Bella Swan Cullen #3

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Re: Bella Swan Cullen #3

Post by Esme echo »

holdingoutforjacob wrote:I also feel like she had no sense of her own identity without it centering around someone else, and that's what's dangerous for her. That's why she collapses so completely in New Moon, that's why she can't stand up to either boy in Eclipse, that's why Edward becomes the center of her world so quickly in Twilight. Renee never made it safe for her learn about herself and create an identity of her own. Rules and structure allow children to do that.
This is a very interesting perspective, holdingoutforjacob. "Live and let live" and/or a random lifestyle doesn't do children any favors. I think fate also had a hand in how quickly Bella was sucked into both her relationships. It's like her body and emotions were both on hold, waiting to move beyond humanity--waiting till she got to Forks and came face to face with mythology.
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Re: Bella Swan Cullen #3

Post by swedishskinjer »

I wouldn't say that Bella had no sense of identity. Living under looser conditions as a child works either way, since it allows for a greater sense of development in a few cases. In fact, one of my theories is that Bella could embrace Edward's mythological world so easily because of her crazy, spontaneous life with Renee, which always came with its surprises.

Bella collapsed so quickly in New Moon because of the fact that she lost her true love. It's like entering your own personal Heaven and then being abruptly thrown out, which resulted in her feeling like she lost a part of herself due to how utterly she had been immersed in Edward's mythological world. It just so happened that Jacob was the one who broke Bella out of her depression. Maybe it could have been someone else in other circumstances, including a new friend. Maybe Bella could have healed on her own if Jacob hadn't arrived so soon.

I'm of the opinion that Bella has a terrific identity. She's reasonably intelligent. She's able to hold her own in arguments with mythological creatures, which is no small feat. She was able to be courageous by risking her well-being for another in another country entirely. She has the determination to work for what she wants. In Eclipse, we do see that she is able to operate independently, from showing Edward that he should trust her judgment to hitting Jacob. It just took her some time to adjust to the fact that she's a weaker being in a stronger world. Hopefully, that makes a decent amount of sense.

Also, holdingoutforjacob, I would argue that her supposed lack of identity wasn't the sole reason for her falling so quickly over Edward. I think that a lot of the attraction had to do with fascination and his mystery. Here was someone who didn't seem quite right, and so Bella was determined to figure him out. Love happened during that process.
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Re: Bella Swan Cullen #3

Post by Jazz Girl »

The assertion that Bella would not have reacted as strongly to Edward's leaving if X, Y or Z happened always snaps my teeth together. You can really find a list of reasons people give; if she had had more friends, if she had a stronger personality, if she had a stonger identity outside of her relationship, if she was closer with Charlie, if she was closer with Renee, if she was ....whatever. The list goes on and on. As SwedishSkinjer said, Bella falls apart, detiorates so completely because she has lost her true love. But, more than that, every truth she had come to understand was torn apart. The reason and logic on which she was planning her future was completely ripped out from under her.

And, I don't think you can dismiss the added effect of losing her chosen family. Bella wanted her future with Edward. More than anything else ever. But, she also wanted the Cullens to be her family. She wanted Alice as her sister, Carlisle and Esme as her parents, Em and Jasper as her brothers. Hell, she even wanted Rose to at least accept her. That Edward not only removed himself, but also her family and future, completely magnified her loss. Charlie says, "It wasn't like someone left, it was like someone died," in describing her grief to Alice, Bella's response is spot on. She says that it was if she had died. Because her entire future was gone.
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Re: Bella Swan Cullen #3

Post by una »


This forum and thereby this thread is for character discussion. If you would like to do cast discussions per the role of Bella or cast discussions per the movies released, please take that discussion to The Cast List forum or The Twilight Movie and/or The New Moon Movie respectively.

When I brought up the discussion topic of compare/contrast movie Bella versus book Bella that is in regards to screen play vs. book, not Kristin Stewart's portrayal of Bella in particular.

Our previous discussion had to do with Bella and her identity. Have we exhausted that topic? Shall we start a new one?

ETA: Previous posts regarding Kristin Stewart's portrayal of Bella have been moved to the Kristin as Bella Swan thread in the Cast List forum.
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Re: Bella Swan Cullen #3

Post by marielle »

I've got a new question....

