to abort/knowledge that any potential lethality may be cured via vampirism). She even self-acknowledges her own powerlessness in these situations (again, with the exception of the pregnancy with Nessie, wherein she's rather firm on her own ability to choose), and yet chooses to take the unwise course anyway. I don't know about you, but that strikes me as either stupid, suicidal, or both - and I trust the characterization as presented. The points you are making involve trusting the author's statements on the character, and then interpreting the events of the book in a manner which supports that trust. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, and you're certainly free to enjoy the books however you wish; however, you should be aware that the academic community (of which I am merely a novice) is trained to trust the characterization and writing, mostly disregarding the author's statements and opinions.

Now, continuing:

Low Self-Esteem: Bella's behavior in New Moon gives us the biggest clue to this particular problem. With Edward being absent, she immediately latches onto Jacob. Yes, everyone wants friends, but Jacob quickly becomes an Edward-figure in her life, a kind of replacement, if you will. Even then, that's not enough, and her mind ends up conjuring auditory hallucinations of Edward, which she goes to increasing lengths to trigger. Does this sound like a healthy response? Does this sound like a sane response? It shouldn't. I, myself, am very deeply in love with a wonderful woman (we're expecting a baby soon - yay!), but if she were to suddenly vanish from my life, my reaction would be, in order, heartbreak, sorrow, and RAGE. Would I be sad and torn up? Certainly. Would I anguish in the dark parts of the night about what I did wrong? Certainly. But the manner in which Edward left Bella was both cruel and unusual, and the natural response is anger, with a side-dish of denial and emotional projection. Instead, Bella turns nearly catatonic, a reaction found only in those who have suffered severe, violent, violating trauma, such as repeated rape, or who have witnessed unspeakable horrors (such as the Pogrom against Jews before and during World War II), or who suffer from severe co-dependancy, a form of low self-esteem. Again, we see Author vs. Characterization - Ms. Meyer says Bella is grieving, but what Bella does is mentally and emotionally break down.

Love And Attraction: Damn skippy I can tell you what attracted me to my fiancee - and I can tell you what I love about her too. She's unconventionally beautiful, intelligent, insightful, wise, kind, passionate, caring, and she has a ton of the same interests that I do. She makes me laugh and smile, and we've been dating here for two years now, first as friends and then as partners. The relationship has taken constant work, smoothing over little misunderstandings, making compromises, and changing old, crusty habits on both ends of the equation, but it's been worth doing because we've found that we love each other. Neither of us displays the behaviors Edward and/or Bella do - we don't think we're "unworthy" of each other, we don't always submit to each other's will, et cetera. Hell, half the time we argue over the correct course of action, but we respect each other, so both our opinions get heard, and the best course of action (typically a compromise) is found. That is a real, healthy relationship, and I personally invite you to attempt to gainsay it.

Bella's Intelligence & Habits: This one is a clear case of Author vs. Story; we are TOLD by Ms. Meyer that Bella enjoys reading, but we only see her read once in the series, for a school project. Additionally, Bella displays none of the habits of a habitual reader. Think about it for a few minutes - don't the books you read affect your life? You quote them, draw comparisons, think about them, invite others to read them, ask people about other books you might like, et cetera. Does Bella do any of these things? No. Not quips, comments, questions, comparisons, or even titles on her shelf. There's plenty of Word of God (that is, Author Statements) that Bella reads books all the time, but no backup whatsoever. She also manages to consistently miss the point in the books and plays she is depicted as having read (wondering if Shakespeare is misogynistic is pointless if one has read Macbeth; Romeo and Juliet is about the folly of teen love and the rashness of the young mind, not how a pair of lovers were tragically betrayed by their families. If you read the play, or see it, Romeo is pretty consistently portrayed as an idiot, with Juliet being the (so-so) brains of the pair. Check out an academic analysis sometime too.) Ms. Meyer says that Bella is an academic, but nothing in her characterization supports it. Author vs. Story.

Hoping to hear more responses!

