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(This article was originally written by PuzzleChick, and originally posted here)



Edward Cullen and Right Man Syndrome: A comparison of common patterns of behaviour associated with Right Man Syndrome, and the actions of Edward Cullen.

Notes beforehand:



  1. This essay is not meant to explore possible abusive behaviour by Edward – there are a ton of excellent essays and debates already done on that topic – although it is true that most abusive people have some degree of Right Man Syndrome, and it is definitely something to consider in that discussion.
  2. All quotes taken from the books will be inside quote boxes or italicized. All quotes regarding RMS will be bolded, and are taken from this website:
  3. I do not have the medical knowledge or experience to “diagnose” anything and do not claim that Edward definitely is or is not a Right Man. I highly doubt SMeyer intended him to be one. This essay is merely meant to explore the similarities, and you may draw your own conclusions.
  4. I do make some assumptions in here based upon what we already know of the character. Those are obviously my opinions, and I do not claim for them to be fact.



The following nine patterns are well-known behaviours that Right Men (also women) adopt, often in company with anxiety or depression. The Right Man “negates feedback from others” and places responsibility for his or her problems on a third party. “The effect upon the third party often takes the form of exasperation, hopelessness, helplessness and depression.” Note that Bella is often exasperated by Edward, yet never holds her ground to fight, often feels helpless and hopeless – putting herself down, calling herself weak, claiming she is never good enough for Edward – and exhibits depression in several instances. He, even if only psychologically, puts the blame on her for tempting him (with her blood or by coming on to him) or hurting him (he has to always worry about her, is jealous of her friendship with Jacob, and is hurt when she refuses something he believes is right for her. Somehow, all of his emotions become her fault. This is important later.)

Pattern #1 – “There Are No Shades of Gray” - Black and White Thinking.

Edward’s emotions often go to extremes. The extreme “love” between Bella and Edward is part of the draw of the series, but it is also obsessive and has no “shades of gray.” He goes instantly from meeting her and hating her, to loving her. There is never a mention of time in-between during which his emotions are neutral toward her, or simply caring.

[The right man] either loves someone totally or hates them emphatically.

A whole essay could be done on just how ‘totally’ he loves Bella, but here are a few quotes from early on in the relationship:

Quote:

You are my life now. (Twilight, page unknown)



Quote:

It was embarrassing how my world suddenly seemed to be empty of everything but her--my whole existence centered around the girl, rather than around myself anymore. –Midnight Sun, page 56.



Quote:

Her existence alone was excuse enough to justify the creation of the entire world. –Midnight Sun page 238.



With this pattern we see that moderation and mediation are not permissible.

In Eclipse he feels Jacob is a threat – does he act in moderation and deal with it by discussing his worries with her? Does he work out some kind of agreement so that she can go where she pleases, but following certain protocols to make sure she’s safe? Does he talk to Jacob to ensure that she’ll be safe when she goes to visit him?

No. He disables her car, and bribes his sister to distract her and keep her busy. He also uses Alice to foresee what she’s up to. When she sneaks out to visit Jacob, he follows her, and she feels frightened when she realizes his car is behind her:

Quote:

I considered pulling over. But I was too much of a coward to face him right away. I’d been counting on some prep time . . . and having Charlie nearby as a buffer. At least that would force him to keep his voice down. The Volvo followed inches behind me. I kept my eyes on the road ahead.

Chicken through and through, I drove straight to Angela’s without once meeting the gaze I could feel burning a hole in my mirror.
He followed me until I pulled to the curb in front of the Webers’ house. He didn’t stop, and I didn’t look up as he passed. I didn’t want to see the expression on his face. I ran up the short concrete walk to Angela’s door as soon as he was out of sight. –Eclipse pages131-132.



This is not acting in moderation. This is Edward being over-protective, (to the point that he scares his girlfriend into not wanting to face him!), and severely over-reacting to his desire to "protect" her.

”Nearly everything in The Right Man’s world is an extreme position and his communication with other people tends to force them to choose such a position also, something they may live to regret doing. Failure to conform to this way of thinking is usually interpreted - and thus exploited - as a weakness.

When Bella disagrees that he’s a danger to her, he immediately assumes something is wrong with her head, that she’s foolish, or that she’s too weak to understand her own weakness. He never once listens and considers that perhaps she sees something he doesn’t, and goes out of his way to impress upon her how weak her thinking is. He even thinks that she’s insane:

Quote:

I supposed that I could arrange for her to receive the best care available... Carlisle would have the connections to find her the most skilled doctors, the most talented therapists. Perhaps something could be done to fix whatever it was that was wrong with her, whatever it was that made her content to sit beside a vampire with her heart beating calmly. –Midnight Sun page 201.



