“Twilight” rant 12: happily ignoring Bella’s self-destruction

by Jasper on July 6, 2009

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Grief can make you do crazy things.

Bella really goes through it when Edward and the Cullens blow out of town at the beginning of “New Moon.” She becomes almost completely dysfunctional to the point that months and months go by without her notice. She gradually recovers a bit when she starts hanging around with Jacob more but, let’s face it, she’s still a mess. It gets so out of control that she starts to hallucinate Edward’s voice.

smile no matter how you feel inside!!!

smile no matter how you feel inside!!!

It first happens when she’s stressed out by those strange men in front of that Port Angeles bar. They reminded her of the guys that tried to rape her in “Twilight.” Unexpectedly, she gets closer to these threatening men because she enjoys the hallucinated voice! I think that a non-depressed person, like Jessica, for example, would have responded more appropriately and gotten out of there ASAP. Jessica is right to be irritated with Bella. She is not displaying good judgment here at all. Fortunately nothing happens.

But that’s not the end of the problem. Bella longs to hear Edward’s voice again. She’s so strung out by her grief that she repeatedly endangers herself for this stress-induced psychosis. First there’re the motorcycles, then the chance encounter with Laurent in the glade in the woods and finally the impulsive leap from the cliff in a growing storm. What is she thinking!?! The answer is, obviously, that she is not thinking at all.

Bella becomes so wrecked that she even contemplates getting romantically involved with Jacob, I suppose so she won’t be alone. Jacob would have probably gone for it too. He’s so love-sick for her that he even helps her endanger herself, no-questions-asked. She never confides her distress in Charlie or Renee, who might have been able to offer support and/or refer her for professional assistance. More troubling still, her parents fail to recognize that she needs their help at all.

This book is painful to read. I got depressed myself in a kind of sympathetic reaction to Bella. I too was shocked by Edward’s absence. And her insane acting out behaviors also seemed believable. But what is the message here?

Bella never suffers any real consequences from these problem behaviors. She’s not killed or even seriously hurt. Sure, she went to the ER with Jacob after a particularly bad spill off the bike but it was just a few stitches. By the end of the novel, Edward is reunited with her as if nothing had happened at all. Charlie and Renee are none the wiser. The Cullens come back to Forks and we’re all a big happy family again.

Doesn’t this give impressionable readers the wrong ideas for coping with loss? I think that the take away points from “New Moon” are these:

1. Risking your life over the end of a romance is acceptable behavior.
2. The potential consequences of dangerous behavior are irrelevant.
3. You should not seek support from adults to manage sad feelings.
4. You’re better off in any relationship, no matter how inappropriate.
5. You can’t make it alone.

Bella is young and inexperienced. I don’t blame her for this mess in which she finds herself. The adults around her, though, have clearly been screwing up. This includes her parents, her teachers and Dr. Snow. Probably we should include Dr. and Mrs. Cullen as neglectful parental figures in this scenario as well. They seriously miscalculated letting Edward go off roaming alone and then to Volterra to commit suicide because of his grief. They probably should have considered Bella’s need for help too. Could this really be the message that Steph intends, or is the book supposed to be read more as a cautionary tale, like “Wuthering Heights?”

“New Moon” does not offer good advice for the lovelorn. Wouldn’t a better message be that painful feelings can be tolerated and overcome; it’s normal for relationships to end sometimes; and that you as an individual can have a meaningful, enjoyable existence whether or not you’re romantically involved?

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Deby Wozniak July 13, 2009 at 3:21 am

New Moon was super depressing, but at the same time gave Bella the strength that she needed to confront her clumsy character. She turned to Jacob on the rebound (like we haven’t all done it before). Jacob actually, helped her to try new things, discover herself. I personally don’t like him and I think that even though he has a school boy crush, he shows that she can be a strong person. He is one of the reasons when she turns during her pregnancy, she can take the pain.

Turning to the adults. Her father has no clue what to do with her. He tries real hard, but come on, no matter what you say, you don’t let your daughter walk out on you and drive to AZ.

Mom…way too obsessed with baseball boyfriend. Sends her kid off to a town that she hated herself.

The Cullens, their just happy that Edward is not miserable anymore. Yes, they take Bella in too. No questions ask. However, they act as a protective family, but let Edward come and go as he pleases? I know that they are not his true parents, but they need to be better role models. They end up protecting their family and friends, but seriously…it took a battle/war from Victoria to step up. Honestly, Bella has a long journey ahead of her. Being 18 and what she has to deal with, really is something. I agree with you Jasper that one can exist without being romantically involved, but this is eternity. She’s got a long way to go. Hopefully, she will grow out of her 18 year old mind.

Holly Z July 25, 2009 at 3:29 pm

I could not agree with this more!!! I personally thought this book was rather irresponsible for Miss Stephanie to write for teens. Teenage girls already have such a difficult time dealing with their first broken heart. So many feel that their life is over…or at least they wish it was. That first heartbreak can make you feel as though you will never truly heal from such intense pain. Bella’s reaction to Edward leaving her…the collapse in the forest and having to be rescued by Sam, her risking life and limb just to hear Edward’s voice again, her withdrawl from friends and family sickened me and made me worry for all of the young girls suffering though the same heartbreak.
Trust me girls (and boys)…it does get better and you really don’t have to rely on half boy/half wherewolves or life threatening manuevers to pull you through. Stephanie Meyer would have been smarter to have written a female character that demonstrated the type of strength and courage in time of heartbreak that allows a young girl to experience life without a man to guide her through!

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