Was Edward an idiot to leave Bella in NM?

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Was Edward an idiot to leave Bella in NM?

Post by December »

Was Edward an idiot to leave Bella in NM? Or was it justified? Was this noble of him, or arrogant, or selfish, or stupid, or just tragically mistaken? If you think it was wrong of him (rather than just a terrible mistake), can you forgive him?

We're going to try a slightly different format this week. To get the discussion rolling, we're putting up a pair of starting posts, one Pro and one Con, to lay out some beginning arguments on either side of the debate. Have a look and see what you think!


Again, please remember that this is an issue that many people feel VERY strongly about. So take care to present your views courteously. No one is right or wrong about this -- just tell us how it seems to you.

Be tolerant. Be patient. Remember...these characters mean a lot to people here. That doesn't mean you can't criticize them, but...do it nicely. Like you would if you were talking to someone about their friends. Like you'd want people to talk about your friends. And keep in mind that tone is hard to convey in writing. Go the extra mile to be friendly to your fellow posters!

You've all been doing a great job of respecting each others' opinions: let's see if everyone can keep it up with a topic like this one where passions have run high in the past!
If we can't, we'll have to abandon the topic.
Last edited by December on Sun Jun 29, 2008 6:06 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Post by ouisa »

This is the question that haunts this fandom; dividing it (often bitterly). Lines have been drawn and sadly too often they are drawn in such permanent ways that we are then unable to see each other's viewpoints and learn from each other. Most people who do know me know I'm a "Jake girl" and that my frustration with Edward stems all from this one event, this one question, and I was this way for quite a while.

Then I was asked to beta a fanfiction written by Geographee and I finally started to see some of Edward's (potential) reasoning for leaving Bella. Now, the more December and I talk, the more I look at Edward through her eyes, the more I see a different perspective. I'm glad for this forum and for the chance to look at Edward's choices from so many points of view. I feel like I could now argue the opposite side from the one I was originally on, or at least share some of my newer insights. This is the fun of the debate threads. But December has asked me to write something for the Edward is stupid point of view today. So here is my view:

Yeah'.he's a complete blockhead.

I've gone through so many emotions over Edward leaving and more importantly lying.

There are times when I was so angry at him. How could he destroy the woman he loved like that? If Bella is that precious, that life alteringly important to him, if it really is that important to keep her from being hurt that he has to take all his over the top crazy precautions with her life, how can he then carelessly hurt her?

Then there are times that I am sad, sad for Bella, sad for my memories of being discarded and abandoned by the person I loved

And then there are times when it all comes back to my first observation.

He's a complete blockhead. And I almost have to laugh at him. All that suffering because of such well'.stupidity.

Edward has two tragic flaws. He's at the same time blindly arrogant and cripplingly self-loathing. It's this combination that leads to his down fall in New Moon.

Edward reads minds and it's a spectacular gift, but it has blinded him to so much. Decades upon decades of mundane, petty and base thoughts have lead him to form a disdainful attitude towards humanity and human relationships.

So when Bella comes along and he falls in love with her and her blank mind he's at such a disadvantage. He's blinded to so much of her heart and the potentials of their relationship. He's so used to the thoughts of others, he doesn't stop to LOOK at Bella. To look at her heart and know her love to be the exceptional gift that it is. Instead he expects her to react as so many before her have. And so he casually discards her and come so close to losing this precious gift. Yep. Stupid.

He's further crippled by this belief that he is a soulless monster. That he will not be able to resist her blood and will end up killing her. Or worse, that if he doesn't kill her he will have to give in and change her. And then he will be damning her. Edward's belief that he is unworthy of love, of Bella's purity is the exact thing that causes him to (almost) lose it. He cannot see her as the gift he's been blessed with, as evidence that his life of sacrifice and denial has been rewarded by the powers that be, instead he rejects that blessing and instead brings about more pain than he ever dreamed. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy making yourself unworthy of the one gift you thought you were too unworthy to have.

