Where do we start?
HOW CAN YOU SAY EDWARD IZZ ABUSIVE?? Edit
Answer: How can you say he ISN'T? He might not be on the outside, but that's just because he is using psychological methods, not physical. Abuse is not limited to the physical aspect.
OK, WAT IZ ABUSE ANYWAYS??? Edit
When arguing with fans of Twilight, Antis often assert that Edward is abusive. This page is dedicated to proving that argument. More often than not, a fan’s rebuttal will be one of the following: “Edward only does it because he loves Bella.” “Edward is trying to protect her.” “His intentions are good.”
This can be addressed in two parts. First, in terms of semantics (that is, the actual actions and consequences in the series) and second, the abstraction of intentions versus actions.
1. What is abuse?
Obviously, for the most part, Edward does not physically abuse Bella; that is not to say he isn’t abusive.
That is, Edward emotionally and mentally abuses Bella. Edward being a vampire is not an excuse for this; Meyer is portraying a relationship between two people and given the fact that Edward has a very human psyche—i.e. he experiences human emotions (anger, ‘‘love’’, worry), human desires (sex), and was once in fact human—it is not a reasonable argument simply to excuse his bad behavior by simply saying “Edward’s a vampire. It doesn’t count.” Abuse. What is it?
- An abusive relationship is an interpersonal relationship characterized by the use or threat of physical or psychological abuse. Abusive relationships are often characterized by jealousy, emotional withholding, a lack of intimacy, infidelity, sexual coercion, verbal abuse, broken promises, physical violence, control games and power plays.
This would be that definition broken down in terms of Edward and Bella’s relationship.
Jealousy: More than anything, Edward’s defining characteristic is in fact his jealousy. It is his jealousy that begins their relationship and generally instigates his abusive acts. Edward admits, following the incident with Bella’s engine, that the main reason for not wanting Bella to see Jacob was in fact his prejudice and jealousy. This is hardly his only instance of jealousy, rather an example. Another example would be what begins their relationship: it is only after Tyler, Eric and Mike have asked Bella to the spring dance that Edward decides to again speak to her, thus pursuing a relationship.
Emotional Withholding: Edward and Bella are supposed to share this incredible, transcendent relationship, which is completely undermined by the fact that rather than discuss his fears and uncertainties, Edward chooses to leave Bella at the beginning of New Moon. While it isn’t a crime to end a relationship, Edward chose to do so in such a cruel and unusual manner, instead of explaining his feelings and emotions, which makes it an abusive act.
Lack of Intimacy: The intimacy issue is trickier when it comes to Edward and Bella. In terms of physical intimacy, Edward is in control of every single chaste kiss and withholds sex, which is incredibly controlling. His withholding of sex is supposedly an attempt to protect her, but it is negated by the fact that he’s more than willing to sleep with her once they’re married, even though she’ll still be a puny, fragile human. A human who would still be hurt, regardless of their marital status.
Sexual Coercion: Again, Edward controls every aspect of their sexual lives, against Bella’s protests. Edward's refusal to have sex before marriage is not about moral boundaries, but rather about conning Bella into doing everything else his way: he starts to have sex with her, then stops, using that as an argument to force her to marry him. He also witholds sex within marriage, at which point there is no excuse.
Broken Promises: At the end of Twilight, Edward promises to stay with Bella, no matter what. Yet at the beginning of New Moon, he massively overreacts and leaves Bella in an unnecessarily cruel way, thus breaking that promise and rendering Bella suicidal. It may not be traditionally abusive, but it is unreasonably damaging.
Control Games and Power Plays: All of the above points, as well as points that will be addressed below, serve to prove that Edward is controlling. Edward is the dominant partner in this relationship, while Bella is completely submissive, which does not make a good relationship. It simply is not healthy and is not a representation of an equal partnership, nor a great love that transcends the ages.
It has to be made clear that intentions, good or bad, do not matter. It is an instance of the classic phrase “acta non verba” (or, “actions, not words”). When someone says “I love you so much!” and immediately follows that statement by trying to kill you, the meaning becomes immaterial. It does not matter if they honestly do love you, while still attempting to kill you; the action of attempted homicide still stands, and they will be charged with that, regardless of their feelings. When someone kills someone else, they cannot simply say “I made a mistake” or “I loved him/her”; the fact that they feel bad about it in retrospect does not negate the irreversible fact that they did, in fact, kill someone. When Edward removes the engine from Bella’s truck but later replaces it, the fact that he does replace it is irrelevant to the issue at hand; Edward performed an abusive act. It doesn’t matter that he felt bad about it or changed his mind; he still performed the act to begin with.
