SMDND-Exploring the Theme of "Choice"

General discussion about the Twilight Series Universe.
December
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Post by December » Sun Nov 25, 2007 6:17 pm

Lindsay wrote:And I think he must realize that despite his own personal self hatred, he has given Bella new joy and meaning in her life, too. He just wishes she didn't have to sacrifice so much for him.
I've gone back and forth on this one but I think you are right. The joy that Bella feels with Edward is absolutely greater, more intense, more worth sacrificing things for than any other joy, or life, she could have. It's not just an addiction, an obsession, flying too close to the sun, something that overshadows what might otherwise have been. It is a genuine gift.

I think that has to be right, or Stephenie couldn't have written the story the way she has (being who she is). And yes, I think Edward is groping towards recognizing that, in part because it not only means accepting himself (which he obviously has trouble doing) but also respecting Bella's choices and autonomy and self-awareness. A respect she has gone a long way towards earning by the end of Eclipse (though by some pretty heedless and self-indulgent paths).

Though I have to also agree, he won't really be certain for a long time. A couple of centuries of bliss ought to make up his mind. And surely Stephenie won't let Bella become a vampire without having made it a little easier for her. That blood aversion, for example: that could help, couldn't it? And you know, I wouldn't put it past Angela to figure out about Edward before they get married. She's a very perceptive girl, in her quiet way. (In fact, wouldn't it be funny if she turned out to have guessed quite some time ago, but tactfully not mentioned it?). In which case, Bella can stay in touch with her (once she is a settled, matronly vegetarian vamp).

As for when Edward became serious enough about Bella to realize he couldn't live without her...that's a very good question. Because you're right, it's not quite the terms he was thinking in when he took her to the Meadow. I think my answer would be that it's the revelation he comes to in the Meadow, that he needs Bella even more desperately than he craves her blood, which cements for him the knowledge that he couldn't live without her. It's sort of the first incarnation of what happens to him at the end of NM, when the pain of living through believing her dead gives him an almost Pavlovian aversion to the thought of biting her -- like the cat who jumps on the hot stove, he now instinctively shies away from that pain. In the Meadow, the discovery that he cannot live without her goes hand in hand with the realization that is strong enough to be with her without killing her -- and this is not accident: it is the love which makes resisting her blood possible. I'm not putting this clearly, am I? Part One (TW): his love for Bella makes the possibility of not killing her a reality. Part Two (NM) his love for Bella makes the impossibility of killing her a reality. argh. I'm not actually sure about this, since in TW he talks about it being an impossibility too, but I'm giving up for now...
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Lizzie222
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Post by Lizzie222 » Sun Nov 25, 2007 6:28 pm

December wrote:I think my answer would be that it's the revelation he comes to in the Meadow, that he needs Bella even more desperately than he craves her blood, which cements for him the knowledge that he couldn't live without her.
I was thinking the same thing as I was reading your post, and then you said it =p
But really, I completely agree.

I think that this is another reason he doesn't regret his decision, because it's his 'revalation' where he realized the absolute need for Bella in his life, the emptiness he would have if she were gone.

Which is why I think his self control was really no problem to him, or even in question. He knew this fact, that he couldn't live without her, therefore subconciously would've never done anything to hurt her, hense why he pulls quickly away after Bella gets more into the kiss.

It's funny, I also had that idea, that Angela secretly knew, but is just so quite. Because you're right, she is very observant and doesn't seem stupid or oblivious.
It kind of would be cool if she knew, so maybe Bella didn't have to leave everyone behind unless she told them the truth...but then I guess Angela wouldn't be nearly as important to her as her mom or dad. And the whole blood lust thing, which I don't think would be a problem, but that's a whole different discussion.

