Bella Swan. There is so much I can say about her. Seeing as there are no articles yet on this page, I thought I'd start by critically analyzing this protagonist. (Basically, I'm writing this article because it's more entertaining than my English homework.)
Let's start at the beginning. Bella is moving away from her mother, who is supposedly her best friend in the world, so that her mother could be happier with Phil. Bella will be moving in to a depressing, rainy area, and she is not excited at all about it. Now, at a first glance, one may think that this is an act of selflessness. However, when one looks further into this, one would see that it really does not make much sense. If Bella and Renee (her mother's name) are such close friends, why would Renee be happier separated from Bella? Why would Renee rather spend time with her boyfriend than her own daughter if they are that close? This is a little strange to me. Later on in the story, Bella seems reluctant to stay in contact with her mother, only emailing short, blunt responses to keep her mother from panicking. This makes me think that maybe Bella isn't moving away for her mother's sake; maybe she's moving to get away from her mother. Indeed, she does describe her mother as "scatter-brained," and the way she discusses her mother, you can see that she views Renee as a child. She sees herself as more mature and intelligent than her own mother, and, therefore, better. There seems to be no sign of malice or mistreatment coming from Renee. So why would Bella think like this? It is a sign of arrogance and immaturity. Bella doesn't treat her father much better, either. She seems to view him as a nuisance. In fact, the times that he acts most to care for her are the times she seems to find him the biggest pain. She makes him his food so that he will keep quiet and stay out of her life.
Soon, Bella arrives at school. The very first person to talk to her is a girl named Jessica. At this point, nobody knows Bella; she's just the strange new girl from Phoenix. Jessica seems to welcome her with open arms, and acts very friendly toward the new girl. Jessica introduces Bella to other friends, such as Angela, and gives her a place to sit at lunchtime. Despite the fact that Jessica seems so open and welcoming and friendly, Bella thinks of her as shallow, whiny and annoying automatically. She stereotypes Jessica and labels her from the start, just because Jessica said seemed slightly wistful for the boy Bella takes a liking to after seeing his beauty from across the cafeteria. Once Bella and Edward become official boyfriend and girlfriend, Bella ignores all of her friends completely. She doesn't speak to them at all, and ignores their general existence. They don't matter; she has a super hot boyfriend now! Of course, in New Moon, Edward dumps her. For months, she continues to completely disregard her friends. When she finally wants to be friends with Jessica again, she is shocked to see that Jessica is reluctant. Of course, Jessica must be a terrible person for being hesitant at becoming friends with someone who seems to ignore you most of the time! They go out to the movies, and Bella goes out and puts herself and Jessica both in danger of possible rapists. Now, Jessica could have run away. She could have easily abandoned Bella. At this point, Jessica realized that Bella has been using her. Most girls would get angry and storm off to leave their "friend" to whatever fate awaited them. However, Jessica stayed by her side. This is truly loyal and even brave. Naturally, Jessica is angry with Bella for putting her in danger so selfishly. However, Bella is appalled! How dare someone not let her use them! Isn't that what friends are for anyway? So she, once again, disregards Jessica and labels her as a bad friend and as a girl who just wants to be more popular.
Back to the beginning of the story. When Bella arrives at school, she immediately gains the attention of all the guys because she is so beautiful. Because of this, she becomes the most popular girl in school by the end of lunch. However, she doesn't talk much. Normally, people do not waste their time trying to get quiet people to open up (there are a few people who do, but not many. Trust me; I'm painfully shy, so I know firsthand what it's like). However, Bella is not shy. She is reserved. There is a difference. The reason she is quiet is not because she has no idea what to say, she can't get herself to talk to other people, she's socially awkward. No, she's quiet because she doesn't want to talk. She doesn't find her new friends, who adore her so much, to be at all interesting, so they are not worthy of being spoken to by her.
So she looks across the cafeteria, and she sees a super hot guy! Immediately, she decides that he is the only one good enough for her, despite the fact that she has never spoken to him, never even seen him up close. She didn't even know his name! In Biology, he ends up acting like a jerk to her (yes, I know he just found her blood attractive, but this isn't about Edward). Then he doesn't arrive at class for a full week. The day he comes back, he is suddenly friendly. Now, forgetting that he was so rude to her the last time they met, she decides that he is perfect! After all, how could someone so hot with such gorgeous eyes not be a truly good person? So she ends up having four conversations with him before he stalks her into the city (this isn't about Edward, though, so I'm not going into that) and, by chance, ends up needing to save her from rapists. After these four lovely conversations, they decide they are soul mates, eternally meant for each other.
Quick break from the story; I want to talk about Bella's klutziness. She falls, bad things happen to her quite often. The weird thing is; she doesn't have a klutz personality. Think of all the klutzy people you know in real life. They all have personalities more similar to that of Alice's (yes, I know Alice can't be klutzy because she's a vampire. Not the point). So why is Bella klutzy? Is that supposed to be her character flaw? Unfortunately for Stephenie Meyer, klutziness does not count as a character flaw. It does not affect her personality. A character flaw can include many things (ex. dishonest, cowardly, rule breaker, impulsive, closed-minded, unintelligent, over-sensitive, too much pride, etc.), but klutziness doesn't work.
