Stephanie Meyer: Twilight Saga series Part Two

by Rachel Baker on October 14, 2008

What is it about the characters in the Twilight Saga/series that readers become obsessed with?  Readers either become obsessed with Edward or Jacob and, from what I can tell; Bella is really not all that well received.  Really good characters have both good and bad impulses through a story.  Both Edward and Jacob share the ability to be motivated by good and evil.  They are both complex and show qualities of ‘real people’.  Bella, on the other hand, is extremely flat.  She is exactly the same in the beginning as she is in the end (well, except for the undead part).  She’s almost the damsel in distress stock character of every love story ever written.  She is extremely static, whereas Edward and Jacob continue to develop throughout all four books.

In part two of the Twilight series review, I want to try to break down the main characters as I see them.  It’s important to remember, my assessment comes from all four books, not just one or two of them.  I recognize the minor characters’ influence on Edward, Bella, and Jacob is important in understanding what motivates these three characters. We’ll talk about this later. 


Edward Cullen is the aloof, mysterious vampire boy whom Bella falls for.  He’s angry and mean, and it’s somewhat difficult to understand what his motivations are.  But that’s just book one (Twilight).  However, as ‘time goes by’ the astute reader begins to understand he’s not necessarily controlling, he’s trying to protect Bella from herself.  She’s already made a decision to become undead, and he’s not really sure how she’s going to accomplish that or if she’s stubborn enough to force his hand.  Let’s consider this for a moment:

  • He was born in 1901; and became a vampire in 1918 (saved from death by Spanish Influenza),
  • He knows there are human things he’s missed out on in life. Yes, he would have died at an early age, but he didn’t…really.  Because he was “changed,” he never experienced the same joys in life we as humans enjoy.
  • He doesn’t want Bella to miss all the joys of humanity.  Possible:  He loves her too much to allow her to sacrifice her life for him?

What I’m asking you to consider here is what was the social norm between men and women in the early 20th century?  Women were still pretty much second rate citizens, had to be “looked after” and well, by our standards, men were much more controlling than is socially acceptable now.  Add this to the fact that he has been alone for more than 100 years, never finding someone whom has touched him so deeply that he can’t live without her.  Enter Bella.  The only way to live the rest of his life with Bella is to make her a vampire.  BUT, his life was “taken from him”.  He never had a chance to experience the humanity of living to a ripe old age and he desperately tries to sway Bella into living her life out.  He walks out on her to try to give Bella this opportunity.  He realizes there are instincts and urges about him that doesn’t bode well to intimate relationships with humans.

If you review Book One and only Book One, Edward Cullen is a controlling, borderline abusive bastard. Book Two makes him look like an even bigger schmuck and it’s not until Book Three and Four that we truly realize why he left and understand he was just as torn up as Bella was.  Most importantly, though, we understand he was making a sacrifice so that Bella would have the opportunity to enjoy the wonders of being human.  We also see his acceptance of her friendship (after he admits to being jealous) with Jacob Black.  He realizes that he wants to do whatever it takes for Bella to be happy.  Ultimately, this means making her undead.

There is tremendous personal growth for Edward through all four books.  All his growth is internal, though.  Through Bella, Edward experiences “life” for the first time since being a teenager – almost a hundred years ago.  He realizes the importance of living and loving, and he’s willing to make sacrifices that he’s never been able to make before.  He also experiences human emotions – which actually was a little strange, since he isn’t human.  He loved Bella, he was jealous of Jacob, and he experienced heartbreak – again, a little odd.


In all the reviews of the first two books I’ve read, no one spends a lot of time talking about Bella, other than to say she’s too difficult to relate to.  They slam Edward, and some even slam Jacob.  So, let’s talk about Bella for a minute.

Bella’s mother left her father because Forks was too small.  Her mom seems to be a little flighty and sometimes makes bizarre decisions.  Bella moves to Forks to be with her father after her mother has fallen in love with a younger minor league ball player, who has to travel around in search of work.  Okay, that’s the back-story, as I understand it.

Bella, to an adult reader, is everything we hope our daughters aren’t.  She’s stubborn (though it could be called rebellious), she’s got some self-esteem issues, and she’s obsessed with her boyfriend.  To an adolescent reader, she’s everything that every teenage girl is.  She’s rebellious, she’s got some self-esteem issues and she’s a little odd, but only because she’s trying to find her place in this world.  She’s desperately in love with her boyfriend – but also loves another guy, and is trying to figure out the differences in types of love.  She’s also incredibly clumsy and seems to bring ‘danger’ right up to her doorstep.

Her frequent trips to the emergency room made me laugh out loud, because I am extremely clumsy – in my house, things have to be put away, or out of the way, because I will trip and fall and hurt myself; in fact, I trip UP the stairs.

Bella isn’t really all that different than most of us were as teenagers.  One of the big conundrums for reviewers in regards to Bella is the contradiction between ‘Average Bella” in Phoenix vs. “Attractive Bella” who just moved to a new town.  There is complete allure to the “new kid” in a high school or even just a new town.  Especially if that new town is extremely small.  Top that off with being the Sheriff’s daughter and everyone thinks you’re ‘hot’.  Its shallow, but its real.