And well, it's stupid.
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Post by December »

Gosh, thank you Ouisa. I should perhaps preface this with an autobiographical remark of my own -- a confession really -- which is that I've never gone back and reread the scene where Edward leaves Bella. I just can't bring myself to do it. Merely reading the scenes leading up to it makes my stomach turn. So maybe I'm cheating, or kidding myself, when I insist that I understand why Edward chose to leave. Maybe if I actually made myself revisit that unbearable scene, I would be with those readers who think Edward could never have brought himself to be so cruel to the girl he loves if there weren't something deeply wrong with him.

Fortunately, I haven't -- since my brief for today is to defend his actions. And I've always felt I understood why Edward felt driven to leave Bella when he did.

Put yourself in his place, a century-old vampire who meets this innocent 17-year-old girl: you are a murderer many times over, tormented moreover by the constant, monstrous craving to kill her, except....you fall in love with her: deeply, helplessly. All you can think about is wanting to protect her, make the world safe for her... You know that the only way to do it is to keep out of her life. But you just. cant. do it. You give in to your feelings -- allow her to fall more deeply in love with you -- recklessly let the chips fall where they may....

And from the moment you take your decision, you know that the odds are that you are dooming her to the life of a vampire (if you don't end up killing her outright). The life you loathe and would do anything to spare her. You know this because Alice has seen it. Here is this exquisite, pure, selfless girl, and you worship the ground she walks on, and with every danger that befalls her it's clearer that you will be the death of her -- or end by dragging her down into the darkness of your own cursed existence. And however it comes about, it will be All Your Fault. All you can do is hope, and struggle to fend off the all but inevitable. This to me is so painfully tangible.

Add to this the fact that, as Stephenie has pointed out, 99.99% of teenage girls do not fall in love in the irrevocable, life-shattering way that Bella falls for Edward. Leaving them would leave scars, but they will heal, and go on to live happy, loving, fulfilled human lives. Edward really believes this is true for Bella. It may be stupid of him to misread the depth of her love for him, but to my mind it's a terribly understandable mistake.

Now, is it arrogant of him to choose that destiny for Bella (as he supposes) rather than let her choose for herself? I think the way you answer that really turns on the issue of how dark a fate you think becoming an vampire really is. Whether you respect Edward's own take on this question, or whether you see him as morbidly and unnecessarily self-loathing (and/or deluded in his religious convictions). It also turns on whether you think Bella was really mature enough, at the time of NM, to understand what becoming a vampire would mean.

My own take on both these issues makes it easy for me to exhonerate Edward of unjustifiable high handedness. To say: you can't judge Edward's actions without considering the immensity of the responsibility he bears as a 107 year old vampire, trying to stop an innocent 17 year old from rushing headlong to a ruin that she hasn't -- isn't yet capable of -- fully comprehending. I have no trouble understanding why Edward was so desperate to free Bella from the snare of loving him. He was just tragically, tragically wrong in thinking it was still possible.

Edward's decision to give Bella up may be idiotic -- at least in hindsight -- but it's a noble idiocy. He unhesitatingly chooses what he believes best for her, without thought for how horribly he will suffer himself. And he does suffer -- as always, Stephenie gives us the barest glimpse of what is going on from Edward's side of the story, but it's enough to know that the agony we are witness to on Bella's part is mirrored by Edward's own pain during the months they are apart. And still he chooses it, because he would do anything to see her happy. To me, that means a great deal....
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Post by Unchallenged »

he should not have left bella alone in the woods that day

like anyone could forget edward!

it broke my heart i was still crying when bella was supposedly happy

but like SM said their being apart showed how much they belong and need each other and they cannot live without eachother.
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Post by Edward's Vampheart »

In my opinion Edward definetely wasn't an idiot to leave Bella in New Moon.

He thought he was doing what was best for Bella, don't we all do things that we think are in anothers best interest?

While Edward's desicion wasn't completely sensible he was trying to give Bella the chance to have a human life and let her see what life would be like for her as a normal 18 year old.

Proof Edward really was just doing what he thought was best for Bella was the fact that he sacrificed his own self happiness. I don't know how many people have read the outtakes/extras on SM's site but there is one from New Moon where Rosalie calls Edward. In the lead up to the phone call you get an insight into just how miserable Edward is but he won't go back because he thinks Bella is better off without him.
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Post by Ostentatious6277 »

Honestly, I think Edward was being selfish.

