Bella’s Manipulation of Males in Twilight (a guest post by Katelyn Ciardullo)
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.” 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. 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. 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. 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.” 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.
 Stephenie Meyers, Twilight (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2005), 122.
 Stephenie Meyers, New Moon (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2006).
 Stephenie Meyers, Eclipse (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2007).