She has failed to fit the way he thinks, has suggested there might be a shade of gray between “good” and “evil,” and is subsequently looked down upon because of it.

Pattern #2 – “You Have Ruined Your Life” – The Rule of Permanency.

This is a pattern I don’t have any solid evidence of, and will therefore pass over (for now.) If anyone knows of any instances of it, please let me know.

Well, there is his insistence that she remain human, and when she refuses...

Pattern #3. “You Have Ruined Your Life” – Catastrophisation.

This is a pattern I don’t have any solid evidence of, and will therefore pass over (for now.) If anyone knows of any instances of it, please let me know.

Pattern #4. “I Know You Better Than You Know Yourself” – Superior Knowledge.

With The Right Man, he knows the truth - i.e. the “real” character of a person - the character that the person manages to hide from everyone else, including themselves!

This is possibly one of the most prevalent signs of Right Man Syndrome that Edward demonstrates. He consistently, throughout the series, believes he knows Bella better than she knows herself.

A case could be made that this is true in many relationships. Often, we focus on the bad points of ourselves, but our partners see our good qualities. Maybe someone doubts his or her ability to quit their job and start their own business, but their partner encourages them to, knowing that once they get over the fear that they’ll be a great business owner. This could be considered as them knowing us better than we know ourselves. Edward tells Bella she’s beautiful. He ignores her protests that she’s plain and boring, and that alone could be sweet – that he sees past her low self-esteem and supports a more positive image of her – if only he stopped there. Unfortunately, he does not.

Throughout the entire series, Edward often does things for Bella with the reasoning that he knows what she wants or that he knows who she truly is, even up until the last book.

Rather than dispelling her fears and believing in her, he thinks of her condescendingly and doubts her own judgment of herself, coming across as if he knows she’s weak even if she doesn’t think she is. In one scene in Midnight Sun he considers her, “So furious – so soft and fragile.” In another, after Edward has teased her about being accident prone and she gets annoyed with him, retorting, “I’ll see what I can do,” he thinks: “Just like an angry kitten that believes it’s a tiger.”

The truth might be that compared to him, she is weak, but he never gives her a chance to even try to disprove him, nor does he ever encourage her to believe in herself.

In another example from Midnight Sun, regarding Bella’s belief that she loves Edward more than he loves her, he automatically “knows” she’s wrong.

Quote:

She thought that I was underestimating her feelings because I couldn’t hear her thoughts. But, in truth, the problem was that she was underestimating mine. –Midnight Sun page 237.



How does he know she’s underestimating his? Because he obviously has superior knowledge.

At the end of Twilight, Edward takes Bella to prom, despite her insistence that she doesn’t want to go. He “knows” that she will enjoy herself once she’s there, and so forces her to go. Rather than listen to her and take her word for it that it’s not something she will enjoy, he draws his own conclusions. The fact that she later has a good time is beside the point – the Right Man may very well be correct about some things – the only evidence the pattern needs is the fact that he made a choice for her about her opinion, and he did just that.

One of the popular games of The Right Man is to “put people in their place” – this “place” is decided by The Right Man himself. He does this frequently should anyone attempt to “rise above their station” or to maneuver themselves around in the social hierarchy so well dominated by The Right Man.

In Twilight, Bella thinks in regard to Edward’s wish to drive her truck: There was no way around it; I couldn't resist him in anything. – page 249.

This points to a “victim” mentality that Bella almost certainly has, and the consequences of controlling – and abusive – behaviour on Edward’s part, but it also shows how successful the Right Man has been at putting her in her place. At this point she doesn’t even resist – she in fact believes that she can’t.

Pattern #5. “I’m Only Doing This For Your Benefit” – Acts of Selfless Duty.

The pattern triggers the secondary event of “guilting.” It usually occurs as a result of Pattern #4 (“Superior Knowledge”) where The Right Man claims to be doing an action for the sake of another person. The action may be unnecessary or undesired, it may even annoy the person for whom the action is being done, but the recipient must be display an overt sign of gratitude to avoid punishment with guilt, depression, or aggression.

