With the release of Eclipse, the same discussions have cropped up about the nature of Bella's relationships with both Edward and Jacob. On the face of it, these relationships are romantic, intense, all-consuming. Teenagers everywhere have sighed over the thought of having a man who loves you so much that he watches over you as you sleep. Meyer certainly captured the dizzy passion of first love.
For some anyway. Other people screamed about the fact that Bella was being stalked, threatened, controlled by her vampire lover. Edward kidnaps her to prevent her from seeing her friend; he decides how her future should pan out; he comes into her room when she is defenceless and asleep. And Jacob! This relationship is held up by some as being the normal one of the two - Jacob is warm and brings out the best in Bella. But, to others, he forces himself on her and refuses to take no for an answer.
What surprises me, though, is how shocked people seem to be by this. All through literature and TV/film we have seen examples of so-called romantic relationships that, when you analyse them more carefully, are actually quite frightening!
How about going all the way back to Shakespeare? Romeo and Juliet, those star-crossed lovers. The love they have for each other is such that they simply can't live without the other - altogether now.... "Awww!" And yet, through stupidity, these two bright youngsters tragically commit suicide for love. Not so romantic really. More romantic would have been to see them enjoy a long and happy marriage, with lots of children. Maybe I'm just a bit too old and cynical to see suicide as a valid declaration of love?
What about Buffy? She is held up to be a *good* example to girls everywhere - strong, independent, passionate about everything she does. She is responsible, committed and kick ass. Yep, a great role model! Until you start examining her romantic history as well. Sure, I wept with everyone else at the ups and downs of her relationship with Angel and thought it was breathlessly romantic - yet we also have someone who follows her, comes into her bedroom uninvited, and tries to control her. Spike is worse - Buffy allows the guy who practically rapes her to get close to her; definitely not a good example to women everywhere!
Lastly, let's have a quick look at the fairytales: something like Beauty and the Beast. Again, on the face of it, a deeply romantic story. Beauty comes to love the Beast, despite his hideous visage, because she realises that his beauty is more than skin deep. Yet he imprisons her, keeps her locked away, and attempts to coerce her into marriage - not so romantic.
I guess that my point is that the vitriol towards Bella and Edward (and, to a lesser extent, Bella and Jacob) is misplaced, since romantic relationships throughout literature and film have often been more than a little dysfunctional.
What do you think? Do you find Bella and Edward breathlessly romantic? Do you have any other dysfunctional relationships you want to highlight?
(With credit to the discussion on Tor.com as a result of an Eclipse review)