- Knives

P.S. By the by, no offense was intended by the above post, and I do apologize if I've inadvertantly - or tactlessly - said something that made you angry. My bad ^_^
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Re: Bella Swan Cullen #3

Postby Jazz Girl » Fri Jan 29, 2010 12:09 am

Knives~ Saying you meant no offense as a giggly after thought doesn't remove the offense itself. Regardless, I shall give 2 more of my cents... I would however caution you against putting arguments in my mouth. It does tend to snap my teeth together just the tiniest of bits. In my argument, I haven't looked at all at SM's statements about the story, characters, plot or literary tendencies of The Twilight Saga. I take my arguments from the dialogue and character's actions. All else, even the author's statements, are opinions.

The entire argument of suicidal tendencies is based on an intent to die. That is what suicide is. It is not an accidental action. It is willfully and intentionally ending your life. Putting one's self in what others or even you yourself consider situations that might possibly be dangerous is not the same as having suicidal tendencies. Yes, in those situations, Bella acknowledges a certain sense of helplessness. But, it is a helplessness that is related to the fact that her only other choice, in her view, is watching those she loves be hurt at her expense. She cannot abide that. If she can prevent them pain, then she will. Is it the smartest thing in all cases? No. There are other options, other courses of action. But, Bella's heart rules her head and even the most intelligent of us are guilty of emotional reactions in our lives. It is what makes us this thing called human.

As for your continued argument about Bella's low self-esteem, again, I fully acknowledge that Bella does not have the highest self esteem in the world. She does put herself down, compare herself negatively with others. But, again, I challenge you to find me a 17 year old girl who, in a fit of complete and total honestly and transparency, doesn't think badly about herself in some way. Just as Bella isn't right to believe negatively about herself, neither are any of those other girls. But, it doesn't change the fact that, in this instance, Bella is every inch a typical 17 year old girl. She is just now coming to a point in her life where she feels her own worth and value. She does find it. She does see it. And, contrary to most people's arguments, I think it happens well before her change.

Regarding Bella's reaction to Edward's leaving, yes, Bella finds a soothing and supportive presence in Jacob. And, yes (as much as I and most other readers might dislike it) he does become her partner for a time. But, again, I fail to see the pathology here. I mean, you are essentially saying that she transferred her codependant feelings from Edward to Jake, correct? I don't believe so at all. A) I wouldn't characterize Bella & Edward's relationship as codependent. Certainly not completely independent, but not codependent either. The both have other individuals in their lives. B) Bella acknowledges from Edward's word go that Jacob is a mere shadow for her, a substitute at best. She feels better when she's with him, but he will never replace Edward in her life, never truly compare. For it to be true transferrance, she would have to truly replace Edward with Jacob, something she never ever does.

Reclassifying her grief reaction as something else because she doesn't react the way YOU do is simply wrong. First and foremost, you have to remember that Bella was not only grieving the loss of her partner, she was grieving the loss of her entire family and the life she planned for herself. When Charlie says, "it wasn't like someone left, it was like someone died," he was being unintentionally literal. Bella was essentially grieving her own death, the loss of her life. Grief takes so many many forms that saying only one process constitutes grief is ignorant. Yes, rage and anger can be a normal part of the grief process. But they don't have to be. Many people turn into themselves when they suffer a loss similar to Bella's, the worry about what they did, what they could have done differently. And, no, it's not just people who witnessed repeated and unspeakable horror. It is every day people who have lossed partners, parents, children, family, friends. That is also a regular grief process. Shutting down because it hurts to much to acknowledge the pain... I did that when my husband deployed. And that was a situation where I knew where he was, why he left, that his intention was to come home. I spent a full week in the same state as Bella. But, I had the benefit of the fact that I had children to care for and responsibilities and I was able to pull myself out of it because I had to. And, even then, I grieved my loss, even though it was so insignificant to what others had lost. I grieved for the loss of his presence, of his voice, of my sons' father, because he missed an entire year of time with us. I spent that year in semi-seclusion because I couldn't bear people asking me how I was holding up, how the boys were dealing, how was I making it through. That made it real and making his absense, however temporary, hurt that much more. Bella has none of the luxurious knowledge that I had, and thought she lost her entire life forever.

I would further argue that she did in fact act out angrily. Anger and a little acting out did become a part of her grief process. Her defiance of her promise to Edward was clearly acting out for her. I absolutely agree with her finding ways to break that promise, for her to take back that part of her life. But, the fact remains that it was acting out angrily for Bella.

