Alright, at this point it’s no secret that Bella Swan isn’t exactly the most liked character in Twilight, even though she is the main character. Now, as the series progresses her personality comes out more and she starts to find her footing and her voice. However, a major caveat to the series was her intense dependence on Edward Cullen, and vice versa. Not to mention her inability to be on her own.
However, did you ever think about why she was like that? It’s not as explicitly stated in the books from Bella’s point of view, but she wasn’t exactly cared for the best by her mother. And with Midnight Sun, readers get a deeper understanding of why Bella is the way she is. [Spoiler alert: Spoilers ahead for Midnight Sun].
Bella Swan’s mother, Renée, was not the best mother
Readers of Twilight know that Bella didn’t have the closest relationship with Charlie, her father, before coming to Forks. He did care for her, a lot, and vacationed with her every summer for two weeks in California. But she lived full-time with her mom. However, Renée is the one who actually shows the least amount of interest in actually being a parent to Bella.
The list of grievances is long, but just starting with the most obvious things, Bella’s mom does not take care of her. In both tellings of the first book, Bella says that she was the cook, she was the one who filed and took care of bills getting paid. Something she did since she could read. Safe to say, those are not normal kiddie activities.
Also, throughout the four novels, the only time Bella’s mom comes to Forks, WA is in Breaking Dawn for Bella’s wedding to Edward. She doesn’t come for her graduation or to see her over the summer. Again, Charlie made sure to visit every year.
On top of that, Edward’s point of view hits home how neglectful and “eractic, hair-brained” Renée is. While Bella’s in the hospital in Arizona, her mother’s thoughts stray from her injured daughter a few times.
Edward noticed a lot of the neglect Bella was brought up in
Even author Stephenie Meyer has a bit of disdain for Renée.
“Bella is so biased in favor of her mother… she always sees the best in her mom,” Meyer said on the Remember Twilight? podcast. “But it’s all there, who Renée is. And it’s not like Renée is mean, or intends to be cruel, it’s all unintentional. And it’s just how she is. But how she is, is not a good mom.”
Again, Edward notices a lot of this even though he doesn’t actively think badly of Renée. But he clocks right away that Bella’s aversion to being taken cared of or having someone actually see her is because she’s gone her whole life with her mother skirting around Bella’s wants and needs.
Bella said that her mother called her an “open book,” always seeming to know what Bella was thinking. However, it wasn’t until Edward Cullen started talking to her that she had someone who was actually interested in what she thought. It’s easy to see how Renée might think she knew what Bella was thinking, but Edward was the first who tried to uncover the real Bella.
On top of that, even though it made Bella uncomfortable, Edward cared for her. It was something that she didn’t allow anyone to do because Renée never stepped up in the way a parent should. She was a bit starved for that sort of attention.
While she didn’t have the healthiest relationship, Bella’s childhood trauma does explain some of its faults
Bella is constantly painted as this bland lead protagonist who may or may not be a bad role model for girls reading the books. However, she is the product of the childhood trauma and upbringing she had. The books don’t do a great job of unpacking that, however it’s easy to see how Bella was off from the start.
“I don’t think that anybody ends up like Bella if they have a really good mom,” Meyer said during the podcast episode. This was also after she stated that in a non-vampire world, Bella’s choices and intense devotion to Edward wouldn’t be acceptable.
Bella and Edward’s entangled love story can be toxic at times, even though it gets better. And Midnight Sun was the fantastic missing piece fans needed to get more of the story. Their coupling certainly shouldn’t be the poster child for relationships, but looking at Bella’s background and the extreme circumstances, it’s a bit easier to understand it.