Bella Swan's main development as a character is her movement through adolescence to emotional and sexual maturity by finding her first - and perfect - love, Edward Cullen. She arrives in Forks for the sake of her mother, feeling out of place and not even fitting the stereotype that could be placed on a Phoenix transplant. Nevertheless, she blossoms immediately as she attracts the attention of several boys before the bond with Edward is cemented. That her first love is someone as beautiful and unusual as Edward is key to the fantasy of Twilight - first love is a common rite of passage, but one that has added weight here because her choice turns out to be a century-old vampire, with all the romance and danger and exoticism it carries. Her interactions with Edward help embolden her in unexpected way: she goes matchmaking to fend off the attention of Mike and Eric, and even flirts with Jacob Black to gain some much-needed information about the Cullen family.
Bella is a strongly emotional character, as seen by the tears she cannot
control. However, she also has a strong intellectual side - she enjoys
literature and also takes on great determination when she reaches a specific
decision in her life. This determination, this force of will, is evident
in both the Prologue and in the beginning of the first chapter. Thus,
when Bella is determined to stay with Edward even if he is a vampire,
it is in keeping with her character; her love for him is never in doubt,
nor the path she chooses as a result of this love. The dangers do manifest
itself, though, and the traumatic encounters with James make her more
aware of the way her father was hurt by her mother - mostly because she
recreates the hurtful situation; it also crystallizes her love for her
mother, as she is willing to sacrifice her life to save Renee. She also
comes to a rather unique - if to her, logical - conclusion as a result
of this adventure: that she not only loves Edward, but want to be like
him by changing into a vampire. Thus, the Epilogue of the novel not only
marks how much she has matured from the beginning - she has a boyfriend,
she is comfortable in Forks, she is friends with both the humans and vampires
of her school - but also gestures to a further issue, a further development
in her character, that will continue in further volumes.
Edward Cullen is as complex a figure in Twilight as Bella, but this is due to his history more than his development over the course of the novel. His growth comes from the same root as Bella's: their mutual love, as unlikely as it is. By falling in love with a human - further, a human who appeals greatly to his predatory vampire instincts - he must regain touch with his humanity. If he hews too close to his vampire being, he would kill Bella by feasting on her blood - as he says time and again, it takes great effort to resist such urges. However, it is worth that his upbringing is rooted in a non-traditional vampire family which has already sworn off preying on humans. Therefore, his ability to love Bella is as much a result of good upbringing as it is from personal, individual emotion. In some ways, this romance is a tribute to the Cullen family as much as to Edward's force of will.
For Edward, like Bella, finding true love is a rite of passage, though one that takes on a melodramatic dimension as he had not previously fallen in love for his near-century life as a vampire. But it is also an act of redemption: he re-discovers his humanity as a result of falling in love with Bella, and thus makes choices that are designed to preserve not only Bella's life but also the quality of Bella's life. Thus, he is in constant internal conflict over whether or not he should continue to be with Bella, lest she always be in danger.
This leads to the key disagreement between Edward and Bella at the end
of the novel: while they both agree that they love each other and want
to be together, they disagree on what is in the best interest of Bella.
Bella places love above all else, which is why she wants to become a vampire.
Edward wants Bella to lead a full life as a human and he is not worth
losing her humanity over; for him, Bella as an individual is more precious
than their love. It is a sacrifice quite similar to what Bella has done
for her mother. In an interesting reversal, then, Bella embodies passion
at the end of the novel, while Edward embodies intellect and logic when
he refuses Bella her transformation.
Jacob Black develops physically in this first novel more than emotionally: he gains a great deal of height over the course of the book, going from shorter to Bella to considerably taller by the end. Beyond that, however, his main role is expository: he passes crucial information along to Bella in two instances - at the beach and at the prom - but in neither case believes what he is saying. In that sense, he remains a child in Twilight - blissfully ignorant, still in need of knowledge. This will change in future volumes of the series.
As this is the first volume in a planned supernatural romance series, the
remaining major characters in the novel don't develop a great deal so
much as reveal themselves over the course of the story. That is, the focus
on character development is the main characters in the love triangle,
and many of the other major characters do not so much develop due to the
events in the story but react to the developments that go on in that triangle.
Cite this page:
Mescallado, Ray. "TheBestNotes on Twilight".
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