I am ecstatic that your relationship is stable and healthy. Congratulations for it. I would not say otherwise. But, you must remember three things. 1) Bella and Edward both do enumerate exactly why they love each other. Many on this thread have pointed it out to you. I believe I even quoted the specific passages. You chose to ignore it as too general and not clearly spoken. Just because you do not accept it (ironically they sight very similar reasons to yours), doesn't mean it isn't there. 2) Your relationship has had the time to mature and go through the stages of development. We see great progress in terms of Bella and Edward's relationship, but we don't have the luxury of looking back at it after years of development. We get a glimpse, from inception through roughly a little more than 2 years. Again, because you choose not to acknowledge and accept the examples and arguments of the growth and health of their relationship does not mean they are not there. And, 3) can you not think back to a single incident where you "surrendered" to your partner to avoid a confrontation you weren't really that invested in, or thought to yourself, wow, what have I done to deserve this person, this blessing in my life? Whether or not you choose to admit it, if you look objectively, you have done similar things. Again, all actions in their relationship are magnified because of the extreme circumstances of his preternatural state and her presence in it.

Finally, again, if you do look to the text, you will see plenty of examples of Bella's intelligence, although I'm personally a little put off by the fact that you really only account for her reading habits making an argument for her intelligence. There are plenty of times when she turns to books to distract herself. In Twilight, we see her turn to a collection of short stories to distract her on a long day. Sure,she gets distracted, but you read as she compares her hero to those in her novels. In Eclipse, she uses several of the classics to make her points, whether to herself or to Edward. In Breaking Dawn, the first and only things she takes with her to her new home is her collection of novels. And, we know that these novels are all spine-broke and dogeared from multiple readings. Maybe she is missing what you found to be the points to those stories, but mayhaps she simply has a different point of view, something you say you value. Stephenie Meyer never says Bella is an academic. She merely says she has a love of reading and an old soul. Perhaps those two factors alone can explain many of her "strang and uncharacteristic" behavior.
Last edited by Jazz Girl on Fri Jan 29, 2010 11:08 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Bella Swan Cullen #3

Postby marielle » Fri Jan 29, 2010 3:24 am

Knives wrote:Bella self-describes as "plain" and "ordinary". She displays consistent signs of low self-esteem (eagerness to please, suicidal tendancies, martyrdom complex) and is always down on herself, especially in comparison to Edward. The argument has been made many times - several by me - that Bella has some rather severe mental disorders, and should seek treatment. That particular topic is not the horse I wish to beat; the question I want to ask is, how did Bella get that way?


I'm only going to reply on this question...
-First, Bella moved to a place where she was never happy.... of course she is down and depressed... Try it for a month to be in a place where you have no friends, where everybody is staring at you...and feeling insecure...
(I would almost think you are a guy...which ofcourse could be)
- second, at least 1 in 3 girls in their teenage years thinks about commiting suicide at one point, and yes mostly it is because of a broken heart....

- and my last defend, (if you are a girl you would understand this, if you are a guy I hope at some point you will understand to, it will help with the ladies) girls, specially in that age compare, and compare a lot... and the first thing that they compare to is their self image...and for 95% of all woman that self image isn't so good...so of course when you meet a boy (or family) who are in your eyes perfect, you feel plain...
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Re: Bella Swan Cullen #3

Postby SarahGoddard » Fri Jan 29, 2010 7:44 am

Ok…. First off Jazz Girl apologies if I’m repeating some of you’re excellently made points. I’ll try and not just repeat and instead reinforce by using different evidence and quotes to back it up

Secondly – Like I’m going to allow myself to get angry over a debate on a board! :lol: I do this for fun not to stress myself out. Life’s too short! Say what you like you’re not going to offend me, just be aware I may accidently say something to offend you. Might I suggest that if people’s responses make you angry you might want to take a deep breath and go outside for a bit?

Right here we go:

Suicide by definition:
1. the intentional taking of one's own life.
2. destruction of one's own interests or prospects: “Buying that house was financial suicide.”
3. a person who intentionally takes his or her own life.


Not once does Bella intend on taking her own life. In fact she states the object horror at the thought of anyone thinking she would do.

By your definition anyone doing anything dangerous compared to their previous behaviour is suicidal? If Bella had taken part in cliff diving as recreation since she was a little girl is it suicidal? Is it suicidal for Paul et all to cliff dive every weekend?

Suicide is a serious issue and you should not joke about it or compare someone doing dangerous things for an adrenaline rush to someone who would be in a very fragile and emotional state of mind considering doing something so rash.

