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Bella Swan

Kristen Stewart as Bella Swan

Isabella "Bella" Marie Swan (later Bella Marie Cullen) is a fictional character and the protagonist of the Twilight series, written by Stephenie Meyer. The Twilight series, which consists of the novels Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn, is primarily narrated from Bella's point of view.

In the novels, Bella, after moving to her father's house in Forks, Washington, meets the mysterious Cullen family and falls into a deep love with Edward Cullen. However, she soon discovers the truth behind their strange habits: the family is a coven of vampires. Desperate not to lose him, Bella vows to stay with Edward, even if it means turning into a vampire herself, despite Edward's wishes. In an effort to keep her safe, he leaves the town of Forks. Jacob Black, a werewolf from the Quileute tribe and the son of Bella's father's best friend, comforts her in that time and Bella falls in love with him as well.

Concept and creationEdit

The premise for both the character of Bella Swan and for the Twilight series originated in a dream Meyer had in which an "average girl" and a "fantastically beautiful, sparkly [...] vampire [...] were having an intense conversation in a meadow in the woods."[1] In this dream, the pair "were discussing the difficulties inherent in the facts that [...] they were falling in love with each other while [...] the vampire was particularly attracted to the scent of her blood, and was having a difficult time restraining himself from killing her."[1]

Meyer's original characters were unnamed; she took to calling the characters, who would later become Edward Cullen and Bella, 'he' and 'she' for the purpose of convenience as she "didn't want to lose the dream."[1] The name 'Isabella' was decided upon, Meyer explains, because "after spending so much time with [the character], I loved her like a daughter. [...] Inspired by that love, I gave her the name I was saving for my daughter, [...] Isabella." [1]

Bella's positive reception at her new school in Forks, particularly her popularity with male characters, was modelled after Meyer's real life move from high school to college. Comparing her transitional experience to Bella's, Meyer noted that after her own move to college her "stock went through the roof,"[2] commenting that "beauty is a lot more subjective than you might think."[2]

AppearancesEdit

TwilightEdit

Twilight is about a seventeen-year-old girl named Bella Swan, who moves from her mother's home in Phoenix, Arizona, to live with her father in her birthtown of Forks, Washington. There, she becomes intrigued by a student, Edward Cullen. Edward saves her life on multiple occasions, exhibiting super-human qualities. Bella learns from family friend Jacob Black that legends say the Cullen family are vampires.[3] Edward eventually admits to this truth, though his family hunts only animals, not humans, through moralistic choice.[4] Edward constantly warns Bella against being with him, perceiving her life to be at risk if she continues to associate with him because the scent of her blood is so much more powerful to him than that of any other human. Bella's love and confidence in Edward's restraint is such that his warnings go unheeded, and on an outing with the Cullens she becomes the target of a sadistic vampire, James. With his family's help, Edward is able to save Bella from James' predations, but Edward is still unwilling to change Bella into a vampire himself.[5]

New MoonEdit

New Moon begins with Bella being upset by her eighteenth birthday because it will make her "older" than the permanently seventeen-year-old Edward. During her birthday party Bella gets a paper cut, and Edward's brother Jasper instinctively hungers for Bella's blood, reminding Edward that their relationship puts her in danger. In a misguided attempt to protect Bella, he convinces her that he no longer loves her and moves away with his family, leaving her heartbroken and depressed.

To appease her worried father, Bella goes to a movie with her friend Jessica. While there, she carelessly approaches a group of men outside a bar and finds that she can hear Edward's voice when in dangerous situations. Desperate to hear his voice again, Bella seeks out danger; she asks Jacob Black to repair two motorcycles and teach her to ride one. Their friendship grows to be very strong, and Jacob admits that he has romantic feelings for Bella, though she does not reciprocate this. When a vampire named Laurent decides to attack her, Bella is saved by a pack of giant wolves. Later, Bella learns that Jacob and others from his tribe are werewolves, and that the vampire Victoria seeks to kill Bella to avenge James' death.

