Feed on
Posts
Comments

Edward

Edward’s Literal Transformation/Awakening (Ant Level Transformation)
 
(For an explanation of “ant level” and “cloud level” perspectives, see the link for “Fate and Destiny” http://twilightsagaarchetypes.com/fate-and-destiny/.)

 As with Bella, the series is clearly about Edward’s fate/destiny transformation, too.  The first few lines of his manuscript reflect that he has felt asleep for the last 100 years.[1]  Now, though, his destiny is coming to call (Bella and his new life with her), and his entire story is about his transformation from being “asleep” (in many ways as we will see) to a profound awakening and rebirth toward recognizing his own humanity. 

For Edward’s character, there had to be a way to represent the same kind of challenge that Bella has (and all of us have) in that we do not have all of the answers and information on our terms and timetable to make sense of the cloud level.  We try to condense the cloud level into bite-sized, ant level pieces that we can understand and rationalize.  This is not how destiny works, though — destiny often presents the most irrational and unreasonable and/or inconvenient circumstances, sometimes uncomfortable and even painful, but that is the key to unlocking the door to destiny — having faith to take the plunge when destiny is presented, void of any concern for rational “data” to support it.  

Edward has command of all supernatural senses, including a unique ability to read everyone’s mind, so what is the only way to represent the same challenge that everyone else has in life so that he learns the same lessons between fate and destiny, or fear and faith, in the absence of having all of the “information” to help him?  Take his destiny (Bella), and strip away any ability to hear what she is thinking.  It is a brilliant “handicap” for the story from an archetypal perspective.  He so values, and literally depends on his ability to read minds, that when faced with someone so irresistible, it disorients literally everything about his world and his very existence because he cannot make any sense or safe rationalizations about his actions or his place in her life.  Just like Bella (and the rest of us), he has to go through this journey “in the dark,” without any rational or reasonable explanations for his experiences or any guarantees for what he perceives is a safe outcome.   Just like Bella (and the rest of us), he will have to develop spiritual stamina to awaken his faith without any superhuman tricks to untangle the answers to his questions.  He will have to take the plunge into his destiny without the benefit and comfort of the ordinary data available to him — he is just as challenged as the rest of us struggling with decisions between fate and destiny when we have no certainty of the outcome. 

Throughout the series, Edward feels fated to serve only as Bella’s protector because he fears he is not worthy of her as a mate.  Only at the very end of the series, after he has embraced his destiny as Bella’s spiritual partner and equal, and more importantly, after he has accepted his destiny in awakening to the Divine truth that he is a spiritual being with self-worth and self-value (no more self-loathing and doubt about his place among God’s children), is he allowed (“allowed” at the cloud level) the opportunity to read Bella’s mind.  More on Edward’s spiritual journey later, but the handicap in not hearing Bella’s thoughts represents the requirement that he will have to work with fate/destiny in the dark, with no answers or guarantees, just like the rest of us.

Edward’s Archetypal Transformation (Cloud Level Transformation)

Like Bella, Edward undergoes both a literal, ant level transformation, as well as an archetypal, cloud level transformation.   At the literal level, he transforms into a person who is not only capable of love, but who sees himself as worthy of it.   At the archetypal level, he evolves from the Monk, to the Lover, to the Father, with a whole and pure sense of self-esteem to share with others out of wisdom, love and humility.   Each of these archetypes will be discussed later, but the transformation from one to the next is illustrated by his century-long, self-imposed martyred solitude, then his awakening to his ability to love and be loved, to his view of himself as truly having a place in God’s universe as a valued member of Bella’s and Nessie’s lives as the exalted, most pure version of the Divine Husband and Father.

To clarify at this juncture, we can embody the Monk, the Lover and the Father simultaneously in our life.  Those archetypes are not mutually exclusive, as none of them are.  Archetypes, even seemingly “contradictory” ones, can co-exist at all times in our lives.   The truth is none of them contradict one another; they instead provide layers of depth and complexity to our experiences so that we appreciate the experiences with more clarity (hopefully we do), but in Edward’s case, those particular three archetypes reveal themselves as his character grows, evolves and spiritually matures, so in his case, they represent a chronological series.  In our own case, it may be possible to embody elements of all three simultaneously.

