The Imaginary Heroine

searching for the plot

A New Dawn part 12: “To Bite, or Not to Bite; That Is the Question” by Janette Rallison March 26, 2010

[Part of a series discussing the essays in A New Dawn edited by Ellen Hopkins. These posts may contain spoilers about all four Twilight novels and Midnight Sun.]

Most of what I read about the Twilight refers to destiny or fate. According to Janette Rallison, the books are instead all about free will. This jives with a few statements I’ve read from SMeyer. On her website, Meyer discusses the importance of the apple image on the first novel’s cover. Apples have been featured in myriad stories through the ages, but always with a similar meaning: Choice. She also discussed the importance of Free Will in Mormon doctrine in an interview with Lev Grossman from Time:

“[A]lthough Mormons avoid caffeine on principle, [Meyer] drinks the occasional cherry Diet Pepsi. “It’s about keeping yourself free of addictions,” she explains, sitting on a huge couch in her living room. “We have free will, which is a huge gift from God. If you tie that up with something like, I don’t know, cocaine, then you don’t really have a lot of freedom anymore.”

Rallison shows us that Meyer overtly communicates this idea to the readers when Carlise tells Bella that all anyone can do is decide what to do with what they were given in life. Even Alice’s future sight is dependent on the decisions of others. Rallison points out that this is Meyer telling us again that “no one’s fate is set in stone in the Twilight series. The future is made and undone with every choice a character makes.”

I’m going to stop with the free will vs. destiny stuff right here. It’s a good essay. Go buy or take the book out of the library and read it.

I’ve been derailed (Again!) by someone totally missing the manipulative element behind Edward letting Bella see Jacob. Rallison attributes this to Edward’s saint-like understanding. I’m still pretty sure that the whole point was to make himself appear saint-like and make Bella feel that she had to get rid of Jacob in order to be good enough for perfect, angelic Edward.

He's doing it again!

Then she turns around and says that Jacob is not above manipulation when honesty and logic don’t work. Yes. He did try to manipulate Bella. I will yet again point out the fact that when he did, he totally stank at it. People hated Jacob for that stunt. He’s not a skillful manipulator, for the simple reason that he’s usually an honest guy who doesn’t try to manipulate others. Allow me to point out (AGAIN!) that Jacob only tried it, because he realized that was how Edward was winning! He was manipulating Bella’s pathological need to throw herself under the bus before hurting anyone else.

Even thought Bella says Edward isn’t playing any game, Jacob knows better:

“He isn’t manipulating me”

“You bet he is. He’s playing every bit as hard as I am, only he know what he’s doing and I don’t. Don’t blame me because he’s a better manipulator than I am – I haven’t been around long enough to learn all his tricks.”

“He isn’t manipulating me!”

“Yes, he is! When are you going to wake up and realize that he’s not as perfect as you think he is?”
Eclipse p594

Maybe it would be different if this was an exploration of open relationships or something. I’m sure there’s a pile of fan fiction about various Bella, Edward, Jacob arrangements. But that’s not what the Twilight Canon is about. Edward, Bella, and Jacob are all up front about wanting to be in a monogamous coupling. Both Edward and Jacob are trying to get the other out of the picture by any means necessary. Neither is above manipulation to achieve their ends. So why is Edward getting called honest and understanding while Jacob gets tutted at for doing the exact same thing?

Ugh. I’m going to pull out a legendary Kansas quote and and simply say: “That’s right…Dollar signs.”

All of this discussion of who is manipulating whom is not about who is right for whom or which guy Bella should have chosen. Of course Edward loves Bella and vice versa. Of course Edward was the right choice for Bella. She may have loved Jacob too, but she always knew she loved Edward best, last, and forever. I just wish people weren’t quite so hard on Jacob. Sometimes I wonder if people don’t hate him so very much because he brought out the nasty side of Edward. It’s hard to see your knight in shining armor get tarnished.


3 Responses to “A New Dawn part 12: “To Bite, or Not to Bite; That Is the Question” by Janette Rallison”

  1. Ana Says:

    Hello again!

    I really want to comment on this without making it look like I’m a derailed Team Edward. But maybe the problem is perspective.

