exactly that

The Game of Cat and Mouse

Twilight Chapters 9 and 10.

So, after the rescuing incident, I find Edward even more creepy.  Having read his description of having hunted Bella down, I am more than convinced that he is controlling.  He is that guy who has to be in control of everything.

This fact is confirmed by his frustration at not being able to read Bella’s thoughts.  He is exasperated at the extra effort he has to put forth to find out what Bella is thinking, and what she is doing, where, when and w/ whom.  So sorry that stalking your girlfriend is so bothersome for ya, there Ed!  He really is that guy, the one who is not used to not being able to get his way due to his gifts (usually looks, charm, but in this case, mind reading).

Driving home from Port Angeles Edward continues to do many things that make Bella uncomfortable, despite her pleas for him to stop.  He drives excessively fast, to the point where she is afraid.  It is almost as if he is trying to prove his bad boy cred.  It’s bad enough that he spends most of their interaction time first telling her that they should stay away from each other, and then admitting that he isn’t able to.  Throughout the vampire discovery conversation (“Theory”), he repeatedly tells her how she should feel.  Bella should be afraid of him, if she was smart.  She should be concerned for her safety when she is around him, and he continues to tell her that she is pretty much a moron for not being so.  He also reenforces that she just can not survive w/o him, since she is a magnet for disaster, much in need of his saving her life, even managing to toss in some ridicule for thinking she would defend herself against the attackers in Port Angeles.  It just seems to me that he is simultaneously trying to scare her off and convince her that she can not be apart from him.  In this whirlwind of mixed signals I am not even sure at this point if I can tell how he really feels about her.  She of course plays into it completely, admitting that she is so obsessed w/ seeing him.  She has, at this moment, awarded him control of the game.  And that is how I see this situation right now, a huge game of Cat and Mouse.  As Anna Onne pointed out to me in comments, however, it isn’t Bella’s role in the story that disappoints me, it is the Author’s creation of her in the book, and willingness to allow her to be swallowed up in what society has decided is the proper role for a teenage girl in love.

In Chapter 10 (“Interrogations”), Bella is off to regale her friend w/ the events of the past evening, but not before seeking Edward’s approval and permission on what to tell her.  I realize that when a young relationship is new the terms of what to tell the best friend is usually discussed, but this time, it is b/c Bella is aware that Edward is going to be listening in on their conversation anyway.  Even though it is pretty clear that she would rather him not be privy to her most private thoughts on this matter, Edward is so used to getting his own way WRT other people’s thoughts that it really isn’t a discussion.  He is going to listen to what her friend’s thoughts are on the conversation, to hear Bella’s words through her mind.  It is also worth mentioning, that Edward is invading the mind of a girl who has no idea what is happening.  This mental violation happens to her w/o her permission, and in the presence of her friend, who is fully aware of what is happening.  This isn’t the only time that we find Edward reminding Bella that it would be best to give in to what he wants, since he is more than capable of taking it if he needs/wants to anyhow.  A threat made in jest is still a threat, especially if the threatening party has the means to follow through.

I am not seeing the foundation of a healthy relationship here.  It’s good fun, I suppose, to constantly remind someone just how they should think and feel around you.  I also suppose that taking away their agency for your own purposes is a healthy element of any good relationship.  Just b/c you can do something doesn’t always mean that you should, especially not to someone that you are supposed to love.  I have seen Edward take away Bella’s agency four times now, and I am fairly certain that I am not finished w/ this theme.

I am still seeing heavy doses of the victim blaming that mzbitca has mentioned in her post.  That isn’t going to go anywhere either, I’m afraid.

Combined Twilight blogging: Here, here, here, and here.


