In Defense of Stephenie Meyer, pt. 2

From this writer's perspective, Stephenie Meyer figured it out. She figured out what the romantic, hopeful female human being wants. And she gave it to us. THAT is why she's now a multi-millionaire. Not because of obsessive teenage girls (though they do help!).

Bella Swan is merely a place holder. She is ordinary by design. Meyer wanted us (the reader) to be able to insert ourselves into Bella's place in order to more fully experience Edward, Forks, everything. It happens subconsciously. If Bella were a more interesting and different, we'd be more aware of her as a character, and while we'd find her more entertaining, we would separate ourselves from her. Meyer didn't want us to be able to see her, but to be able to see everything through her eyes. To do that, we have to be able to jump in. To be able to jump in, Bella had to be very generic, so that we could bring our experiences, our personalities, our willingness to experience to the story.

I think this is part of the reason Bella becomes so insufferable in book 2. She starts behaving like a heartbroken 17 year old girl (I work with them, and I've been one - so I can say with at least that much authority that Bella's obsessiveness is pretty accurate). While this makes perfect sense to the readers who ARE obsessive teenage girls - to those of us who have moved beyond that phase, it can be pretty obnoxious to be expected to re-live. So we withdraw from Bella, and see her again as a character and not a subconscious extension of ourselves, and we start to think, "hey, waitasec. This chic is a loony!"

So Bella the ordinary still manages to catch the eye of Edward the incredible. But, really, who wouldn't want some incredible guy to fall madly and irrevocably in love with us for reasons that we can't see ourselves, but he insists he simply cannot live without? Meyer gives all of us normal, ordinary girls the chance to experience something extra-ordinary. Well, sure! Sign me up.

Which brings us back to Meyer giving us what we want.

The Cullens are not just really good looking, charming people. They're also ridiculously rich. And have a penchant for bestowing pricey gifts upon Bella. Of course, Bella has to be unaffected by these goods so that we the reader can be excited about it instead. She doesn't want the extremely shiny, extremely fast sportscar that Edward buys for her. She is unmoved by the incredible (and imported) wardrobe that Alice forces on to her. Because Bella is humble and occasionally embarrassed by the monetary attention of Edward and his clan, we the reader are permitted to indulge our little hearts out.

Bella is clumsy - not just as a plot device to get her into physical harm's way, but to showcase the vampire's smooth confidence. Their physical strength, their grace, their absolute control. But even more than that, it allows we as the reader to be better able to believe that this could happen to our awkward, clumsy, HUMAN selves.

We could have an adventure bigger than ourselves.

All this added to the compelling storyline and genius inventions of the World of Vampires Meyer created leads me to suspect that Meyer isn't a moonstruck vampire-obsessed lunatic. She's actually a pretty great writer.

Of course, I'm also just really jealous that she wrote the books and I didn't.


That Girl said...

*clap clap clap clap clap*

I am SO forwarding this to like a million people.

Katy said...

Hey so you don't know me but my dear friend, That Girl, directed me to this post. THANK you for what you said! My feelings exactly. Strip away all the pop culture baggage and meda obsession that has been piled onto Twilight and Stephenie, and at the core you still have the original books - which are a great story, I agree.

Have you read The Host? Now THAT is especially great storytelling. I love it!

Anyway, thanks again for your thoughts. :)

Grandpa Rusty said...

Stepper, well stated. Well thought out. To make money in any creative enterprise, you have to do something that not only is an expression of yourself, of your own creativity, but also do something that some other human being will be touched by, moved by, changed by. If not, creativity is nothing but narcissism.

I find narcissistic people annoying, because everyone knows that no one is more important than me.