I think he did has reasons to leave bella. let's just hope he doesnt do it againl.
Last edited by Ostentatious6277 on Sun Jun 29, 2008 12:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Still Betting on Alice »

First let me start by saying that the mere memory of reading Edward's leaving brings such an unfathomable pain in my heart'this subject is very near and dear to me. I know this is long, I am sorry, but please bear with me...

Okay'
One of the first things that popped into my mind was in Twilight when Bella and Esme were talking before the baseball game. (I have the paperback, so page 369 in that). Bella asks Esme if she minds that Bella is all wrong for Edward. This makes me think of the flip side of that'as much as Bella is what Edward wants, he knows he is all wrong for her. He has to live with thinking this'24 hours a day. It's in the forefront of his mind all the time. He knows he loves her more than anything that has ever touched his world, but he also thinks he is the very poison that can ruin her. He is from a time were chivalry and responsibility to the woman you love is paramount. All other things, including your own wants and desires, are tossed aside. In his mind how can he not do everything in his power to protect Bella, even if he thinks it is form himself that she needs protecting.

Also, let's not forget that there are other dangers his presence in Bella's life brings. For instance Vampires that are not like the Cullens, he has the memory fresh in his mind of James'and then the simple accident at Bella's birthday'he has a lot of reasons why he is dangerous to Bella.

Now, on to what I think is a tragic flaw of Edward's, which leads to this decision of his. (I love Edward, I want him to be perfect, but I have to realistically understand that he dose and can make mistakes'mistakes though, not bone headed decisions) Edward is so sure he knows the human mind. He has had 100+ years experience so he feels he has a grip on what drives it. He is' too sure of this. Before he leaves in NM all he can see is that Bella will be better off without him, because that is what HE BELIVES. It is the only reality that he will allow himself know. What he can not see is the love Bella has from him. It is not the average teenager's affections'but he lives in a world of modern teenagers, and their thoughts, day in and day out at school'I think he relies way to heavily on those thoughts since he can not know Bella's.

Also, at this point in the story Edward can feel the strange power of his love for Bella, although I don't think he can truly understand it...yet. Later he learns, as Bella, that it is a love that trumps a soul mate in one world, while it is a love that holds its own in a fantastic world. That is a potent love. So imagine feeling it at this point, but not totally understanding it'what is the right thing to do? Does this feeling justify the possible outcome? Or does it make the possible outcome that much worse?

Finally, at this point Edward will not accept the idea of Bella turning. Alice has told him she has seen it, Bella tells him in the hospital that it is what she wants, and then sticks by this. I think he feels that leaving may be the only way to make sure this doesn't happen. If he is not there, and the rest of the Cullens are not here, he thinks she truly can move on. So he sees there is no turning into a vampire, no danger, just a normal human life. Huge mistake thinking that, but again, he does not know Bella's mind and does not understand the power of their love at this point. Also, he doesn't realize Victoria's out there plotting revenge'that they are already so deep into this that he can not erase it all by leaving'

I think that Edward's decision to leave is the most torturous thing he has gone through, it is not a snap or idiotic decision. He was doing what he thought was the right and the just thing to do at the time. Hind sight is always 20/20'but when you are deep in the moment you do the best you think you can.
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Post by critical »

Edward himself said when he wasn't tracking Victoria he '..curled up and let the misery take me [him]..'

The act was selfless, as it was him giving up the 'core of his existence' for her own good. I fail to see how it could have been selfish in that way. His arrogance and stubbornness, although, play a big part in him making that decision. Without allowing Bella and himself to work it out, he ends up making a pretentious decision.

In the end, as selfless as he was, he had outrageously selfish emotions behind the push he made for poddibly the worst decision he has made in his life. Its no consolation, but the fact that Jacob's Bella is in his plain view in Eclipse made me get over the injustice of it all.

*Re if I've read the chapter again .. yes, I have, but it had a much less profound impact on the way I saw it after he explained at the end. Hindsight is 20/20 though, so I'd be lying if I said I didn't wish the most horrible things upon Edward for most of NM.
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Post by DecemberRain »

I love all these ideas.