When the argument is raised that Edward only performs said action “in order to protect Bella”, his intentions are again irrelevant. In fact, "protectiveness" is a common excuse used by abusers in real life. It is not an adequate justification, not in reality, and not in Twilight. Simply put, Edward does not have the right to upend Bella’s life or attempt to control what she does, even if he cares about her. Furthermore, Edward does not have the right to decide who Bella sees, when she sees them, where she sees them and for how long. When Edward decides not to again kidnap Bella for the weekend, it does not make the fact that he had her kidnapped for a weekend the first time moot.
Abuse is not dependent upon intentions, but on what actually takes place. When Edward changes his mind or feels bad later, it does not erase whatever act he performed in the first place. When he feels bad about it, it does not mean that his character is not abusive. A character is not judged based on the person they are by the end of the novel (or series); rather, an understanding of the character is formed by incorporating everything that is learned about them throughout the series. While Edward does change his mind and does make different decisions, his good choices cannot negate the bad ones. Furthermore, while he does not repeat the same actions in specific, the general pattern of jealousy and contolling behaviour continues.
One overreaction does not an abusive relationship make. However, Edward's pattern of abusive actions makes him an abuser, regardless of his intentions and feelings on the subject.
Edward's Physical Abusiveness Edit
“Edward’s shielding arms had become restraints.” (Eclipse, 84)
- He holds her down at the end of Twilight.
- Following Bella's fainting spell in Biology, which was a blatant plot device (we never see her disgusted by blood again), Edward literally drags Bella through the parking lot, pushing her into a car door.
- We were near the parking lot now. I veered left, toward my truck. Something caught my jacket, yanking me back.
- "Where do you think you're going?" he asked, outraged. He was gripping a fistful of my jacket in one hand.
- I was confused. "I'm going home."
- "Didn't you hear me promise to take you safely home? Do you think I'm going to let you drive in your condition?" His voice was still indignant.
- "What condition? And what about my truck?" I complained.
- "I'll have Alice drop it off after school." 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're so pushy!" I grumbled.
- [snip for boring, unrelated dialogue where Bella does not berate Edward for his abusive treatment.]
- 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.
- Taken from the Twilight paperback, pages 103-104.
- Without proper warning, Edward throws Bella across a room. While this could be seen as playful, the symbolism of the act speaks volumes. After all, he does it specifically to frighten her.
- "I hate to burst your bubble, but you're really not as scary as you think you are. I don't find you scary at all, actually," I lied casually.
- He stopped, raising his eyebrows in blatant disbelief. Then he flashed a wide, wicked smile.
- "You really shouldn't have said that," he chuckled.
- He growled, a low sound in the back of his throat; his lips curled back over his perfect teeth. His body shifted suddenly, half-crouched, tensed like a lion about to pounce.
- I backed away from him, glaring.
- "You wouldn't."
- I didn't see him leap at me--it was much too fast. I only found myself suddenly airborne, and then we crashed onto the sofa, knocking it into the wall. All the while, his arms formed an iron cage of protection around me--I was barely jostled. But I was still gasping as I tried to right myself.
- He wasn't having that. He curled me into a ball against his chest, holding me more securely than iron chains.
- Taken from the Twilight paperback, page 345.
- In the above example, Edward attempts to frighten Bella, as well as physically controlling her movements. He may not have hit Bella, as is custom in a physically abusive relationship, however this--controlling another's movements because you are physically stronger--is also physical abuse. It is Bella's body. She is the only person, living or dead, who should control it.
- Below is another example of Edward's symbolically abusive actions.
- "That suits me," he replied, his face relaxing into a gentle smile. "Bring on the shackles--I'm your prisoner." But his long hands formed manacles around my wrists as he spoke.
- Taken from the Twilight paperback, page 302.
- "That suits me," he replied, his face relaxing into a gentle smile. "Bring on the shackles--I'm your prisoner." But his long hands formed manacles around my wrists as he spoke.
- Edward forming manacles (read: shackles, or handcuffs) around Bella's wrists is a physical display of control.
