To see Edward from “Twilight” clearly and fairly, not surrounded by the glitter of his beauty.
Let’s consider Edward–not his beauty and not with hysteria, but plainly. What is within Edward that makes him what he is, and which guides him to do the things he does?
Edward is born and dies at the age of 17–very young, almost too young, to have fully developed all he might have been at that time. But Edward, when Bella meets him, has had plenty of time to ‘grow up.’ He may look like a boy, and sometimes act like a boy, but, essentially, he is no longer a boy.
He is a man, and as such sees his life and his world with a vision Bella has not yet discovered. He sees quite clearly the value of family, and is concerned for Charlie, Renee and Phil. He doesn’t want them hurt. He doesn’t want them to lose their daughter, as must certainly happen should Bella become a vampire. He doesn’t want Bella to lose her association with her parents. He know better than Bella what that loss entails. He values his current ‘family’ deeply, even willing to leave them when he thinks his actions might endanger them–as when he meets Bella and is tempted to kill her instantly. He loves Carlisle and Esme. They have been true parents to him–guiding and teaching and loving, allowing him room and time to figure some things out for himself.
Carlisle’s example of a man who has steadfastly refused to allow what he has become physically to influence what he intends to be in any other respect, has to have been a huge influence on Edward. Despite great odds Carlisle has retained his humanity and his compassion. Still against great odds, Carlisle pursues his dream of being a doctor, surely the most difficult profession a vampire could choose. Carlisle learns to tolerate the scent of blood–a huge exercise in self-control that Edward sees and admires.
Self-control is one of Carlisle’s finest attributes and one Edward emulates. It is not a quality of youth; it is something that has to be practiced daily before becoming a part of one’s character. Edward has had time to practice. Now, faced with the scent of Bella, he is able to control his instinct to kill her. Later, as his association with Bella deepens, he is able to control his sexual desires, waiting until an appropriate time to consummate their relationship. As Bella flounders in the beginning, trying to balance a vampire boyfriend with normal human activities, like kissing and holding hands, Edward’s self-control keeps them both safe–and also his family and Charlie.
Time is Edward’s greatest asset. He has had time to practice self-control. He also has had time to learn to play the piano, and to indulge his love of and gift for music. Bella as this time is unfinished; she has no idea what her likes or dislikes or talents or abilities are, nor does she have any real desire to discover them. But Edward has had time, and he has discovered music and cars and baseball. He uses all this time he has been give to explore opportunities and discover the world. Recognizing Bella’s human needs, he learns to cook. He values education, and here, again, he can see what Bella would be losing by refusing to go to school.
Bella is not impressed by any of this–except the piano playing. When Edward tries to talk about Carlisle, she doesn’t want to hear it. When Edward mentions college, she changes the subject. She wants to be a vampire now, without counting the cost. She wants Edward now, without any other consideration. She is not delighted by the self-control that is keeping her world safe and balanced. In other words, it is not Edward the man with whom she is infatuated; it is Edward the beautiful boy. She sees only the beauty, the glitter, the charisma; all the rest is merely standing in the way of what she wants.
Which leads to an interesting question: If Bella had met Edward at the age of seventeen, before he was a vampire, before he was beautiful, would she have loved him?