To put my ideas simply (and i know this has been said beofre and probably more eloquently too), i think Edward was only doing what he thought was right for Bella. It was hurting him as much as it was hurting her, but he hoped the pain would go away for her, even though there was no hope if the pain ever leaving him.

Of course i was horribly angry at Edward for leaving and deserting Bella, and causing her unexplainable pain and suffering, but I'm just defending his actions. He thought it was best for her. He left out of love for her.

I think it was wrong of him to leave of course, and it was pretty idiotic of him to think Bella could ever fall out of love with him, but he thought his actions would bring about a different result.
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Post by Raychello »

ouisa wrote:This is the question that haunts this fandom; dividing it (often bitterly). Lines have been drawn and sadly too often they are drawn in such permanent ways that we are then unable to see each other's viewpoints and learn from each other. Most people who do know me know I'm a "Jake girl" and that my frustration with Edward stems all from this one event, this one question, and I was this way for quite a while.

Then I was asked to beta a fanfiction written by Geographee and I finally started to see some of Edward's (potential) reasoning for leaving Bella. Now, the more December and I talk, the more I look at Edward through her eyes, the more I see a different perspective. I'm glad for this forum and for the chance to look at Edward's choices from so many points of view. I feel like I could now argue the opposite side from the one I was originally on, or at least share some of my newer insights. This is the fun of the debate threads. But December has asked me to write something for the Edward is stupid point of view today. So here is my view:

Yeah'.he's a complete blockhead.

I've gone through so many emotions over Edward leaving and more importantly lying.

There are times when I was so angry at him. How could he destroy the woman he loved like that? If Bella is that precious, that life alteringly important to him, if it really is that important to keep her from being hurt that he has to take all his over the top crazy precautions with her life, how can he then carelessly hurt her?

Then there are times that I am sad, sad for Bella, sad for my memories of being discarded and abandoned by the person I loved

And then there are times when it all comes back to my first observation.

He's a complete blockhead. And I almost have to laugh at him. All that suffering because of such well'.stupidity.

Edward has two tragic flaws. He's at the same time blindly arrogant and cripplingly self-loathing. It's this combination that leads to his down fall in New Moon.

Edward reads minds and it's a spectacular gift, but it has blinded him to so much. Decades upon decades of mundane, petty and base thoughts have lead him to form a disdainful attitude towards humanity and human relationships.

So when Bella comes along and he falls in love with her and her blank mind he's at such a disadvantage. He's blinded to so much of her heart and the potentials of their relationship. He's so used to the thoughts of others, he doesn't stop to LOOK at Bella. To look at her heart and know her love to be the exceptional gift that it is. Instead he expects her to react as so many before her have. And so he casually discards her and come so close to losing this precious gift. Yep. Stupid.

He's further crippled by this belief that he is a soulless monster. That he will not be able to resist her blood and will end up killing her. Or worse, that if he doesn't kill her he will have to give in and change her. And then he will be damning her. Edward's belief that he is unworthy of love, of Bella's purity is the exact thing that causes him to (almost) lose it. He cannot see her as the gift he's been blessed with, as evidence that his life of sacrifice and denial has been rewarded by the powers that be, instead he rejects that blessing and instead brings about more pain than he ever dreamed. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy making yourself unworthy of the one gift you thought you were too unworthy to have.

And well, it's stupid.
I completely agree. Edward, because he is able to read thoughts, can see into the minds of other people, and see their petty, high school relationships. What those people call 'love' is in no way close to the way Edward feels about Bella. So, when Bella tells Edward that she loves him, he automatically assumes that, since most other high school relationships are petty, that Bella can't possibly be feeling the same way that he, a far more experienced being, is feeling. He assumes that his feelings are much stronger than hers, and therefore, if he chooses to leave 'for her own good', that she can't possibly be hurt as much as he was.

In the end, she ends up hurting as much, if not more than he does. She believes that he no longer loves her, and that she can't possibly be worth anything anymore. She has lost her purpose in life. So, yes, I believe that Edward's decision was stupid, but not unfounded. Ironically, the one thing that allows him to see more than the average person is the thing that makes him blind to Bella's love for him. So, yes, it was a stupid decision, but how could he possibly make the smart decision, when he can't see the information that he needs to make that decision?
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