Or, New Moon, chapter 1.
Back by popular demand!
OK, no one was demanding it, but I actually had fun w/ my critical analysis of Twilight and I can’t really help myself. One of my compulsions is sequence and completion. If there are X number of things in a series, and I experience 1, then I will then proceed to experience all of them until completion of X.
It’s a sickness.
This time, I have, thanks to the massive amount of time spent traveling and the fact that this isn’t difficult reading already read them, completed all four books, so I can process this in smaller pieces more slowly than before. This is important to my analysis, b/c I don’t want to miss the points that I find noteworthy. There are a lot of themes throughout New Moon that didn’t appear in Twilight that need discussion.
Now, where was I?
When we last left our Protagonist, Miss Bella Swan, SMeyer had just finished having her Perpetual Savior rescue her from certain doom, like a good boy, in a last ditch effort to toss in a climax and any other semblance of a plot. Despite Edward’s creepy, stalking, controlling, and otherwise emotionally abusive behavior, Bella is simply over the moon (no pun intended) and “irrevocably in love with” our vampire heartthrob. What we saw was Bella being punished for trying to solve her own problems on her own terms and against Edward’s orders. Of course that means he has to swoop in and rescue her from herself and the mess she’s made. Bella gets broken, bitten, and sliced up to beat hell, only to have her all too tempting blood sucked from her hand by her Perpetual Savior, in an awakening moment of self-restraint to prevent her from being changed. She deserves all of this of course, for not listening to Edward in the first place, and don’t think for a minute that she misses a chance to blame herself for the actions of others. She is rescued, a far fetched tale of happenings is concocted, a heart attack avoided by promises of devotion, and Bella is tricked and forced to go to the Prom “for her own good”, even though she begs not to b/c she is clumsy and afraid of dancing.
New Moon opens w/ a dramatic dream sequence. Bella believes that she is seeing her long-dead Gran in the dream, and in a clever bit of word play we discover that Bella isn’t actually seeing her Gran, but rather a mirror reflection of herself grown old w/ a young and handsome Edward standing dotingly by her side. Realizing the nightmare of growing older (the horrors!) she snaps awake only to realize that it is her birthday, surprisingly having jumped out from the shadows to drain her soul away, and she is in fact, tragically older (ZOMG! 18! The nightmare!). Poor Bella is 18 now, and Edward never will be, frozen in time in his perfect paleness and god-like features. This is all to make us remember that Edward is denying Bella the thing she wants more than ANYTHINGINTHEENTIREWORLD!!!1!ONE! In all of her rational 18 years Bella has decided that she is ready to give it all up to become a vampire so she can be w/ Edward for all of eternity.
I may scoff at this fairy tale ideal of love, but there is something that has been eating at me, and I realize that I shouldn’t be so harsh on this point. As far as personal autonomy and choice are concerned, the decision to become a vampire, to change her body permanently, should be Bella’s and Bella’s alone. No matter how young and green in life we may believe she is, and no matter how irrational some of us may perceive her reasoning, we should, as feminists and Pro-choice advocates, recognize on some level that if Bella wants to do this then it should be her choice. I am aware that not everyone thinks of teenagers as actual people like I do, as potential and future adults, but they are, and need to be trusted to make decisions about their own lives, no matter how icky we find those choices to be. But that isn’t what is happening here. Bella expresses a desire for something, based on what she wants in her life and for her own body (ya know, like choosing to become a mother or not b/c of what you have planned for your own life), and she is being denied that choice by someone who claims to love her wholly and completely. To me this plays right into the troubling stereotype that a woman can not be left to decide things about her own body; she needs the strong hand of a man to guide through what she really wants. She has no idea what it is that she wants, so surely she can not make this decision, even though we have come to know Bella is objective and smart about the rather grown up choices she makes in other aspects of her life.
After the horrific nightmare, brave Bella finds the courage to go on to school even though it is her birthday, and even though tragically that means that people who love her are going to *gasp* pay attention to her and possibly want to give her things to celebrate that natality. She spends this portion of the first chapter complaining every living moment that Alice, the girl cursed w/ the inability to walk and must float, dance, prance, or skip her way through life has decided to throw her a birthday party at the Cullen home w/ all of the people whom Bella wants to make her eternal family. Bella succumbs to peer pressure in order to allow Alice to have her fun, and after a puke inducing scene which entails Edward and Bella watching Romeo and Juliet for class and discussing how neither of them could go on living w/o the other, and how Edward has planned his own death in the event that something, even old age and death should eventually part them, they are on their way to the Cullen Manor for festivities. Bella describes the party, filled w/ candles and crystal bowls heaped w/ roses, a cake and beautifully wrapped presents, all in her honor, and says “It was a hundred times worse than I imagined”. I hate being the center of attention, but even I can tell the difference b/t being embarrassed and being rude. Apparently Alice is a force to be reckoned w/ and nothing and no one can stop her once she is set in motion (in later books Alice throws some classic tantrums that are amusing to get her own way).
Now, Alice has this uncanny ability, remember, to predict the future once anyone has made a decision. Sadly, this ability can’t predict that Bella is going to get a tiny paper cut opening her gifts, sending Jasper, the youngest of them all, into a blood lusted feeding frenzy, w/ Bella as the Main Course. This all could have been prevented by using gift bags, a great idea for your accident prone friends who happen through life every day mysteriously not killing themselves by the devices of their own clumsiness. But then there would have been no logical plot hole (plot?) to pull this whole happily ever after into.
Tune in next time for zany dining table surgeries, vampire religion, emotional abuse and victim blaming!