Let’s Get Twilosophical

19 10 2009

The Twilight series is of course a fun read with drool-worthy heros and nerve-wracking action, but, as with most vampire novels, it asks some deeper questions about life as well. I thought we could wrap a weekend with some of the deeper side of our beloved novels. My friends and I have debated these things extensively, so I’ll share my side of the conversation below.

A question that’s come to my mind recently is whether fate or free will rules the Twilight universe. I personally subscribe to the belief that fate and free will cannot coexist because if things are fated to happen no matter what, our choices ultimately have no impact on the final outcome. So riddle me this: Alice’s constantly shifting visions imply that the characters’ choices impact the future – free will. However, Bella and Edward are supposed to be fated for each other, especially if you’ve read the AMAZING Midnight Sun (Please finish it, Steph! Please *puppy dog eyes* – and if you *haven’t* read MS I HIGHLY reccommend it. It’s AMAZING, as I’ve already said) because Edward realizes that Bella was made in just such a way as to make it impossible for him to ignore her (her scent, her silent mind, etc) and Bella was “born to be a vampire” (see part 3 of Breaking Dawn, around the part where she’s gleefully smashing the giant rock to smithereens) which suggests that fate is controlling things.

I personally think that free will rules the real world and the Twilight world. Choice is a HUGE factor in the series – Edward’s (bad) choice to leave in an attempt to save Bella from what he deems a terrible fate, Bella’s choice to sacrifice Jacob and the life she could have had as a human to become a vampire and be with Edward for eternity, her choice to fight for Renesmee (and her choice to *name* her Renesmee ;-)). None of these were easy choices, but they were made nonetheless. The fact that they found them worth fighting for is what gave them the impression that it was all fated. Bella was great as a vampire because she’d been mentally preparing for it almost since she met Edward. His inability to hear her mind stemmed from nothing more han the latent power that some humans possess and her blood smelled sweet to everyone, not just Edward. But that’s just me. What do you guys think?

Another interesting aspect of the Twi world is the concept of soulmates and whether Edward and Bella’s relationship is immature (I’ve heard this from a lot of people who clearly do not understand Twilight).

(This was in response to a friend’s comment – I’m sure you can infer what they said): You find Edward’s suicide attempt immature when he thought the sole reason for his existence was dead and he was in immense pain, but Jake threatening to kill himself to get Bella to KISS him and pick him over his competition was fine? I can see how it may seem like immature and irrational love on the surface, but you have to take into account his century of immortal experience. Also, since vampires are essentially frozen in time, for them to experience a real change, it has to be a MAJOR thing. Falling in love isn’t the same for them as it is for a human. I think they have their own equivalent of imprinting, except it’s not caused by the need to create stronger wolves. Which I think lends it more credibility as “the real thing”. Do you think Carlisle and Esme’s love is immature? They’ve never been put through the things Edward and Bella go though, so we don’t really know how they would react, but I’d be willing to bet it’d be very similar. The extra from Rosalie’s point of view makes me think she’d try the same thing if something happened to Emmett. Alice was willing to risk her brother and Bella (who she loved like a sister even before she met her, as evinced in MS) to save Jasper in New Moon. Age doesn’t mean much when you’re immortal, so I think it’s hard to apply our concept of “maturity” to the situation.

See, I kinda feel like threatening to kill yourself, even if you’re not actually gonna do it, is still exceptionally immature. It’s like a little kid holding their breath til they get their way.

I agree that centuries of experience would lead to greater maturity. That was part of my point. I get the sense that you think Edward/Bella’s relationship is immature because of all the typical “teenage” stuff, but Bella is an “old soul” and Edward is literally an old soul – 108 to be exact lol.

It’s not love at first sight. That’s a wolfy thing. Edward didn’t even realize he was falling in love with Bella for a long time. In fact, he didn’t realize it. He had it pointed out to him. (Hilariously, I might add). And just because it’s first love doesn’t mean it’s not true love. For vampires, first love is all there is because they’re frozen, constant creatures. Change is enduring and there’s no going back. First love in the human sense is sort of looked down upon because it fades over time, but in it’s initial stages it is a powerful, powerful thing. And for vampires, that powerful feeling lasts conceivably for all time. Isn’t our idealistic definition of “true love” love that lasts forever? Again, it’s an ideal. That’s why it’s fantasy. Well, that and the vampires and werewolves. And Bella and Edward’s relationship did take work (more than most, all things considered) and did evolve with time, which is what I’m gathering your definition of true love to be (correct me if I’m wrong). Edward has this internal war going on from the very beginning because he knows there’s only two possible ends: He’ll kill her himself or she’ll have to be a vampire one day. Neither one was a viable option to him, so he feels like he has to do SOMETHING. So, in the beginning, they have this constant threat of him leaving to save her from all the dark things he thinks he’s going to bring into her life, which makes them both uncertain in their relationship. Then, he manages to leave and all kinds of things result from that decision. To quote Steph:

“I didn’t realize until I was working on the resolution how much my characters had gained from this experience. Vital stuff. Without this painful separation, Bella might never have realized that Edward really is hers to keep. No matter how perfect she thinks he is, or how imperfect she thinks she is, he belongs to her. Words can’t quite capture the life-changing nature of this knowledge for Bella.  Equally as cataclysmic—Edward finally realizes the intensity of Bella’s feelings for him, something he has always underestimated. Here’s the thing about Edward: he knows human nature pretty well. He’s seen a hundred thousand human relationships from the inside, and none of them have come close to touching the depth and everlasting devotion of Carlisle’s and Esme’s love, or Alice’s and Jasper’s, or even Rosalie’s and Emmett’s. Can you blame him for thinking himself—after one hundred years of immortal experience—capable of a more profound love than his eighteen-year-old human girlfriend? Edward is, understandably, a bit of a know-it-all. He learns a lot through this experience, the most important being that Bella’s feelings for him are an exception to the human rule. Something else he learns (not quite as important, but still good to know) is that, despite all his knowledge, he is fully able to make hideous mistakes in judgment.”

And then, there’s Jacob. Possibly the biggest challenge their relationship faced. She had a choice. She loved someone else. It wasn’t like she fell in love with Edward and rode off into the sunset without ever looking at another man. Their relationship had trials and tribulations, just like any human one does. To quote Steph again, “In both Twilight and New Moon, Bella commits to becoming a vampire without once really examining what price she’ll pay. In Eclipse, Bella fully comprehends that price. And then she chooses to pay it.”

Why? Because to her Edward is worth it.

Another discussion topic was about the finer points of imprinting:

How did Bella’s romantic feelings for Jake just vanish? It makes sense that he got over her because of the imprinting thing, but she really did love him in more than just a brotherly way and at the end of Eclipse she says that the tear he left in her heart would always be a part of her. Now, I get that her joy at seeing him during her pregnancy came from Nessie and Jake being destined for each other, but was her love for him from the very beginning a result of the sadistic side of imprinting – she couldn’t let him go because she was destined to mother his “something that trumps a soulmate”? That doesn’t seem entirely plausible to me because Bella is just an ordinary human…it makes sense that Jake couldn’t leave her because his wolfy magic tied him to her because of the possibility of Nessie…but there was no magic acting on Bella to make it impossible for her to leave him. Furthermore, it’s a twisted way for imprinting to work…because if her feelings for Jake were because of Nessie, but they had won out in the end and she had chose Jake, there would never have been a Nessie. It’s an inherent contradiction. It’s making my brain hurt a little.

Maybe her “getting over him” was overshadowed by the Nessie connection. I guess my point is less about Bella not loving Jake like that anymore and more about the finer points of imprinting (even though it does seem odd to me that it all works out so tidily without an explantion as to how). I just find all the varied and intertwined ramifications of imprinting interesting. I wish Steph would explain it in more detail so that we aren’t left to our own conjectures, cause it’s definitely a central issue to the ultimate development of the plot. It’s like JK Rowling not telling us how horcruxes are made. How are we supposed to guess the ramifications of that information without it?

I still think her feelings for Jake were more than just familial. That kiss was way more than brotherly love. She saw the whole future she was giving up – her little black haired children. And yes it would be sick if she had a thing for her daughter’s guy. That’s why it bugs me. It’s like her feelings magically disappeared just so that element wouldn’t be a problem. It’s like when Medea rides off on a dragon-pulled chariot at the end of the play…it’s this fabricated device that doesn’t really fit in with every other aspect of the story and it’s simply there to tie things up in a pretty little bow.

I think in a fantasy book you have to just accept some things. Like imprinting is stronger than love-at-first-sight. It’s a mystical, wolfy connection that ties in with the magic in their genes. Or, if you go with Billy’s theory that it’s to create stronger wolves, it kinda removes the whole romantic aspect of it altogether. Then it’s just part of the evolutionary cycle – survival of the fittest.
 

And a final discussion topic brought up in the books themselves. Do vampires have souls?

I personally think they do. While the Cullens’ ethical choices could be purely intellectual, I don’t think it’s possible for them to feel emotions like love (both familial and romantic) without a soul. If it were by virtue of their intellectual capacities, they wouldn’t be willing to die for one another because their instinct is self-preservation above all else. I don’t think their natural bloodlust means they are automatically damned, either. They retain their essential humanity – and isn’t part of the essence of humanity the concept of a soul? Just like with human nature, it’s about what they do with the cards they’re dealt. Having a soul doesn’t mean you don’t have the capacity for both good and evil. The Cullens do better than a lot of humans (take Lonnie, for example). To quote Dumbledore, “It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”
Plus, it would totally suck of Steph to make us love these creatures and then damn them with no hope of…redemption, or whatever you wanna call it. I’m with Carlisle – how can there not be more for one such as Edward?

I was thinking about the Nessie thing too. Motherly love without a soul seems like a contradiction, but maybe that’s just the product of societal conditioning. But I don’t think it is.

 

Well, those are some of the points of Twilight that we found interesting and debatable. What do you guys think? Share in the comments! Also, don’t forget to follow us on Twitter or friend us on Facebook (Isawforever Inmynever)!

Yours Twilosophically,

MyNever

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