Hero versus Anti-Hero (Two Sides of One Archetypal Coin)

Edward embodies the anti-hero archetype more than the traditional hero.  Think of Edward as less like Superman (hero) and more like Christoper Nolan’s version of Batman (anti-hero).   They are different because the anti-hero struggles with internal darkness, internal flaws and his moral compass (he often subscribes to the theory that “the ends justify the means,” as we will see time and time again with Edward).  The anti-hero has a dangerous and intensely seductive “bad boy” quality that comes across as the brooding and often emotionally tortured man who wants to be good, who wants to protect people, values and higher principles, but the anti-hero struggles with going “straight” because he needs the distance to mask how emotionally unavailable he really is.   The anti-hero is desperate to maintain control over his faculties because ultimately, he is terrified of himself – he is afraid of what he will do if he is without control – and ultimately because he struggles with very low self-esteem.   The anti-hero is unsure of his worth, and because no one expects much from the “bad boy,” he uses that persona to avoid having to engage with people and to avoid vulnerable situations that might expose or humiliate him.   In order to mask those fears and the struggle with his self-worth, the anti-hero often displays grandiose confidence and unshakable arrogance, but the reality is he is actually quite vulnerable and very deep underneath the façade of superficial ego.

As the story unfolds, we see countless examples of Edward’s anti-hero qualities, but we see initial glimpses in Chapter Five of Twilight.   We see him struggle with his desire (his need) to be close to Bella as he learns to surrender – as he learns (reluctantly at first) to trust himself and to trust his internal light and his internal goodness.    He wrestles with his self-worth throughout the entire series, but in Chapter Five, we are introduced to his anti-hero qualities.

When he and Bella sit together for the first time in the cafeteria, Edward says, “I think your friends are angry with me for stealing you.”   She says, “They’ll survive.”  Then Edward: “I may not give you back, though,” he said with a wicked glint in his eyes.”   Their conversation continues: “I’m warning you that I’m not a good friend for you.”  Behind the smile, the warning was real.”    Later in the same conversation, he point-blank tells her what he is – he says, “What if I’m not a suerphero?  What if I’m the bad guy?”  (The hero and the anti-hero share an inability to see themselves as “hero” in any capacity – they never see themselves as others do.)  Bella intuitively snaps together what Edward is trying to tell her.   Bella:  “You’re dangerous?” I guessed, my pulse quickening as I intuitively realized the truth of my own words.  He was dangerous.  He’d been trying to tell me that all along.”  Then, however, because she sees him more clearly than he does, she adds: “But not bad,” I whispered, shaking my head.  “No, I don’t believe that you’re bad.”    Naturally, the anti-hero immediately quips, “You’re wrong,” but the point is Edward for the first time starts to surrender control by revealing something authentic and vulnerable about himself, and Bella for the first time starts to understand that he is the anti-hero, full of self-doubt and self-loathing, but deep within his core someone very capable of danger and love.  She observes, “He meant what he was saying – that was obvious.  But I just felt anxious, on edge . . . the way I always felt when I was near him.” 

Like the damsel entranced by the anti-hero, Bella becomes the delicate bird staring straight into the alluring and deadly snake’s eyes as the snake invites her in (“Why don’t you sit with me today?” as he invites her to sit with him for the first time).  With the anti-hero, though, the snake does not want to be powerless to his “instinct;” the anti-hero snake wants to be the benevolent protector worthy of the bird’s trust (against what is natural to the snake), and we see Edward struggle with this internal debate of self-worth throughout the entire series.

[We will study the classic hero in great detail, too, when we get to Jake.   The classic hero struggles with life circumstances that seem to thwart him at every turn, that challenge his resolve to remain “good” and grounded, and that tempt him time and time again to take the “easy” road instead of the “high” road.  The classic hero has an impeccable ability to stay true to himself despite the many tragic and profoundly devastating hurts that are inflicted on him throughout his journey (which are in fact necessarily integral to his journey), and often people take for granted that the hero can “take it,” that he is strong enough to endure whatever is thrown at him, regardless of how cruel and/or devastating the circumstances.  People expect impossible fortitude and stamina from the hero, and often the expectations imposed on the hero threaten to break his spirit and his will to continue.  Through it all, though, the hero somehow maintains a certain light and certain purity that makes him magnetic, because people are naturally drawn to the authenticity and the deep sense of honor and integrity that is embodied by the hero.  More on that later when we disuss Jake — http://twilightsagaarchetypes.com/jake/.]

For more detail about Edward and Jake as two halves of one ideal “whole,” see http://twilightsagaarchetypes.com/edward-and-jake-as-the-whole-man/.


