SMDND-Exploring the Theme of "Choice"

General discussion about the Twilight Series Universe.
December
Banging out dents with Tyler
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Location: Ars Longa Vita Brevis

Post by December »

Oh do not tell the priest our plight for he would call it a sin,
But we have been out in the woods all night, a-conjuring summer in.
And we bring you news by word of mouth, good news for cattle and corn,
For now is the sun come up from the South with oak and ash and thorn.

Sing oak and ash and thorn, good sirs, all of a midsummer morn.
England shall bide till judgement tide by oak and ash and thorn.

(Rudyard Kipling)



Sorry. That was a bit off-topic. I'll be back in the morning with a proper reply to all the posts I hoped to get to today -- but I've been out all evening with my daughter, welcoming in the solstice amidst the oak, ash and thorn....

A HAPPY MIDSUMMER EVERYONE!
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December
Banging out dents with Tyler
Posts: 384
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2007 5:16 pm
Location: Ars Longa Vita Brevis

Post by December »

Ok. Sorry...it took me rather longer than a day, because I misplaced the post I meant to edit in! At this point I think I'll just start again here:
Ouisa wrote: I've had many conversations with December about what I would like for Bella in Breaking Dawn. I keep telling December I want the big scene with a powerful vampire Bella (TOBTRTA) finally powerful and equal to Edward. But maybe I don't need that after all. Perhaps I just need an empowered Bella, owning her choice to be with Edward. Finally choosing life (or really death) with Edward instead of just going with the flow bound by fate. Maybe taking a stand, making a choice and dying to be with Edward really will be enough empowerment for Bella and will actually make them equals. (ducks crowbars)

December....am I even approaching swoony?
Oh yes indeed.

Nunc Dimittis....

I have never quite thought of it in these terms. And I think you have absolutely hit upon the truth here....

I remember at one point in the fall Tennyo suggested that paradoxically one of Edward's controlling acts in Ec was forcing a real choice on Bella, by refusing to fight for her as ruthlessly as he might have. He could easily have dazzled her, taken her face in his hands and kissed her until she couldn't think straight, made it impossible for her to think of anyone but him. As she in fact begs him to do in the tent after TGDS, so she can't think about Jake. But instead he elects to efface himself and give her space to discover her feelings for Jake, to fall in love and choose life if she possibly can. Of course in the end, this discovery only allows her to suffer much more deeply over the choice she still ends up making -- was always going to make -- than she would have done if she'd never realized the full measure of what human life had to offer. And in the meadow, Edward sees this, and blames himself bitterly for the pain this self-knowledge has brought her. Exactly as Tennyo blamed him.

But I think you are right, and he is wrong. And we in fact see it at the end of Eclipse: just how empowering it is to Bella to have taken ownership of her choice in this way. There's such an interesting shift, in the meadow, in what theatre people call "the power in the scene". Suddenly it is Bella who is in command, both of herself and of their decisions. Who tells Edward "we are going to wait, and do this properly as we planned to." Who says "come on, it's time to go tell Charlie." And it is Edward who says wistfully, "well if you change your mind...". As I wrote before, the relief of truly knowing what she wants and what she has chosen, knowing beyond the last shadow of a doubt and taking ownership of that choice, brings its own kind of serenity, and you can almost visibly see her drawing strength from it.

I try to understand why so many people don't find more satisfaction in that ending. Perhaps it's because they don't really see what you were getting at. They listen to Bella's tone and hear resignation and defeat -- people have said as much to me; that it almost feels to them as if Bella were simply resigned to her fate. Whereas what you hear (and Truelove1 hears -- it was really she who helped me to recognize this), is the quiet resolution of someone who has recognized what is possible and what she wants, and embraced it, terrible as it will in some ways be. It gives her strength -- and it also gives Edward the freedom to let go, to stand back, to cede to her her autonomy in a way that would have been criminally negligent until now. To treat her as an equal.

