Edward vs. Jacob: The Great Twilight Debate (featuring Eisha and Dana in the first ever 7-Imp Smackdown)July 28th, 2008 by eisha
Seriously, people, do not even look below this line if you haven’t read the books but think you might someday. Spoilers abound, and we make no apology for it. How could we have a proper debate otherwise? Right? Anyway.
Since my abduction into the Twilight cult a couple of months ago by my friend Dana Koster, I have frequently commented here on the way this series of books has taken over my life. I know I’m not alone. As Dana put it at her blog, there’s something about “the characters and the intensity of the relationships between them” that makes for very compelling reading. Compelling in the same way that, say, crack is compelling to some people.
The particular relationship that elicits our obsession the most would have to be the complicated love triangle that has formed between our mortal heroine Bella, her vampire boyfriend Edward, and her werewolf best friend Jacob. When last we saw them [SEE, SPOILERS STARTING ALREADY. GET OUT WHILE YOU CAN, TWILIGHT VIRGINS], at the end of Eclipse, Bella and Edward were engaged, with Bella having convinced him to turn her vampy after the honeymoon. Jacob, having confessed his love MANY TIMES and been ultimately, but sorrowfully, spurned by a very conflicted Bella, was wolfing it off into the hills, contemplating a future gone feral.
The fourth, and (sorta maybe) final book of the series, Breaking Dawn, is due to be released in a very few days. Dana and I have already reserved our copies for the local big chain bookstore’s release party* (look, she even found thematically appropriate earrings!) and are looking forward to devouring it next weekend, and then finally getting our lives back. But in the meantime, we keep getting into discussions (arguments) about what we want to happen in BD and which man (ahem) Bella should end up with - she’s firmly in Jacob’s camp, while I’m an Edward girl. Since the second edition of Eclipse comes with iron-ons so that readers can publicly declare their loyalty to Team Edward or Team Jacob, we obviously aren’t the only ones discussing (obsessing over) this issue. I mean, look at the response Robin got when she asked about it. So, I suggested we bring it to the blog in the form of a public debate, and see what happens.
(*Apologies, but I tried to reserve it at the local indie and they didn’t seem to understand that I needed it precisely at midnight on its official release date. I ordered something less urgent from them to atone, okay?)
eisha (representing Team Edward): It seems almost superfluous for me to even have to state a position here, since Team Edward is SO OBVIOUSLY GOING TO WIN. I mean, hello, did you read New Moon? Bella CANNOT live without Edward. It has been scientifically proven, what with all her abdominal pain and needing to fall off motorcycles and cliffs to hear his disembodied voice in her head and all. It would be the highest of follies for Meyer to put us through reading about what losing Edward does to Bella, and then make us go through it again. Will not happen.
dana (representing Team Jacob): But that’s exactly the point! Love isn’t supposed to kill you and leave you broken, it’s supposed to raise you up and make you happy and not, you know, crush your identity. True Love is great and all, but is it really True Love when your boyfriend won’t let you see your friends? I mean, controlling much? At least with Jacob, Bella has an identity. She’s hurt, but she’s her own person. She has her own interests, she can see who she wants - she’s not a tiny moon orbiting Planet Edward, she’s just… her.
eisha: No, see, LOVE didn’t do that to her, LOSING LOVE did. And after a bit, Edward DID stop trying to keep Bella from seeing Jacob and the other werewolves, because he saw how much it was hurting her. He truly does want her to be happy, and says many times that if she truly prefers Jacob he’ll get out of the way. Jacob, however, never stopped trying to manipulate her into loving him back. To the point of threatening to let the bad vampires rip him up just to get a kiss out of her. To the point of near-date-rape-type assault.
dana: But I think Jacob has a good point at the end of Eclipse - just because Bella can’t see Edward manipulating her doesn’t mean he’s not doing it. It actually just means he’s better at it, and more dangerous. Jacob is kind of a stupid oaf. He loves Bella and he wants her to realize something he knew all along: that she loves him, too. And so he kisses her like the big blockhead he is. At his heart, though, he’s completely transparent. Edward is always thinking and scheming and I’m not so sure he does want Bella to be happy - I think he just wants her. Is the impending wedding making Bella happy? No, not so much. In fact, it’s a great example of Edward manipulating Bella into doing something she doesn’t want to do. And marriage is a lot more permanent and serious than a stolen kiss!
