Bella Swan’s love interests are supernaturally powerful, and have charms, wit, and valor enough to make them knights among men, worthy of armies of fans ardently devoted to one or the other.
But what about their shared love interest? Where’s Team Bella? What is it about this heroine that attracts both of these men, and keeps all of us reading? She’s has no special powers, or even above-average intellect or physical abilities.
Perhaps it is her ordinariness that we love: she is self-conscious and clumsy, but still smart and witty. She’s not superhuman, but her love is so strong that she willingly sacrifices herself over and over again for the people she loves. Sometimes, Bella does succeed in proving herself a swan, a young woman with stunning beauty that hasn’t yet been fully developed or appreciated.
But at other times, perhaps even the most devout Twihards can admit that Bella is frustratingly weak. When she should be firm, she can be whiny. When self-sacrifice is required, she might instead choose the passion of the moment; when passion is needed, she might turn cold. Bella is mortal, and while she does have some admirable qualities, she also has traits that readers should not try to embody.
So let’s line it up: pros versus cons of Bella Swan. Judging Bella’s worth as a heroine is not the point of this article though; it’s analyzing her character so we can make our own better. As you read, consider in which areas of your life you need to be more or less like Bella, so you can enhance your own inner beauty.
Five Ways This Swan is Truly Beautiful
1. Don’t Stop Believin’
Edward and Jacob both win Bella’s love, and once she loves them, she refuses to give up on them, even when they both push her away. She’s no fair-weather friend or bitter ex-girlfriend: she remembers why she loved them to begin with, rather than dwelling on their negative traits and bad times to help herself get over them. The famous love chapter in the Bible tells us that love is patient and remembers no wrongs (1 Corinthians 13:4), and Bella certainly exemplifies this.
2. There Will be Blood
If the safety of Bella’s parents or loved ones is threatened, she will put her life on the line to protect them; she does it in almost every book. This is the kind of sacrifice that in this world is worthy of the movie theater, because it’s so rare. There’s a Facebook group called “I Would Take a Bullet For You…Not a Real Bullet But Like a BB one.” That’s the way of this world: I’ll give a little, but I’ll keep the best and strongest of myself for me. Not Bella. She follows the example of Christ, who died for us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8).
3. Bella to the Bone
This girl doesn’t claim to be anything but herself: she dresses for comfort and her own style and her hair and make-up are as natural as can be. Despite how plain she feels next to the Cullens, she never tries to fake a beauty she feels she doesn’t have. God doesn’t want us to load up on external beauty products, either: He wants His daughters’ beauty to come from within (1 Peter 3:3, 4).
4. Your Own Beat
Bella is already not exactly a normal teenage girl even before she falls in love with a vampire: she’d rather fix her dad dinner and read a book at home than go shopping with girlfriends or to a school dance. But that’s okay with Bella. She’s not afraid to be an exception to the rule, just like Christians should not conform to the world (Romans 12:2). Being different–shining a light in a dark world–is what being a Christian is all about. Bella might not have wanted the spotlight, but she didn’t mind being different in her own quiet way.
5. The Mediator
Bella is stuck in the middle for most of the series, between Edward and Jacob, Edward and her friends at school, or Charlie and Edward. Although she’s often dictated by her strong emotions, her sense of justice is strong enough to defend Jacob when Edward goes too far, or call Jacob an idiot when he messes up. Her love doesn’t make her switch sides to whomever’s company she’s in; she instead tells both Jacob and Edward what they need to hear, not necessarily what they want, and that makes her a true friend (Proverbs 27:6).
Five Ways Bella is an Ugly Duckling
1. Too Much Love
Bella says she doesn’t care whether she has a soul or not, because she’s already given it to Edward. Romantic love can’t compare to the love of Christ: end of story. It’s one thing to metaphorically give your heart to the guy you’re falling in love with, but a Christian’s soul is already committed. She never gives up trying to persuade Edward to change her into a vampire, a huge gamble when none of them are sure of the status of their souls.
2. Sitting Duck
Because she’s a human caught up in a series of superhuman fights, Bella is incapable of fighting her own battles. Christian women don’t have to be damsels in distress. Jesus already gave us the victory, but we still have to suit up and fight everyday with the weapons God has given us (check out Ephesians 6:13-17 for the full armor available to us)
3. Sorry Charlie
Bella’s dad doesn’t make many rules for her. And usually, she has no problem following them. Except when it comes to Edward. She flouts her dad’s rules to let him into her room at night, to be with the Cullens, and once, she even takes off on a rescue mission for Edward, leaving Charlie for three days with no warning or message. This is not only disrespectful behavior, it is sometimes heartbreaking for Charlie, who loves Bella, and whom she loves, too. Our parents have held us when we cried, fed and clothed us, and listened to all our stories since we were babies. They deserve better, and God commands that we respect them (Ephesians 6:1,2).
4. You’re Worth It
Until Edward risks his life for Bella, she can’t comprehend the fact that he loves her. Part of falling in love is feeling as though you don’t deserve the person you’re with, but doubting your man’s assertion that he loves you shows a lack of faith, in him and in God. God can do way more than we can imagine (Ephesians 3:20), so we should just enjoy His blessings, not question them!
5. The Game of Risk
When Bella finally emerges from the months-long stupor inflicted by Edward leaving, she realizes that her pain subsides when adrenaline replaces it, and begins to deliberately pursue dangerous pastimes. Being truly in the moment is a great feeling, but it can be achieved in much healthier ways than say, diving off a cliff in winter. Our bodies are God’s temple (1 Corinthians 6:19); we’ve got to treat them with respect.