Her behaviour may be perceived as “Martyrdom complex” but as she states she thinks she is doing the best thing at the time to protect the people she loves. I’m not saying going to the ballet studio alone was a smart thing to do but she believed she was doing the best she could to save her family. She acted out of love and fear, two very powerful emotions which would cause many people to make uninformed decisions.

As Jazz Girl stated I’m not saying Bella has the highest levels of self esteem in the world. This is what makes her such an endearing character - because she’s not full of herself.

She doesn’t immediately latch on to Jacob. She withdraws into herself during a grieving process (which I’m coming on to) which lasts a considerable amount of months before even contemplating being able to hang out with anyone socially again. She needed a friend. I wonder if you would make the same comparison if she had become quickly attached to say Angela and wanted to spend a considerable amount of time watching chick flicks or gossiping because it made her smile and helped bring some sense of normality back to her life?

Grief
Bella was grieving. She grieved for the loss of the only man she ever loved, the world she came close to having and the large family she never had. Everyone deals with grief and emotional trauma differently. To try and generalise someone’s emotional response to something into “normal” or “natural” response is small minded, ignorant, childish and frankly cruel.

There is no “right” way to deal with any situation. It depends very greatly on the personality of the person, the situation, and their support network. Just because someone’s response would be different from yours doesn’t mean it’s not the right one. I have seen one of my best friends fall to pieces when splitting up with her boyfriend and on the other hand I have seen another friend deal with sexual abuse with more dignity and respect than I could ever hoped to have believed.

You cannot define “unspeakable horror” because everyone will deal with situations differently. Bella emotionally and mentally breaks down BECAUSE she is grieving.

And on a side note, not wanting to stoop to your level but just an interesting question: Since when was rage a “healthy” response to anything?

Attraction
I’m happy for you and your fiancée (congrats on the baby by the way :D ) Likewise I could sit here and tell you everything that attracts me to the person I care about. Really little tiny things that maybe no-one else notices but I do. But I still couldn’t explain that little jump my heart does when I see his name or hear his voice. Or the sadness when he’s not around. It’s attraction. It’s inexplicable and therein lays the magic of it.

I don’t think attraction needs explaining. We don’t want to explain it, we just want to embrace it and enjoy it. I don’t need SM to tell me all the reasons why Bella and Edward are attracted to each other and love each other. Although she does give us MORE than enough examples throughout the four books. (And Midnight Sun)

And your honestly telling me (again Jazz Girl sorry for repeating your brilliantly made point, just want to hammer it home) that your fiancée has never done or said something amazing and you’ve wondered if even for a second “What have I ever done to deserve her?”

Also Bella and Edward do compromise. They do it rather beautifully in my opinion considering how stubborn they both are. Yes it takes them a little while to get to that point but I challenge you to find me a couple that would be able to do that right from the off. (Hint: They’re probably in the same place as that 17 year old girl who has never felt low self esteem ;) )

Bella’s intelligence, specifically her reading habits
Again Jazz Girl really sorry – you beat me to the punch with the response! :) I’ll bullet point so as not to bore everyone

1) Her “dog-eared” books are one of the few possessions she took to the cottage
2) The short stories she reads trying to distract herself from Edward despite having read them “Countless times”
3) The continual references to Heathcliff and Cathy in Eclipse where she literally DOES quote the book to Edward

Also I don’t claim Bella to be an academic. I believe her to be intelligent in both an academic sense but also emotionally. As I have gone into a fair amount of detail about her selflessness I’m not going to repeat myself. Selflessness is a very rare trait in someone of a young emotional age. For a 17 year old to so consistently put others before herself (whatever her reasoning may be although more often than not it is love) puts her on a much older emotional age range which in my eyes makes her intelligent. Also she understands people. She doesn’t get angry when Charlie grounds her – she knows she deserves it and accepts her punishment graciously. Bella is a very mature person for the most part.

