January 14, 2013

Twilight: My Dinner with Vlad

Twilight, pp. 196-206.

Bella awakens the next morning, fighting the belief that it was all a dream. I don't know what was so dreamlike about it--the almost-rape seems like something that would be etched in memory--but there you go. Edward is there, ready to take her to *snicker* school.

When I first read this novel, it was Edward I hated. His emotional power games, his use of his powers to manipulate and deceive, his commanding and domineering manner, his casual disdain for everyone outside of his own family, his whiny "but I don't wanna be a monster!" bullshit, his domination of Bella's sexuality--he really is a fucking tool. But this second reading is making me hate Bella a lot more. In fact, this chapter does something I didn't think possible, which is to make me, for a very brief moment, almost kind of like Edward. Why? Because he continues to be the voice of reason when it comes to Bella's inhuman nonreaction to his vampirism.

He turned to smirk at me. "What, no twenty questions today?"

"Do my questions bother you?"

"Not as much as your reactions do." He looked like he was joking, but I couldn't be sure.

I frowned. "Do I react badly?"

"No, that's the problem. You take everything so coolly--it's unnatural."

Do you think he'll ever figure out the reason for this, that she's an empathy-less pathological narcissist who views other people entirely as tools to be manipulated for her own ends? Yeah, I don't think so, either.

In another indication of the Cullens' wealth--substantial in the first book, though it reaches positively O'Leary-an heights as the series wears on--the other Cullen kids are forced to take Rosalie's car, a red convertible that Edward tells us is very, very expensive. The vampires have this expensive car because they like to drive fast, even though later in the series it will become clear they can run faster than a car (that, or Stevenie Meyer can't be bothered to indicate the passage of time when they travel somewhere), so I don't know why they like driving a fast car. Usually the Cullens take the sweet ride (by which I mean the Volvo) to school instead of the convertible since it's less conspicuous (even though Bella noticed it immediately on her first day at Forks High), but they had to take the convertible this time since Edward took the Volvo just to pick up Bella. That's right, he tells her, "I'm breaking all the rules now". Oh, snap! I think Edward's a little too good at wooing insecure fourteen seventeen-year-old girls, if you know what I mean and I think you do.

Bella has been ruminating over what she will tell Jessica when they meet, since the latter will undoubtedly want to question her further about last night's interview with the vampire. My first thought was "The truth?", but then I remembered who we're talking about here.  Jessica appears and so Edward naturally reads her mind because he's a dick. After Jessica hands Bella back her jacket--thank God Meyer didn't leave us hanging about whether or not Bella got her jacket back--Edward tells Bella that Jessica won't ask her about their situation in front of him but will do so at the first opportunity, in the trigonometry class she and Bella share.

And now it's time to play our favorite game, What Will Bella Do? Get this one right, and you move on to the next round! Here we go: When faced with this gross invasion of her best friend's privacy, What Will Bella Do? Will she

a) ...angrily demand that Edward no longer read her friend's intimate thoughts and respect her privacy?
b) ...tell Edward that, while she may be powerless to stop him from reading her best friend's mind, she doesn't want any part of using that ability against her?
c) ...not react at all?
d) ...angrily demand that he tell her more specifically what her best friend was thinking so that she can more effectively prepare responses to avoid honestly answering Jessica's questions?

D is your final answer? You're correct! What's our contestant won, Johnny? That's right, you get to continue to read snippets of Twilight!

"So what are you going to tell her?"

"A little help?" I pleaded. "What does she want to know?"

He shook his head, grinning wickedly. "That's not fair."

"No, you not sharing what you know--now that's not fair."

That's right, in Bella Swan's world, it's wrong to use your magic powers to enter without permission and steal from the most intimate space a person has--her own mind--if you don't use those powers for her benefit. That's our Bella!

It turns out Jessica wants to know if Edward and Bella are dating and how Bella feels about him. Wow, he needed vampire mind-reading powers to know that? I'd better check to see if I'm a vampire. Edward gets the last laugh, though, because he tells her he'll be reading Jessica's mind when she tells her how she feels about him, so she'll effectively be telling him, too. Of course, knowing this, Bella could tell him not to do that, or tell him her feelings right there, or refuse to tell Jessica her feelings, but then Jessica would lose her narrative function of "serve as a vehicle for Bella and Edward to play out their dominance/passive-aggressive power games", and Stevenie Meyer isn't about to let that happen.

The conversation with Jessica goes about as you expect, with Bella being evasive and telling half-truths, only this time, in what may be the most off-putting use and abuse of the Jessica character yet, she's actually talking to Edward through Jessica's mind. So she tells her things like Edward's driving is scary and drops really, really obvious hints that she wants him to kiss her when they go out on Saturday (even though she said immediately before this that "it's not like that") because she wants Edward to know these things. I thought Bella was a terrible person when she constantly ignored her alleged best friend, but now she's talking to her on the surface while in reality actually talking to Edward. A conversation between Jessica and Bella is in reality a conversation between Edward and Bella. I told you he takes over the novel. Not only does Meyer not show us any conversations that aren't about him, but now she doesn't even give us any conversations that don't involve him.

Bella makes sure to point out to us that she thinks Jessica would forgive any of Edward's flaws simply because he's, as Jessica says, "unbelievably gorgeous". And while that may be true, I'd just like to point out that that's exactly what Bella's doing. Oh, she pretends it's because he's a monster trying not to be a monster by saving people's lives (by which she means, of course, her life, because that's the only one he's ever saved or will ever save, and that's the only one that matters, so it's the same in her mind as saving "people's lives"), but really, I've been leaving out all the times she's talked about his gorgeous face, his muscled chest, his ripped torso, etc. etc.. Go ahead, go back through the novel and add up the number of times Bella talks about Edward's physical appearance, and tally that against the number of times she talks about how attracted she is to his good vampire-ness. I fucking dare you.

Bella tells Jessica that Mike asked her if Jessica said anything about her and Mike's date, and so the conversation moves to trying to figure out how much Mike likes Jessica. Of course, since this directly involves neither Edward nor Bella, we don't get any details of this, just a paragraph saying it is discussed. Remember, Jessica only speaks when it concerns Edward, and she's talking about Mike now, so her dialogue disappears. The bell rings for lunch, meaning Bella is finally free of having to talk to her best friend so she can bounce off to see her creepy stalker, and I'm finally free of this tripe for another week.

1 comment:

  1. Two observations:
    - "... when I FIRST read this novel ...": you're reading it for the second time? You either enjoy pain or you have a heightened martyr's complex. :)

    - You dare me to go back through the novel and note the number of times Edward's physical attractiveness has been mentioned? Ha. No power in the verse could make me read Twilight; I pretty much even skim over the quotes here to get to the bit where you dissect them.

    We who are still unsullied salute you sir. But we have no desire to follow you. :)