I’ve received a few unhappy comments about the last chapter, specifically how Edward is manipulating Bella. I replied to one of my readers, who has been creeped out by the whole situation from the beginning and always gives an honest opinion, and I wanted to share it here.
I find the varying degrees of people’s opinion of Edward very interesting. On one hand, there are the people who think the situation is crazy “but we all know it’s Edward *omg squee!*” On the other are the people who think he is creepy and manipulative and probably really a bad guy with ulterior motives.
I try not to make my characters black and white. I like them to be realistic. (Okay, okay, realistic to an extent. It is fiction for the purpose of entertainment after all, and on top of that it’s fanfic.) But I feel like no one ever wants to look at them that way. When I was writing HitGoS everyone said how terrible and evil Edward was, but looking at his circumstances, and that he was a vampire, I think the way he acted was pretty understandable and didn’t necessarily pin him as a “bad guy.” There weren’t very many people who were like, okay, I can understand why he’s acting like that. It was out of character for him, just as it would have been out of character for canon Edward to kill everyone in the science room or break into the Swans’ house and NOM Bella, but he still seriously entertained those ideas. What if he had? Would that have made him inherently bad? Or could it be written off as a mistake? In fact, if you look at Edward’s treatment of Bella throughout Twilight, I think you’ll find that he is very… maybe manipulative isn’t the right word. But he’s very controlling and overbearing. Anyway, I digress.
What if IM Edward doesn’t have evil intentions? What if he’s not intentionally being manipulative? And even if he is, just because he’s not planning to chop Bella into tiny little pieces doesn’t mean he’s a perfect person. Can he not have good intentions but poor execution of decisions? He’s spent a third of his life behind bars. If an opportunity presents itself that he believes will make his life easier, is it really surprising that he would jump on it?
The same goes for Bella. When I was younger, I let a guy walk all over me. I was dumb and naive. I didn’t know better. I didn’t know how to say no, and I really didn’t realize it was even happening until much later. And now that I’m even older, I wonder if he even realized what a jerk he was being at the time. Did he change? I don’t know. Once I grew a backbone I didn’t stick around to find out.
There are some things that no amount of schooling or parental advice can help prepare a person for. Some things people need to learn on their own. I believe a protagonist character has to have some redeeming quality, but if the purpose of the story isn’t to show how they develop and grow as a person, then what’s the point? If everyone started out (or finished for that matter) perfect, then where’s the adventure? How does that saying go… It’s not the destination, but the journey.
I hope this doesn’t sound defensive. People have a right to their own opinions of course, and I don’t expect everyone to like it or the direction it takes. I just hope people will look at it with an open mind and see the gray in between.