He can do it because Bella has finally reached the point of making an informed decision, of looking deep into the abyss she refused for over a year even to acknowledge and still saying yes. And that changes everything. The power differential between them in these three books makes lots of people unhappy, but I think you have put your finger on the truth of the matter: the most important differential isn't to do with speed or strength or psychic powers, it's to do with age and bitter experience. Edward is a 107 year old vampire, who has killed hundreds of people and struggled desperately with the impulse to kill Bella as well. Bella is a teenager who simply hasn't a clue what she's asking for when she says "make me a vampire." As he tells her. ("You don't know what you're asking."). The burden this places on Edward to make decisions for both of them is inconceivably great: something to keep in mind in thinking about Edward's (undeniably) controlling behaviour. He can't ignore his responsibility to watch out for Bella's interests (at least as far as becoming a vampire is concerned) until he's sure she is mature enough to take responsibility for herself. And the girl who urges Alice to change her into a vampire on the airplane to Volterra so she can run faster to save Edward simply hasn't got there yet....

But now she's there, and I can imagine the entire dynamic between them being radically different. She's still his junior in experience and his inferior in speed and strength and even the ability to walk across the grass without tripping -- and she won't really know what it's like to be a vampire until it comes upon her -- but she knows what she's doing and why and you can hear it in the steady certainty with which she speaks to him. Totally empowering. And I suspect he is a little awed by it.

At least, I really hope this is how things are going to go (*grin*).
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mandustries
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Post by mandustries »

December wrote:Ok. Sorry...it took me rather longer than a day, because I misplaced the post I meant to edit in! At this point I think I'll just start again here:
Ouisa wrote: I've had many conversations with December about what I would like for Bella in Breaking Dawn. I keep telling December I want the big scene with a powerful vampire Bella (TOBTRTA) finally powerful and equal to Edward. But maybe I don't need that after all. Perhaps I just need an empowered Bella, owning her choice to be with Edward. Finally choosing life (or really death) with Edward instead of just going with the flow bound by fate. Maybe taking a stand, making a choice and dying to be with Edward really will be enough empowerment for Bella and will actually make them equals. (ducks crowbars)

December....am I even approaching swoony?
But I think you are right, and he is wrong. And we in fact see it at the end of Eclipse: just how empowering it is to Bella to have taken ownership of her choice in this way. There's such an interesting shift, in the meadow, in what theatre people call "the power in the scene". Suddenly it is Bella who is in command, both of herself and of their decisions. Who tells Edward "we are going to wait, and do this properly as we planned to." Who says "come on, it's time to go tell Charlie." And it is Edward who says wistfully, "well if you change your mind...". As I wrote before, the relief of truly knowing what she wants and what she has chosen, knowing beyond the last shadow of a doubt and taking ownership of that choice, brings its own kind of serenity, and you can almost visibly see her drawing strength from it.
I'm one of the majority (perhaps?) that upon first read saw Bella's decision at the end of Ec as a resignation. As a giving in to Edward's wishes, albeit a bit petulantly, so that she can ultimately get what she wants. A means to an end, if you will.

As I'm re-reading the first three books at a slower pace this go 'round, trying to retain more of the details, I haven't gotten to Ec yet. And not wanting to read ahead, I don't want to go re-read that part yet. But know that I will keep in mind what you and others saw December and try to view Bella's decision differently. I want to see her as a stronger individual, someone who is capable of making a life and death decision (for this is literally what she's making) without being "dazzled" into one way or another.

I think Edward feels this way too. Like you mentioned elsewhere in your last post, he didn't dazzle her into forgetting about her love for Jacob. He didn't cover over the hurt she was experiencing so that she would follow him. He trusted her enough to choose what was right for her, which is a ridiculously selfless act on Edward's part. (He grows a lot as a boyfriend in Ec, I think. Perhaps as a person as well?) Even though she is hurting, and Edward wants nothing more than for her to be blissfully happy at all times, he lets her muddle through her feelings until she's found the way she wants to go.

Bella sees that following down Jacob's path would lead to happy life, but one devoid of the one thing that makes her soul complete. She knows that that would be a half-life of sorts. She would love Jacob, as completely as she could, but a part of her heart would always be with Edward and the Cullens, wherever they were. (I have to believe that Jacob sees this too, in his heart of hearts. Maybe he'll come to terms with it in BD ...) She makes a tough decision, I think the tougher one of the two, to go with Edward, become his wife and part of the Cullen family. She, to go back to the life and death decision, chooses death (in a sense).

It's probably the hardest decision Bella will ever have to make. But she's gotten to the point where she can make it, because she fully understands her options. She's finally "grown" to the point where she can look at both sides of the coin and choose, for herself. Not for anyone else.

With that, I think I've just turned my own opinion away from Bella being resigned to marriage. :)
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