Lets see what delightful responses we hear back from this! Keep smiling! :mrgreen:
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Re: Bella Swan Cullen #3

Postby Asheleyo » Fri Jan 29, 2010 10:14 am

Knives wrote:Low Self-Esteem: Bella's behavior in New Moon gives us the biggest clue to this particular problem. With Edward being absent, she immediately latches onto Jacob. Yes, everyone wants friends, but Jacob quickly becomes an Edward-figure in her life, a kind of replacement, if you will. Even then, that's not enough, and her mind ends up conjuring auditory hallucinations of Edward, which she goes to increasing lengths to trigger. Does this sound like a healthy response? Does this sound like a sane response? It shouldn't. I, myself, am very deeply in love with a wonderful woman (we're expecting a baby soon - yay!), but if she were to suddenly vanish from my life, my reaction would be, in order, heartbreak, sorrow, and RAGE. Would I be sad and torn up? Certainly. Would I anguish in the dark parts of the night about what I did wrong? Certainly. But the manner in which Edward left Bella was both cruel and unusual, and the natural response is anger, with a side-dish of denial and emotional projection. Instead, Bella turns nearly catatonic, a reaction found only in those who have suffered severe, violent, violating trauma, such as repeated rape, or who have witnessed unspeakable horrors (such as the Pogrom against Jews before and during World War II), or who suffer from severe co-dependancy, a form of low self-esteem. Again, we see Author vs. Characterization - Ms. Meyer says Bella is grieving, but what Bella does is mentally and emotionally break down.


Ok, you have the progression a little backwards. She has the auditory hallucinations before she starts hanging out with Jacob again. Remember, she starts having them with Jessica? And I wouldn't call three months of depression and then snapping out of her nonexistent state for a little bit and then starting to hang out with Jacob immediately latching on to him.

Another thing: I really wouldn't say that just because your major reaction would be rage that Bella's normal reaction should be rage as well. Women react completely differently. I don't think it's a stretch from the normal to see a girl her age over-react to be left by her love and crumbling in on herself rather than acting out. Something on a more normal human scale happened to me when I was almost 18 and this is basically how I reacted. It separated me from my friends and I spent most of my time alone and just trying to ignore the pain. And then I found a friend that I "latched on to" and he helped me through it. Well, we helped each other through some stuff. But when I was able to be around him was when I felt like a normal person again because he made me feel connected and involved in someone's life...needed again. Never was my response rage. It took me a year or more to feel anger about the situation, and that was because we never got to talk it out. Bella didn't have to get to that point. So I 100% understand Bella's reaction.

I think it's a bit ignorant to make the generalization that people who react in that manner are only those people who have experienced something so grave before.
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Re: Bella Swan Cullen #3

Postby Knives » Fri Jan 29, 2010 11:58 am

All good responses, and I actually think I'm grasping the source of our differences in opinion here (which is the whole reason I came to the Lex, so awesome). By the by, while I'm still thinking of the question - Is Bella's failure to adequately describe Edward her fault (she can't find the right words/just isn't good at description/something to that effect) or Ms. Meyer's fault (she couldn't find the right words/wanted you to insert your own fantasy man)? Just a side-curiosity, not related to the debate at-hand, but if I didn't say it now I'd forget about it for a month or so >.>

So:

Suicide: Your points stem from Bella's lack of a conscious decision to take her own life; mine from the interpretation that she was subconsciously trying to die, and simply making justifications for it. Personally, I'm sure that both points are potentially valid, but they do change one's interpretation of the character. As for the question of cliff-jumping if Bella had been doing it since she was a child - no, that wouldn't have been suicidal. It also wouldn't have been as dangerous. Bella's attempt at cliff-jumping is dangerous, stupid, and (possibly) suicidal precisely because she lacks training, which is mostly the entire point, no matter how you want to look at the episode. Bella wanted to do something dangerous and stupid, because that meant she would "hear" Edward again. If the cliff had been something she jumped off every Saturday night for the kicks and giggles, it just wouldn't have been the same.

Friendship & Grief: Bella's attachment to Jacob is wholly different from if she'd chosen to attach to Angela, or Charlie, becase of the kind of bonds involved. Bella knew that Jacob was interested in her romatically (and she spent most of New Moon leading him on). Bella also admits later in the series to having developed a romantic interest in Jacob because of her time spent with him, and most of the time they spend together is very close - or nearly identical - to that of two teenagers in a relationship hanging out. In my opinion, the segments involving Jacob, as well as Jacob & Bella, are Ms. Meyer's best writing, and indicitive of a glimmer of hope for the rest of her career, because she displays their relationship in a realistic, involved fashion (if you wish to debate Ms. Meyer's quality/fidelity of writing, please send me a Private Message, which I will answer with all due haste). Unless Bella is a latent bisexual (which has plenty of precedent in vampire literature, mind), a bond formed with, say, Angela wouldn't have been anything similar to the bond of romantic frienship she developed with Jacob. That's why I was clear to state that Jacob became an Edward-Replacement for Bella, and the fact that she sought one so quickly is a sign of concern to me, and a foundation of the argument that Bella suffers from co-dependancy.