Edward tried to restrict Bella from seeing Jacob, which is eerily similar to a common action by known abusers, who often restrict their victims from visiting family or friends. This is often explained by saying he was simply trying to protect her from what he assumed was danger, rather than by a desire to restrain her. Proponents of the former also point out that Bella found his actions annoying. Yet, she forgave him because he said he was only trying to protect her. He punished her for being annoyed with him by showing hurt, which he knew she hates to see. The books say it’s her choice to forgive him. But generally, if someone one loves does something wrong and apologizes and tells his or her partner that he/she only did it for their own good and because they were concerned and loved them, most people would like to believe them. It is an excuse many people use in relationships. Most people won’t want to see someone they love torment themselves with guilt. Bella, being of low self-esteem and who has Edward on a miles-high pedestal, isn’t going to do anything to make him sad or upset. He is aware of this. At the first hint that he would feel guilty, what other choice does she feel she has but to forgive him? We know that Bella doesn’t want to upset him. All he has to do is say he did it for her own good, and that cancels out any right she has to be angry.

The actions are usually well intentioned, but usually "far off the mark" in terms of what the recipient of the action really wants or needs.

Edward often goes above and beyond in what he perceives as his duty, often to lengths that Bella does not want. In an example from Twilight:

Quote:

“Dammit Edward! Where are you taking me!” “We have to get you away from here-far away now.”

“Turn around! You have to take me home!” I shouted. I struggled with the stupid harness, tearing at the straps.

“Emmett.” Edward said grimly. And Emmett secured my hands in his steady grasp.

“No! Edward! No, you can't do this.”

“I have to, Bella, now, please be quiet.” –Twilight, page 381.



Obviously the idea here is supposed to be that he’s worried and wants to protect her, a perfectly understandable feeling. But Bella does not want him to literally kidnap her this way. Does he care? Not at all, because he knows what’s best for her, she doesn’t.

“One example that springs to mind is of the wife who was saving to buy herself a car – she wished to gain her own means of transport and independence. The second hand car she wanted was an estate car that meant that she could take the children and friends out and about.

Just before she bought the car, she arrived home to find a brand new, small, bright green “city” car sat on the drive. Knowing of her intentions, the husband has bought it for her. He meant well, he really did, but the car stood out, was smaller than she wanted and was more expensive than she and her husband could actually afford.

In short he bought her a bright green emotionally charged and laden white elephant.”

The above example is amazingly similar to an example in the books. He bought Bella a car that, at the beginning of Breaking Dawn, she feels uncomfortable with. Bella drives around in the car, feeling self-conscious and uncomfortable, but we all know what would happen if she had rejected the car. Edward would have most likely guilted her into driving it. In fact there is already a sign that he has when she mentions he got it to keep her fragile human self safe. She knows he was only looking out for her, only trying to do something nice, but it’s still uncomfortable for her.

This example also demonstrates that the actions of Right Men may very well have good intentions. (Many people try to explain away Edward’s mistakes as having good intentions.) Displaying patterns of RMS, this pattern in particular, does not make someone a bad person. The website stresses that it is only significant when placed into the context of the other Right Man patterns. Unfortunately, in Edward’s case, there are several other patterns to place it in.

Pattern #6. “Just Deserts. Trapped By Your Own Words” – Linguistic Wizardry.

This is a pattern I don’t have any solid evidence of, and will therefore pass over (for now.) If anyone knows of any instances of it, please let me know.

Pattern #7. “The End of The Matter” – Finalization.

The right Man has the habit of ending conversations…[with] catchphrases [that] dictate that, “I have the final word here and you and the subject at hand are therefore dismissed.

This pattern is hard to pinpoint exactly, because as far as I know Edward does not employ any ‘catchphrases.’ However, the general idea of the pattern is that the Right Man feels he should always have the last word.

As an example that I think may fit, in Twilight, Bella asks,

Quote:

"Does anyone want to hear my plan?"
"No," Edward growled." - pg 335.



His choice to not listen to her is final – she has no further say. While no catchphrases are used here, that is a very clear ending to a conversation.

Pattern #8 - "Shutting Down Conversation - Movement To Closure.Edit

In this pattern the Right Man continuously seeks to shut down another person's communication.Edit

Edward does not listen to Bella. He ignores her responses. This relates back to patterns 4 and 7. He knows what’s best, and that’s the end of the matter. Now he shuts down any reply she has. For example:

Quote:

“I am perfectly capable of driving myself home!” Of course she was – I just wasn’t capable of letting her go.

I rolled her window down and leaned toward her. “Get in, Bella.”

Her eyes narrowed, and I guessed that she was debating whether or not to make a run for it.

“I’ll just drag you back,” I promised. –Midnight Sun, page 134.



In that scene, Edward decides for Bella that the conversation is over. He will drive her home, and she will accept it. He shuts off any negative reply she might have given.