- In New Moon, he overreacts to Jasper's attack, throwing her across the room and into a desk.
- At the end of Twilight he forces Bella to take painkillers against her will.
- On page 106 of the Midnight Sun PDF, Edward begins to physically stalk Bella. It begins after three boys ask Bella to the spring dance, for reasons unknown beyond Bella being a Mary-Sue, and thus all of the boys must love her. Edward is jealous, even though he has had maybe two conversations with Bella at this point.
- I tried the window, and it was not locked, though it stuck due to long disuse. I slid it slowly aside, cringing at each faint groan of the metal frame. I would have to find some oil for next time...
- Next time? I shook my head, disgusted again.
- Taken from the Midnight Sun PDF, page 107.
- As shown by the above example, Edward has already begun to plan for his next visit. Over the next few pages, Edward decides that he is in love with Bella, upon hearing her mutter his name in her sleep. As well, Edward begins to plot how to begin a relationship with Bella.
- On page 107 of the Midnight Sun PDF Edward doesn't even bother to fight the temptation of Bella's thoughts escaping her because she mumbles in her sleep. After going on our nerves the previous 100 pages about how terrible it is to listen to the thoughts of the people surrounding you and not being able to give them privacy, that's just a bit hypocritical and kind of mind-stalking.
- 'Okay, Mom', she muttered.
- Bella talked in her sleep.
- Curiosity flared, overpowering self-disgust. The lure of those unprotected, unconsciously spoken thoughts was impossibly tempting.
He doen't even think about giving her privacy and leaving. Letting her decide what she wants to tell him, instead of stalking her mind to maybe hear something he likes. Its the same as stalking somebody to maybe see something you like. It's not romantic, it's disgusting.
- On page 116 of the Midnight Sun PDF, Edward begins to mentally stalk Bella, following her through the simple, human mind of her friends. Over the next few pages of his mental stalking, Edward constantly laughs at Bella, finding amusement in her clumsiness.
- On page 153 of the Midnight Sun PDF, Edward again sneaks into Bella's room.
- Bella was sleeping peacefully when I climbed into her bedroom window early Monday morning. I'd remembered oil this time, and the window now moved silently out of my way.
- In the Midnight Sun PDF, Edward spends two days, pages 157-164, doing nothing more than stalking Bella, which begs the question, "What did Edward do for an entire century?"
- He follows her home in his car
- Edward follows Bella to Port Angeles, following only four conversations between the two of them, at most.
- "I followed you to Port Angeles," he admitted, speaking in a rush. "I've never tried to keep a specific person alive before, and it's much more troublesome than I would have believed. But that's probably just because it's you. Ordinary people seem to make it through the day without so many catastrophes." He paused.
- ::: Taken from the Twilight paperback, page 174.
- In the above example, Edward not only admits to stalking Bella, he belittles her in the process.
- Edward admits to being a stalker
Like a stalker. An obsessed stalker. An obsessed, vampire stalker
Midnight Sun PDF, page 75.
Edward's Emotional Abuse/ Possessiveness Edit
Also, see Edward and Right Man Syndrome.
- Below is an example of Edward's possessiveness in regards to Bella. This happens very early on in their pseudo-relationship.
- "Hello, Tyler, this is Edward Cullen." His voice was very friendly, on the surface. I knew it well enough to catch the soft edge of menace. What was Tyler doing at my house? [snipped for boring internal monologue]
- "I'm sorry if there's been some kind of mis-communication, but Bella is unavailable tonight." Edward's tone changed, and the threat in his voice was suddenly much more evident as he continued. "To be perfectly honest, she'll be unavailable every night, as far as anyone besides myself is concerned. No offense. And I'm sorry about your evening." He didn't sound sorry at all. And then he snapped the phone shut, a huge smirk on his face.
- Taken from the Twilight paperback, page 483.
- Following the attempted rape (read: Deus Ex Machina) in Port Angeles, Edward forces Bella to eat. While this could be seen as thoughtful and caring, given Edward's track record, it is also another indicator of a controlling personality.
- "What are you doing?" I asked.
- "I'm taking you to dinner." He smiled slightly, but his eyes were hard. He stepped out of the car and slammed the door. I fumbled with my seatbelt, and then hurried to get out of the car as well. He was waiting for me on the sidewalk.
- He spoke before I could. "Go stop Jessica and Angela before I have to track them down, too. I don't think I could restrain myself if I ran into your other friends again."
