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Bella’s Journey Towards Immortality

As November 18th, 2011 approaches and the premier of Twilight, Breaking Dawn, part 1, draws near, the excitement of Bella’s marriage to Edward Cullen is intensifying as she approaches her  destiny, fated in Stephanie Meyer’s four part novel, The Twilight Saga. As with the Harry Potter series, the fulfillment will not be in discovering what will happen, as the outcomes have already been revealed in the Novel; but how well the film adaptation visually portrays memorable events from the book. With that in mind, I have decided to re-post an essay I wrote after reading all four installments, seeing the first three films but before the release of the last two. I am not a fan of Stephanie Meyer’s style of writing, since I found The Twilight Saga written like a romance novel  encountered on the supermarket check out counter next to The National Enquirer. Never the less I did notice similarities to several ancient myths which made up for any of the story’s shortcomings.

Elements Of Mythology And Bella’s Journey

When Twilight, the four part novel written by Stephanie Meyer first appeared as a book in 2005, then in film in 2008, similarities between this story and other legends and myths were evoked. One tale that comes to mind is of the young maiden Persephone, kidnapped by Hades and brought to the underworld to be his consort and queen.
The legend has always had the appeal of an epic conflict that proliferates over her abduction. Demeter, her mother, goddess of fertility, is so overcome by emotion, she becomes vengeful, refusing to let anything live or grow. Begrudgingly, Hades agrees to let Persephone go but not before she tastes Pomegranate, the fruit that will forever bind her to the underworld forcing her to return for part of the year, delineating the four seasons.

Another tale describes a king with three beautiful daughters. The most attractive was the youngest, Psyche, who was so dazzling that people began to neglect the worship of Venus, goddess of love and beauty. Venus, a jealous god, asked her son Eros to make Psyche fall in love with an ugly creature. When he saw her beauty, Eros dropped the arrow meant for her and pricked himself instead, falling in love with her, marking the beginning of her long journey of trust, betrayal, sacrifice, redemption, transcendence and rebirth, told from her perspective.

In Twilight, Bella travels a similar path to Psyche as she describes in narrative her experience of herself as flawed, idolizing Edward but wondering why “a perfect god” would be so drawn to her. When he abandons her in New Moon, using a pretty flimsy excuse, she  articulates in vivid detail her feelings of isolation and the depths of profound depression. So severe is her pain that she flirts with danger and death to evoke Edwards presence even though she finds it difficult to utter his name, a common reaction when one is faced with unexpected rejection.  Finally, after finding redemption by offering to sacrifice her life to save Edward, traveling underground to face the gods of the undead, the Volturi,  she still experiences severe trials of strength and character as Bella and Edward marry and her transformation into an immortal begins when she discovers she is pregnant.

Bella’s unnaturally rapid pregnancy brings her close to death in the last novel, Breaking Dawn, and Edward is forced to change her after she gives birth to a beautiful, angelic and gifted child they name, Renesemee. A central theme of the last part of her journey, told in diary narrative, chronicles her rebirth as a vampire who is in total control of her blood lust, contrary to the behavior expected from “newbies,” suggesting that the Cullen’s, who carry the burden of being “damned,” are by their actions not. They have chosen out of free will not to feed on humans. This conscious choice and love made it possible for Edward, a vampire, to produce a child of beauty and warmth, and contrary to what is believed, redemption is possible even for vampires who exhibit compassion and prove by how they live their lives that they are not without souls.

Breaking Dawn will be filmed in two parts and is currently in production. The journey of Kristen Stewart, the actress who portrays Bella in all five films is how she will emote her narration in her performance in the last two films so that the audience can identify what it might feel like to be immortal. Rarely in literature is the opportunity presented to covey the evolution of both perspectives, before and after, from an autobiographical point of view.

Unrequited Love And The Twilight Saga