I intended to take a detour and write about the wild misuse of angels in YA paranormal lit, but I couldn’t get Bella out of my mind.
Reason #4: Bella is weak.
A legitimate reason to dislike a YA book is a pathetic female main character. So, is Bella?
Let’s take a look at her reality. Within the parameters that she’s written, there are humans and non-humans. To see if she’s fragile, frail, feeble, we should judge her against the standard of the other humans.
When compared to Bella’s new friends, she comes out ahead. She is more mature, insightful, and responsible than the others. Well, except for Angela. Angela is the same age as Bella, and like Bella, cares for others (most notably her family). Imagine Angela is the one who falls in love with a vampire. Would you consider her weak?
In fact, why is Bella in Forks anyway? She moves because she thinks it will make her mom happy. Does she exile herself because she has no backbone and is a stereotypical people pleaser? I think her decision to move illustrates her care for others, not a lack of respect for herself.
What positive character traits does Bella have? She cares for others, in particular her family, she is loyal, she is willing to love, she experiences trauma (Edward leaving, vampire pregnancy) and does what she needs in order to heal, she fights for what she wants (Edward, keeping her father safe, friendship with Jacob, her baby).
To characterize Bella as lacking in depth is an unfair, and certainly uncharitable, interruption.
What is wrong with Bella? Beside the fact she falls in love with a vampire who wants to kill her, constantly putting her own life in danger until she finally “dies”?
Bella makes mistakes. She is naïve. She indulges in risky behavior.
Some say, “What’s primarily wrong with Bella, though, is she needs a man to be complete. She would give – and does!- anything to be with Edward. This shows Bella is a disempowered girl, and therefore, not to be emulated. We don’t need others. Girl power!”
While I agree Bella is too wrapped up in Edward, that she fights for the relationship she wants is not a failing.
A few weeks back, a friend of mine was at a professional speaking engagement, as the speaker, to healthcare professionals. Before the talk, she chatted with those on the conference committee. The doctors (who were women) asked about her education. My friend explained she didn’t finish college, because she met and married a wonderful man and she planned to be a stay-at-home-mom.
These women were astonished at the blasphemy coming from my friend. She didn’t want a professional career? She wanted to stay home? She must be a backwards idiot!
Underlining assumption to their gasps: A woman finds fulfillment in having a professional job. She is completed by doing what she wants, on her terms, not in reference to other people’s needs and desires.
Is this assumption true? What really makes us happy and fulfilled?
This enlightened bulls#*t, telling us our relationships aren’t the most important part of life, needs to die like the lie it is.
You are not self-sufficient. You, and I, need people. Bella is not at fault because she loves. She’s at fault to think one person will be all she ever needs. She is at fault for thinking no price is too high.
But within the story, what is promised her and what does she receive for the ultimate sacrifice? Eternal love, life, and beauty. Heaven. She gets heaven. This reward may be unrealistic, but remember, it’s a story about vampires, so….
If you have any Twilight related criticisms, or philosophical questions about other YA books, send them my way. If I’ve read the book (or if it’s on my list to get to), I’ll gladly write about it.
(I do have one other Twilight post I’m considering, and here’s the title: What the lover of Twilight and Job [from the Old Testament] have in common.)