Throughout “New Moon,” Edward’s absence leaves Bella feeling painfully empty, the hole in her chest so gaping that she literally has to hug herself to hold it together. As I read along, I realized I was in the same place. There was a gaping chasm around my chest, sometimes in my stomach. Pains of love, of feeling incomplete. I would try to make it better by placing one hand on my chest, and it would help some. With time, distance, and proper perspective, the hole mended itself. If only Bella would give herself the same space.
The “Twilight” books may be mind candy, but they obviously have a lot to say about the state of love and how we view it.
Bella literally dies a thousand deaths for her addiction to Edward. Her thrill-seeking and dangerous behavior numbs the pain of separation – while paradoxically proving that she can, indeed, survive without him.Ashanti M. Alvarez
But what does she learn? She still wants to die and surrender her soul to be with Edward for eternity. Does she realize that she can survive without him?
Although I’ve read only half the saga, I would say no. Bella’s self-image is so negative and distorted, it colors everything: She doesn’t believe she’s worthy of the love that the people in her life want to give her. Her friends, family — Edward’s rival, Jacob. She considers herself unworthy.
And that is why I think these books have caught on.
How many times have you been in love — romantic, intense love — and thought: “I am not deserving of this person’s affection. What are they doing with me?”
When people break up with someone they once had loving feelings for, their friends comfort them with, “He doesn’t deserve you.”
Both Bella and Edward distort their roles in each other’s lives. Edward is the prototypical emotionally unavailable man who thinks he has to distance himself and leave Bella in order to protect her. When he returns, he discovers that she does well enough finding trouble on her own.
Bella is who she is not because of Edward. She doesn’t even begin to know her own strength when she turns out to be immune to the powers of the most ancient and formidable vampires in the world.
She still refuses to believe, for a time at least, that Edward could have ever loved her, or that she couldn’t survive without him – an impossible state of mind to live with.
In the end, Bella ignores every lesson about herself and surrenders everything, her entire existence, to love.
That kind of surrender is like seeking a warmth and comfort similar to that in the womb.
But is it growth?
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