Carole's First Point:
Bella’s flaws, while present in the books, are not clearly communicated as the underlying problem in the story.
From Stephanie Meyer's website:
Q. What are the characters' biggest mistakes in Eclipse, their tragic flaws?Carole: The biggest problem with the books is that there is no outside element telling the reader that Bella has a lack of self-knowledge and is handling the relationship with Jacob poorly, except Jacob himself and only at the beginning of the book. The first chapter of Eclipse starts with a note Jacob writes to Bella:
A. Bella's is a lack of self-knowledge; she never would have pursued her friendship with Jacob if she had realized how much more than friendship it really was. You don't give up your friends when you fall in love; however, you do give up your other romantic interests. If Bella had understood herself better, she could have saved everyone a lot of heartbreak. Sometimes that happens when you try to do the right thing.
Bella,Even though the problem (Bella's lack of self-knowledge) is stated here, it is later blurred by events and, more annoyingly, other people’s actions. In the first chapter, Charlie, Bella's father, says, “You’re hurting Jake’s feelings, avoiding him like this. He’d rather be just friends than nothing.” Edward says his objection to Bella seeing Jacob is Edward's concern for her safety, not because her relationship jeopardizes Edward and Bella’s relationship. (Edward's reaction really is jealousy, but Edward only admits this to Jacob--not directly to Bella--and Edward is always able to rise above his jealousy to do what’s in Bella’s "best interests.") Even Jacob tells Bella she is welcome to come by. (I can buy this, though. Jacob decides he wants to fight for her. Stephanie explains that on her web site, and I can see that.)
[scratched out] I don’t know why you’re making Charlie carry notes to Billy like we’re in the second grade – if I wanted to talk to you I would answer the
[scratched out] You made the choice here, okay? You can’t have it both ways when
[scratched out] What part of ‘mortal enemies’ is too complicated for you to
[scratched out] Look, I know I’m being a jerk, but there’s just no way around
[scratched out] We can’t be friends when you’re spending all your time with a bunch of
[scratched out] It just makes it worse when I think about you too much, so don’t write anymore
Yeah, I miss you too. A lot. But that doesn’t change anything. Sorry.
Considering Edward's overall reaction to Jacob . . . it felt entirely uneven, especially since Edward continues to exhibit controlling behavior in other minor but concrete ways. Edward goes from being insufferable to being overly magnanimous towards Jacob, to the point of allowing Jacob to do something for Bella.
Near the end of the book, Bella does realize that she can’t be with Edward and stay friends with Jacob because it hurts everyone involved, and she decides to tell Jacob that they can’t be friends. She begins to, but then Jacob tells her that he might die in the impending fight. She freaks out and begs him not to leave. Jacob asks Bella to ask him to kiss her. She does, and during that kiss, she realizes that yes, she does love Jacob, but not enough to not be with Edward.
But she never really makes the difficult choice. Even after the above scene, when Jacob gets hurt in a fight, Bella goes to him. She doesn’t even stop to think that her decision to walk away is the right one. She is still committed to Edward, and Jacob knows that, but when she gets ready to leave Jacob, she tells him she will come back or stay away depending on what he wants. This might seem selfless, but it also allows her to not make the choice. She’s asking Jacob to decide, but the decision doesn’t just affect Jacob’s happiness. It’s also affects hers and Edward’s.
I understand what you [Kate] mean when you say the Buffy writers didn’t portray Spike as bad, they just wanted us to think that. Here it’s the same thing. Stephanie says that Bella not letting go of Jacob is a problem, but the events and characters in the book don’t lead the reader to that conclusion. It’s acknowledged in the beginning and end of the book, but in the middle of the book, it’s forgotten. Not only does Bella associate with Jacob without considering the consequences, but Meyer allows the reader (not counting people like [Kate and Carole who are over the age of 21]) to forget the consequences too. The reader never forgets that Jacob loves Bella [which causes problems for all concerned] . . . but the events are manipulated, so it seems acceptable for Bella to be around Jacob.
Bella doesn't consciously choose what man to be with.
From Stephanie Meyer's website:
Q. What's the deal with Bella just falling in love with Jacob in the eleventh hour of Eclipse? Don't you believe in true love anymore? What happened to blacken your soul, woman??Carole: The last paragraph is where I disagree and get annoyed. I think the love Bella comes to have for Jacob is one hundred times better and stronger than what she has for Edward, but the book doesn’t support that Bella made a choice. In fact, Bella says she has no choice. When she goes to Jacob after he is hurt, he realizes that even though Bella knows she loves him, she will stay with Edward . . . to which she replies:
A. First of all, let me say that I do believe in true love. But I also deeply believe in the complexity, variety, and downright insanity of love. A lucky person loves hundreds of people in their lives, all in different ways, family love, friendship love, romantic love, all in so many shades and depths. I don't think you lose your ability—or right—to have true love by loving more than one person. In part, this is true because you never love two people the same way. Another part is that, if you're lucky, you learn to love better with practice. The bottom line is that you have to choose who you are going to commit to—that's the foundation of true love, not a lack of other options.