To hear Edward's voice, Bella attempts cliff-diving and nearly drowns, but she is saved by Jacob. Edward, after being mistakenly informed by Rosalie that Bella has committed suicide, travels to Volterra, Italy, to ask the Volturi to destroy him. Alice returns to Forks, and she and Bella pursue and successfully stop Edward. The trio speak to the Volturi and promise to turn Bella into a vampire eventually. The Volturi threaten to kill Bella if this promise is broken. Upon returning home, Edward tells Bella that he never stopped loving her and reveals that he only left Forks because he thought it would be for Bella's own good. He apologizes for this misguided action and asks for her forgiveness, which Bella quickly grants. Bella, intent on becoming a vampire, decides that Edward's family should vote on her fate. All but Rosalie and Edward vote affirmatively for her to be changed, but Edward agrees to change her himself if she will marry him first.[6]

Eclipse Edit

Eclipse continues the drama of Bella and Edward's relationship. Edward explains that he is reluctant to change Bella into a vampire because he believes that vampires are soulless creatures who have no place in heaven. Bella, whose opinion of marriage is jaded by the early divorce of her own parents, agrees to marry Edward on the condition that he will make love with her while she is still human and then turn her into a vampire. He initially refuses, saying that he could easily lose control in the heat of the moment. However, seeing how important it is to Bella, he agrees to try, but only after they are married.

The plot is driven by the machinations of the vampire Victoria, who first met Bella and the Cullens during the first book, Twilight. Victoria, seeking revenge for the death of her mate James, is hunting Bella and building an army of new vampires. To combat this threat, a grudging truce is made between the Cullens and the Native American werewolf pack led by Sam Uley and Jacob Black, who pits himself against Edward as a love interest for Bella. Initially Bella sees him only as a friend but, despite her engagement to Edward, she shares a kiss with Jacob and realizes that she is in love with him as well. Ultimately, Edward accepts Bella's love for Jacob and successfully destroys Victoria, and Bella acknowledges that Edward is the most important person in her life, agreeing to tell her father of their engagement.[7]

Breaking DawnEdit

Near the beginning of Breaking Dawn, Bella marries Edward in a ceremony orchestrated by Alice. They spend their honeymoon on Isle Esme, a fictional small island that was given to Esme as a gift from Carlisle. They consummate their marriage, but their lovemaking sparks a conflict between the newlywed couple: Edward is horrified that he has bruised his new wife, but Bella insists that she is fine and wants Edward to make love to her again. He vows not to do so again while she is still human, but he eventually gives in. Soon afterwards, Bella becomes very sick and realizes that she is pregnant.

Edward falls into a state of shock and rushes Bella home to see Carlisle, who, as a doctor, confirms that she is expecting Edward's child. Edward goes half-crazy with worry as the rapidly growing fetus begins to drain Bella of her health, and he tries to coerce her into having an abortion in order to save her own life. However, Bella feels a bond with her unborn child and insists on giving birth. Soon Edward comes to love the baby as well, after he hears its thoughts and learns that the baby loves Bella in return and doesn't mean to hurt her at all.

Bella nearly dies giving birth, but Edward successfully delivers their baby girl and then injects Bella's heart with his venom, thus healing her wounds by turning her into a vampire. During Bella's painful transformation, Jacob imprints —an involuntary process in which a werewolf finds his soul mate— on the baby, Renesmee.

After a vampire named Irina mistakes Renesmee for an immortal vampire child (a creation that is forbidden in the vampire world), the Volturi arrive to destroy the Cullens as punishment for the alleged transgression. Edward stands with Bella and their allies to convince the Volturi that Renesmee is not an immortal child and poses no threat to their existence. Once the Volturi leave, Edward and Bella are finally free to live their lives in peace with their daughter.[8]