I was reading Eclipse again and in the part where Bella decide to go and visit Jacob, and Edward cripples her truck so she can't go...
What would have happened if Bella stayed angry with Edward and really closed the window? what would have happened if she stayed angry with him just for one day....???
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Re: Bella Swan Cullen #3

Post by Jazz Girl »

What would have happened if Bella stayed angry with Edward and really closed the window? what would have happened if she stayed angry with him just for one day....???

I honestly don't think it would have changed much at all. Edward is obtusely stubborn and deadset when it comes to Bella's safety, and at this point, he still saw Jacob as a significant threat to her well-being. The course that Bella took with Edward in bringing him around to the idea of her being safe with Jacob was a good one; patience and logic. In any argument with Edward, logic is always your best bet. Had Bella left the window closed, yes, it might have gotten the message across to him with a little more impact that he'd truly hurt her feelings by not trusting her judgement. But, I dont' think it would have changed his resolve any or hastened his coming around to understanding Bella's position. He knew he hurt her. He knew he'd disappointed her. He knew he was wrong. Before he even did it, he knew those things. I truly believe that it was Bella's patience, logic and acceptance of Edward's process that worked things out. Leaving the window closed would have just delayed the process.

But, in all honesty, I don't think it would have happened. Edward's leaving was still too fresh. Voluntarily staying away from him is just something that Bella would never put herself through, especially understanding that it wasn't going to make a difference. Bella grew a lot while Edward was gone, came to understand a lot of things. I truly believe that, when he explained to her his reason for leaving, his thoughts behind it, she really figured him out, how his mind worked when it came to her and their relationship. She got really smart about a lot of things, really fast.
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Re: Bella Swan Cullen #3

Post by Knives »

I live one more! After weathering the scourge of Real Life, I'm back!

For those of you who haven't met me, hi. I'm Knives, and I'm an anti ("Hi Knives") who blew into the Lex looking to see how the other half thinks. Now I'm back with some contemplations on Bella, both in terms of characterization & Ms. Meyer's writing.

(Also - I occasionally drop the following question, so: can anyone actually tell me what Bella and Edward like about each other? I just peeled through my sister-in-law's copies of the series, and I couldn't find anything much deeper than chemical attraction).

So - Bella's Characterization - Mental Problems, or Bad Writing?

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?

People do not develop personalities in a vacuum, and fairly pervasive evidence suggests that Nurture is winning the Nature vs. Nurture argument. Bella's father, if a little awkward, is a solid, dependable presence. Her mother, if flighty, is genuinely loving and encouraging. Neither of them put their daughter down, and are, if anything, highly encouraging and supportive. Bella laments the loss of her friends from Pheonix, so clearly she wasn't a social outcast there, and despite being "plain", she has every Y chromosome in Forks hot for her the moment she walks into her high school. There's no source or justification for her behavior, barring some heretofore unhinted-at child abuse or - wait for it - poor writing and characterization.

Ms. Meyer has, repeatedly, failed to apply whatever it was she learned when she picked up her English degree, but in Bella's case the behavior is really unexcusable. As the lens through which we percieve the story, Bella needs to be portrayed as either a totally reliable narrator, or a completely untrustable one (for examples of both, check out The Fall of the House of Usher and I, Lucifer, the former being by Poe, the latter by Glen Duncan). The problem is that Ms. Meyer tells us that Bella is reliable, intelligent, and insightful, but Bella is repeatedly characterized as biased, masochistic, and unintelligent, leaving the discerning reader wondering if they should trust the author or the work. That last dichotomy - readers who trust the author (fans) and readers who trust the work (anti) - is the biggest source of conflict in the interpretation of the series, and it stems straight back to Ms. Meyer's failure as a characterization author.

