I’ve just read a few more chapters in Twilight and it, as well as many things said by Ouyang Dan in this post and Anne, one of her commenters, has me thinking about Bella’s voice and actions.
I have been reading the Harry Potter series concurrently with Twilight and I am also reading it slower and with more awareness and one thing has really been sticking out to me. I have noticed J.K. Rowling’s tendency to allow the females be the ones to relay the big information. Hermione’s smarts often are a precursor for her knowing what is going on when Harry and Ron are confused. This creates the situation where the reader is learning about the Wizarding world from the mouth of a female. Professor Trelawney is the one whose words were the catalyst for the entire story. In the first book, Prof. McGonagal was the one who relayed the story of Lily and James death, albeit in the form of a question.
Unfortunately, Bella’s voice is often used in a passive way and the little aggression she shows is in relation to Edward. We hear about Edward spending two days questioning Bella yet we rarely hear Bella’s answers. Bella often uses her times of active talking as ways to seek out information about Edward, such as with Jacob Black and Angela. She even uses her conversation with Jessica be a way to talk but not directly talk to/about Edward when she knows he will be listening to her friend’s mind.
Bella’s voice, hell her personality, is gradually taken over by everything that is Edward. She does not like Forks yet forgets every one of her individual feelings about it because Edward is now there. She is in love with him and it consumes her. Now, I would agree that this is a very teenage way to react and that portraying Bella this way is not that far from the norm. But here’s the catch, should we be sending the message to our teenage girls that it’s okay to become so involved with a boy that your own personality disappears. That you forget your views and friendships. It is not a sign of the love to end all love. It is the sign of the beginning of an obsession and those never end well.
Bella does attempt to make the relationship equal in some ways. She is inquisitive into Edward’s nature and she is often rebuked by Edward who seems disgusted by her interest. This is a natural part of his life and she is interested in seeing it and he is amazed and disconcerted. I can’t help but see this as a “too pretty for that” example as my grandma would always say as a reason why she didn’t know why I worked in Prison teaching college classes or worked with convicted sex offenders.
There has been the defending of Twilight by saying that Bella has a choice in this relationship. She is repeatedly warned about Edward and makes the decision to put her life on the line. She chooses to leave her normal friends behind and walk into danger territory. There is only one issue here which you can’t ignore: Power, Edward has a lot of it and has no problem throwing it around. There are reasons certain relationships worked on Buffy: Angel and Buffy were equals in many ways in relation to power and the same happened later with both Angel and Cordelia and Angel and the girl who was a werewolf. There was also some level of equality which I appreciated.