The same scene from Twilight (page 89):

Quote:

He was towing me toward his car now, pulling me by my jacket. It was all I could do to keep from falling backward. He'd probably just drag me along anyway if I did. "Let go!" I insisted. He ignored me. I staggered along sideways across the wet sidewalk until we reached the Volvo. Then he finally freed me — I stumbled against the passenger door.

"You are so pushy!" I grumbled.

"It's open," was all he responded. He got in the driver's side.

"I am perfectly capable of driving myself home!" I stood by the car, fuming. It was raining harder now, and I'd never put my hood up, so my hair was dripping down my back.

He lowered the automatic window and leaned toward me across the seat. "Get in, Bella."

I didn't answer. I was mentally calculating my chances of reaching the truck before he could catch me. I had to admit, they weren't good.

"I'll just drag you back," he threatened, guessing my plan.

I tried to maintain what dignity I could as I got into his car.



It is easy to see that Bella herself feels she has no option to respond anymore. He won’t let her speak and he won’t accept her choice. Her only option is to let him have control, because she knows he won’t listen. Third parties of Right Men often feel as if they will have a very short chance – if any chance at all – to speak their opinion before the Right Man shuts them down. Bella displays this exact response.

Pattern #9. “I’m Warning You!” Indicators of Violent Threats.Edit

Edward has often pointed out to her that he’s dangerous. Yes, it is her choice to stay with him, but that doesn’t erase the fact that he, often to get the upper hand, scares her with his threats.

Quote:

“Did I frighten you?” I asked, positive that she would deny it. “No.”

I tried not to smile, and failed. “I apologize for scaring you.” –Midnight Sun, page 262



And:

Quote:

"Do you think that I could be scary?" He raised one eyebrow, and the faint trace of a smile lighted his face.” – Twilight, page 92



Both of those comments, from different points of view, indicate Edward takes pleasure from the fact that he scares her or could be a danger to her. According to the pattern,

The Right Man rarely gives violent threats, but will often to be seen giving an indicator of a violent threat. This position enables The Right Man to deny ever being aggressive and enables him to experience other people’s fear or submission as a weakness emanating from them, rather than as feedback to his own demeanour.Edit

Edward’s comments hold no literal violent threat, but show that he knows he is a threat, and wants her to know it. (I’ll go out on a limb here and even suggest that he wants her to be afraid. Fans say he wants her to be afraid because he could hurt her and doesn’t want to, so he wants her to fear him so that she’ll run or shun him. That’s possible. Or possibly because he is used to thinking of humans as weak for fearing him, and dislikes that she has upset that balance.)

There are also the flat out warnings, such as:

Quote:

Midnight Sun (page 207) “It’s wrong. It’s not safe. I’m dangerous, Bella–”


And:

Quote:

“I'm the world's best predator, aren't I? Everything about me invites you in—my voice, my face, even my smell. As if I need any of that!” “As if you could outrun me.” He laughed bitterly. He reached up with one hand and with a deafening crack, effortlessly ripped a two-foot-thick branch from the trunk of the spruce. He balanced it in that hand for a moment, and threw it with blinding speed, shattering it against another huge tree, which shook and trembled at the blood1. “As if you could fight me off.”

I sat without moving, more frightened of him than I had ever been.

“Don't be afraid,” he murmured his velvet voice unintentionally seductive. “I promise,” he hesitated, “I swear not to hurt you.” –Twilight page 264.



First he tells her to be afraid. He gives her a great deal of reasons to be afraid. Then he turns right around and tells her not to be. He can now use Bella’s fear as an example of her weakness, because he can deny being aggressive after promising her not to hurt her. Instead of being afraid of him for good reason, if Bella displays any fear he can write it off as her recognizing her weakness in comparison to him.

In conclusion, Edward has displayed six out of nine patterns of Right Man Syndrome. He has continuously, throughout the entire series, displayed some of them such as patterns 4 and 5 without any sign of changing. While I doubt that Stephenie Meyer was trying to portray a man with patterns of a syndrome that nearly every serial killer (and, in my opinion after examining A.E Van Vogt’s and Colin Wilson’s studies, nearly every abuser) has displayed2, I believe there are too many similarities to ignore.

SubscriptsEdit

  1. I got this quote off of a thread at TwilightSucks.com. The line doesn’t make any sense, however I don’t have a copy of the book and cannot vouch for whether it’s correct or not.
  1. This has undergone some formatting changes to fir the Wiki format.
  1. This was noted in the The Mammoth Book of True Crime and presumably explored in more detail in A Criminal History Of Mankind (Colin Wilson).

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