Bella is warned by numerous people and events throughout the course of the story that she is actively pursuing her own destruction – but she’s so dependent on Edward and caught up in the idea of the romance that she refuses to see the situation for what it is. Charlie tells her Edward is bad news. Edward tells her that he believes he is damned, and devoid of a soul. He further tells her that making her like him is the most selfish thing he will ever do. Jacob warns her numerous times that Edward is a threat to her life and well-being. She even has examples of other women who have become involved with monsters – Emily Young bears severe and permanent facial disfigurement due to her entanglement with Sam Uley.
… [Ultimately], her entire identity – everything that made her who she was – has been erased.
This is powerfully underscored on p. 506, when Charlie Swan (remember, the conscience of the story) sees his own daughter for the first time after her transformation:
“Charlie’s blank expression told me how off my voice was. His eyes zeroed in on me and widened.
Shock. Disbelief. Pain. Loss. Fear. Anger. Suspicion. More pain.”
He goes through the entire grieving process right there – because at that moment, he recognizes what so many readers don’t – Bella Swan is dead.
The most tragic part of the whole story is that this empty shell of a person – which at this point is nothing more than a frozen echo of Bella, twisted and destroyed as she is by her codependence with Edward, fails to see what has happened to her. She ends the story in denial – empty, annihilated, and having learned nothing.
I would say that read in the proper light, it’s a powerful cautionary tale about accepting traditional gender roles and conforming to expected societal norms. Particularly with regard to male dominance (rather than partnership) in relationships.
I haven’t read the Twilight series (mostly because I am such a Harry Potter diehard & the feminist critiques of it made it sooo unappetizing), but this is a good read.
This is what I’ve been saying all along!!!