Attraction & Relationships: Y'know, I can't speak for my fiancee, but I've never asked myself, "What have I done to deserve her?" Maybe because I have a ruthlessly pragmatic mindset, but when asked that question, I have quite the epic list of compromises, apologies, gestures of affection, carefully-planned surprises, grieving times, and struggles. Have I done things I don't like, don't want to do, or that cause me (intense) physical pain just to make her happy? Certainly. But I'd do the same for a friend, or a family member. I love those people too. Do I do it more often for her? Yeah, but that's because we live in such close proximity with each other. At the end of the day, romantic love is that little voice in your head that says, "I want to spend the rest of my life with this person. Yes, that person. Yes, all of my life. Damnit Selfishness, SHUT THE HELL UP, or I SWEAR, I am going to BEAT THE HELL OUT OF YOU! (/bad joke). You'll note that, except in exceptional (or damaged) cases, this voice is pretty absent when one contemplates family, friends, and even most pets (which you get sick of eventually).

Having spent most of my life observing the romantic relationships around me, and given my personal experience in them (and extensive reading on the subject), I look at Bella & Edward's relationship and I do not see something healthy. Each one of them subsumes themselves completely in their partner, to the point of giving up their own hopes, dreams, and ambitions (granted, Word of God states that Edward didn't actually have any of those, but his characterization is not the topic here). Good intentions aside, that is not a good thing. That is, in fact, a horrible thing. Even the Victorian writers who invented the concept made it one-sided (namely, the woman is supposed to be the one doing it), in recognition that someone in the relationship has to be capable of independance. Romantic love is a want, a wish, not a need. It's an intense want, an all-pervasive want, but the distinction is highly important, and repeatedly noted in non-fiction works that deal with romantic love. If your partner goes on a business trip for a week and you miss them, wish they were home, entertain paranoid fantasies that they're cheating (not the best response, but still in the "sane" spectrum), that's fine. If you pine, refuse to see friends, and become despondant & dejected, you've got a problem.

I really hope I made that point adequately. Sometimes I think I've said it right, and I've missed it anyway. Onward to:

Intelligence & Reading Habits: I brought up the reading habits because they're the best example of Bella's intellectual habits when she's relaxed (and thus not suffering from emotional stress/bias). Her decisions when it comes to Edward, the paranormal world, her own health & safety and her attempts to save her friends/loved ones are consistently unintelligent, but that can be chalked up to emotional distress, and thus I will not belabor the point. I do notice that none of the responses I got from you folks addressed Bella's lack of the habits of the frequent reader; she's shown as possessing "dog-eared" books (she could, incidentally, have acquired the books in that condition), but she's not shown as having any of the traits, mannerisms, or habits of a reader. You mention that she uses some of the classics to illustrate a point in Eclipse, but how she uses them, and the point she chooses to illustrate, is exactly as important as her attempt to use them in the first place. Even someone who hasn't read Romeo and Juliet knows the basic synopsis of the story, but they'll interpret it differently than someone who has actually read or seen the story, who will interpret it still differently from someone who has the intelligence and education to understand the story. See the difference?

Hoping to hear from you - and as always, feel free to PM me for other debates, personal concerns, questions, et cetra.

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Re: Bella Swan Cullen #3

Postby Jazz Girl » Fri Jan 29, 2010 2:23 pm

Knives~ I find it hard to understand how you lament using anything other than facts of dialogue and situations to make arguments and then use interpretation of action rather than said facts of dialogue and action to back up yours. This is the issue I always have with your debates. You ask a question you absolutely know is going to receive empassioned response, and when you receive said response, complete with examples of hard fact based upon dialogue and action, you make circular arguments about interpretation that completely turn 180 degrees from your insistance on fact of dialogue and action. You need to stick to one side or the other, please. If you want to argue interpretation, we will be here eternally. You clearly interpret Edward's and Bella's actions in one way, with one point of view. And, most of us here clearly interpret them another. So, in accordance with your original request, lets stick to hard facts of dialogue and actions, shall we?