Comments on: "The Game of Cat and Mouse" (16)

  1. I agree, Bella’s whole conversation with Jessica was so creepy since she was aware that Edward was listening in and in fact used her friends mind to egg him on or give him more information. The whole conversation about her “number being up” the minute she met him is also creepy. It’s becoming more and more obvious that Bella is more intersted in Edward than in her own life and Edward is not going to make any attempt to stay away from her. Instead he’s laying down a healthy layer of it’s all your fault

  2. totally, she wants him, she gets him, she goes to Jacob…

    cat and mouse toatlly. trust me its almost annoying, but good

  3. Another topic: Do you think that Meyer’s is trying to say something about the other characters, like Jessica and her relationship with Mike. Obviously Mike prefers Bella and they beat that to death. But their is almost this “poor stupid Jessica” vibe that I’m slightly picking up. Like because she’s not Bella, or is more outgoing and athletic and such she does not get the “love to end all love.”

    I’ve been playing with what Meyer’s thinks of these cardboard high school kids she created and their relationships and if there’s some type of commentary on high school relationships?

    Or i could be reading way too much into this and the author just really sucks at creating characters

  4. I forgot to mention that too, that she used Jessica as much as he did. At this point they are caught up in their own self absorbed world, not caring who is in the way. Also like when Edward stopped traffic so that Tyler could ask Bella out, for his own amusement…

    She is entirely more interested in his life than hers…and (admittedly, I have read ahead) this becomes incredibly apparent later on. Edward is spreading the victim blaming/you can’t live w/o me on pretty thick here. I don’t like her Final Destination level of thinking. She isn’t just obsessed w/ him, she is obsessed w/ her own death, even if she hasn’t admitted that she wants to be like him yet.

  5. @featherbookseries, I don’t find it almost annoying, it is annoying. Since all I have heard about this series is how it is this epic love story, or how everyone I have met wants to be loved like that, I find it scary. If she does in fact move on to Jacob, then it just compounds my thought process.

    @mzbitca, it’s not just you.

    And I think this is pretty clear in the way Bella talks about Jessica in her mind. Jessica is self absorbed and shallow when it comes to her own relationship w/ Mike, but I would be hard pressed to find a HS girl who isn’t…it’s normal when you are feeling your way through your first relationships. I think it is supposed to be some contrast. I wonder is Jessica is supposed to be some character foil or something.

    I have give the character Lauren some though for this same reason. Even though, supposedly, Bella is one of those people who has trouble fitting in, there is a lot or resentment and attention in general being poured upon her, and she finds it incredibly annoying. As if your only purpose is to find the One Great Love, and then you don’t need the other stuff.

    The only character who seems to have any depth is Edward, and the story is 1st person POV from Bella. What does that say?

  6. I so want to show your commentary to all my lady friends that just LOVE this book and are like “omg bella/edward 4evah!!11” and see what they think now. Even my old 10th grade teacher is into it and suggested I read it! Gah I thought I was losing me mind…

    Their relationship sounds so unnatural and Mary Sue-ish (not sure if you’re familiar with that term) and I could tell it just looking at the flap summary, but thanks (and thanks to mzbitca) for breaking it down and making me feel better about my saved money!

  7. Yeah, I am familiar w/ what it means to be a Mary Sue. I have actually heard it used in reference to this book series quite a bit.

    EVERYONE was recommending it to me (actually when the last book came out and before I had heard of the hype I had just plowed through all of the Kushiel’s books and was looking for a new series, and almost picked it up), and the surrounding hype was just so overwhelming.

    When mzbitca took this on, I thought it would be the best way to get into it myself, w/ moral support, as long as I 1) didn’t have to give Meyers any of my money to do so, and 2) had someone else to discuss it w/.

    I have decided Twilight isn’t The Worst Book Evah, but now I am afraid to move on to the others. I may read them during our month’s leave for some live blogging fodder and something to do on the road.

    The constant comparison of Meyers to J.K. Rowling grates on me, b/c she is not even in the same arean/universe/whathaveyou as Rowling.

  8. Anne Onne said:

    Yes. Mary. Sue. Definitely.

    I haven’t been recommended it. Mostly my teen feminist friends telling me to read it to see the look on my face XD But I’m not averse to spoilers, so I can assure you it GETS. A. WHOLE. LOT WORSE. Bella gets empowerful. As in, any choice is a feminist choice, because it’s a choice, according to Meyer’s Breaking Dawn FAQ site. (warning, MAJOR SPOILERS!)

