Statement of Intent
: If you read to the end, you’ll notice that I do not advocate against reading Twilight, just putting it into context for young readers. This was originally written for a Facebook audience of friends until I decided to post it here as well. It was not
intended to offend Twilight fans or readers, but to simply give a little perspective on why I believe Edward Cullen is a poor character to respect/admire. Should there be enough popular demand, I’m willing to write a similar article about Bella Swan.
Personality Traits in Abusive Relationships [Source, Secondary Source]
Note: The ones in bold are ones that are displayed by Edward Cullen in the book or film. Thanks to Jody for the research.
1) Uncontrolled temper. “Sometimes I Have a problem with my temper, Bella.” (Twilight, Edward, page 164).
2) Extreme Jealousy.
“I mean, you know better than to be jealous, right?”
He raised one eyebrow. “Do I?”
“Easily – there’s nothing remotely humorous about this.”
I frowned suspiciously. “Or… is this something else altogether? Some vampires-and-werewolves-are-always-enemies nonsense? Is this just a testosterone-fueled –”
His eyes blazed. “This is only about you. All I care is that you’re safe.” (Eclipse, page 143, after Bella spent the day with Jacob.)
3) Intense fear of abandonment. (Note that though this is not one of Edward’s character traits, it is a telling trait of Bella, who one could argue in a seprate note is emotionally manipulative, but we’re not focusing on Bella here.)
4) A background involving physical, emotional or sexual abuse, abandonment, ACOA issues.
5) Unrealistic expectations of a relationship. (To “fix” them or solve their problems.)
6) Low Self-Esteem.
“I infuriate myself,” he said gently. “The way I can’t seem to keep from putting you in danger. My very existence puts you at risk. Sometimes I truly hate myself. I should be stronger, I should be able to –”
I put my hand over his mouth. “Don’t.” (Twilight, page 336)
7) Rush in to relationships. “About three things I was absolutely positive. First, Edward was a vampire. Second, there was part of him — and I didn’t know how potent that part might be — that thirsted for my blood. And third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him.” (Twilight, page 195. The next day, they become a couple. If teenage Bella is confessing “unconditional and irrevocable love” for a vampire she’s known three months, who she KNOWS wants to eat her, she’s definitely enabling.)
9) Exhibit controlling behavior.
We were near the parking lot now. I veered left, toward my truck. Something caught my jacket, yanking me back.
“Where do you think you’re going?” he asked, outraged. He was gripping a fistful of my jacket in one hand.
I was confused. “I’m going home.”
“Didn’t you hear me promise to take you safely home? Do you think I’m going to let you drive in your condition? His voice was still indignant.
“What condition? And what about my truck?” I complained.
“I’ll have Alice drop it off after school.” He was towing me toward his car now, pulling me by my jacket. It was all I could do to keep from falling backward. He’d probably just drag me along anyway if I did.
“Let go!” I insisted. He ignored me. I staggered along sideways across the wet sidewalk until we reached the Volvo. Then he finally freed me – I stumbled against the passenger door.
“You are so pushy!” I grumbled. (Twilight, pages 103-4).
10) Have unrealistic expectations or demands.
11) Use isolation to keep you centered on them.
12) Believe in male supremacy and the stereotyped masculine role in the family. (It should be noted here that this is clearly where Stephanie Meyer’s Mormon background permeates best. She reinforces stereotypical gender roles in which the stronger man must protect and support the dependant woman. Edward practically oozes this stereotype.)
13) Use of force during sex.
His eyes tightened. “How badly are you hurt, Bella? The truth – don’t try to downplay it.”
“Look at yourself, Bella. Then tell me I’m not a monster.”
Wounded, shocked, I followed his instruction unthinkingly and then gasped.
What had happened to me? I couldn’t make sense of the fluffy white snow that clung to my skin. I shook my head, and a cascade of white drifted out of my hair.
I pinched one soft white bit between my fingers. It was a piece of down.
“Why am I covered in feathers?” I asked, confused.
He exhaled impatiently. “I bit a pillow. Or two. That’s not what I’m talking about.”
Under the dusting of feathers, large purple bruises were beginning to blossom across the pale skin of my arm. My eyes followed the trail they made up to my shoulder and then down across my ribs. I uplled my hand free to poke at the discoloration of my left forearm, watching it fade where I touched it and then reappear. It throbbed a little. (Breaking Dawn, 87-89.)
14) Threats of Violence
He lowered the automatic window and leaned toward me across the seat. “Get in, Bella.”
I didn’t answer. I was mentally calculating my chances of reaching the truck before he could catch me. I had to admit, they weren’t good.
“I’ll just drag you back,” he threatened, guessing my plan. (Twilight, page 104).
15) Have poor communication skills. (At least, this was the impression I got from the movie.)
16) Exhibit cruelty to animals or children. (Note: I was tempted to bold this, due to the fact that Edward is a “vegetarian”– someone needs to tell that boy that real vegetarians don’t eat meat or blood of any kind, hence the “vege” root of the word. But since he has no qualms about draining animals of their blood, I want to say it counts as animal cruelty. But I feel it would take away from the seriousness of all my other arguments).
If you have never read Twilight, and/or have listened to me rant about why Edward and Bella’s relationship is a very bad example of “true love” for young girls, I hope this sheds a little light onto the situation, or at least on why I hold that opinion. The funny thing is, a character like this in teen literature wouldn’t bother me so much, if the teen literature wasn’t so popular. The fact that so many girls are idolizing Edward Cullen, and wishing that they were the simpering Bella Swan, disturbs me enough to compile this list.
I am against book banning of any kind. Indeed, I’ll go so far as to say that I’m glad that kids are reading, even if they are reading Twilight. But I urge parents, teachers, and anyone with common sense, to explain to their kids that Edward is not the type of man you want to get involved with, and why.
Following this conversation, and when the kids are finished reading Twilight, show your young girls some good ol’ Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or encourage them to read books like Levine’s “Ella Enchanted,” Burnett’s “The Secret Garden” or “A Little Princess,” or even Fitzhugh’s “Harriet the Spy,” to show them real role models.