    You believe Jacob when he said that Edward was manipulating Bella but we don’t. You also has a soft spot for Jacob and believe he is deep down a nice guy caught in the middle of situation and that tried to up his game to win Bella’s heart. But the thing is from our perspective Jacob was never a nice guy, he behaved nice only when he was all the only man on Bella’s life as soon as the competition arrived he decided to let his true colors show, so for us every time he looked in pain when Bella looked like deciding to let him go it was just small steps to the forced kiss and emotional blackmail and the only reason he doesn’t see Edward’s intentions are pure is because he never had pure intentions himself so he cannot believe that Edward is indeed that good. Given that Edward already showed that if he believed that what was best for Bella was to leave he would (the whole reason for him leaving on New Moon) we tend to believe him when he says it again. Actions speak louder than words and given that Jacob doesn’t have any grandeur sacrifice for Bella’s happiness under his sleeve then is hard to buy his good intentions specially when he told to Bella he rather be friends than nothing and then reveals his secret plan all along showing he never intended to follow in his word.

    I meet nice guys and guys that pretend to be nice just to get on your pants and show their true colors as soon as they get it (or get enough) or are sure that they aren’t going to get it in this century.

    Of course I might be wrong and I know Smeyer never intended him to be like this in her world both guys intentions are pure and sincere and not manipulative, but in my own personal experience Jacob looks like a wolf on a sheep clothes (not pun intended) than the wronged nice guy.

    Now another thing I wanted to comment is that I adored Edward letting Bella tell of the engagement to let Jacob hear. Why? because he needed to show me (and some other fans) that he indeed wanted to be happy himself, frankly all his self sacrificing started to look like he enjoyed suffering more than what he loved Bella so him doing some harsh stuff to keep Bella showed that he was indeed enough in love with Bella to not let his selfhating get on the way. So my personal hate of Jacob has little to do with Edward per se. It started on New Moon and Edward was not even there I adore Seth of course so its not about being a werewolf either, in case you were wondering.

    • I don’t think this is derailing at all. It’s a good point that maybe Jacob is just a Nice Guy (TM) trying to get the prize – maybe he wants it even more since he’s got competition and just wants to prove he can win.

      Edward’s angst: I generally prefer the fun Edward as well. His angst wagon was just getting excessive. I think the movies especially didn’t do justice to Edward. They made him seem sort of flat and dull a lot of the time. Book Edward is so much more fun. You can actually see why Bella is fascinated by him.

      • Ana Says:

        On Jacob:

        My husband told me that the fact that Jacob has the werewolf thing going on might factor on why he got so stubbornly attached to Bella instead of realizing that if she was willing to risk her life to save him on Italy in spite of everything, she was a lost cause. Competition just make her more attractive to him and him being an Alpha wouldn’t accept defeat quite so easily, specially defeat to someone he considered inferior to him and his natural enemy. I think I’m little spoiled because a similar situation is presented on my best friend wedding, but Julia Robert’s character after doing dubious stuff to get the man, she realizes they both loved each other and she was the only one that didn’t belong to it, womaned up and did the right thing and be the maid of honor and let him be happy (I personally was on a simmilar situation to, when I was a teen and I also go out of the way).

        I was expecting Jacob to do the same and he even attempted to and said so several times to Bella, but always ended up going back to try to get on the way of the relationship, so I feel little sympathy for people that get hurt doing doing the wrong thing. I would feel that if he was really the underdog and he would had let Bella be happy even if that was clearly without him I might had liked him as character. Of course this is a personal bias, you probably have a different perspective on this kind of situations and how to deal with it.

        On Edward
        Yeah Edward and Bella have this dark, quirky sense of humor going on and they have a lot of fun together. But I think there is some sort of prejudice on mixing humor on “serious” situations on movies and TV. If you were unfortunate enough to watch Smallville. Clana was the true love of the show but they hardly ever showed to have fun around, just angst so it was hard to buy why would they be so in love if they were so miserable. Also on the Avatar: the last irbender cartoons there was the epic battle of the elements, the journey of self discovering but it also had a lot of humor on it and we heard that M. Night decided to cut must of it for the movie version, so maybe there is some sort of rule about how serious stuff have no humor…they might think we are too stupid and will get confused /sarcasm.

        Also I’m sucker for the lonely, tortured type (I loved Louis from Vampire Chronicles) but if they show the potential to get over it and specially if they do it by finding true love or getting some sort of reason to be happy in a reasonable among of time. Angsty and suffering for the sake of it, is boring, false and no attractive at all to me, so I was very happy to see Edward showing that he was just not an emo vampire that showed his deepness or how unfair his life was by suffering, but that he was actually on a bad place on his existence and only needed some help/love to move on and be happy and achieve a better state. If he would had left again to give Jacob the chance he was asking for or not try hard enough to keep Bella, I swear I wouldn’t root for the couple to make it. Neither I would feel sorry if he ended up like Marcus. He had that one coming.

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