|Last appearance||Breaking Dawn|
|Created by||Stephenie Meyer|
|Portrayed by||Kristen Stewart|
Vampire girl (by Emily Young & Embry Call)
Arizona (in films)
|Species||Human (Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, and Books 1 and 2 of Breaking Dawn)
Vampire (Book 3 of Breaking Dawn)
|Occupation||Student (through Twilight to Eclipse)
Employee at Newton's Olympic Outfitters (New Moon and Eclipse)
|Family||Charlie Swan (father)
Renée Dwyer (mother)
Phil Dwyer (stepfather)
Carlisle Cullen (adoptive father-in-law)
Esme Cullen (adoptive mother-in-law)
Emmett Cullen and Jasper Hale (adoptive brothers-in-law)
Alice Cullen and Rosalie Hale (adoptive sisters-in-law)
Isabella Marie "Bella" Swan (later Bella Cullen) is a character and the protagonist of the Twilight series, written by Stephenie Meyer. The Twilight series, consisting of the novels Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn, is primarily narrated from Bella's point of view. In the film series, Bella is portrayed by actress Kristen Stewart.
In Twilight, Bella moves to her father's home in Forks, Washington, meets the mysterious Cullen family, and falls in love with Edward Cullen. However, she soon discovers that the family is a coven of vampires. Bella expresses a desire to become a vampire herself, against Edward's wishes. In the second novel, New Moon, Edward and the other Cullens leave Forks in an effort to keep Bella safe from the vampire world. Jacob Black, a member of the Quileute tribe who is also a shape shifter taking a wolf form, comforts the distraught and severely depressed Bella. She comes to care deeply for Jacob, though less than she loves Edward. At the end of Eclipse, Bella becomes engaged to Edward, and they marry in Breaking Dawn. On their honeymoon, she becomes pregnant by Edward and, due to complications in child birth, Bella nearly dies giving birth to their daughter, Renesmee Cullen. Edward turns her into a vampire to save her life.
Concept and creation
The premise for both the Bella Swan character and the Twilight series originated in a dream Stephenie Meyer had in which an "average girl" and a "fantastically beautiful, sparkly ... vampire ... were having an intense conversation in a meadow in the woods." In this dream, the pair "were discussing the difficulties inherent in the facts that ... they were falling in love with each other while ... the vampire was particularly attracted to the scent of her blood, and was having a difficult time restraining himself from killing her."
Meyer's original characters were unnamed; she took to calling the characters, who would later become Edward Cullen and Bella, 'he' and 'she' for the purpose of convenience as she, "didn't want to lose the dream." The name 'Isabella' was decided upon, Meyer explains, because "after spending so much time with [the character], I loved her like a daughter. ... Inspired by that love, I gave her the name I was saving for my daughter, ...Isabella."
Bella's positive reception at her new school in Forks, particularly her popularity with male characters, was modelled after Meyer's real life move from high school to college.
Twilight is about a 17-year-old girl named Bella Swan, who moves from her mother's home in Phoenix, Arizona, to live with her father in her birthtown of Forks, Washington. There, she becomes intrigued by a student, Edward Cullen. When Edward saves her life, he exhibits super-human qualities. Bella learns from family friend Jacob Black that Quileute legends say the Cullen family are vampires. Edward eventually admits to this truth, though his family hunts only animals, not humans, through moral choice. Edward constantly warns Bella against being with him, perceiving her life to be at constant risk if she continues to associate with him because the scent of her blood is more powerful to him than that of any other human he has ever encountered. Bella's love and confidence in Edward's restraint is such that his warnings go unheeded, and on an outing with the Cullens she becomes the target of a sadistic vampire, James. With his family's help, Edward is able to save Bella from James' predations, but Edward is still unwilling to change Bella into a vampire himself.
New Moon begins on Bella's eighteenth birthday with her having a dream about being a lot older than her boyfriend Edward. During a party at the Cullens, she gets a small paper cut while opening a gift in wrapping paper. Edward's brother, Jasper, instinctively hungering for her blood, tries to attack her. Edward realizes that his relationship with Bella puts her in danger. In a misguided attempt to protect Bella, he convinces her that he no longer loves her and moves away with his family, leaving her heartbroken and depressed for months.
To appease her worried father, Bella goes to a movie with her friend Jessica. While there, she carelessly approaches a group of dangerous-looking men outside a bar and discovers she can hear Edward's voice when her adrenaline is high. Desperate to hear his voice again, Bella seeks out danger; she asks Jacob Black to repair two motorcycles and teach her to ride one. Their friendship grows to be very strong, and Jacob admits that he has romantic feelings for Bella, though she does not reciprocate them. When a vampire named Laurent tries to attack her, Bella is saved by a pack of giant wolves. Later, Bella learns that Jacob and other tribe members are shapeshifters who assume a wolf form to protect humans from vampires. Bella also discovers that the vampire Victoria has returned to Forks seeking to kill Bella to avenge her mate, James', death.