Next, Bella does not fall in love with Jacob in Eclipse. Bella falls in love with Jacob in New Moon. I think it's easy to understand why this fact doesn't occur to her. Bella has only fallen in love one time, and it was a very sudden, dramatic, sweep-you-off-your-feet, change-your-world, magical, passionate, all-consuming thing (see: Twilight). Can you blame her for not recognizing a much more subtle kind of falling-in-love?
Does this love devaluate her love for Edward? Not for me. For me, it makes that perfect true love stronger. Bella has another option. She has a really good one. An option that's easier in many ways, that takes nothing—like her family, present or future—away from her. She would have love, and friendship, and family—an enviable human future. But she chooses Edward over all of this. This makes it real for me.
The worst part is I saw the whole thing—our whole life. And I want it bad, Jake, I want it all. I want to stay right here and never move. I want to love you and make you happy. And I can’t and it’s killing me . . . I never had a choice (emphasis added.)This completely contradicts what Stephanie says above. She claims that Bella is making a choice, but throughout the whole book, Bella stays with Edward, not because she likes that future better than the one that she could have with Jacob, not because Edward makes her happier (though I think Stephanie believes he does), but because Bella cannot live without Edward. Earlier in the same conversation, Jacob makes the following, very astute observation:
He’s like a drug for you, Bella. I see that you can’t live without him now. It’s too late. But I would have been healthier for you. Not a drug; I would have been the air, the sun.Putting aside the question of whether Bella needs either man for survival (I quite disagree with that [so does Kate!]), I agree with Jacob. Jacob is more natural, more nourishing, more comfortable. Bella doesn’t disagree with Jacob either. In fact, she tells him, “I used to think of you that way, you know. Like the sun. My personal sun.” She doesn’t explain how Edward is not like a drug (i.e., he’s like water or a breeze or anything else remotely healthy). She even tells Edward the same thing:
You may be brave enough or strong enough to live without me, if that’s what’s best. But I could never be that self-sacrificing. I have to be with you. It’s the only way I can live.In her answer above, Stephanie says, “Bella has another option. She has a really good one. An option that's easier in many ways, that takes nothing—like her family, present or future—away from her. She would have love, and friendship, and family—an enviable human future. But she chooses Edward over all of this.”
I don’t believe that Jacob is the easier option. According to the book, he’s the harder option because he would be the more painful option. Never once did Bella consider the best option.
Bella admits that had there been no Edward, no vampires, no magic, Jacob would have been the natural choice for her and she would’ve been happy. As I said to you [Kate] earlier, the whole “love is a spell and is inexplicable” thing is entirely beyond my grasp.
Stephanie doesn’t know what makes a good romance good.
From Stephanie Meyer's website:
Q: If you pitched the first book to publishers as a ''suspense romance horror comedy,'' which of those do you think your books are most?Carole: Show me a more "romance-y" book, and I’ll show you a pile of complete and utter blech. I seriously don’t think you could find a more "romance-y" novel in the fantasy genre, so if Meyer thinks she’s anywhere close to what OSC does in his books, she has another thing coming. I think I know what she’s trying to say because I feel the same way: OSC’s romances are great because they are important, but with OSC, the characters fall in love while doing other things, and they have motivations besides their beloved. In the Twilight saga, every thought and action made by Edward, Bella, and even Jacob is motivated by their respective love interest. There’s no action that Edward takes that doesn’t revolve around Bella; there’s no decision that Bella makes that isn’t tied to Edward or Jacob; and there’s no limit to what Jacob will do to get Bella in the end.
A: I think that it's romance more than anything else, but it's just not that romance-y. It's hard to nail down, but romance tends to be my favorite part of any book or movie, because that's really the strongest emotion. Orson Scott Card is my favorite: The romances are a small part of his books, but they bring his people to life.
Stephanie says that these books started out as a dream, and she kept writing to see where the story goes. What this tells me is that she’s not thinking a lot about character development or motivation or plot as she writes, and any analysis of the book she’s done is after it’s written. I think that style of writing is very different from the kind writers do when they take complete control of the characters. It makes me think that writers who just let the characters do whatever they want are bound to write stories that aren’t as tight, or as thoughtful, or even as interesting as they could be. I might be wrong, though. There might be lots of books that I enjoy that are written that way.