Now, I'm going to skip most of the story of Twilight because not much happens, except for Bella and Edward staring at each others beauty and talking about how much they love the other (though they never really do anything together during this time. They never go out anywhere, they never sit to talk, they never joke around... their relationship doesn't really go past physical beauty. That is one of the big reasons I believe their relationship to be lust, not love).
Now I just want to say that I find Bella to be pretty unintelligent. Yes, I know, she gets perfect grades in school. Other than that, she shows no sign of intelligence. She could have somehow informed the Cullens of what she was going to do, maybe make some sort of a game plan with Alice (who would be really good at that, seeing how she can see the future and all. She would know what would work and what wouldn't work). Also, she goes and does all sorts of reckless things so that she can hear Edwards voice again, which really isn't too smart of her, either. Then, the day that Edward returns to her after completely crushing her, she immediately agrees to marry him? She should have waited to see if he was serious, so she could ease her trust into him again! This isn't an effect of "true love", it's an effect of idiocy! Being too trusting is not a good thing! (Sorry for the anime reference, but I need an example here. Look at Sakura from CardCaptor Sakura! (Japanese version, never English) Most of you do not know her, but she is supposed to be a protagonist who is very good but not too bright at times. One of the (numerous) reasons she isn't too bright is because she trusts everyone automatically! It gets her into serious trouble at times!) Then I found it rather surprising that, for such an intelligent family, it took them so long to figure out that the baby inside Bella wanted blood. It's a vampire baby! It's really not that hard to figure out! I figured that much out about two sentences after describing how Bella hasn't been able to take in food and nutrition. It's pretty obvious.
Now, in New Moon, Edward leaves her in the very beginning. Bella had just had her first breakup, so it's only natural that she should be broken up about it. Now, the aftermath of a breakup usually lasts up to about two weeks, tops. After that, there's something else wrong. Either there is a huge trauma in the persons life that is more the issue than the breakup (which is not the case with Bella, seeing as she lives a generally charmed life), or she has some serious mental issues. Now, Bella not only exceeds two weeks; she goes on for four months in "zombie-mode". This is a sign of serious depression. Charlie should have taken her to a psychiatrist fairly quickly. In fear of this, Bella forces herself to talk to her friends again. Alas, she meets Jacob; another really hot guy. Once she starts talking to Jacob, Bella feels better automatically, and realizes she has begun to fall for him. Pretty quick recovery, huh? Now, this paragraph proves two things to us; 1) Bella is extremely weak. She depends on a man. She cannot fend for herself. She is needy, and she has Dependent Personality Disorder. 2) It turns out that she really was only lusting Edward. People don't get over their breakup blues that quickly. Yes, it should have faded much sooner. However, it never really faded. It was a black and white change. Next hot guy comes along, and she's feeling fine again!
I really couldn't stand Bella in Eclipse. She is supposed to be so mature and responsible, according to every other character in the books. This book really proves that to be untrue. She cannot choose between Edward and Jacob. That's understandable; it happens quite often in everyday life. However, she happens to be engaged. She can't be with Jacob if she's engaged to Edward. She should have broken the news to Jacob soon, seeing as he is her "best friend". However, she does not do so. She continues to flirt with him and lead him on, despite the fact that she is engaged to Edward. When Jacob forcibly kisses her, she had every right to be pissed off. That was one of the few times throughout the course of the story where her reaction was realistic to the situation. However, later on, when he kisses her again, she kisses him back . Despite the fact that she's engaged, despite the fact that she is planning on breaking Jacob's heart anyway, she kisses him back. That is, by all means, immature.
Ah, Breaking Dawn. I'm going to ignore the fact that Renesmee is completely illogical for now, and talk about Bella's personality change while Renesmee is still in her tummy (I'm trying to be discreet for the little ones who may be reading this). Bella, throughout all the books previous to this one, has been the ultra-pessimist. She has been the first one to say, "WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE!" In the beginning of Breaking Dawn, this attitude persists. She's fairly content on Isle Esme, as is expected on a honeymoon. However, once it goes into Jacob's point of view, when she is in the most pain and danger, you see that she is... a burst of sunshine. This uncharacteristic attitude not only suggests her to be a masochist, but it also happens to happen right at the time where Edward is more depressed than ever. Why is she so happy at the time Edward is so miserable? Why is she so happy when she's always been such a downer? Then, of course, once it goes back into Bella's point of view, that same ultra-pessimist attitude returns. She is fairly content at certain points (so that SMeyer can show how being a vampire is the best thing in the world... shallow much?), but overall, she is Miss Pessimist once again. What is up with that change in character? Does Bella have Multiple Personality Schizophrenia on top of the Schizophrenia she has proven she has? (She hears voices in her head... not normal.) Then, Bella supposedly becomes super-powerful. Does she really? The only reason she kept the Cullens alive is because the Volturi are a bunch of wusses anyway, so they probably wouldn't have attacked no matter what. She prevented the usage of certain powers against them, but she really did not save their lives. If the Volturi were really planning to attack, they would have done so much sooner. It was clear that they had no intention of actually harming the Cullens; they were only trying to scare them. So really, Bella didn't do much.