- I shivered at the threat in his voice.
- "That's fine--I'm not hungry." I shrugged.
- "I think you should eat something." Edward's voice was low, but full of authority. He looked up at Jessica and spoke slightly louder. "Do you mind if I drive Bella home tonight?"
- "Honestly, I'm not hungry," I insisted, looking up to scrutinize his face. His expression was unreadable.
- "Humor me."
- He walked to the door of the restaurant and held it open with an obstinate expression. Obviously, there would be no further discussion. I walked past him into the restaurant with a resigned sigh.
- Taken from the Twilight paperback, pages 165-166.
- In this example, Edward makes decisions on behalf of Bella and asks her friend for permission to drive Bella home, rather than asking Bella herself. How considerate.
- Edward laughs at her and denigrates her mentally (as shown in Midnight Sun)
- Edward frightens Bella unnecessarily with his vampirism but does not take steps to ensure her safety.
- Edward encourages Bella to lie to her father about seeing him, and furthermore sneaks around Charlie's back in order to see Bella after curfew and before Charlie knew about the relationship.
- Edward isolates Bella from her friends, then abandons her. At that time, he tells her "you aren't good enough," in blatant disregard for how this is going to hurt her.
- Edward takes Bella's belongings that are associated with him in an effort to control her healing process. Bella should be in charge of how she deals with the loss.
- In abandoning her in New Moon he forbids her
onlybest friend - Alice - from seeing her.
- Edward is jealous of Jacob, to the tune of actively preventing her from having a relationship with him. (taking the engine out of her car anyone? )
- He starts to have sex with her, then withholds it against her cooperation
- Edward tries to force Bella to get an abortion in Breaking Dawn, and tells Jacob he would have forced her if not for Rosalie
- He attempts to whore her out to Jacob
Yeah tru wuv indeed. But hey at least he´s hot. cough*
BUT EDWURDS OLDFASHOND!!Edit
1.) He lived through women's liberation and the sexual revolution. So no, he really shouldn't be that old-fashioned.
2.) As someone who can read minds, the brains of women shouldn't be a great mystery to him. He should know better than anyone what traumatizes and damages a person.
3.) Edward Cullen was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, during the second peak of the suffragette movement. His hometown was full of women fighting for women's rights, so it should not be that foreign a concept to him that women have brains.
4.) We never see examples of Jasper (older, from a much more strictly gendered culture) or Carlisle (much, much older, from an even more strictly gendered culture) acting controlling to their womenfolk. Where did Edward learn it?
5.) Old-fashioned gender ideals had men idealizing women, not attempting to control their actions. Women's sexuality was denied because of the belief that women were basically holier than men, and "nice" women did not have dirty things like sex drives. Edward might be horrified that Bella has a sex drive, but only because he believes that that is something "nice girls" don't have.
6.) So what? After he transfroms from human to vampire, he hops into a time machine, and doesn't experience the culture of the twenties to the nineties?
BUT EDWARD LOVES BELLA!!! TRUE LOVE MAKES IT OK!!!Edit
There are two problems with this argument. The less serious of the two is that we have no special reason to believe Edward does love Bella. Their connection is shallow (they like the same song? it must be fate!!!!) based on trivia and physical attraction - Edward's beauty and Bella's delicious scent. There is no respect (fundamental to real love,) and no loyalty. Bella can't live without a boytoy, so she hooks into Jacob as soon as Edward's back is turned, and Edward prefers wallowing in his own angst to fixing his supposed "love" (see New Moon, any random page.) He leaves her in the forest out of selfish obsession with his personal guilt trip rather than dealing constructively and respectfully with the problem.
The other, and more serious issue is the implication that anything, even so-called "Love," can excuse abuse. If you do not recognize something seriously screwed up about this concept, that says more about you as a person than it does about the concept. Obviously, people who genuinely and passionately love their partners demonstrate that love by, among other things, not abusing their partner, but even abusive partners feel a sort of "love" in between episodes of abusive behaviour - half love, and half guilt, usually involving little or no genuine commitment to changing their ways, and no real concern for the other's wellbeing. This pattern - "He's so loving and sweet after he beats me. He's always sorry..." is a HUGE stumbling block for many people trying to escape abusive relationships, and encouraging that perception is harmful. There is NO excuse. Not even "love."