But who knows =p

echo1
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Post by echo1 » Sun Nov 25, 2007 6:38 pm

December wrote:
I think that has to be right, or Stephenie couldn't have written the story the way she has (being who she is). And yes, I think Edward is groping towards recognizing that, in part because it not only means accepting himself (which he obviously has trouble doing) but also respecting Bella's choices and autonomy and self-awareness. A respect she has gone a long way towards earning by the end of Eclipse (though by some pretty heedless and self-indulgent paths).
You know, I had not thought about it like that before, that deep down this is also about accepting himself. It seems so simple now that I think about it, that really, his part of the story is about that ,about learning that he his not a monster and that he deserves love too. And I guess I have a problem with that as well...I don't think that Edward is a monster but I do think that vampires are, as a whole. That's me bringing previous vampire stories into this story and they do not belong here. It is possible for them to live their lives without killing my species so really, they, just like humans, have a choice to be good or bad. To be a monster or not be a monster. So, I think you're right, should Edward be able to accept the fact that he is not a monster, then maybe that would change his whole thoughts on Bella becoming a vampire as well. And thus, he would not go back and change things he would accept that his life and being is a valid one.

Wow, I feel a little bit like Edward needs to be visited by Stewart Smiley (isn't that the Al Franklin character I'm thinking of?)
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Post by LisaCullenAZ » Sun Nov 25, 2007 7:04 pm

Lizzie222 wrote:
I don't think he regrets the choice. It was cool with the whole sparkling thing, and it gave him the chance to kiss her and later get more intimate, and it only led him to become stronger and not as out of control, so I honestly think it was a good decision, and he should live with no regrets =p
I hope he doesn't. I like to think that's true.

I feel that he ought to see ... and I believe that he does... that this relationship with Bella is a gift. I'm not 100%sure, really, that he would do it again knowing now what he didn't then. But I can't imagine he has regret.

I don't have my book near me (and my foot issues stop me from getting up and grabbing it) but I know you'll all remember. In New Moon Edward says Bella "shot through the sky" and forever changed his life. And I know he is grateful for that.

Actually, I imagine that it this intense gratitude that partly causes his feelings of unworth. He feels unworthy of this gift. He feels undeserving. He sees it as so unbelievable... and he can't comprehend his good fortune.
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llovetwilight
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Post by llovetwilight » Sun Nov 25, 2007 7:15 pm

December wrote:If Edward were faced now (ie the end of Eclipse) with the decision he had to make in Twilight -- whether to gamble on his self-control and bring Bella to the Meadow -- would he make the same choice? Or at this point would he be completely unable to contemplate taking that kind of risk with her?
I think that he would choose to be with Bella and that it would be a little easier for him to make that choice knowing what he knows now. Not to say that he would feel any less selfish for wanting (and allowing himself) to be with Bella.

Edward's biggest hurdle in choosing to be with Bella is not so much his bloodlust for her (that is a BIG hurdle, but not the biggest imo) but his own ideas about vampires being souless monsters. The looming idea that someday he will "take her soul away" by turning her is revolting to him and at the same time, keeping her with him forever is so appealing.

Until Bella arrives, it is almost as though Edward thinks so poorly of himself that he can't even allow himself to hope that there could be more for vampires. Almost that he is such a monster that he isn't even deserving of hope. This is heartbreaking because if anyone is deserving of a shot at the afterlife, it must be someone (some vampire) like Edward, right?!

Bella recognizes that Edward isn't lying when he tells her that he is dangerous (before she finds out the whole truth), but she never considers, even a moment, that he is bad. Edward quickly finds so much respect for and faith in Bella. When he regards her so highly, how could he not start to believe it when she tells him that she has faith in him (and his soul) as well?

At the end of EC, Edward knows that he and Bella cannot be apart. He knows that it is much too risky for Bella to remain human in his world. The only valid option at this point is for them to be together and for her to become a vampire. And that option has only become valid (in his view) becuase of his faith in Bella and her belief that he truly does have a soul.
I'm really glad Edward didn't kill you. Everything's so much more fun with you around."- Emmett to Bella, EC

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December
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Post by December » Sun Nov 25, 2007 8:10 pm

Echo1 wrote:He has seen the future and (as far as we know at this point) there is no way out of her becoming a vampire.
This is very much to the point. The first draft I wrote of this question referred to his gambling not only on his self-control (that he wouldn't actually kill her) but also on "a vague, carpe diem hope that there could somehow be a happy ending to a relationship between vampire and human." You can see why it was a bit much to fit into the question(!) -- but for Edward looking backward this will be as important as the immediate risk he took with her life.

