Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Despised Character Lovers Anonymous

I mentioned on Monday that I'd revisit the whole "I like Bella" can of worms I cracked open. So, here we go.

*ahem* My name is Michelle McLean and I like the character of Bella from the Twilight series.

Now, let me clarify - I didn't like everything she did. Yes, I frequently wanted to slap her, and yes sometimes I rolled my eyes so hard I went crossed eyed. Do I think she was a compelling character who changed and learned and grew and developed throughout the series? Not necessarily. Do I realize that writers as a community tend to despise her? Yeah, I do.

So why do I like her?

Because I WAS her. I was the sorta klutzy girl that fell over walking out her own door. I was the girl that fell so head over heels in love that my world literally STOPPED every time my heart was broken. I lived and breathed for the love of my life (cause every single one of them was my soul mate, naturally). I always fell fast and hard and nose dived when things ended.

As I grew up, I learned to handle things differently. I didn't really figure out who I was and what I wanted out of life until I was near 30, and I continue to learn and grow, as one does as one gets older.

But Bella was only 17 turning 18....and she became a vampire at 18. At 18, I experienced EVERYTHING in extremes. The way Bella acted around Edward, the way she behaved when he left, the whole triangle drama with Jacob and Edward...I could soooo see myself reacting EXACTLY as she did.

I grew out of it....but at 18...yeah, I was Bella.

So, do any of you like, love, or at least relate to a character that the writing world at large hates? Do you force a laugh and mutter an "oh yeah, yeah, I feel the same way" when that character is reamed and secretly think "oh I so DON'T!"?

Come on, you can tell me...I won't laugh, I promise ;-)


Mike Mullin said...

And that's why she works as a character. Because so many people, particularly the teenage girl target audience, can identify with her. It's liberating to me to realize that all the rules about adverbs, dialog, development & etc. are truly secondary to creating characters readers can inhabit fully.

Tessa Quin said...

I had to comment on this! I read the Twilight series before I even know what "character creation" meant. And I saw absolutely nothing wrong with Bella. And I'm 32. I really liked her. Okay, so book two was just a tad bit annoying, but only because I wanted Edward back.

That said, I haven't read it after I learned about writing, so I don't know if she'll have changed for me.

So, so far, I like her ;)

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I also loved Bella before everyone started hating Bella. I could relate to her, especially the klutziness (I'm still that way).

I haven't read the books in awhile. I wonder if I'd still feel the same way if I were to re-read them now. Probably. :)

Michelle McLean said...

ahhh, I KNEW I wasn't the only one! :D

Lindsay (a.k.a Isabella) said...

I loved Bella too. I think it's becuase, like you said, I was (and sadly still am) the klutzy girl who falls over a lot.
Yes she did some annying things, but my MC'd do that as well. I think it's because we're human...and very over emotional. lol.

Elana Johnson said...

Secrets? Uh, maybe another day. :) I didn't like Bella, mostly because I wasn't her. I think readers bring so much of themselves to the novel that sometimes it's hard to relate to the characters they don't understand. But there obviously are a lot of people who like her, since readers are different than writers.

Katrina L. Lantz said...

I loved Bella, and did see a little of myself in her, as people say, but really not that much. I mean, don't we all feel clumsy sometimes? But otherwise, she and I are very different people. I'm blonde and flirtatious and way more cheerfully optimistic than she was even on her best day. I'd have been one of her human friends, sadly.

But I liked her because she seemed real to me. I don't think she was a blank slate like ppl accuse, no more than Harry Potter was a blank slate. They were relatable characters, but umm, that's the POINT! ;)

I also think she DID have a character arc, because Bella made sacrifices for other people that pushed her out of her comfort zone, including marriage and childbirth. She stayed the same person, but she definitely changed.

So while we're on the subject, I also really liked Rosalie. *ducks while people throw cabbages*

Colene Murphy said...

I have a theory as to why the books work for Bella but in the movies she is sort of sucking and you just reinforced my theory!
The books, the reader puts themselves into Bella. She takes on their personalities plus her own and is relate-able. Movies- her lack of a rounded personality is magnified and there is no one to supplement their own into her.
I think thats why everyone "hates" her now, because of the movies not the books. So be proud!

Ishta Mercurio said...

Well, Bella annoyed the hell out of me, BUT, I related to her at the same time. I can understand her motivations, and I can understand her desire to keep both Edward and Jacob in her life (even though I HATE Jacob, since she doesn't, I can understand her point of view) - as you said, she is only 17! And I think that's a big part of why TWILIGHT was and continues to be so successful.

Good post!

Michelle McLean said...

ha! I like Rosalie too :D And really excellent point about how she did actually change by the end of the series. I hadn't thought of that :)

And Colene, excellent point - I really hated Bella in the movies...not so much the character but the way K.S. portrayed her. She did redeem herself a bit in the third movie...Bella had a bit more personality in that one.

@Tessa - book 2 was my least favorite out of the four...and mostly because Edward wasn't in it LOL In fact, when I reread the series, I usually only read that book up until Edward leaves and then skip ahead to when Alice shows up :D

paulgreci said...

I have to admit that I have not read Twilight. And that's just because I read mostly realistic fiction. And, I have a lot of respect for the author. I did watch and enjoy the first movie just to see what it was all about and might read the books in the future.

(I really enjoyed S. E. Hinton's vampire book: Hawkes Harbor.)

Your post has definitely reawakened my interest in it. Thanks!!

L.T. Elliot said...

There were parts of Bella I was and a lot I wasn't. I don't hate her (and there are some major haters out there) but I'm not over the moon for her either. In the end, I didn't like the series because of how it ended and not because of any one character, really.

nomadshan said...

I spoke up at a feminista book club to say I related to the main character (a brutish man) of Harry Crews' A FEAST OF SNAKES and despised the character of his sniveling, put-upon wife. That did not go over well. :)

I also like Jaime Lannister from George R R Martin's SONG OF ICE AND FIRE series, but I suspect I'm not alone there.

lbdiamond said...

Yeah, that's why the Twilight series worked! There's millions of girls and adults who used to be girls who can IDENTIFY with Bella. Whether you agree with what she did or didn't do, you still "felt" like her in some ways.

Connection=page turner.

Nice post!

Matthew Rush said...

Yep. It's no wonder those books sold sell well. Just imagine how well most young women identified with her.

Same with sympathetic villains. I can't get enough of Star Wars. Ever. Not because of Luke, it's Darth Vader I love.

Jen Chandler said...

I haven't read the Twilight books. I did see the movie (I know, that DOESN'T count) but I hear that the reason Bella works is precisely the reason everyone here has already stated: she's "every girl". 17/18 are tough ages. Everything is changing or has already changed. You're never the same. Honestly, this post has me wanting to read the books for myself, shut out all the lovers and haters of the series and see what happens.

Great post!

Jan Markley said...

Admitting it is the first step ... ;-j