Thoughts? Opposing opinions?
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Re: Bella Swan Cullen #3

Post by SenorGimp »

This ought to be fun.
Well, as for your first question, that being a request for an explanation of what Bella and Edward like about each other, I could categorically state the following:
What Edward likes about Bella:
1)Having spent his whole time in Forks, and indeed much of his life prior to that, having to deal with the incredibly shallow and ininspired crowd of typically irreverent and simple-minded teenagers (which he knows they all are due to his ability to read their thoughts, obviously), and having had an awkward time of fitting in (due to his unwillingness to date any of the gaggle of girls who think he's gorgeous, and the resentment of the guys who are vying for said girls' attention), Edward is at first intrigued by Bella (some sub points here)..***
A. Because he can not read her mind, and
B. Because she seems entirely uninterested in all of the stupid little things which seem to so easily captivate most of her classmates.
C. Throw in his almost unbearable desire to drink her blood, and BOOM, instant connection (I kid, bear with me).
***.. but later comes to see how remarkably unique she really is. (I actually am not TOO terribly fond of Bella myself, but I can see why the opposing male leads are rather smitten with her)
Not only is she incredibly independent and uninterested in (unused to) having anyone do anything for her, she also has a very low sense of self (Despite having had friends at her old school, Phoenix is a HUGE place, and even the nerdiest of kids have friends, though they are usually still ostracized from the larger group of "cool kids"), and is therefore completely incapable of handling the massive amounts of attention that the small town of Forks directs her way, especially since it is all such shallow notoriety...
Dang it!
I have to go, I will come back and try to continue arguing my case hopefully sometime soon, so stick around Knives, I haven't even finished my first bullet point.
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Re: Bella Swan Cullen #3

Post by Jazz Girl »