    I’m in two minds about the story and the feminists aspects of the choices Bella makes, but I believe that ultimately, Stephenie Meyer’s being rather reductionist. As in, implying that feminist criticism of the plot is because some feminists don’t really want women to have any choices so are therefore anti-choice. I disagree. I see a very real difference between supporting a real woman through her life choices (something every feminist should stand for), and saying every book plot, no matter how infested with anti-choice propaganda or abuse = sexy cliches must be feminist because the female character makes a choice. In the context of a world where only patriarchy-approved choices get any attention or praise, it takes a gutsy patriarchy defying choice, or a complex, heartfelt portrayal of the motivations behind a stereotypical choice to make something feminist. It’s got to have soul. This argument is just too much like the ‘but women choosing to be passive sex objects is empowering!’ argument. Accepting women’s rights to a choice does not mean one can’t critique the context of the choices, how much choice the women really do have, and what the pressures might be.

    However, it’s still an abuse fantasy. There’s just no other way to slice it. The signs are exactly what would come up in any pamphlet about abuse, or any advice someone in the field would give you is an unhealthy relationship. Hell, it’s got the Heartless Bitches’ red flags all over it! The problem isn’t the portrayal of a complicated, unequal relationship, because this could be done well,showing both people struggling with their roles in the patriarchy, but it isn’t. It’s presented as an ideal, perfect relationship that everyone should aspire to. To me, it’s like people reading Nabokov’s Lolita and deciding that paedophilia isn’t actually a big deal and is OMG the best type of relationship evar!

    I’m gonna hopefully read these when I can get them from a library in my spare time, or a charity shop or something. I really want to write a long informed rant, but don’t feel I can fully do so until I’ve read the series. Until then I’ll keep reading youd and Mzbitca’s thoughts on the series. As the film’s hitting the UK right about now, I think it’s the only thing that will keep me sane. :)

  9. Anne Onne said:

    I just found Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez’ post on Breaking Dawn and racial undertones, and her update and further elaboration on her points. I haven’t read it properly, and it’s got spoilers, which I’m not sure you’ll want to read, but I reckon it’s a perspective worthy of being highlighted in the feminist blogosphere. It’s not a simple tipic to discuss, and I’m sure her critique is not flawless, but when a book is so popular and becoming influential for millons of teenage girls (among other people), critique is essential.

    The dificulty is involving Meyer’s Mormon beliefs (which she states are very important to her, and her writing) in the criticism, because religious doctrine of many types can, and often is discriminatory, and is certainly not above criticism, whilst not alienating Mormons as a whole or implying that they are all hate-mongers. I see the ‘but why do you hate Mormons?’ defense frequently when someone criticises the unsavoury aspects of the book, and I want to find a way to point out that criticising a book is NOT the same as criticising a religion, and that if someone’s beliefs influence the book, they are relevant context, and that religious teachings are free for anyone to critique, so long as they don’t end up on an ad-hominem rant about the person, not the context. It just feels like people are using this as another excuse to exempt the series from criticism. If it isn’t the ‘but it’s feminist because she makes a choice’ card, it’s the ‘but you can’t criticise the plot if a Mormon writes it’ card. Which seems kind of contradictory. Either she’s writing from the perspective of pro-life, traditional influenced heavily by her faith, or she’s writing from feminist perspective about choice and equality.

    I’m aware that one can be both Mormon and feminist, but AFAIK I’ve seen no claim by Stephenie Meyer that she owns the feminist/womanist label or wanted to write from a perspective of equality or choice. If she had, my outlook might be different. But if choice is only mentioned when trying to palm off feminists with a ‘but YOU’RE being antifeminist!’ defense, then i feel it’s hypocrisy. Because if you don’t personally believe in choice, and had no intention of writing choice into a plot, how can you defend a work by emphasising that it’s all about the choices you don’t believe people should have? It’s like Palin with her daughter again. So nice you use the word choice or feminism when it suits you, but refuse to own the label or examine the fact that no matter the intentions, there may be very real problems.

