Edward Cullen Isn’t the Main Character of ‘Twilight’ but He Does Have the Most Development Because of 1 Flaw
By now, everyone knows the story of Twilight, even if it’s just the gist of it. Edward Cullen is this brooding teen vampire with a love for the new (human) girl in Forks, WA, Bella Swan. Over the span of four books, they go through a “break up,” many more threats, and Edward’s disgust at turning Bella into a vampire so they can be together forever.
The new release of Midnight Sun shared the long-awaited version of Twilight from Edward’s point of view and it really highlights the fact that he hates himself so much. Through Robert Pattinson’s portrayal of him in the movies and what he tells Bella in the book, it’s obvious. But Midnight Sun smacks readers in the face with it. And that self-hatred is what makes him the most developed character by the end of the series. [Spoiler alert: Spoilers ahead for Midnight Sun].
Bella Swan’s strength is in the fact that she knows what she wants
Bella has received flack for not being a great role model. And she’s not, at least not fully and not at the beginning of her story. She’s very average and doesn’t have a ton of agency in a world of supernatural vampires and werewolves. But what she does possess is knowing what she wants and never faltering in that. She wants to be a vampire and be with Edward forever.
When speaking with the Remember Twilight? Podcast in August, author Stephenie Meyer said that she identifies with Bella’s mindset of knowing what she wants.
“I’m not very like Bella in a lot of ways, but I’ve always been pretty sure about [my life wants],” Meyer said. “And I like that she just is unshakable. Like, ‘I want this, I’m going after it.’”
Meyer does touch on the criticism that Bella isn’t a “great example,” noting that yeah, a girl shouldn’t get that hung up on a boy. But Edward’s a vampire, which makes things a bit different, according to Meyer.
“I do think it’s good for girls to be like, ‘I can be sure of what I want and not be afraid of what I want,’” Meyer concluded.
Edward Cullen is the king of hating himself and brooding over loving Bella
So yes, Edward Cullen is a vampire. He’s not the typical boy next door who you shouldn’t drop everything and fly to Italy for. But for Edward? A case could be made that Bella was in the right to do certain things like that.
And because Edward is a vampire, he has so much self-hatred. Hence his constant brooding. He has a “conscience” and doesn’t want to kill people and be a monster. That’s why he sticks with Carlisle after he has his “rebellious” years in the 1920s. But even killing those bad people didn’t ease his hatred for himself.
He had a god complex and realized he shouldn’t put himself in the position of judge, jury, and executioner. And he also decided he didn’t have a soul, making himself unworthy of Bella. Bella, of course, didn’t agree on this front, but this was a defining moment in his aversion to Bella becoming a vampire.
If he lost his soul becoming a vampire, then he wasn’t about to doom her to the same fate, regardless of if they’d get forever because of it.
Edward has the most growth because of his self-love journey
Meyer does point out that Bella is the main character in the original series. But Edward’s journey and progress are really noteworthy. While Bella does a little bit of character development, Edward does a bunch because he has a lot to get over.
“Edward does have a lot more growth because Edward has so much more self-hatred,” Meyer points out.
She said that, while Bella has insecurities regarding being too plain or unspecial for Edward, she’s a good person. Edward can’t say the same, at least in his personal opinion.
“So it’s a pretty big thing for him to find, through loving her, a way to love himself,” Meyer continued. “And I feel like it’s important after you read Midnight Sun, to go read Breaking Dawn to kind of see the completion of that arc where he gets to a place where he can love himself again.”
By Breaking Dawn Edward can’t deny that vampires have souls, because Bella still does after her transformation, in his eyes.
“I think his fight is to be able to love himself. And to agree with Bella that they belong together,” Meyer said. “Even after he has accepted this, that they will be together, he always feels like it’s wrong for her. And it’s not until she’s a vampire that he sees, ‘Oh, no I totally have my soul. Because look, she obviously has hers.’”
It’s a nice progression, especially when they get their “happy ending” after everything they’ve been through.