What is a Mary Sue? The definition of a Mary Sue, according to Wikipedia, is, "a fictional character with overly idealized and hackneyed mannerisms, lacking noteworthy flaws, and primarily functioning as a wish-fulfillment fantasy for the author or reader. Perhaps the single underlying feature of all characters described as 'Mary Sues' is that they are too ostentatious for the audience's taste, or that the author seems to favor the character too highly." Now, how does Bella fit this description, you ask? Let me explain.
"A fictional character with overly idealized and hackneyed mannerisms"
This basically means that she is supposed to be the authors picture of perfection. How many people tell Bella that she is "so mature for her age" and she is "so beautiful" and she is "so selfless" and she is "so intelligent" and she is just an amazing person in general? Of course, we know better, but this is in SMeyer's point of view.
"Lacking noteworthy flaws"
No, clumsiness is NOT a character flaw. I think I went over this already? What flaw did SMeyer purposely give to Bella? Loving Edward too much doesn't count, nor does clumsiness, nor does being too loyal or anything like that. I mean a REAL flaw. Examples of real personality flaws in real characters include...
Implusive and disregard to the rules for Harry in Harry Potter
Shallow for Tally in Uglies
Selfish for Lestat in The Vampire Chronicles
Thoughtless and selfish for Ralph in Lord of the Flies
Ungrateful for Coraline in Coraline
...and plenty more. Bella possesses no such flaw (on purpose, at least).
"Primarily functioning as a wish-fulfillment fantasy for the author or reader"
Come on. SMeyer even said so herself; in fact, she's said it directly to her husbands face. If Edward or Jacob walked up to the door, she would leave her husband in an instant. Boy, do I feel sorry for that man for having to put up with that woman. Take a look at Bella's physical description. Then take a look at a picture of SMeyer. Similar? Maybe a bit too similar.
"Too ostentatious for the audience's taste"
We are told she gets top grades. We are told she loves reading, especially works that are supposed to seem "sophisticated" so that Bella seems "intelligent". However, do we ever see any proof of her intelligence? Nope. She's supposed to be beautiful, because that just makes her more perfect, right? Then, she tries to be modest about it. She's supposed to be so "selfless" (though we know she's quite selfish). She's supposed to be absolutely perfect, to a point where it's fake. She's not truly perfect; she's a Barbie doll.
"The author seems to favor the character too highly"
Yes. Absolutely yes. She gets the man of her dreams without even trying. She gets the "perfect" family without even trying. She is admired by all without even trying. She becomes the most popular girl in school by the end of lunchtime without even trying. She becomes a vampire, which is exactly what she wants, without working for it at all. She doesn't have to struggle through her newborn phase; she's a natural! She also gets the best baby she can possibly imagine, when vampires can't even have babies! Lucky her! She becomes the most graceful vampire ever! She becomes the most "powerful" vampire ever! And she doesn't have to lift a finger to get what she wants! Isn't that great?
Not really, no.
At least, not in a book. Usually, the main character has to work and struggle through all sorts of things; they have to earn their happily ever after (if they get one at all), and it's never a complete happily ever after. The lack of this in Twilight shows a serious weakness in plotline.
I just wanted to add one more thing. How can people possibly talk about what a beautiful, caring and selfless character she is, when she didn't care about Irina's death at all? I know that vampire betrayed them. But Bella's allies were in pain at that death. She was a family friend, after all. If Bella were anywhere near as caring and kind as SMeyer likes to think she is, she would have grieved Irina's death. Instead, she shrugs it off and forgets about it. Irina isn't important to Bella anyway.
How is Bella anti-feminist, now? Well, I'll list some ways for you.
-Needs a man in her life CONSTANTLY.
-Needs a man to stand up for her ALL THE TIME.
-Happily cooks and cleans for her father who sits around all day watching football and drinking.
-Acts like a servant to any male who asks it of her.
-Edward always wins. Always. Bella doesn't mind though. He's only looking out for her, right?
Then, there are the people who say that Bella is a perfect roll model. How, may I ask? Is it a good message that this protagonist decided to get herself pregnant at 18, skip college and marry her hot boyfriend right out of high school, and become his maid for the rest of her life? What happens in REAL life (not Meyer-world) when a girl does that? Usually, it ends up in regret, depression, fighting, splitting up, being miserable, the child being troubled, etc. However, that cannot happen to Mary Sue - I mean Stephenie Meyer - I mean, uh, Bella. Bella's too perfect for that, right? Yeah... no.
Tell me what you think! If there are any points you'd like me to add, I'll be happy to :D