Midnight Sun by Stephanie Meyer: Edward’s Perception of Bella (Ch. 2 – 5)

Is it read-worth? So far, it’s still a definite no. I have too many problems with Edward and Bella’ relationship and somehow they’re all worse in Midnight Sun than they were in the original series. I’m just really not enjoying it so far. I wish that Meyer had used her platform in a better way, not to promote such unhealthy versions of teenage relationships, romantic and otherwise.

Photo: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers sourced on the Den of Geek Blog

SPOILER ALERT: I find it curious that Edward is so condescending towards Mike’s perception of Bella when his own perception of her is equally as delusional. He spends these few chapters I’ve just read agonizing over his own relationship with Bella, trying to avoid her, and, then, listening in to her interactions with the people around her, primarily people who are romantically interested in her. Is his obsession with her because of Alice’s vision? Perhaps he knows he will love her one day so he can’t help but pay attention. Or is it because he wants to have more material to punish himself with every time the smell of her blood makes him want to kill her?

I feel like I’ve made my own perspective on Edward’s relationship with Bella very apparent these past few blog posts. I’m just not super impressed with as a role model relationship for the young women who read these books. It’s creepy and weird. I think the only real reason that Edward is so deeply attracted to her is because he wants to punish himself for being a vampire. He wants to feel like a monster. He wants to hate himself. He wants to continue this cycle of self pity and self hatred that he has experienced throughout the last century of his existence. He wants to obsess over her, even love her, to the detriment of himself.

If Stephanie Meyer played up on that, I’d probably like these books better. If she played up the storyline of a creepy, obsessive, self-hating vampire stalker that follows a human girl around, it would be an extremely interesting series. It would be a totally different series. But she doesn’t. Instead, she makes it sound like this is the epitome of romance. It’s not. I don’t love it. I don’t want women to enter relationships that look like this and think that their partner’s less than savory behavior is because they’re in love with them. Romance should not involve obsession. It should not involve listening in to every conversation you have. It should not involve stalking.

Anyways, I find Edward’s perspective to be extremely hypocritical throughout these chapters of Midnight Sun. He mocks Mike for not noticing the little things he notices about Bella, such as her going out of her way to avoid confrontation or trying to help people who are experiencing awkward social interactions. He laughs that Mike is trying to make Bella into something she’s not, something more like himself.

Meanwhile, Edward totally misses the point that he’s doing the same exact thing. His view of Bella is through similar rosepainted glasses. Edward wants to see a girl who is so perfect and undeserving of death that he can further perpetuate his cycle of self hate with their image. He wants a girl who smells so good that he wants to kill her, but who is kind and caring and selfless and generous. He wants perfection to accentuate his own imperfections. If he was ever with her, he could continue hating himself for delaying the life of someone so perfect. As he does throughout the original books. He could also never stop hating himself for wanting to kill her. If he changes her, he would never stop hating himself, at least in part, for that. The perfect person for Edward is the one that makes him feel unworthy, like a monster.

I wouldn’t mind any of that if not for the fact that it feels like Meyer, the author, doesn’t see the hypocrisy in his behavior. She makes it feel like Edward’s unique perspective of Bella is the real one. I think she genuinely believes that Bella is perfectly selfish, unique, and so much different than other teenage girls. The fact that she isn’t that different from anyone else, and that Edward is so condescending towards others perceptions of her, is really what bothers me about that scenario. The entire book belittles normal people, calling attention to and complimenting people who strive to be different than the average person. Bella is better than her friends because she is so much more mature, quiet, and kind to others. Edward is better than others because he doesn’t have such mundane, teenage thoughts.

And this is neither here nor there, but I’m really getting sick and tired of this whole “I’m not like other girls” perspective that books like Twilight and Midnight Sun spread throughout young female readers. People try to act like it’s a compliment to girls to not be like other girls. When I was young, hearing phrases like these made me feel special. I felt like I was better than the people around me. I am unique because I’m not like them. They’re all the same. I’m not

But I wasn’t better than the people around me and those thoughts I was having, which were being encourage by popular media, were actually extremely destructive for myself and for the women around me. It’s okay, even fantastic, to be like other girls. You should not have to be different from them to be amazing. They’re amazing too.

Having thousands of girls strive to adopt a unique persona that separates them from each other is socially destructive. It’s harder for girls to form real relationships with each other. It’s hard on their self esteem to be constantly questioning what they themselves actually like. It’s hard for them to believe in themselves and others when they’re constantly looking down on their own femininity and trying to avoid being similar to other women. By creating and spreading the idea that women have to be “not like other girls,” you’re impacting their ability to just be themselves. 

You are also creating deeply ingrained ideas of misogyny and internalized hatred towards women and femininity. Essentially, by encouraging this unhealthy mindset throughout almost all of the Twilight series, Meyers is helping create misogynists who don’t even know they’re misogynistic. I wish that she had avoided doing so, particularly when it comes to the characters that surround Bella.

Jessica, as a character, is perhaps the worst example of this. Throughout these chapters and the couple of opening ones, Edward discusses her thoughts only in negative ways. Jessica is only mean, jealous, and selfish. She only has mean, jealous, and selfish thoughts. She is a stereotypical mean girl with no depth of character. It would have been well-received to see someone who is only described as terrible have at least one kind thought. Even the meanest of girls are not always mean. It would have been well-received for one moment where she acted out of character at least to detract from this idea that only girls who are different from the norm have value.

That idea also comes into play throughout Edward’s interactions with Rosalie these past few chapters. Meyer’s description of Rosalie only makes her out to be a callous, self-centered individual with deeply shallow thoughts. Rosalie may be mean to the people around her at times, but she is worth so much more than such a lacking personality. She is a survivor of violent assault. She is deeply wounded by her inability to be a mother. She loves Emmett and her family very much. She is not just a “shallow pool of water.” She is so much more and deserves so much more from Edward and the author.

What also annoyed me about these chapters was that, after rejecting Mike’s perspective of Bella as a person, Edward then went on to feel annoyance at Mike’s own feelings of possessiveness towards Bella. I understand that possessive men are annoying, trust me, but coming from Edward? It’s ridiculous. Mike’s version of possessiveness towards Bella is a hundred times healthier than Edward’s. Edward literally goes on to stalk Bella. He follows her around. He analyses her interactions with people. He sneaks into her bedroom to watch her sleep. He’s a freaking creep. None of this is romantic.

For a book whose target market is young women, I don’t feel like these past few chapters were healthy reads. They spread horribly misogynistic ideas. They describe a relationship characterized by stalking and the dismissal of the people around them. They are cruel to average people, particularly teen girls. I really didn’t enjoy them. But on to the next ones! 

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