Suicidal Tendencies~ Again, Bella tells Jacob, Alice, Charlie, Edward and anyone else who will listen that she was not attempting to kill herself while cliff jumping. She did it because she knew the rush of danger and adrenaline would trigger her subconcious conjuring of Edward's protective nature. She wanted to hear his voice, to remind herself that she knew he still cared, however subconciously. No one said it wasn't dangerous. Even Bella said it was. That was the point of doing it. I would argue it's stupidity. The circumstances certainly were (no back up, unaware or familiar with the coastline, ignoring the weather patterns). However, the act itself I don't find to be stupid. If that's the only argument you have for her supposed suicidal nature, than I'm sorry, you've been proven incorrect and we're moving on.

Friendship & Grief~ As has been pointed out to you in several posts, Bella does not immediately attach herself to Jacob. There is a nearly 4 month period of time before she feels ready enough to join the world again. Also, remember that Jacob had a presence in her life prior to Edward's leaving, or even Edward himself. It is not as if she went and sought out some new guy and went from how-do-you-do to you are my sunshine in a matter of days. Jacob had been a presence in her life before, and she knew him to be someone she could depend on and who lightened her world a little. Yes, Bella did know the truth of Jacob's feelings for her, even before he really did when she was honest with herself. But, she was honest with him from the word go. She told him repeatedly and in so many different ways that she would never be able to accept him like that, in that kind of relationship. He told her repeatedly that he didn't care. In as much as she lead him on, he kept coming back for more. I am not the biggest fan of Bella's continued pursuit of Jacob, but let's at least be fair in assigning blame. They both share equally.

We need to be very careful to differentiate here. Jacob NEVER replaced Edward. In every way possible, Bella tells us that in no uncertain terms. I believe I even spelled this out for you. She says repeatedly and forcefully that Jake could never replace Edward in her life. He might lessen the pain. He might fill in most of the hole Edward left even. But he was NEVER going to be the same for her. There in lies the hole in one of your codependency arguments as well. Were it a codependent relationship, Bella would have gone immediately from Edward to Jacob, without a grief period. She would have had to find someone to fill that hole. And, she would have never ever risked losing Jacob by telling him she didn't...couldn't love him. Yes, Bella does not see her life without Edward by her side. Edward does not see his life without her. They have decided on each other. But, that in and of itself does not denote an unhealthy, codependent relatiohsip. You need to look no further than Eclipse to see all of the ways Bella asserts her independence and her own thoughts and ideas and feelings into her relationship with Edward, asserts her own individual interests. Shall we name them specifically? Her ongoing friendship not only with Jake, but the rest of the pack, her insistence upon being turned, her insistence upon having sex as a human, her insistence upon Edward staying with her during the battle. Shall we keep going into Breaking Dawn? It was Bella's choice to carry and bear Renesmee. It was Bella's choice to create and escape route for Renessmee and Jacob in the battle. Again, you can interpret these actions in any way you want. But, going on pure fact of dialogue and action, your argument holds no water.

I will say you tip your hand here a little as far as your leanings. Giving your opinion as to this being the better portion of SM's writing because you find the relationship development more realistic and involved clearly belies your underlying issues with Bella & Edward's relationship. It is clearly the supernatural dynamic and nature of it you have an issue with. Not a surprise as many people who dislike the saga do. Most want to see the vampire and the human have a normal courtship, starting with shy looks and holding hands and moving slowly through all those awkward phases. And, because they have something so much stronger and so much more fated, you dont' see it and look for all sorts of things to find wrong with it...Edward's a manipulator and a controlling abuser...Bella must have some sort of mental illness... their relationship is clearly unhealthy... and the arguments go on and on and on. You attempt to cloak your disapproval of or inability to accept the development of their relationship in weightless literary critique and your arguments grow more and more flimsy.

In your comparison trashing romantic love as a wish or want vs a need, the first argument is semantics. You characterize a wish or want as something you can live without and a need as something you cannot. Fine, that is your belief. I believe, that in romantic love, if you are truly dedicated to someone, passionately in love with them, their happiness is your happiness. It is not a want to make them happy, it is a need, because you are not happy if they are not. It is a need to keep them from harm. Not a wish or a want. But a need, because if they hurt, you hurt. Their biological imperative becomes yours. I have studied the psychology of relationships my entire adult life and it is my life's work. It is the loss of perspective and balance that leads to pathology, not the presence of passionate love.