[1] For Twilight readers who may be unaware of this, Ms. Meyer began a new book in which she planned to tell the story from Edward’s perspective.   She wrote the first several chapters and then the partial manuscript was unfortunately “leaked” by someone with access to it.  Ms. Meyer was understandably devastated and has tabled the project indefinitely. The manuscript, however incomplete, is magnificent, though, because it unlocks the mysteries and complexities of Edward’s character.  Ms. Meyer graciously decided to post the partial manuscript on her website for the benefit of hungry readers who would have otherwise found the material through nefarious channels after the rumor was confirmed that it was illegally released by an unauthorized source.  All that to say, Twilight readers should study Midnight Sun, available on Ms. Meyer’s website, http://www.stepheniemeyer.com/midnightsun.html. Edward’s archetypes are so clearly revealed when the story is told from his perspective, and it makes understanding him (and his journey) for the rest of the series so much more rich and transparent.

 

2 Responses to “Edward”

  1. Jane B. says:

    It’s such a shame that Stephanie didn’t finish Midnight Sun. I actually think it was better than written from Bella’s perspective. Maybe some day she will agree to it. Yes, Edward is ever-changing after he meets Bella, which is what love does to us. If fulfills us, forces us to face our most vulnerable feelings, and makes us stronger and weaker all at the same time. And though Edward is so physically strong, Bella makes him weak. I love it! And Bella is weak, but Edward makes her so much stronger. But, love is dangerous, whether it be with a vampire or not. Forbidden love, like Romeo to Juliet, it’s the most dangerous. Like you were saying about the bird and the snake, it’s such a crazy concept to think that they could be sitting next to each other in peace, but love prevails all, right? Love can conquer all, and well, how can you not love Edward for overcoming his natural instinct to kill Bella?? He is so much more of a hero than the anti-hero, in my eyes.

    –Jane B. (Your Old Interoffice Twihard Friend)

  2. Jane, so FANTASTIC of you to jump in — thanks for your comment!! I hope everything is great in your world, and I still have the picture you gave me proudly displayed in my office!

    I want to add to your comment because you’re right that love knocks us off our feet. It forces us to see (and more importantly, LIVE) life through our heart instead of only our mind, and that often scares us to the core because we fear being vulnerable. But destiny is about learning to put ourselves “out there,” despite the fear, because we don’t know who we are until we know what we’re capable of, and we don’t know what we’re capable of until we show up when called.

    I want to address the hero and anti-hero archetypes a little more. I understand why you see Edward as the hero, but to clarify, the hero and the anti-hero both share hero qualities. It’s just that the anti-hero doesn’t see anything redeeming about himself, and for the most part, he struggles with his image in other people’s eyes because he (and sometimes other people) only see what they perceive as selfish, arrogant, scary, etc (whatever the case may be). But that doesn’t make him any LESS a hero — it’s just that he comes to the hero table from the other side. Just like Batman and Superman are both heroes, they get to that destination with different challenges (I’m particularly speaking of Christopher Nolan’s version of Batman, which is a BRILLIANT depiction of the anti-hero), but Batman is most definitely hero material. Edward’s character is truly sacred to me because he brings so much humanity to his journey (I mean the pun quite deliberately), and the fact that he (and others) struggle with his shadow throughout that journey adds more emphasis to his ultimate accomplishment.

    One way of looking at the distinction then is this — heroes overcome difficult circumstances (the Gladiator with Russell Crowe); anti-heroes overcome difficult circumstances AND themselves (Edward’s instinct to kill Bella). Both characters are definitely champions for their accomplishments of love (faith) over fear and service over self, and Edward is no less heroic for coming at it from his unique perspective — in fact, I tend to prefer the anti-hero story because when Edward DOES overcome his shadow (not just his ant level instincts, but his cloud level struggle with spiritual self-esteem and his version of salvation), it’s more reason to celebrate his enormous triumphs. Another clue when distinguishing between the two is this — a Dad would be in favor of his daughter dating Clark Kent (he’s sweet, loyal, predictable, “safe”), but he would not be in favor of her dating Bruce Wayne (the perception is he’s arrogant, aloof, selfish, pretentious), but in reality, both characters are deeply similar and equally good mates; it’s just that one is the “traditional” hero, and the other is the anti-hero. Case in point, Charlie wants Bella to date Jake, and he despises Edward, but it’s because Charlie doesn’t see the profound similarities in how they both love Bella and put her safety above all else, which is what every father would want if Dad could see that the anti-hero is every bit as worthy.

    Thanks again for your input, and I hope you’ll stop by often!! And thanks again for the pic — wink :)

Leave a Reply