For most of the series, it's clear that while Bella is willfully refusing to think seriously about things -- her Scarlett O'Hara "I'll think about it in the morning" mode -- Edward is all too painfully aware of the consequences of their relationship. But at the beginning...he too is just recklessly gambling that it will all work out. Yes, he is cautious and even ambivalent when he talks with Bella in the lunchroom, or in Port Angeles: two steps forward and then retreating one step back again. Part of him is really hoping all the time that she will make the decision for him and not come to the Meadow, not even want to speak to him again. But another part is just hypnotized, unable to pull back: just recklessly decides to let the chips fall where they may and not worry about what will happen -- even though he knows that the worst that could happen is really really horrendous.

And he is certainly not looking beyond the immediate crisis -- can he manage to be close to the girl he loves without killing her? -- to recognize all the implications for her of being in love with an immortal vampire*. And you know what? I suspect that Stephenie wasn't either, to start with. The meadow scene -- and its originating dream -- are really driven by that remarkable knife-edge tension between love and bloodlust. As is the whole story leading up to it. It's only afterwards, when it's clear that he is not going to kill her, that the wider implications open out. Clever Stephenie, having resolved the initial drama of her story, asked herself "well now what?" and realized that their difficulties were only beginning. Which is presumably why the epilogues got out of hand, and she found she had a sequel on her hands.

And of course, before the end of TW Edward recognizes it too. But at the outset, when he makes that series of choices which sets in train everything that happens subsequently (to save Bella from the van; to start talking to her again; to take her to the Meadow), I don't think he is looking to the future at all, or recognizing that this can probably only end with Bella becoming a vampire.

Whereas it's quite possible that his family do. Of course we know that Alice has seen this -- though she is insouciant about everything. But the horror and disapproval that Bella observes on his siblings' faces when he invites her to sit with him in the cafeteria may not be just because they think he is going to slip up and bring grief and trouble on himself and the rest of his family. It may also be because they know that nothing good can come of a relationship between a vampire and a human. It would be interesting to know how far Rosalie in particular is looking down this road and seeing roadblocks, at a time when Edward isn't looking past the first bend.

Edward's confidence that he could go to the Meadow with Bella and bring her home safely wasn't in fact misplaced. In a sense, he did think that one through well enough. But he seems not to have seen the further implications at all at this point. Had he known then what he knows now -- that Alice was right, and this can (probably) only end with Bella suffering the same fate as the rest of his family -- would he have chosen differently?

Like Echo1, I'm not actually sure I've got an answer yet. It really all depends on how great a joy he believes his love has brought Bella: whether the love that he and Bella share is so transcendent that she could never be as happy without him, even when all the grief and pain of becoming a vampire is taken into account. Or whether it is merely the case that, having once loved him she can never be happy without him again.

If it's the first, then he will reluctantly (if that makes sense) have no regrets. if it's the second, then I think no matter how hard it is for him to imagine giving up the joy she has brought to him, he would go back if he could and undo it all for her. Just as he would (probably) have been able to leave if he'd come back in NM and found her happy. Because her happiness means more to him than his own, and he is all too aware of the pain and difficulty (and horror, really) of an eternity as a blood-starved ex-human.

When he says to Bella that changing her "will be the most selfish thing I ever do" it doesn't really tell us that he is prepared to let her become a vampire for his own benefit. He is only willing to do it because he can see that, at this point, there's no other way to secure her happiness. I think what he is getting at is that for Bella, it's a fine balance between what she is gaining and everything she will have to lose. Whereas for him it is all gain -- and he can't help feeling guiltily selfish about this.


*You can see this in his extraordinary elation at realizing that physically things are going to be ok: that his self-control is equal to the intense temptation of being alone with...embracing...kissing this indescribably desirable human girl.
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LisaCullenAZ
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Post by LisaCullenAZ » Sun Nov 25, 2007 8:48 pm

December wrote:
Like Echo1, I'm not actually sure I've got an answer yet. It really all depends on how great a joy he believes his love has brought Bella: whether the love that he and Bella share is so transcendent that she could never be as happy without him, even when all the grief and pain of becoming a vampire is taken into account. Or whether it is merely the case that, having once loved him she can never be happy without him again.

Oh, December that was lovely. I am loving what you've written. The whole thing.