And, let's compare apples to apples here. The love of your life, the person with whom you expect to live the remainder of your years (however many that is) completely flip flopping from, "I love you as my life and want nothing more than your eternal happiness" to " I just am too tired of the charade to care anymore" is NOWHERE even remotely close to "oh, I miss my spouse because s/he went away for a few days." There must be equality in your comparisons for them to hold up.

Intelligence and Reading Habits Yes, Bella could have acquired her dog-eared books in second hand shops and never opened a one. But, again, lets base our arguments on what we see and know, shall we? Not convenient negative assumptions. Because we could exchange those all days. Every novel Bella owns is well worn, spine-broken and throughly read. As they are in Bella's posession and we see her often reading them, and we hear her often quoting them, let's stick with the assumption that she has not only read them many times, but contemplated them, pondered them and applied them where she sees fit in her life. Someone who does not read frequently does not bust out quotes from classic literature to try and explain a situation to their boyfriend. But, if that is not enough to satisfy, let's go with the fact that her first instinct upon identifying a mystery is to research...in a book. I believe AshleyO enumerated quite well many of the numerous instances where Bella's love of reading and books were highlighted. Please don't be deliberately obtuse. It's insulting. Simply because you do not agree with her applications of the messages in the stories does not mean they are wrong. And, again, I argue that intelligence is so much more than what you can read in a book. I believe that we as a society and a culture severely overvalue what people can learn from books. So much more often, emotional intelligence or situational intelligence is so much more important. Bella, in my opinion, has a good balance of all three.

As for Bella's inability to adequately describe Edward, that was, I believe a very specific and intentional literary device used by SM. Although, I we actually do have a fairly detailed description of him. It just takes several novels to put it all together. Just as Bella's description of herself is rather generic, thus allowing every young woman who reads the saga to envision herself as the heroine, SM's (and therefore Bella's) description of Edward is equally as allowing of developing one's own internal vision. It is, afterall, one of the reasons why Robert Pattinson was initially so doubted for the role. He wasn't "their" Edward. No one could really decided on what he would look like. I personally think he is Edward, to a t. But, that's another story altogether.
Last edited by Jazz Girl on Fri Jan 29, 2010 5:21 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Bella Swan Cullen #3

Postby SenorGimp » Fri Jan 29, 2010 4:54 pm

Regarding Bella's treatment of Jacob, Knives wrote:
she spent most of New Moon leading him on

Well, now this is a point which I used to make myself, but it was more a matter of arguing the other side, something I like to, on occasion do, so as not to become too bogged down in my own preconceived notions. It makes you a more apt and astute individual, more critical in your statements, having thought them out, and not just "gone with it" based on your feelings, and it is, I think, something that can benefit even the most accomplished of debaters.
I challenge you Knives, to argue the other side, and let US all dissuade you from your positive opinions of the Twilight Saga.
I think that THAT would be fun.
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lol
You up for it?
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Re: Bella Swan Cullen #3

Postby Knives » Fri Jan 29, 2010 6:21 pm

@Gimp - Hrmm. An interesting notion. Give me a day or two to compile an argument, and then we'll see. In the meantime, what thread would we host such a discussion in? Round-table PMs might work.

@Jazz - I do regret that I have to go to work at the moment; I'll answer your post another time. Probably once I've got my argument (see above) compiled ^_^
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wait for it...
you are right.
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Re: Bella Swan Cullen #3

Postby December » Fri Jan 29, 2010 6:30 pm

Ok, people, I am going to apologize in advance for my bad temper, but I see that this conversation has been teetering over the line of courtesy and mutual respect for several days now, and I really don't have time at the moment -- it's after 10pm here! -- to go through the posts with a comb and work out exactly who falls on which side of the line. Kudos (and apologies) to those of you whose posts have remained temperate and respectful; those of you who have forgotten yourselves can expect to hear from me in due course. For tonight I'm locking the thread and will just remind you that when I'm the one modding this forum I will expect your posts to be strictly courteous to one another and the author (that doesn't mean you can't criticize her writing but snideness is uncalled-for).
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