    I also found a good review of Twilight the Movie which I found really helped me to elucidate what bugs me so much about the series. And Cecily of blogdonkadonk on why she wouldn’t recommend the series for kids. And that’s the thing. An older, more experienced reader (so long as they’re not averse to purple prose and average writing) might read the book as a satire, or as a study of a complex, abusive relationship and how it warps the emotions of the abused. But a young reader, someone who still has so much to learn about relationships, who is at a time in their life when we have the most insecurities, and feel the most pressure to belong, to do anything to be loved? I fear the impact it might have on teenagers.

    I hate to sound like a snobbish bookworm, but I’ve noticed that a lot of the readers defending the series admit to not doing much external eading apart from the book. Whilst there’s nothing wrong or unusual about only reading occasionally, it does mean that one has less experience of writing of different qualities, (and probably less experience of all the bad fanfiction or mediocre writing out there), and is less likely to analyse the books. Which is not to blame teenagers for reading it: I suspect that I might have become obsessed by the books had I read them at,say 13, but to try and analyse why they are so popular, why some aspects are seen as wonderful by some (writing style, romance, characters) and apalling by others.

    I just wish that if there’s any silver lining, all the girls and women reading it will pick up some kickass, progressive fantasy or other fiction. :)

  10. Wow…you hit on a lot of stuff that I am hoping to cover. Race and how she treats the Native Americans in her books, and abusive relationships. Actually, interestingly, the more I read (I don’t mind spoilers), the more I find Bella to be also abusive in some aspects. Her use of emotional blackmail is stellar.

    I have given a lot of thought to Meyer’s Mormonism, b/c I have dear Mormon friends, and the fact that the book series was so received in the community, (many of whom shunned the HP series) gave me pause. I had to research a bit first. I want to approach her religious views carefully so as to not come off as hateful, b/c I am not.

  11. Anne Onne said:

    I haven’t read much online about Bella being abusive, only hints here and there, but it’s plausible. Do you think she’s passive aggressive? Because in real life, I’d wager that someone in her position, always being denied power and agency of her own could easily become bitter and express their control or disappointment in subtle little ways. Not healthy, again, and it would be great to see these issues adressed, so long as it were not presented as a romantic ideal. Romeo and Juliet was a TRAGEDY, one focused on their families more than them as individuals, not a healthy story to aspire to.

    I get the reason to be cautious with respect to the religious elements. Myself, I’m wondering whether it is possible to do a good job analysing it without referencing Mormonism, in the way that LOTR, whilst being undoubtely full of Christian overtones, can be effectively analysed without a focus on religion (the race and gender analyses can stand on their own in that book, tough the Silmarillion is much more religiously-influenced, so would not be easily disentangled). Maybe it’s possible. Certainly, to me, it didn’t occur at first that the author was Mormon, because it just read like something most people could write, whether religious or not. Learning of an author’s philosophical take on life or religion is useful in that it gives us a new perspective, but I don’t think it essential to analysing the work, because works are also about interpretation and how the reader views it.

    I’d say when you feel ready, go for it, but remember the ever-essential disclaimers that many religions and denominations have problematic elements,and that even though any of the above may in this case be influenced by the writer’s Mormonism, it would not be any different a plot had Stephenie Meyer been Orthodox Jewish, a strict Muslim, a Baptist or even a not-particularly practising but socially conservative Christian. Or even an atheist for that matter (I know atheists with conservative views). I think it’s important when addressing problematic aspects of a culture/religion we don’t share, to emphasise that it is not unique to it, but a manifestation of a problem we all share.

    I suspect it was well recieved because on the surface it looks safe. It’s fantasy romance, so people find it easy to write it off as not worth thinking about, and it’s not really about performing magic, so doesn’t feel occult to many people. I’d wager that people don’t read it because of the vampires first, but because of the romance. That instead of the unhealthy relationship being a function of the vampire element, it’s more the vampire element and plot are a function of the desire to write a problematic romance. After all, read any Mills and Boon book and you’d get a similar story, the passive, virginal, desirable woman being seduced by the dark, animalistic posessive and passionate man. A storyline I’m sure is popular with many women of all backgrounds. To me, it feels like she wrote a Mills and Boon story and added vampires to it, almost as a way of legitimising the problematic elements. Since she didn’t critique them, they remain in a ‘romance fiction’ kind of glow. I’m not suggesting she literally planned it like this, rather that social conditioning makes us all to some extent fetishise these kinds of relationships, and that we can go to lenghts to try and legitimise them, rather than critiquing them.

