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Selasa, 31 Januari 2012

Twilight Novel in Feminist Perspective

Traditional Gender Roles of Bella's Character in Twilight Novel

Stephenie Meyer’s novel tells about an ordinary girl named Bella who does not really look attractive. She is a normal girl that discovers a whole new world that turns her life into a wild adventure since she is naturally born as weak, selfless, and clumsy. The fact that she is all of these things together makes her vulnerable and people feel the need to protect her.
And amazingly, a dazzling vampire named Edward falls in love unconditionally with her.

As the writer of the novel, Meyer did not state clearly the reasons why Edward fall in love to Bella in short time. Edward is portrayed as very handsome vampire, rich, and the fastest and strongest in The Cullen’s family also has ability to read people’s mind. There is no introduction and no flirting between the two, Edward has just loved Bella since he cannot read Bella’s mind and is attracted by Bella’s scent of body.  He always stalks whenever Bella goes, and watches her when she falls asleep.

Meyer succeeds to make the teenagers readers in all over the world really enjoy read this novel. Twilight represents women’s dream about male perfection. Bella is not a popular and very beautiful girl. She has no sex appeal or something interesting. In the opposite, Edward is charming, handsome, rich, and strong. The novel states in the early pages that Edward is hard to reach and doesn’t interest in any girls before Bella comes. This girl-ignorant boy suddenly falls in love to Bella, an ordinary girl. Like Jessica, a friend of Bella, comment about Edward: "That's Edward. He's gorgeous, of course, but don't waste your time. He doesn't date. Apparently none of the girls here are good-looking enough for him." (Meyer pp 9)

            This phenomenon matches to every girl dream since in this novel, Edward acts like Bella’s protector. He considers Bella as a fragile and dependant girl so he hardly protects Bella from outside. Edward keeps looking after Bella everywhere and every time because he is mortal and does not need to sleep. These actions make Bella feels comfortable, safe and afraid of Edward’s leaving. According to her statement about her dream in it,

“In my dream it was very dark … I couldn't see his face, just his back as he walked away from me, leaving me in the blackness. No matter how fast I ran, I couldn't catch up to him; no matter how loud I called, he never turned. Troubled, I woke in the middle of the night and couldn't sleep again for what seemed like a very long time. After that, he was in my dreams nearly every night, but always on the periphery, never within reach.” (Meyer pp 31)

Edward is a patriarchal type, he assumes Bella as the inferior “creature”. Even Edward himself calls Bella as a creature, he considers Bella as a very weak person that he can destruct her any times. In addition, Edward also watches over and protects Bella because he knows that Bella is always doing recklessly. This novel represents Meyer’s idea about male perfection through Edward character. She puts her idea into Bella’s character that adores Edward too much and also considers him as the resemblance of beautiful sculpture.

            According to Cixous, patriarchal thinking believes that women are born to be passive while men are born to be active because it is natural for the sexes to be different in this way (Tyson 100). It means that Bella here is described as “the real woman” that man (patriarchal) society always thinks about. Meyer depicts the characters of Bella and Edward as binary opposition between the weak versus strong, since Coxius says it as patriarchal binary thought because man sees the world in terms of opposites.

            Patriarchal society actually needs a comparison, since man as common people know needs a competition to differ himself with another. Man needs a self-confession to be a good protector and always be there whenever and wherever the woman needs. Meyer creates Bella character seems to “satisfy” what man always looks for and dream of: a natural born girl who means she is pure, submissive, needs to be protected and weak. There must be a word weak because weak contrasts with strong which man always wants to.

            Meyer also brings the traditional gender role that woman must be weak, nurturing, submissive and irrational. It is showed very clear in Bella character and either with Edward character who captures the perfect image of patriarchal society (strong, fast, rational, handsome, and rich). The author seems give an idea that being a submissive girl, which according to Cixous, a girl is called a real girl or a good girl when she obeys the traditional gender role.

Bad girl means a girl who refuses man’s order and free to speak up about herself, however, Bella is a unconfident, a cry-baby girl and often to say “yes” when Edward ask her to do something. It is showed when Edward asks her to leave Forks when a vampire named James hunts for her to be eaten. At first, she refuses to leave her home, but when Edward yells at her and promises that her father is okay to be left (because he can read James’ mind that he would not hurt her father), Bella easily follows and obeys his command.

Overall, Meyer offers the example of being a good girl is the best way to catch a single young handsome, gentle and rich like Edward Cullen. In Twilight novel, woman is portrayed in benefit position when she obeys the patriarchal system and confers a thought that being a good girl is advantageous and “profitable” instead being a bad girl who always protests and resists to taking patriarchal shelter.


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