Dang, you're really hammering away on these Death
themes. By the way, there is a YA story out there, might be made into a movie, about a zombie that falls in love with a girl after eating the brains of her boyfriend. Honest. SM even read it and recommended it. I don't know if I could relate to that, I tend to be a literalist. Dead is dead. Edward isn't dead because he smells good and his parts aren't falling off. Zombies are dead and they look dead and they smell bad. I don't know, maybe the putrefying, oozing pus of this particular zombie smells good and sparkles in the sun (or the moonlight, or off a dying flashlight as he zombie walks towards you in a deserted alley).
And when Bella tells Jacob she would rather Edward wasn't rich or good-looking? Didn't believe it for a second. I know what she is trying to say, but it isn't Edward's personality that initially attracts her.
Jacob's initial reaction to the vampires is something I understood, but I tend to side with Jazz Girl on that, Jacob holds on to his disgust for personal prejudicial reasons. Perhaps if Jacob had described what he sees to Bella it would have had more impact.
Let me try to explain myself concerning prior remarks about Jacob. I'm just trying to organize my own thoughts on why I don't sympathize with Jacob.
Maybe we can start with the original Twilight book. You either bought the premise, or you didn't. Many of the critics were simply mean-spirited, but some of them had genuine personal issues with the book. Those critics either didn't like SM's style of writing, or they didn't accept the premise of extreme behavior caused by extreme love under extreme circumstances. I know there are other elements there in the series, but that is a critical license you have to grant SM and her lovers, that they are permitted to act the way they do, and that it is understandable that they do, and it is often right that they do.
For a small example of that, Edward spends the night with Bella after the meadow scene. That is a crossing of what is considered normal boundaries for underage teenagers, but Edward also sets certain boundaries himself, and everything is accepted and considered right. I had no problem with that at all. If I did have a problem with it, I would have stopped right there.
Those boundaries are stretched in New Moon when you get to Bella's near-suicidal behavior and Edward's definitely suicidal desire. There were probably a few fans who loved Twilight but were really upset with that Romeo and Juliet theme. I thought New Moon was brilliant, but then I have never revoked B&E's license to love each other to the extremes that they do.
In my opinion, what Stephenie was asking of us was to extend that license
of extreme behavior to Jacob as well, because of his extreme love for Bella and the extreme circumstances he found himself in.
I think that she was asking us to accept a second love story that sits right beside the primary love story, and in some ways rivals it in importance.
If you accept that second love story, then you would have a great deal of sympathy for Jacob. If you don't accept it, then you don't have much sympathy for him. And if you don't accept it, then you would probably have some reactions akin to those critics of the original TW book (or NM). Not the mean-spirited critics, but the ones that simply didn't buy the premise and did not like the extreme behavior itself, considering the supernatural elements irrelevant.
Well, I don't have much sympathy for Jacob, I just really don't like him. A big part of that is that I gave B&E whatever license they needed, but I did not for Jacob. For myself, Jacob stayed in the human world, judged by human rules of behavior. Based on that, I did
give Jacob a lot of latitude with his behavior in Eclipse, and that was due to him setting boundaries for himself. He wanted Bella to admit that she loved him. Goal accomplished. Jacob even tells Bella that this is essentially over, he knows he lost, and he will respect her choice and try to be good from now on. Regardless of how you view his methods, at the very least he appears to have set the endpoint and understands he has reached the end.
Jacob changes in BD, and he becomes the man who loves beyond any reason, whose behavior is to be excused because he loves Bella that much
. And to any supporter of Jacob, I will gladly concede that that is exactly the way SM viewed Jacob.
These are roughly the main reasons why I didn't give Jacob that license that I gave to B&E:
1) I rejected the love triangle itself
. I don't believe in love triangles or having two "soul mates". If they truly exist, I don't understand them at all. The element of committment is completely missing, it has to be missing in a love triangle. If there is no committment, then where is the love? I don't get it. I never got King Arthur and Guinevere and Lancelot. Stories about unfaithfulness and adultery are ugly and ultimately boring to me. Once it comes up, my attitude is basically "What's the point with this story, I really don't care anymore." I lose respect for the characters, and therefore I don't care what happens to them, so I don't want to waste my time reading or watching their story anymore.
I have been in a few "love triangles" myself, and love had nothing to do with it. They are depressing and enervating when you are doing the giving; that one didn't last long. It's better initially when you are on the receiving end, but I never fooled myself that I loved the girls, it was more about having my ego flattered. And, yeah, it ended up being depressing and enervating as well. Committment, that's the ticket, that's much much better and it fills you up instead of wringing you dry.
Bella presses against that line, although she doesn't quite cross it, remaining totally committed to Edward. I think she should have excersised more restraint in what she told Jacob at the end of Eclipse, and I think she should have defended Edward and her own decision more.
2) I rejected the fundamental premise of Jacob's extreme behavior
. Namely, Bella is going to literally die or virtually die at the hands of Edward. We essentially have two competing visions within the story, Bella's vision and Edward's vision. Edward's vision begins to take hold in Eclipse, but it really needed a follow-through in BD to buttress it. BD is Bella's vision come to fruition. And despite the subtext of Eclipse and the suggestion of death themes, Bella has consistently proven to be in the right throughout the entire series, that she and Edward had to be together and that they would be fine.