    The main characters don’t have sex before marriage, and the ‘he’s trying hard to wait’ theme must have appealed to a lot of people’s sensibilities, so that they didn’t look past that to the controlling elements because he’s ‘trying to keep her safe’. Never mind the fact he’s always hurting her in order to keep her safe.

    The premise of the book, that he’s this noble guy who won’t have sex because he loves her is appealing to many teens (and their parents!) because it’s the opposite of what we train boys to do in many ways. Traditionally we teach boys that their sexual gratification by women is their birthright, and that it’s perfectly natural to pressure a girl to have sex,but then we’re afraid for our girls that they’re ‘being used’, as if they don’t have any sexual agency, because all of us register subconsiously, the inequalities women face, and how women are made vulnerable by society. We want to protect girls, and as girls we want protection from this aspect of male behaviour (ie pressuring girls to have sex) so sometimes we fetishise the idea of men resisting to the point where they take away women’s agencies by not acknoledging or appreciating that women can want to have sex. Edward doesn’t ask her if she would like to become a vampire and have an equal relationship and have sex when she is ready, he makes the choice for her that it’s all not for her. That’s not equality, and although it’s not as bad as pressuting girls to have sex, it’s putting them on a virginal pedestal, only to be blamed if he loses control because she asked for it.

    It would have appealed a lot to my teenage self, I suspect, because all of us, whatever degree of feminism we understand, notice inequalities and pressures we face as women, and have some desire to reverse it. I think the topic of abstinence can be addressed well, because there are many healthy, perfectly valid reasons not to have sex (you don’t feel ready, want to get to know someone better, aren’t sure how involved to get, want figure out the maze of power that relationships can be, etc), and I don’t resent the idea that teenagers should be presented with absinence as a choice: hardly anyone goes from relationship to relationship or fling to fling with no break, and it’s often good to take stock and work out what sex means to you. But this doesn’t seem to be about Bella learning what sex (life family etc) means to her, despite some arguments, if Bella makes every decision because Edward wishes it, it’s all really about Bella learning what sex, life, family etc mean to Edward.

    I’m sure you’re gonna address them all really well. I get the need to straighten your thoughts into something presentable and nuanced a lot, and I look forward to reading more of your thoughts. :)

  12. There is a lot that would have appealed to my teenage self as well (I was an incurably clumsy, in fact people joke that I use up my good karma just walking around daily and not dying). I am trying to use the lens of “Hey, I was 17 once!”.

    I guess I find Bella more manipulative than abusive outright. She uses emotional blackmail. When Edward threatens to leave her (for her own good, of course), she panics. W/O getting too much more into it, there is definitely the thought that she would cease to exist w/o him, convincing him to stay to keep her from that pain (in fairness, he does the same thing).

    Meyer’s religious influences are subtle (Edward doesn’t seem to buy evolution, Bella seems to believe it is her duty to take care of her dad WRT cooking/cleaning). It is worth a glance, and I don’t find it completely criticism worthy.

  13. […] just read a few more chapters in Twilight and it, as well as many things said by Ouyang Dan in this post and Anne, one of her commenters, has me thinking about Bella’s voice and actions. […]

  14. It is worth a glance, and I don’t find it completely criticism worthy.

    I read another liveblogging of these books by a former Mormon. She found references everywhere, but seemed to largely believe they were not so much intentional or indoctrinating as a logical consequence of the culture-immersion that is, for some, so complete. (Sorry, that was Roomba-esque. I was trying to convey the word “brainwash” without all the narsty connotations.)

    I will try to find the link.

  15. Oh man, I am so awesome for remembering to bookmark this!


    Be warned. SPARKLES AHOY!

  16. […] Twilight blogging here, here, here, here, here, and here.  Be sure to follow the links to the posts by Mzbitca at What a Crazy Random […]

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