eisha: I get what you’re saying about Jacob being young and impulsive and therefore not having a lot of finesse in his approach, and maybe deserving a little slack for that. But I honestly don’t think Edward is being manipulative. Example A: Yeah, he worked out a COMPROMISE (not the same thing as manipulation) to get Bella to marry him, but he tried to take it back when he thought it was making her unhappy. And he is really, truly worried about her soul. Example B: That quote from Wuthering Heights that Meyer throws in there, when Heathcliff says:
“And there you see the distinctions between our feelings: had he been in my place and I in his, though I hated him with a hatred that turned my life to gall, I never would have raised a hand against him. You may look incredulous, if you please! I never would have banished him from her society as long as she desired his. The moment her regard ceased, I would have torn his heart out, and drank his blood! But, till then—if you don’t believe me, you don’t know me—till then, I would have died by inches before I touched a single hair of his head!”
Meyer doesn’t pitch these literary allusions around lightly - in fact, she specifically refers to one of literature’s great romantic couples in each of the three novels so far. In this particular example, we’re meant to see a direct parallel in Edward’s feelings for Bella, and his desire for her to be happy even when it’s in direct conflict with what he would wish.
Which brings me to another point. Allusions create a sort of shorthand of meaning for the reader, and I think Meyer’s primary purpose in referring to 1.) Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy in Twilight (it’s brief, but it’s there), 2.) Romeo and Juliet in New Moon, and 3.) Heathcliff and Catherine in Eclipse is to hammer home for us that Edward and Bella have that sort of timeless, indestructable bond that transcends logic and sense and whatever tragedies are left in its wake. Whether you think Meyer succeeds in convincing us of that… well, that’s another issue. But I think that’s what we’re intended to believe: Edward and Bella are Meant For Each Other.
dana: Yes, I do agree that Edward + Bella = True Love by Stephenie Meyer’s definition. I guess I’m more in the Barthes “Death of the Author” camp - it’s not, to me, about authorial intention, but rather about an objective examination of the characters. And yes, I did just bring Barthes into a discussion on Twilight. I am such a freaking English nerd.
Ultimately, I want what’s best for Bella, which is to say: I want what’s healthiest for her, not what will make her the happiest. Jacob’s really on to something at the end of Eclipse when he describes Edward as an addiction:
“[Edward] is like a drug to you, Bella… I see that you can’t live without him now. It’s too late. But I would have been healthier for you. Not a drug; I would have been the air, the sun.”
Heroin makes heroin addicts happy, in the short run, but it isn’t what’s best for them, and the same is true for Bella. I want to see her on a path that’s not destructive, a path where she doesn’t have to give up her humanity and her sense of self. Isn’t that too much for anyone to give up, especially for another person? And she loves Jacob - it’s not like she just thinks of him as a friend, she really and truly loves him.
eisha: Edward is hot.
dana: Jacob is hotter! His temperature is 109, remember?!
eisha: Dana. Please. I’m not talking about actual physical temperature. I’m saying, dude is HOT. Like, surface-of-the-sun hot. Like, supernova-in-hell hot. In fact, for the remainder of this debate, I will be referring to Edward as The Hotness. As in, what makes The Hotness so very hot is the sense of his barely-restrained passion for Bella that simmers throughout the series. Every time she and The Hotness have physical contact, the reader feels it too. Jacob’s messy attempts at overpowering Bella with his lust - meh. But The Hotness is really, truly sexy.
dana: Granted, my statement was definitely an example of equivocation, but both definitions of hot apply! Jacob is all big and burly and good with motorcyles and alive. The very fact that his blood can boil for Bella, that he and she could reasonably be intimate with each other because they’re both living, breathing creatures is important! I mean, doesn’t sex have to be possible before someone can be sexy? Plus, Edward’s cold in both senses, too: he’s aloof and standoffish, at times, and he’s physically cold to the touch. Maybe I’ve spent too long living in Upstate New York, but dude, keep your cold-as-hell hands away from me.
eisha: Hmm, aloof and standoffish… who does that remind me of? What other smolderingly-hot character came across as cold and snobbish before the heroine really got to know him, which made it all the more intense when his reserve finally broke?