Knives~ there are so many things in your post to address. The question of "what do they see in each other?" is one we've gone round and round about before. You ask for an answer, and when one is provided, you don't want to accept it, so you create a circular argument against it so you don't have to. Fine. You believe your way, I'll believe mine. Please consider that horse sufficiently beaten.
I will get to how Bella became the woman she is in a moment. But, let's start with your contention that she has a mental disorder(a topic I haven't ever seen contended except in your post), which is quite the stretch. You take three characteristics of Bella's personality and blow them out of proportion and take them out of context and create what simply is not there.
Despite her self description, I would argue strenuously against any declaration of Bella having a low sense of self-esteem. Now, I am not saying it is the highest in the world, but nor do I think she believes herself to be unworthy of existence or anything so drastic. Yes, in comparing herself to Edward, she believes herself plain in comparison. But, I challenge you to ask ANY high-school-aged girl to compare herself to whom they consider the "hottest guy" or "best catch" in their school. I'm pretty certain you will find similar comparisons. In Bella's case, quite honestly, it's even less surprising. She is comparing herself not only to "the guy", but also "the guy" who she knows to be a preternatural creature. She knows he is stronger (physically), smarter (this is an opinion but he does have a far more vast capacity and ability to process information, as well as a more vast life experience), and highly attractive (he's physically designed to be such). Really, where's the shock that she finds herself plain?
I would assume you are chalking up her "suicidal tendencies" to her willingness to date a vampire, be friends with a shape-shifter and her episode of adrenaline addiction during New Moon. As I don't really see anything else in the series that even hints at a desire to die, those are really the only things that pop out to me. Accordingly, you are really stretching in classifying those things as "suicidal tendencies". Bella's danger seeking behavior in New Moon, while perhaps not the most stable behavior, can be linked directly back to her grieving process. She clearly says over and over and over she doesn't want to die, that when she cliff-jumps, she did not intend to die. A natural reaction to grief of any kind is to reaffirm your life. Bella may not be rejoicing in those months that she has to live without the love of her life, she may be questioning what she is going to do with her life, but she is also clearly LIVING it. As for her choice of companions, be it a vampire or a shape-shifter or both, I fail to see how her compassion and openness in seeing past their labels to the people that they are and the souls that they have constitutes a death wish. While each of them might think the other poses a significant threat to her safety, Bella sees and Bella knows past the what and to the who. Neither of them would willingly hurt her, or allow her to be hurt in their presence. Does their presence in her life put her in life threatening situations? Yes. But, there is risk in everything we do and in every relationship we have. My husband could contract some hideous disease while in the course of his employment and completely unintentionally expose me. It does not mean I wish to die, nor does it mean I love him any less. In fact, I love him more for the steps he takes to protect me should that situation arise.
As for her "martyrdom complex", I fail to see where wanting to protect those you love is a personality flaw. In the case of the saga, we see her expressing this trait in highly extreme circumstances. Thus, her actions to protect others take on an extreme nature. But, we also see it in every day situations, much less extreme. She doesn't neccesarily love Swedish meatballs, but she knows Charlie enjoys the meal, so she cooks it for supper.
As for her eagerness to please... ummmm, did you read the part where she basically told Edward to stick it because she was going to be friends with Jacob whether he approved or not? How about the part where she told Jacob he could kiss off if he didn't approve of her relationship with Edward? Ummmm, or when she told Charlie that she and Edward are a package deal and he could either accept that or she was moving out? While Bella is not a fan of the confrontation, she will do it and do it often for those things she wants.
Bella clearly suffers from aspects of PTSD in New Moon, and even into Eclipse. But I hardly think that qualifies her as deranged or mentally unstable. It is a reaction to the trauma she suffered and she deals with it. To say overall that she is mentally ill because she has an open mind and heart, or because she wants to have the man that she loves in her life is just cruel, in my opinion.
Now, as to how she became the person she is... Well, let's start by looking at her parents. Yes, Charlie seems fairly dependable and stable. But, we also know that Bella did not see him often. In fact, the only evidence we really have of his involvement in her life is that she spent 2 weeks with him every summer, whether in Forks or in California. We don't know anything else, really. We can ASSUME from the fact that he still had her room the same, all her school pictures up and the like, that he might have been a fairly involved or at least interested separated parent. But, we don't know that. We don't have that background. We also don't know what Renee said about Charlie to Bella. Divorced parents often make inappropriate comments about each other in front of or to the children. Renee could have spent the entirety of their separation telling Bella that her father was.... anything. So, we don't know how that effected Bella.
We actually know much more about Bella's relationship with Renee during that time. We know Bella was the parent in the house, paying the bills, doing the shopping, cooking, cleaning and other household duties. We know she really took care of Renee. So, how much of a surprise is it that Bella puts EVERYONE she loves ahead of her. Most parents do that. It is also a very common characteristic to see in parentified children. They extend that instinct to protect to everyone they love, not just their parent. Look at the move of going to the dance studio in that context. Yes, she knows she is most likely going to get hurt or die. But, what parent would do otherwise. It's a part of how a parent protect from harm. It is also how parentified children learn to show love, by protecting. So, Bella sees a threat to Edward and his family. She sees an opportunity to protect her mother. She does the only thing that makes any logical sense to her; she puts herself between the threat and the people she loves.
To my recollection Bella does not lament the loss of her friends in Phoenix. She laments the loss of the environment, and home. But, she clearly says it was her mother who was her best friend. While I don't believe she was a social pariah, I don't think she was homecoming queen either. She says repeatedly she just didn't fit in. Particularly for young women in junior high and high school, "not fitting in" equates to "there must be something wrong with me". In that situation, those young women particularly tend to develop a weaker sense of self esteem. But, they also tend to develop strong senses of independence, of dealing with their own issues in their own ways and being resolute in how they do it. Geez, who does that sound like?
There are definitely some mysteries as to why and how Bella comes to be who she is. But, isn't that the point? Human nature, who we are, is a mystery. Sure there are clues. There are general maps we might follow. But every map contains infinite routes to the same destination, doesn't it. There are so many factors and contributors to who we become and why that because a character does not meet your definition of how someone should behave and why doesn't mean it's a failure. Nothing in Bella's behavior leads me to believe she is biased, masochistic, or unintelligent. Completely to the contrary, I find her to be amazingly compassionate, open and intelligent.
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Re: Bella Swan Cullen #3

Post by SarahGoddard »

What do Bella and Edward like about each other?

I think SenorGimp has already explained pretty well what Edward sees in Bella although I would like to add that in addition I think he sees in her a fellow "old soul" as Renee describes her in Eclipse. Edward was probably never the most modern of types even living in the early 1900's. Bella is wise beyond her years. She isnt dragged into the whims of most teenage girls (boys and fashion and celeb gossip), she knows how to take care of people and she is sensitive to peoples feelings and her responsibility for them.

