Thinking about Bella Swan makes me sigh inwardly. From the minute she got entangled with Edward Cullen, she became thoroughly unlikable. I rarely despise the main character of a story, especially when that character is supposed to be revered. But Bella is a whole story unto herself.
At the beginning of the book, I was pleased to find that she was more enjoyable than her character in the movies. In fact, most of the characters were. I would do a movie review, but I think it might be a bit redundant after I finish this series.
Bella was slightly sullen, but she was a hard-worker and she wasn't as moody as the movie makes her out to be. She moved to Forks to live with her dad, because her mom had gotten remarried to a traveling baseball player.
The first thing that agitated me about this book was the relationship of Bella and her mother. You see, Bella's mother is all over the place. She's disorganized, forgetful, goofy, and childish. Bella has risen to the occasion and is now, in essence, her mother's mother. This infuriated me, to be entirely honest. This sort of theme is common on TV and in movies, but it just gets to me every time. I can not tell you of a single teenage girl that I know that is more mature than her mother. I do not know a single girl who keeps up her own schedule as well as her mother's, cooks dinner every night, and surpasses her mother in brain-power. I'm certain that there are girls like this in the world, but they are simply an unfortunate minority. It's not realistic, and it lowers the standards of parents in today's society.
Second, I will describe Bella's personality. She's rather introverted, but with a streak of wit. Being a very pretty girl, she is constantly asked out on dates or to prom by sweet (human) boys in her new friend crowd. Seemingly "too busy," she simply turns them down at every opportunity because she's so fascinated by Edward. I found this to be disturbing. It displayed a self-centeredness in Bella. She was allowed, and encouraged by her mother, to date, so the fact that she made excuses and wrote them off without even a kind explanation made me cringe. The book even shows how hurt these boys were, and how lovestruck!
This is not to say she should have gone out with a boy in whom she wasn't interested, but I think girls have an obligation to be kinder to the boys who display affection, even when the feeling isn't mutual. Bella instead was annoyed by their forwardness and wrote them off from the get-go. This isn't the proper attitude, and it niggled at me. But Bella's self-centeredness goes much, much further than this.
After all was said and done and Bella and Edward had fallen madly in love, Edward came to stay in her bed with her every night. They did nothing but talk and she slept (vampires don't sleep; he just watched her), but at the same time, I was appalled. Later on in the series, Bella's father had set a curfew for when Edward had to go home, and as soon as Mr. Swan was asleep, Edward hopped right through her window again.
In the book, Bella's excuse was that her father couldn't possibly understand that all they were doing up there was talking and that there was nothing sinister about it, but that just isn't good enough. This made me think, are we only to respect our fathers when the understand? No father can fully know what's going on in his daughter's heart, but does that give us, as daughters, an excuse to break his rules? Mr. Swan never finds out about it in the book, but it's incredibly clear that he's not the smartest man in the world, either.
And yet, Bella's self-centeredness goes even further. In one book, Edward makes the decision to leave Forks for Bella's own good, which I believe is the most honorable thing he did in the whole series. Bella becomes depressed, but realizes one night that when her adrenaline is incredibly high and she's being faced by danger, she can hear his voice.
In short order, she's doing every possible dangerous trick she can do in order to hear him once again. I found this incredibly selfish. If she had died in the process, it would break the heart of both of her parents. Not to mention, she is so depressed that she doesn't treat her friends and family well, which is selfish. However, she becomes close to another boy, Jacob. He's a werewolf, because humans just apparently aren't good enough for Bella...
They become best friends and he helps her do dangerous and exciting things. But I have to say, he was my favorite character in the book. He was happy. He was the most like a normal teenage boy than any of the ones in the book. The trouble, though? Bella Swan was too wonderful, and he fell in love.
This is where the whole "Team Edward" and "Team Jacob" scenario comes into play. I'm personally on Team Jacob if I have to choose at all, because though he's a reckless boy in some ways, he's also normal. He's not particularly moody, he would do anything for Bella, etc. He's just a normal kid, despite the fact that he can morph into a wolf. (Oddest sentence I've ever said, I must be honest.)
Finally, Bella chooses Edward over Jacob. This is rather complex... Edward's "sister," Alice, can see the future. She saw Bella jumping off a cliff, which she did. However, she was just cliff-diving, and not actually committing suicide. Alice tells Edward, and Edward thinks she has died. Edward goes to Italy to the leading vampires of the world, the Volturi, and plots to display his vampiric nature to the townsfolk. If humans find out about a vampire, the Volturi kill that vampire.
Bella and Alice race to Italy and are almost too late. As Edward is about to step into a crowded plaza in the sunlight, where everyone could see his sparkle (I'm sorry, is that not funny to anyone else but me?), Bella runs up to him and forces him back into the shadows.
There's a lot more detail to the story, but all you need to know is they decide to never be apart again, etc and so on and so forth. Here's the kicker. Bella makes the decision to become a vampire in order to be with Edward forever. Edward is hesitant to put her through that, but he promises that he will make her one after they get married. She becomes pregnant with a beast of a half-human, half-vampire, and almost dies in a graphic scene in which the baby basically claws its way out of her. In order to save Bella's life, Edward bites her and she eventually transforms into a vampire.
This act of becoming a vampire, however, is selfish. In this situation, there wasn't much choice because they have to save her life. But, she was planning on becoming one anyway. Bella would have to distance herself from her mother and father for several years before she becomes strong enough to not... eat them! And even after that, she'd look so different that she can't really ever let them see her. Bella is only doing it because she can't bear to part with Edward.
This was quite the whirlwind of a post, but the story is very complex, and this is just the basics! But in essence, Bella cares about only herself and Edward. Some may say that's just so entirely romantic, but should this mean, then, that they are free to alienate the rest of the world so that they can be together? Bella's parents, to some, are a small issue, but I was gravely irritated by her treatment of them. The love of a parent for their child runs incredibly deep, and the fact that she can so easily separate and never look back was one of my main issues with her.
In the end, I was horrified at the character of Bella. You would have to read the book to truly see what I mean, but she is a terrible example of a woman for girls to look up to, and I'm deeply saddened that so many girls do.
And don't even get me started on Kristen Stewart in the movie......