If Bella is right and Edward is wrong, and if Jacob shares Edward's views, then Jacob is wrong as well. It can't be both ways, with Edward being wrong and Jacob being right.
If BD had taken on a darker tone and had become a blended form of both Bella's and Edward's vision of their future together, then I think Jacob would have become much more sympathetic
(for me, at least). It really helps to be right on some points.
3) I didn't see the love, because I didn't experience the love
. I don't deny it was there and that there were suggestive scenes. HOWEVER, Jacob suffers from the same problem that Bella does, which is that SM holds off from boldly proclaiming it until the end of Eclipse. Neither one of them are allowed to really show it to each other at the "soul mate" level, it just suddenly explodes there at the end. For the same reasons people didn't understand Bella there, I don't really understand Jacob. Does he love her? Sure. But there at the end of EC he suddenly goes white-hot and sustains that through the first half of BD. That actually isn't Jacob's problem, that's a story problem, so I'm being a little unfair with him.
Think about it. Jacob stays away for two months. Then he shows up and starts with the manipulation for one month. Then the explosion of soul mate, part deux. Then he is gone for two months again. Then he shows up and wants to kill Edward. He leaves. Three weeks go by and he shows up and wants to kill Edward again. Not much of a love story from Jacob's side, and it isn't exactly his fault either.
4) I accepted Jacob's extreme behavior as being entirely within the realm of human experience
. Bella and Edward's bond and the intensity of that bond is outside the realm of human experience. I found Jacob's behavior completely recognizable. I read about men who behave the way he does in the news, and the results are tragic. I don't say that to slam Jacob, I say that because I can't find the foundation to support the view that Jacob simply cannot help himself and that he is driven beyond any human's ability to restrain themselves. There are a lot of men in prison that use the same rationale.
To use December's great phrase, B&E's story is one of "romantic possession". Jacob's story is one of "romantic obsession". One practical difference between the two is that Edward hated to see Bella in pain of any kind and never forgave himself for causing her pain. There was no difference between Bella being hurt and Edward being hurt (and that went for Bella as well). Jacob is more than willing to hurt Bella at any time, any place, under any circumstances. Twisting the knife in Bella's heart is something Jacob gets really skilled at. The fact that nothing good comes from it is irrelevant to him, it just means he needs to twist a little harder. Because, you know, he loves her and she'll thank him in the end.
Going back to his initial imprinting scene and his behavior afterwards, I found it to be unbelievable. If Jacob's story is one of obsession, then he should have realized that afterwards and that he was saved from a tragic ending by the grace of God (or by the grace of SM, or happenstance, or what have you). That would be a humbling experience and an eye-opening one. Instead, we see a Jacob that continues to be unable to help himself with his current behavior. Jacob shows no signs of guilt for his prior behavior. The only explanation I can come up with is that SM ascribes to him a form of that "romantic possession", which essentially elevates his love for Bella to the level of B&E. Yes, Jacob is Bella's "natural" choice, but Bella is something much more to Jacob.
Jacob makes the statement, "But I’ll love you the right way now. There’s finally a balance. We both have people we can’t live without
." I take that as Jacob saying that he is glad that he can now love Bella the right way, now
that there is a balance in both of their lives. His attitude changes due to events, not due to a new level of self-awareness and maturity, and Jacob knows this and tells Bella this. That is consistent with the theme of Jacob being unable to help himself due to his extraordinary love for Bella, and yes, a love that is beyond mere human judgment.
If I have one criticism of Stephenie's story, it is that. I hope everyone understands that I love Stephenie's story, but in this one aspect I think it was absolutely wrong
not to have Jacob show some remorse. If I could change anything myself, I would change that one thing. Everything else can stay in, but I feel compelled to add just a few sentences where Jacob shows us that he understands he almost went off the deep end and did something wrong. My God, he contemplated murdering Nessie. THAT is where that type of obsession will take you. That is where it has taken many a young man and where it has ruined countless lives. To not have Jacob show remorse was a mistake. It sends the message that his contemplation of murder was merely a literary device to demonstrate just how much he loved Bella. He loved Bella so much, he would kill her only child. It sends chills down my spine. Here I was, ready to forgive and embrace Jacob, and he basically told us that no forgiveness is needed since there was nothing to forgive. I have to stop there, I am beginning my two-minute hate on Jacob again.
Jazz Girl wrote:Jacob had no claim on Bella other than the one that he created for himself despite her protestations and flat explanations that it would never be. Jacob's feelings were valid, but they were never going to be reciprocated. It was almost as if the more he was told he wouldn't and couldn't have her, the more he dug in his heals, insisting that he was right and everyone else was wrong.
That was my reaction too. I am not going to deny that love wasn't there, there was a huge amount. But there are aspects of young love (and first loves especially) that have a very dark and poisonous side. Most of us realize that when it is happening, that we are holding on when it is over, that nothing good can come from it, and even though it is agonizing we know we have to let go. It is no longer healthy for anyone. It feels like a betrayal at first and you want to fight harder, but it just makes things worse.