CharacterizationEdit

Physical appearanceEdit

Bella is described in the novels as being pale-skinned with brown hair and eyes, and a heart shaped face. Beyond this, a detailed description of her appearance is never given in the series. Stephenie Meyer explains that she "left out a detailed description of Bella in the book so that the reader could more easily step into her shoes."[9] While Meyer stresses that "Bella's looks are open to interpretation",[9] she does supply her own personal interpretation on her website, describing Bella as:
"very fair-skinned, with long, straight, dark brown hair and chocolate brown eyes. Her face is heart-shaped—a wide forehead with a widow's peak, large, wide-spaced eyes, prominent cheekbones, and then a thin nose and a narrow jaw with a pointed chin. Her lips are a little out of proportion, a bit too full for her jaw line. Her eyebrows are darker than her hair and more straight than they are arched. She's five foot four inches tall, slender but not at all muscular, and weighs about 115 pounds. She has stubby fingernails because she has a nervous habit of biting them."[9]
Bella also has a small crescent-shaped scar on her hand where she was bitten by James, a tracker vampire, in Twilight. The scar is described as being pale, always a few degrees colder than the rest of her body, and as shining like a vampire's skin when in the sunlight. After Bella is changed into a vampire by Edward Cullen in Breaking Dawn, she becomes very beautiful, her already pale skin becoming even whiter, her hair becoming darker, and her lips becoming fuller as well. Her beauty is compared to that of Alice or Esme.

Personality traits and abilitiesEdit

Bella is described as an understanding, caring, serious, shy, and intelligent person, with a very dry sense of humor, and is noted for being very clumsy, and also stubborn. She has a very private mind, which is thought to be why Edward is unable to see her thoughts, and she is determined to become a vampire. She is also said to be terrible at lying, but occasionally demonstrates good acting ability. Bella becomes faint at the smell of blood, though this does not bother her once she becomes a vampire. Stephenie Meyer has stated that Bella's "tragic flaw" in Eclipse is her lack of self-knowledge.[10] After being turned into a vampire, she describes having a more clear view of the world. She is also very self-controlled, being able to run away from the scent of human blood on her first hunting trip.[8] Bella's private mind that rejected some vampires' special abilities while she was human evolved after she became a vampire; her ability formed into allowing her to shield those around her from the mental powers of some other vampires.[8] She is also described by Edward as "very graceful", even for a vampire, in comparison to her earlier clumsiness.

ReceptionEdit

Bella has received relatively negative reception from critics. Publishers Weekly states that, after her transformation into a vampire, "it's almost impossible to identify with her" in Breaking Dawn.[11] Lilah Lohr of the Chicago Tribune compares Bella's character to the story of the Quileute werewolves and describes it as "less satisfying."[12] During Twilight, Kirkus Reviews stated that "Bella's appeal is based on magic rather than character", but that her and Edward's "portrayal of dangerous lovers hits the spot".[13] In the review of New Moon, Kirkus Reviews said that Bella's personality was "flat and obsessive".[14] Laura Miller of salon.com said, in regards to Edward and Bella, "neither of them has much personality to speak of."[15] Entertainment Weekly's Jennifer Reese, in her review of Breaking Dawn noted, in regard to Bella, "You may wish she had loftier goals and a mind of her own, but these are fairy tales, and as a steadfast lover in the Disney princess mold, Bella has a certain saccharine appeal", and that during Bella's pregnancy "she is not only hard to identify with but positively horrifying, especially while guzzling human blood to nourish the infant."[16] Washington Post journalist Elizabeth Hand noted how Bella was often described as breakable and that "Edward's habit of constantly pulling her onto his lap or having her ride on his back further emphasize her childlike qualities", continuing to write that "the overall effect is a weird infantilization that has repellent overtones to an adult reader and hardly seems like an admirable model to foist upon our daughters (or sons)."[17] Gina Dalfonzo, in an article posted on the National Review website, calls Bella "self-deprecating" before her transformation into a vampire, and afterwards she is "insufferably vain".[18] Dalfonzo also states that Bella gets what she wants and discovers her worth "by giving up her identity and throwing away nearly everything in life that matters."[18] Natalie Pompilio of The Philadelphia Inquirer notes that Bella is selfish for "putting aside friendships and family for her Edward obsession."[19]