(Hint: MR. DARCY.)
I think the forbidden/maybe-even-impossible nature of Bella having a physical relationship with The Hotness makes it even more intriguing. There’s nothing hotter than a guy who seems unattainable. Especially when he actually does pick your fragile pathetic mortal self out of the crowd. And if she gets her way and becomes a vamp too, then her hands will be just as cold, so it’s all good.
So, okay, personal preference aside, who do you think Bella will actually end up with in Breaking Dawn?
dana: Wait, there’s nothing sexier than a guy who’s unattainable? I didn’t get that memo. I think someone [cough*Eisha*cough] has a bad boy fetish! Personally, I think Bella should pick Jacob because a relationship with him wouldn’t be co-dependent and all-consuming. I don’t doubt that Bella and Edward have a deep love of one another - I just think it’s borderline abusive, I guess.
And I’m not ballsy enough to stand up and say: Jacob will end up with Bella! Or: Edward! Or: Mike Newton! (Okay, it probably won’t be the last one.) I’m not sure I even know what the happiest ending would be. Can’t Bella just split herself into two people and be with both of them and everyone lives happily ever after? No? Damnit.
Maybe the unpredictability of Stephenie Meyer’s work is part of what makes it so wonderful. There have certainly been moments where the direction of the plot seemed obvious (seriously Bella? It took you THAT LONG to figure out Jacob’s secret?), but the surprising moments heavily outweigh the predictable ones. I think that’s why I’m salivating so hard for Breaking Dawn - I don’t know what’s going to happen, and I like that. I sort of feel like she could do anything.
So, here’s my prediction: they all die in a train wreck. Some of them are standing on the station, some of them are on the train, and then: BOOM! Everyone’s in Narnia. Wait, crap, that’s not the right series at all. What do you think’s going to happen, E?
eisha: Bella will finally realize she doesn’t have to become a vampire to be immortal if she can just find the Sorcerer’s Stone… No, sorry.
I totally agree with you, D - this series has been full of surprises, and I expect no less from Breaking Dawn. That said, though… I do think that we’ve come too far with Bella and Edward for them not to end up together. Yeah, she says that she loves Jacob too, and could have been happy with him IF there had never been an Edward. But, obviously, there has. And actually, Meyer has provided a potential happy ending for Jacob, too, in that whole werewolf-imprinting-thing. Maybe he’ll lope on up to Denali and imprint on a vampire - that would be kinda beautiful, don’tcha think?
As for how, exactly, Bella and Edward will be together - I’m not sure. I do think she could end up a vampire - I don’t think Meyer is above doing that to get a happily-ever-after.
Or, how ’bout this for a wack-ass theory: maybe Carlisle has been working for the past 400 years on a vampire cure, and he’ll have a little eureka with it just before the wedding. Then Edward can be human again, and they live normally ever after.
Yeah, I don’t really think so either.
dana: I’ve heard a lot of people say they think Bella will become a vampire in this book, but I’m not so sure. The stories are all from her point of view, and I can’t imagine she’d have much more to say beyond “can’t talk, bloodthirsty” in her first few years as a vampire. If she does become one, though, it’ll have to be at the end of the book, or there will need to be a jump in time, at the very least. Maybe both. I think the allure of these books for me was always the impossible love between human and… not-human. I guess Bella’s change could be the justification for ending the story here.
Still, she obviously needs to ditch the bloodsucker and marry Jacob and have werewolf dinner parties and little black-haired babies. OBVIOUSLY.
Alas, it seems we aren’t going to come to a consensus here. But it was fun. Thanks, Dana, for bringing your mad English Nerd skillz to this debate.
What about you, Dear Reader? Do you have a vote? A prediction? We’d love to hear it.