Alright, so what did Bella portray to young readers?  Well, she decided what she wanted and she made it happen.  Right, but that meant she became undead.  Okay, but that’s what she wanted.  She wanted to live out the rest of her life with Edward – which means eternity for the undead.  Edward, after almost one hundred years alone, is certainly qualified to recognize when he’s fallen in love with someone and would not want to live without someone.  As far as Bella is concerned…well, there’s the question.  How, at 17/18, is she possibly qualified to make this assessment?  This is where I had a problem with the Bella character.  I felt she was too young, BUT, who am I understand that strange occurrence called love.  I felt like there were some real questions about what happens to the soul when it dies.

Is there a soul that goes on – the catalyst for this question was the vampires.  The vampires in the Cullen family sure seemed to have souls – they were good, kind, and caring individuals.  There were some vampires in the story who definitely seemed soulless.  It seemed to me the Cullen family fought really hard to hold on to their souls, which made the idea of ‘soul mates’ for Bella and Edward much more believable.  And let’s be honest, every young girl desperately wants to believe in the concept of ‘soul mates’.

Let’s go back to Edward for a minute.  All the vampires had a special ‘gift’.  Edward’s gift was that he could hear EVERYTHING everyone thought.  He could not, however, hear Bella’s thoughts.  This is very important when you think about why he would ‘choose’ her – if that’s what he did.  Imagine living life (as an undead…HA) hearing everything anyone ever thought.  There would be no surprises.  However, what would happen if you ran in to someone who you just couldn’t hear?  To me, this would be insanely alluring.  Understanding whom this person was, understanding his/her motivations for things – all very new, and appealing.  This would be like finding that one person in this world whom you connect with on a cosmic level – you seem to truly understand each other, you don’t have to finish your sentences because he already knows, and you both seem to really understand and respect each other from the very first meeting.  I felt like Edward not being able to hear Bella’s thoughts was the catalyst to him falling in love with her. This barrier allowed him to experience the very human emotions related to falling in love.

I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you there were some things I HATED about Bella.  She was too sappy and swoony when describing Edward.  More often than not, I felt it was nauseating and too repetitive.  She’s not my favorite heroine ever, that’s for sure.

Also, in Book One, Twilight, Bella says her mom is her best friend.  However, she begins to avoid her mom, in Book one and continues this through the rest of the saga.  This is a bit contradictory to me.  I was really bothered by this actually, and I’m not sure why.

Throughout all four books, there’s not a lot of growth for Bella.  This actually bothered me more than anything else in the whole series.  The Bella in book one is the same Bella in book four, again, except for being undead.

In my extremely humble opinion, this lack of personal growth makes Bella no more than the catalyst for the major story and plot line of the Vampires and the Werewolves.  I completely understand she’s important to the love triangle and the romantic love story aspects of this series, but she’s a shallow character that truly remains the same throughout all four books.


Jacob is the foil character for Bella.  Did you see that?  I said, Bella, not Edward.  Jacob is the one who makes Bella really question her decision to spend eternity with Edward.  He becomes her conscious.  I found nothing wrong with her decision to be undead after I realized this.  Jacob is set in the story to really make her think about what she’s giving up.  After a book and a half of Jacob/Bella turmoil, she remained unwavering (and stubborn) on her desire for she and Edward to be together for the span of eternity.  (Side note:  I wonder how the author’s religious beliefs play into this ‘live together for eternity’ concept.  After a little research, it sort of sounds like the Mormon concept of eternal marriage.)

Now, here’s something I found extremely interesting about Jacob.  His angst about Bella becoming a vampire was comparable to Bella’s angst about living life without Edward.  He was the male version of Bella in this sense, but we don’t really get that until book four when part of the story is from his perspective.

Jacob is dealing with his own issues as he starts phasing as a werewolf.  He doesn’t really ‘seem’ as happy as he’s been portrayed by Bella throughout the series.  Strangely, this change in Jacob seems almost like the change kids make when going through puberty.  They are awkward, confused and not really sure what’s happening to them.  Kids do seem to understand the changes are crucial to their places in the world, though they aren’t really sure how.  Jacob seems a lot like this, in my opinion.  Though there is that whole legendary reason why he’s beginning to phase, it seems to me he’s just going through puberty – and its become a bit awkward – and its somewhat indicative of what happens when boy meets girl as young kids, boy and girl become best friends, girl falls in love with older new boy, younger boy goes through awkward puberty stage, younger boy hates older boy and fights desperately to keep girl close and away from older boy.

Jacob, like Edward, experiences tremendous personal growth.  He is first introduced to us as a younger friend of Bella’s.  Throughout the series, he deals with being in love with a girl who doesn’t love him the same way.  He also deals with his birthright responsibilities and the understanding that he is the alpha male in the werewolf pack – though he resists.  I suspect his resistance is because of his own insecurities.

To continue on to Part Three of this review, click here

If you haven’t read Part One of this review and want to, click here

FacebookTwitterGoogle+Amazon Wish ListEvernoteFlipboardInstapaperNewsVineSpringpadWordPressTypePad PostStumbleUponLiveJournalPocketRedditShare

Previous post:

Next post: