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Bella’s Manipulation of Males in Twilight (a guest post by Katelyn Ciardullo)

October 26, 2010

Bella’s struggle over choosing Edward or Jacob as her boyfriend is the main conflict of the Twilight saga.  While Bella internally struggles with her decision, Edward and Jacob fight for her love.  Though she ultimately picks Edward, Bella insists that Jacob remain a part of her life.  Bella persuades Jacob to remain in her life through coercion and manipulation, all the while inflicting emotional abuse on both Jacob and Edward.

Bella’s manipulation of Jacob is made clear in the beginning of the saga.  In an attempt to gain information about Edward, Bella flirts with Jacob.  Bella “hopes that Jacob is not yet experienced around girls, so that he does not see through her flirting.”[1] Her only interest in speaking to Jacob is to learn about Edward, she does not intend to get to know him.  Once she gains the information she sought, Bella does not attempt to see Jacob during the rest of the first book.  A second time in which Bella turns to Jacob for help occurs when Edward breaks up with her.  The entire second installment of the saga, New Moon, focuses on Bella’s using of Jacob.  Bella seeks comfort in Jacob’s company, filling the void in her life that is left from Edward’s leaving.  Jacob allows the emotional manipulation to occur, hoping that he can one day replace Edward in her heart, which Bella never intends to let happen.[2] A third time in which Bella uses Jacob occurs in Eclipse.  Since Edward is back in her life, there is no real need for Jacob, and Bella uses him to ease her guilty conscience and to make her life more comfortable.  Feeling guilty for abandoning her friendship with Jacob in order to save Edward, Bella pleadingly reaches out to Jacob, harassing Jacob through letters until he gives in.  She also treats him as she would a blanket, only keeping him around to keep her warm.[3] Bella does nothing to deserve the friendship of Jacob, though he ignorantly sticks around and tolerates the abuse.

Due to the fact that Jacob accepts the abuse of her and sticks around, Bella attempts to keep both her relationship with Jacob and her relationship with Edward intact.  While she spends time with either guy, the other is expected to happily accept it.  Bella believes that she can have it all, not worrying about how Jacob and Edward feel.  The video parody, “Twi Kids Halloween,” spoofs the way in which Bella keeps both guys around.  While trick-or-treating, Bella trips over a pumpkin and Jacob and Edward run to help her.  After they help her, she walks hand in hand with the both of them.[4] Bella sees nothing wrong with having two men, that love her, show her affection.  She expects that Edward accepts Jacob as her best friend, and that Jacob accepts Edward as her boyfriend.  Bella pushes the two even further, believing that toleration of each other is not enough, and forces a friendship upon Jacob and Edward.  The video parody “Twi Kids Halloween” mocks this aspect of the saga as well.  After bickering with each other, Bella insists that the two “hug it out.”[5] Considered mortal enemies in the story, both Jacob and Edward give in to the every whim of Bella.  Bella takes advantage of the fact that both guys would do anything for her.  She hurts Jacob by being with Edward, and she hurts Edward by spending time with Jacob.  Bella selfishly wants relationships with both guys, using their feelings for her against them.

Bella, often portrayed as the victim of the Twilight saga, inflicts her fair amount of emotional pain on others, most of which is directed at Jacob.  Bella’s treatment of Jacob crushes the dreams of all the best friends who dutifully wait for their love to be reciprocated.  She pulls him along throughout the story, making her life better while causing him emotional damage.  Edward too is the victim of Bella’s manipulation, he is expected to watch while she spends time with another guy.  The representation of Bella as innocent and as a good role model needs to be reassessed, taking into account her manipulation of the men that love her.


[1] Stephenie Meyers, Twilight (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2005), 122.

[2] Stephenie Meyers, New Moon (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2006).

[3] Stephenie Meyers, Eclipse (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2007).

[4] Twi Kids Trio, “Twi Kids Halloween,” You Tube, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O8_P2sXKZl8 (accessed October 11, 2010).

[5] Twi Kids Trio, “Twi Kids Halloween,” You Tube, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O8_P2sXKZl8 (accessed October 11, 2010).

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. October 26, 2010 7:04 pm

    Bella is not abusing Jacob anymore than he is doing the same.

    Bella went for Jacob to help with the bikes and offered to pay him, he was the one that decided to use this as way to win her heart, which is a choice he made knowing that he might not succeeded and in which Bella warned him all the times he brought the subject, when she went to saver her boyfriend was the moment Jacob should had realized that it was impossible for him to replace Edward and get over it and choose if he can be just friend or if he had to cut from Bella, he instead told Charlie about the bikes to make Bella grounded and the moment he realized that her desires was to be a vampire he threatened her with the treaty to stop her from it.

    In Eclipse she stoped writing Jacob for weeks when she went to Florida and visited her mom Jacob instead of taking this opportunity keep his distance, he went to her school and as soon as he found a way to make Edward look bad he told her about Victoria and then told her that he was okay with being just friends. Bella felt guilty for the whole situation and decided to be friends with him under this circumstances, later on is when Jacob let her know that he is not really okay with that and kisses her by force, she again cut ties with him but he goes to the party at the Cullens house and then he offers himself to fight to protect her and she cannot just escape their relationship anymore. One might realize that Bella is after all having her first boyfriend and that no one (no Charlie, Renee. Edward or Angela) told her that the best she could do was to stop seeing Jacob au contraire Charlie make her feel like crap if she was not friends with Jacob, recruiting Renee’s help, Angela did told her that Edward might had been jealous but she never told her that maybe she should try and stop seeing Jacob for the moment (on her defense she didn’t knew a lot about the issue) and Edward didn’t expressed any issues about Jacob aside from the safety around werewolves so once that was over he took a step back and let her do what she wanted without telling her how much it hurted him but being stoic about it.

    Also the idea that I would seek someone’s friendship with the ulterior motive of convince them to “love me” romantically, sounds a lot like no real friendship but manipulation. There is a difference between falling in love with your best friend, becoming best friend with the person you are attracted to and/or in a relationship and subtly entering the social circle of someone in order to gain something from them, because you are attracted to them not because they are a nice person, meaning no pants you want to get into, to hang out with.
    I will like to link one of my favorite illustrations about the “best friend/nice guy” myth. http://xkcd.com/513/

  2. deenohh permalink
    November 12, 2013 7:11 pm

    Bella is the one who should have stayed away. Jacob was essentially trying to prevent Bella from killing herself. Ending your natural life at 18 is not healthy not normal. Bella’s father did not like Edward and for good reason. Bella became a needy, whiny, selfish liar around Edward. He was controlling, manipulative, dishonest and jealous Anyway yes Bella started off with bikes. Yes she offered to pay but once she found out that that when she was with Jacob she felt better she started sending mucho mixed signals.There are several passages in the book stating that she wanted to stake a claim on him and keep him from seeing other people so she would be available for her. Jacob never entered Bellas social circle, she entered his. Edward was NEVER stoic about Bella seeing Jacob. Her relationship with edward was not an uplifting one, it wast healthy and did not bring out the best in her. I find it odd that you try so hard to defend her and edwards behaviour whithout looking at the larger issues.

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