Film portrayalEdit

In the film adaptation of Twilight, Bella is portrayed by actress Kristen Stewart.[20] Meyer stated that she was "very excited" to see Stewart play the part and that she was "thrilled to have a Bella who has practice [in a vast array of film genres]", since Twilight has moments that fit into many genres.[21]

References Edit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "The Story Behind Twilight". Stepheniemeyer.com. http://www.stepheniemeyer.com/twilight.html. Retrieved 2008-09-02. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Bella's Move to Another High School". Stepheniemeyer.com. http://www.stepheniemeyer.com/twilight_faq.html#pretty. Retrieved 2008-08-06. 
  3. Meyer, Stephenie (2005). Twilight. Park Avenue, New York, United States of America: Little, Brown. p. 126. ISBN 978-0-316-01584-4. "Blood drinkers," he replied in a chilling voice. "Your people call them vampires." 
  4. Meyer, Stephenie (2005). Twilight. Park Avenue, New York, United States of America: Little, Brown. p. 337. ISBN 978-0-316-01584-4. "One night, a herd of deer passed his hiding place. He was so wild with thirst that he attacked without thought. His strength returned and he realized there was an alternative to being the vile monster he feared." 
  5. Meyer, Stephenie (2005). Twilight. Park Avenue, New York, United States of America: Little, Brown. p. 475. ISBN 978-0-316-01584-4. "Exactly", he [Edward] snapped. "And I won't end it [life] for you [Bella]." 
  6. Meyer, Stephenie. (2006) New Moon. 563pp.
  7. Meyer, Stephenie. (2007) Eclipse. 629pp.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Meyer, Stephenie. (2008) Breaking Dawn. 756pp.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 "What Does Bella Look Like?". Stepheniemeyer.com. http://www.stepheniemeyer.com/twilight_faq.html#bella. Retrieved 2008-09-02. 
  10. "Eclipse FAQ". Stepheniemeyer.com. http://www.stepheniemeyer.com/ecl_faq.html. Retrieved 2008-09-02. 
  11. "Publisher's Weekly for Breaking Dawn". Publisher's Weekly. http://www.amazon.com/Breaking-Dawn-Twilight-Saga-Book/dp/031606792X/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1218168323&sr=1-1. Retrieved 2008-08-08. 
  12. "Chicago Tribune Breaking Dawn review". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on 2008-08-06. http://web.archive.org/web/20080806112042/http://www.chicagotribune.com/features/lifestyle/chi-breaking-dawn-ovn-0804aug04,0,6855075.story. Retrieved 2008-08-08. 
  13. "Twilight at Kirkus Reviews". Kirkus Reviews. http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Twilight/Stephenie-Meyer/e/9780316015844/?itm=1. Retrieved 2008-08-08. 
  14. "New Moon at Kirkus Reviews". Kirkus Reviews. http://search.barnesandnoble.com/New-Moon/Stephenie-Meyer/e/9780316024969/?itm=1. Retrieved 2008-08-08. 
  15. "Twilight series at salon.com". Salon.com. http://www.salon.com/books/review/2008/07/30/Twilight/. Retrieved 2008-08-08. 
  16. "Entertainment Weekly Breaking Dawn review". Entertainment Weekly. http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20217628,00.html. Retrieved 2008-08-20. 
  17. "Washington Post Review". Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/08/07/AR2008080702528.html. Retrieved 2008-08-20. 
  18. 18.0 18.1 "National Review". National Review]]. http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=MTE4OTNmNzcxNDAzMTI3MTk5MWFkZTllNDQzZmZlNDA=&w=Mg==. Retrieved 2008-08-22. 
  19. "The Philadelphia Inquirer Review". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Archived from the original on 2013-04-27. https://archive.is/d0VOV. Retrieved 2008-08-26. 
  20. "Kristen Stewart chosen". MTV. http://www.mtv.com/movies/news/articles/1581186/20080207/story.jhtml. Retrieved 2008-08-20. 
  21. StephenieMeyer.com "Excitement Towards Stewart's role". Stephenie Meyer. http://www.stepheniemeyer.com/twilight_movie.html StephenieMeyer.com. Retrieved 2008-08-20. 

External linksEdit

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