breaking dawn: would you like some blood with that?

By Marcia Montenegro, February 2010

"It was not just a scream, it was a blood-curdling shriek of agony. The horrifying sound cut off with a gurgle, and her eyes rolled back into her head. Her body twitched, arched in Rosalie's arms, and then Bella vomited a fountain of blood." ~ Description of Bella in labor

"Edward's lips were like a shot of some addictive chemical straight into my nervous system. I was instantly craving more. It took all my concentration to remember the baby in my arms." ~ Sample of Bella's obsession with Edward, part of many erotically charged scenes

"The traditional vampires were going as far away as possible to satiate their thirst. I tried not to think of their hunting in the night, cringing at the mental picture of their victims." ~ Bella observing vampires that she and Edward are hosting in their home, knowing they are going out to hunt and kill people

The romance/obsession between Bella and Edward continues in Meyer's fourth and final book of the Twilight Saga series. One must wonder what the big deal was with all the restraint in the first three books when, finally, Edward and Bella give in to their physical desires on their honeymoon? The restraint was never based on moral grounds to begin with, but was due to Edward's fear that in his vampire passion he would kill Bella. Bella was always pleading with Edward to give in, but now, as his wife, she has more leverage, and Edward gives in. However, she comes out of it looking like a battered wife - the description is disturbing because it is so reminiscent of such an image. But this is mild compared to what is to come.

Bonding

In the first three books, Edward and his clan hunt animals in the woods but it is not described. However, in the final book, after Bella finally fulfills her longing to become a vampire, she hunts with Edward, and we read about her kill of a mountain lion: "My teeth unerringly sought his throat, and his instinctive resistance was pitifully feeble against my strength" (422). Biting into the animal was "effortless as biting into butter" (422). The account continues:

"The flavor was wrong, but the blood was hot and wet and it soothed the ragged, itching thirst as I drank in an eager rush. The cat's struggles grew more and more feeble, and his screams choked off with a gurgle. The warmth of the blood radiated throughout my whole body, heating even my fingertips and toes" (422-423).

By today's standards, the above may not seem disturbing. But who wants to use today's standards as the standard? The standards for taste in all areas of entertainment have fallen so low as to be meaningless.

Shortly after her kill of the lion, Bella remarks that it was a "surprisingly sensual experience to observe Edward hunting," and she notes that with his lips parted "over his gleaming teeth," as he is about to bring down a deer, Edward is "glorious" (425). Later, they hunt with their young daughter, Renesmee, who is so advanced that she can join in. Somehow, the idea of a family pouncing on animals and tearing flesh with their teeth, then drinking and draining the animal of blood does not a wholesome picture make, but once the reader has partaken of so many repulsive images, each succeeding illustration of this sort makes less and less of an impact.

Bloodlust

There is an almost-Gnostic downgrading of the human body and mind in favor of the vampires, who are described as godlike, brilliant, angelic, and who are immortals, like ancient gods. Once Bella becomes a vampire, her memories as a human seem vague and indistinct, and she exults in her ability to move so quickly that she is a blur to human eyes, that she is powerful and strong, that she never tires, and that she can detect multi-layers of odors no human can smell. "I was never going to get tired . . . We didn't have to catch our breath or rest or eat or even use the bathroom; we had no more mundane human needs" (482-483).

At the same time, vampires are slaves to their bloodlust. After vampirehood, Bella is afraid to meet her father, Charlie, because she worries that she cannot stop herself from attacking him. She remarks, "Charlie smelled more delicious than anything I'd ever imagined . . . And he was just a few feet away, leaking mouthwatering heat and moisture into the dry air" (507). This is Bella's father!

But even more chilling, the same situation arose when Bella had her baby, Renesmee. Her daughter was taken away after birth and she could not see her because those around Bella feared she would attack her own child. Indeed, Edward himself tells Bella that the greatest pleasure for a vampire is to drink human blood.

Birth

The most gruesome situation, however, is the labor and delivery of Bella's baby. Bella became pregnant on her honeymoon while she was still human. Therefore, in her pregnancy, which progresses about nine times faster than a human pregnancy, Bella, still human, is carrying a half-human half-vampire child. Bella is not able to eat and the unborn baby is getting malnourished. Consequently, Bella grows weaker while at the same time suffering great pain from the rapidly growing child who is breaking Bella's ribs, one by one. The reader is treated to these bone snapping episodes with the verbal equivalent of a sound effect.

Edward figures out that the baby is craving blood - human blood. Fortunately, the clan has human blood available (it is not explained where they got the blood), and they give Bella cups of human blood. At first, Bella is unsure about drinking it, but Bella, after the initial tasting and ever ready to prepare herself for vampirehood, declares that it tastes good. Bella continues to down cup after cup of human blood (please note it is human blood) until their stock is used up, and Carlisle has to rush out to procure more blood (maybe by robbing a blood bank?).

The description of Bella going into labor is horrific. There is a "ripping sound from the center of her body," a "shriek of agony," and then Bella convulses and vomits "a fountain of blood" (347). Bella is so spent and damaged that the baby must be taken out, so Edward uses his teeth to rip into her flesh and gets the child out.

Bella's heart fails, and Edward plunges a syringe full of his "venom" into Bella's heart. This begins the process of changing Bella into a vampire. Edward continues forcing his venom into Bella by biting her all over her body. For three days, Bella experiences an agonizing burning through her body as she goes from human to vampire. The depiction of these events is grisly and repugnant, and odious particulars are not spared. (This summary pales in comparison to reading the actual account in the book).

Jacob "imprints" on Bella and Edward's baby girl. Werewolves like Jacob find their mate through an instinctive "knowing" of who their mate is, and via an obsession for this person, called "imprinting." This resolves the Bella-Jacob-Edward triangle but in a rather creepy manner. That Jacob will one day mate with this baby and in the meantime cares for her (it is hard for him to be apart from Renesmee and he does take care of her in the last book), is somewhat morally repellent.

That such a tale featuring creatures with such distasteful habits and full of so many nauseating details has been so widely praised is baffling; and the fact that there has been little or no reference to or warning about the abhorrent aspects of the books is even more perplexing.

Major Concerns with the Twilight Saga

  • Sexual abstinence is not for moral reasons

  • Edward and Bella sleep together before marriage; this should be a concern for parents of teens who read these books, even though Bella and Edward stay technically abstinent

  • Erotic scenes, much sexual innuendo and sexually suggestive language, especially in Eclipse and Breaking Dawn

  • Thoughts of violence in Jacob's mind, which seem to comprise most of his thinking

  • Bella's persistent deception and lies to her family and friends

  • Gruesome descriptions of Bella's labor and birth, killing of animals, and other scenes

  • Edward and his clan accommodate their guest vampires who are hunting and killing humans

  • Presenting humans as vastly inferior to vampires

  • Portraying Edward and other vampires as godlike, almost perfect beings although they either kill people and drink human blood (or have the urge to do so, as with Edward's clan)


 

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