So much interesting discussion and I've got so far behind! Sorry about the long, rambling, omnibus response....
LisacullenAZ wrote:In my opinion, spitting on a gift would be more like... if I'd being handed Mr. Right or Mr. Perfect on a silver platter and I turned and said, "No thanks, I don't need him. I don't want to be given anything for nothing, I want to deserve what I get. Plus I don't want to be the lesser half of a relationship, so yeah. I'll pass." That's spitting on a gift. Instead, I believe Edward was more like, "I've been given a gift here that I really don't deserve and I'm actually ruining it by keeping it. I'd better give it up. It's the only decent thing I can do, so I will... even if it kills me."
Ouisa wrote:In this instance we weren't discussing the leaving. We were discussing the lying. To lie to Bella, to so cruelly dismiss and deny his feelings, that's the crime we were focusing on in this part of the discussion. There were ways to give up the gift of love without denying and defiling it.
LisaCullen wrote:I think he tried it, though, didn't he? He tried giving up the gift of love without denying it, but when he saw that she wasn't going to make it easy on him then he went for the big guns.
I suppose I'm partly agreeing with both of you. As Ouisa says, when Edward speaks the lies that take back from Bella everything he has ever given her and repudiate her love for him -- he is
doing more than relinquishing the gift of her love; he is trampling upon it. On the other hand, (as Lisa observes) he has no other way to give up that gift: to set Bella free and save her. If he doesn't repudiate her completely, if he keeps any vestige of this precious gift, he endangers it.
At least, that's how it seems to me. There are people on this thread who have a more optimistic view of Bella's nature and believe that Edward was just wrong here: that it would have been possible (or even easier) for her to let go if she knew that he loved her. That she would have mourned him but not been broken by the loss -- and had the comfort of knowing her own worth. And then moved on.
Myself, I'm with Edward -- I can't see Bella ever letting Edward leave her if she thought he still cared about her. She'd comb the earth for him. So it really did come down to the starkest of choices: to save what he loved by desecrating that love in the blackest way possible.
Would it be easier to accept his choice if he had actually been able to save her from himself?
At this point in the story (NM Ch. 1) Is he leaving to save her soul or her life? Is there more value to the soul than the life? Edward doesn't think he has a soul. So is it truly a sacrifice to sell his soul when he already thinks it's damned?
I missed this before, reading too quickly. Perhaps I've answered it in a way in my earlier posts, but I guess my thought is: that it is precisely because Edward doesn't believe he has an immortal soul, in the theological sense, that the sacrifice of denying his love for Bella is so colossal. She is his only
life and only
soul (to paraphrase Bronte); there is nothing greater he could give up for her. And as you observed, he is not just letting Bella
go, but trying to annul the love itself, make it as though it had never been. The darkest blasphemy against the only heaven he thinks he will ever know.
Visitor wrote:If someone were looking to harm my child because of something I did . . . if they had threatened and promised to do her harm simply because of her relationship to me . . . and if I had to face that threat and my child's connection to me with her imminent harm hanging in the balance . . . I would lie the best lie I could ever think to lie. I would deny her. I would turn away from her. I would say whatever needed to be said just so long as she was able to live. No matter what the hearing would do to her heart and no matter what the speaking would do to my soul. Because what are false words when the heart is true? And what is there to gain by true words when the utterance of them could mean the complete and total annihilation of ones heart? And maybe it is selfish. Because make no bones about it, harm to my child = my destruction.
Unanswerable, this. Exactly.
Still Betting On Alice wrote:I'd like to answer this from Bella's forgiveness and from our forgiveness...
I see Bella's forgiveness of Edward much the same as I see Edward's leaving. By that I mean completely and totally Bella....She always felt unworthy of Edward'to her he was just confirming what she thought she already knew. Much in the way Edward thought she would be better off without him and could heal. Both of these'such tragic mistakes.
Oh, there is so much to discuss here...and we are just about out of time. But please hold this thought: the question of forgiveness and whether it is an unequivocal virtue -- especially
when linked as it is in Bella's case to such issues of low self-worth -- is a really interesting and important one. We will return to it!
Sasha wrote:At first she lived for other people- Charlie, Jake, her mom- because that is who Bella is. But then she did slowly begin to move on. Which, IMO, does not mean her love was at all less than Edward's... it just means she is a stronger person. And same with her being able to fall in love with Jake.
In the end, Bella did prove to be every bit as malleable and flexible as any other human. Because given more time, she probably would have given up and moved on. Making her just as predictable as anyone else. She would have had a normal life and a normal family just like anyone else. And later on in life, if she harbored regrets or sadness about the way her life turned out, then she would simply learn to cope with it just like anyone else.
Well, this is the puzzle of Ec, isn't it? As discussed at length a few weeks ago on Choices and the Jake Effect thread.... After Ec, we have to believe that Bella could
have had a good life with Jake. That she's really giving up something precious in choosing Edward -- a viable future and not just the agonizing half-life she endured in NM. (Score one, maybe for the people who argue that if only Edward let Bella know that he still loved her, she would have been able to move on?). And yet...I don't think, Visitor, we are meant to agree with your reading here!
Or at least, we're not meant to think that the fact that she is human and can heal makes her love any less than Edward's. The opposite, in a way: she knows now that she could
heal, and move on, and keep everything she is resigning with her human life, and she still chooses not to
. How much greater could her love for Edward be? Not to be boring about this, again....(*grin*) But if the strength of love can be measured in the price you're willing to pay for it (I think I hear Tennyo shifting uncomfortably in her seat here....), Edward and Bella are pretty much equals.