Character Study: Edward Cullen, The True Protagonist Of Twilight

©Copyright Arabella K. Federico 2020 All Rights Reserved

Twilight- Midnight Sun

My opinion on why Edward Cullen is the REAL Protagonist of The Twilight Saga, and how Stephanie Meyer's new book, "Midnight Sun" will probably be the best novel out of the five.

Let's Go back...back to the days of the twilight "Twihards"

To begin, and please don’t think less of me…I drank the Kool-Aid over the entire Twilight thing. Actually, I found the books decent back then, but that wasn’t the issue, despite the sparkly vampire thing. My issue was Bella Swan’s lack of personality and Kristen Stewart’s terrible acting skills and how Stephanie Meyer made the biggest mistake in writing Bella as the Protagonist for this series. We can practically make the argument that there can be both a “Main Character” and also a “Protagonist” in the same story that happen to be different characters. Though I don’t believe Twilight was ever set up that way. It was setup as Bella Swan’s story from the get-her POV, her story. What’s done is done…and then, the leak happened. 

Twilight

Someone was a naughty sparkly vampire

Firstly, back in 2008, Meyer had written some, if not all, of “Midnight Sun”, which by now we all know is from Edward Cullen’s POV. Unfortunately, it was leaked online. Which, side-note-dafuq??? I couldn’t IMAGINE, as an author, that happening to my book. Meyer talks about it in this article from The Guardian here, where she felt as if she couldn’t emotionally continue writing the story due to how violated she felt. To the dismay of many fans, the book was officially shelved and some was released online. Vaguely, do I remember reading the first chapter back then, and was intrigued, which got me thinking something that was-at the time-Earth shattering. 

88e99203491eb191232ac9ee41f6d8ef

Been saying this about twilight since...FOREVER!

Secondly, since I’m sure many people on going to get on board with this notion, I’m gonna say it here and now; I’ve been saying this from the GET, YO. Well, at least from the time this whole, swap in POV thing occurred. But here’s where I differ from the average Twihard. I believe “Twilight” has always been Edward’s story. ALWAYS. And it’s not because Bella is a “Mary-Sue”. or because she is quite literally personality-less even before Kristen Stewart ruined the character with all her apathy, or even the whole-“I’m clumsy and therefore-SO interesting to deep-thinking immortal beings…”
It’s because she lacks the critical pieces of a TRUE Protagonist

Now, lets take a step back.

Thirdly, if you’ve read any of my “Writing Your Dream Protagonist-Part 1” and “How Protagonist and Plot Dovetail Together-Part 2” blogs, you know that I am a big proponent of deep and intricate character arcs. Additionally, I believe in order to have a great story that matters, your Protagonist has to have an entire ecosystem of backstory, beliefs, unhealed wounds, lies they believe, something they want and something they need; and a truth that must be discovered to bring it all home. Bella Swan has none of these things. Let me say it once again for those in the back, BELLA SWAN HAS NONE OF THESE THINGS. 
I’m sorry-truth hurts. 
But….Edward Cullen on the other hand, ladies…DOES. 
Edward Cullen

Why The Stupid Shiny Volvo Owner is the true Protagonist of this story

Furthermore, Edward Cullen comes into this story with so much baggage, Delta wouldn’t even know what to do with it. His backstory as a vampire, which could go on for DAYS, had lead him to a very clear misbelief. Not about the world, which is common, but about HIMSELF. He believes with his whole heart, that he is a monster. Deadly, his soul is corrupted by the worst type of evil; he’s a murderer. Irredeemable. Killing people, at some point in his past, brought him delight and satisfaction because that’s what a vampire does. Simply, it’s who they are. This misbelief is with Edward aaaalllll the way to the end of the story. And, AND, it causes great tension and conflict through the course of the story because he is acting on that lie he believes about himself and makes (bad) decisions based off that misbelief. Hello???? That’s THE way you do it, writers.

the twilight saga: new moon

The entire book of New Moon occurred because of Edward’s misbelief about himself. Edward chose to leave Bella because he believed himself and his family to be a mortal danger to her. Which, ehh, maybe-but also not really. Meyer needed to place some rationale into Edwards choices, because after all, he does love her. The only way he could ever leave her would be this-his misbelief. That’s why it works so well, because the audience is watching him leave her, knowing they both love each other and she’s willing to risk it all to be in his world, yet he believes himself to be so much of a monster. Cutting her off, fuckin cold turkey, man. Some deep shit, and why that breakup killed us all; it didn’t HAVE to be that way. But it was. Because Edward Cullen’s 100 year-old misbelief was too strong at that point and couldn’t be squashed; even by love.
Midnight Sun

an arc is a full circle

We watch Edward agonize over this lie that he believes so deeply about himself for the entirety of the series. Seeing as he’s almost searching for the truths in his Lie. Though not a direct reflection of the purity of his soul, things happen that Edward views as just another stain on his otherwise ruined self-image. His vampire brother Jasper attacking Bella, him fathering what he believes is a literal Devil-Child (they’re all devil-children in my opinion), a psycho vampire Victoria stalking Bella in a revenge fueled obsession-all of these instances Edwards views in a distorted way. All of them seen through the lens of his misbelief. Until finally, at the very end before the final confrontation with the Vulturi, Edward discovers that he’s created life, that he’s capable of true love and being loved; that his soul is redeemed in his mind. And he is set free.

so why bella, then?

Beats me, maybe that’s why Meyer wrote “Midnight Sun”, or perhaps saw the potential in Edward’s character after the fact. Contrarily, I like the story from Bella’s POV, I just don’t like Bella. I don’t like her as a character because there’s no arc. Bella has nothing going on upstairs. No wounds that fester, no distorted thinking other than “good with weird”, maybe? She doesn’t do it for me. Edward, though, always hits the right spots. Robert Pattinson did such a great job in this role, and totally sold it for me from moment one. My God though, such a ripe, juicy character full of all the goodies and Meyer simply put him in 2nd place. Merp. Twilight is Edward’s story, and in my mind, it always will be. 

My Conclusions

In conclusion, I’m gonna bet that “Midnight Sun” will be very popular, given all I’ve talked about above. These books are a great piece of writing to study as writers because you get both the good and the bad about writing character arcs all in one story. Please know this isn’t to harp on Stephanie Meyer, or criticize her personally or bash her work. I’m merely giving my enthusiastic opinion on her published work, and like you, I am entitled to my opinion. My point in sharing this is to give you the insight that Meyer missed on this one, so you don’t make the same mistake. I love Twilight, despite myself. It’s currently been the movie I’ve been falling asleep to every single night for weeks now. So don’t come for me, and don’t write a main character like Bella Swan. 

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