What does Bella see in Edward? Other than the "obvious" as she puts it (good looking, intelligent etc) she sees HIM. She sees the kind, ultimatly selfless (even if sometimes for the wrong reasons) and loving person that he is. These are personality traits that were clearly a part of him before he became a vampire and thats who she is attracted to.

Also there are probably goodness knows how many untold things that we dont see. Tell me Knives could you sit and reel me off a list of everything that attracted you to someone you love? I bet even the most talented of writers could adequatly describe that feeling you get when you see or hear from that person that is so important to you without it sounding "hocky" and "fake" as SM so eloqantly puts it when "tossed around in every day conversation". (forgive my paraphrasing if that wasnt quite right)

Can you explain attraction? Maybe its fate, maybe its a chemical reaction but whatever it is sometimes you just fall for someone and you fall hard and suddenly its not about "Why do I like them" but "I like everything about them and this is why" (Following that?)

How did Bella get that way? First we're working on the assumption that what you say about Bella is deemed to be correct. I do not believe so.

1) She sees herself as "plain" and "ordinary"
Find me a 17 year old girl who hasnt

2)Low self steem
a)Eagerness to please

I can only assume here your talking about Charlie? Maybe shes just not selfish? Whilst the generalisation is that teenagers are lazy and dont help out around the house etc maybe Bella just actually does enjoy "homemaking" and helping make life easier for her dad.

This is also not true in many of her realationships. If she had an eagerness to please she wouldn't "Talk Renee out of her more hairbrained schemes". She definitly wouldnt have made a split second choice to go see Jacob even when she knew it would make Edward mad and she wouldnt have been so keen to break her promises of staying safe in New Moon.

b) Suicidal tendancies
I'm sorry. When? By staying with someone who could have killed her at any point? Sometimes you love whats bad for you - doesnt make you suicidal. However I am not saying that Edward is bad for her but when Bella realises she is in love with him she doesnt necessarily realise how good he is for her.

c) Martyrdom Complex
Now to be fair I cant argue with this sub point too much but does wanting to save the people who love mean you have low self esteem? My opinion is a firm no.

3) Down on herself next to Edward
If you were dating Naomi Campbell or Johnny Depp wouldnt you feel just a little down on yourself top everyday? Now imagine they also had superhuman strength and could live forever. Thats enough to make anyones day a little dreary in my book!

And even if my arguments for any of the above points were to be disbelieved does any of that add up to having mental disorders? I dont believe so. I believe it would equate to her being a perfectly average teenage girl.

I belive Bellas personality to be independent, loving, selfless and intelligent.

She basically looked after herself growing up. She is happy in her own company and is not shy at making her opinions known

This is quite clear from how strongly she feels for Edward but also at how readily she embraces people as part of her extended family. Not just the Cullens but also characters such as Billy to a lesser degree.

Seen quite clearly from her eagerness to take care of both her mother and father aleit in very different ways

She can hold her own in an argument, she knows her opinons and why yet is open to compromise and hearing the other persons point of view before forming a strict conclusion. Academically she appears to be above average in most of her classes. She reads and enjoys literature for pleasure and not just because she has to at school.

i belive these aspects of her personality have been instilled in her from an (on the whole) very stable upbringing. True her parents did not stay together but they appear more than amicable towards each other particullarly where Bella is concerned (During her break down in New Moon, The Wedding etc).

Renee has always been independent. Flighty perhaps but not afraid to take chances and live life which Bella does just to a lesser degree and in different ways. Charlie although not vocal with it is extremly loving. We see moments of true tenderness towards his daughter, best friend and ex-wife. Her selflessness may be partly a necessity to her mother needing someone to keep an eye on her but I would also believe it is a very base point of who Bella is. And her intelligence could be down to any number of things although I feel it is a mixture of enjoying school and her parents.

And just to close, yeah Bella did lose it in New Moon. She took a risk and gave every bit of herself to someone she loved. As well as that she opened up to a new family, 6 new people who she let in to her life and was prepared to enter into theres. She found out about a whole new world and the dangers that came with it. She was prepared to give everything she had held dear in her life for the one person she thought would never harm her in anyway even when the tempation was great. And he up and left, taking everything with him without so much as a backward glance telling her he simply didnt love her anymore.

I think that would f up even the hardest of us dont you?

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