I'm not sure I've got an answer yet, either. But I do think that he is grateful for what he's been given. He may be sad when he thinks about what it might mean for Bella, but he knows he can't deny: He is happier with Bella than he's ever been before. If he can see and be convinced once and for all that Bella feels the same... then I think he can stop beating himself up about it.
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December
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Post by December » Sun Nov 25, 2007 9:29 pm

LisaCullenAZ wrote:But I do think that he is grateful for what he's been given. He may be sad when he thinks about what it might mean for Bella, but he knows he can't deny: He is happier with Bella than he's ever been before. If he can see and be convinced once and for all that Bella feels the same... then I think he can stop beating himself up about it.
I think the difficulty for Edward is that it's not enough that Bella is happier than she has ever been. She has to be happier than she ever could be. More than that, she needs to still be happier than she ever could be when she is standing on the far side of the unimaginable cataclysm that she is steadily walking towards. How hard it must be for him to gauge how that equation will come out: the final tally, when all the pain and loss he can only imagine because it hasn't happened yet has been set against the love he can see....

So personally I can acquit him of beating himself up. I don't think he has to have doubts about Bella's love for him to still worry that it might have been better for her if it had all never happened.

Hmm. I guess the question is: if some genii offered Edward the choice to go back to 1918 and pick up his mortal life from the point where it ended -- would he rather remain a vampire and have Bella? (Question for Stephenie, anyone?). I think the answer is probably yes. In which case, he should think the same for Bella. But are we 100% certain the answer is yes?
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echo1
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Post by echo1 » Sun Nov 25, 2007 9:29 pm

December, if we were in school, I would so ask if I could carry your books to your next class. :wink:
whether the love that he and Bella share is so transcendent that she could never be as happy without him, even when all the grief and pain of becoming a vampire is taken into account. Or whether it is merely the case that, having once loved him she can never be happy without him again.

If it's the first, then he will reluctantly (if that makes sense) have no regrets.
I was going to say to the first instance that Edward would make the decision that even if she wasn't as happy, she wouldn't know what she's missing and therefore the 'as happy' doesn't actually exist. And after thinking about that and taking some Advil to stop the pain of thinking about that, I came back to your thinking. Edward, even in his selfishness, is always concerned even more for Bella's happiness. In NM he decided to hurt Bella for her own good but he has learned from that experience....so this Edward, the Edward that has seen her pain would want her to be the 'as happy' that he knows exists.

All that rambling up there is to say, yes, agreed.

I still lean toward the thought that Edward would come to the second conclusion, that were he removed from her life she would be able to lead the happy normal existence that she was meant to lead. And really, I just have to add, that this is one of the many reasons I love this vampire!! He will always, always do what is right by Bella. Also, it's why I hope that he is never ever presented with this option because what's right for ME is for these two to live in eternal bliss.
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December
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Post by December » Sun Nov 25, 2007 9:48 pm

Echo1 wrote:I still lean toward the thought that Edward would come to the second conclusion, that were he removed from her life she would be able to lead the happy normal existence that she was meant to lead. And really, I just have to add, that this is one of the many reasons I love this vampire!! He will always, always do what is right by Bella. Also, it's why I hope that he is never ever presented with this option because what's right for ME is for these two to live in eternal bliss.
Well from your point of view, it's ok either way, because we're tallking counterfactuals here. What Edward might wish was undone isn't going to be undone. He has become a part of Bella's life and what NM has made clear is that she can no longer be happy without him. If she lived in the rational world where supernatural lovers didn't exist then she could be happy with Jake. If possibility #2 is correct, she could even be as happy with him (in this alternative universe) as she is with Edward in the universe she's got. But in the universe she's got, being happy without Edward isn't a possibility. Having flown too close to the sun, she's been blinded to all other light. So together in eternal bliss looks like the necessary outcome either way.

Only I grant you that it would be a more blissful bliss if Edward believed the first to be true, because then their love would never be shadowed by his guilt that he didn't leave her to live out her natural life untampered with. But as I just was saying to LisaCullenAZ in the post I left at the same moment as yours (!), I'm just not sure whether he can be confident of that.

I, alas, have got to leave this fascinating conversation here for tonight, as it is almost 3 am here....
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