To hear Edward's voice, Bella attempts cliff-diving and nearly drowns, but she is saved by Jacob. Edward, after being mistakenly informed by Rosalie that Bella has committed suicide, travels to Volterra, Italy, to request the Volturi to destroy him. Alice returns to Forks and discovers Bella is alive; she and Bella pursue Edward to Italy and successfully prevent him from showing himself in daylight to humans, an act that would result in his execution. The trio are taken to the Volturi. Because Bella knows about vampires, the Volturi want to kill her, but Alice claims she has foreseen Bella becoming a vampire. Because most humans are unaware that vampires exist, the Volturi threaten to kill Bella if this does not happen soon. Upon returning home, Edward reveals to Bella that he never stopped loving her, he only left Forks because he thought it would protect her. He apologizes for this misguided action and asks for her forgiveness, which Bella quickly grants. Bella, intent on becoming a vampire, decides that Edward's family should vote on her fate. All but Rosalie and Edward vote affirmatively for her to be changed, but Edward agrees to change her himself if she will marry him first.
Eclipse continues the drama of Bella and Edward's relationship. Edward explains that he is reluctant to change Bella into a vampire because he believes that vampires are soulless creatures who have no place in heaven. Bella, whose opinion of marriage is jaded by her own parents' early divorce, agrees to marry Edward on the condition that he will make love with her while she is still human and then turn her into a vampire. He initially refuses, saying that he could easily lose control in the heat of the moment and unintentionally kill her. However, seeing how important it is to Bella, he agrees to try, but only after they are married.
The plot is driven by the machinations of the vampire Victoria, who first encountered Bella and the Cullens during the first book, Twilight. Victoria, seeking to avenge her lover, James', death, hunts Bella while building a new vampire army. To combat this threat, a grudging truce is struck between the Cullens and the Native American shape-shifting wolf pack led by Sam Uley and Jacob Black, who pits himself against Edward as a love interest for Bella. Initially, Bella considers Jacob only as a friend but, despite her engagement to Edward, she shares a kiss with Jacob and realizes she loves him as well. Ultimately, Edward accepts Bella's love for Jacob and successfully destroys Victoria. Bella acknowledges that Edward is the most important person in her life, agreeing to announce their engagement to her father.
Breaking Dawn begins with the wedding of Bella and Edward at the Cullen home in the outskirts of Forks. They spend their honeymoon on Isle Esme, a fictional small island off the coast of Brazil that was given to Esme as a gift from Carlisle. They consummate their marriage, but their lovemaking sparks a conflict between the newlywed couple: Edward is horrified that he has bruised his wife, but Bella insists that she is fine and wants Edward to make love to her again. He vows not to do so again while she is still human. He eventually gives in. Afterwards, Bella becomes very sick and realizes that she is pregnant with their child.
Edward is shocked and rushes Bella home to see Carlisle, who, as a doctor, confirms that she is expecting a child. As the pregnancy takes a toll on Bella's health, Edward tries to talk her into having an abortion to save her own life. However, Bella feels a bond with her unborn child and insists on giving birth. Soon, Edward comes to love the baby as well, after he hears its thoughts and learns that the baby loves Bella in return and doesn't mean to hurt her.
Bella nearly dies giving birth but Edward successfully delivers their baby girl and then injects his venom into Bella's heart, thus healing her wounds by turning her into a vampire. During Bella's painful transformation, Jacob imprints—an involuntary process in which a shape-shifter finds his soul mate—on the baby, Renesmee Cullen.
After a vampire named Irina mistakes Renesmee for an immortal vampire child (a creation that is forbidden in the vampire world), Alice foresees the Volturi will arrive to destroy the Cullens as punishment for the alleged transgression. The Cullens find an array of vampire witnesses to observe the mortality of Renesmee. Bella soon discovers her ability to shield people from their mental thoughts and senses. Edward stands with Bella and their allies to convince the Volturi that Renesmee is not an immortal child and poses no threat to their existence. Once the Volturi leave, Edward and Bella are finally free to live their lives in peace with their daughter forever.
Bella is described in the novels as being very pale with brown hair which is often described as mahogany, chocolate brown eyes, and a heart-shaped face. Beyond this, a detailed description of her appearance is never given in the series. Stephenie Meyer explains that she "left out a detailed description of Bella in the book so that the reader could more easily step into her shoes." While Meyer stresses that "Bella's looks are open to interpretation", she does supply her own personal interpretation on her website, describing Bella as:
"very fair-skinned, with long, straight, dark brown hair and chocolate brown eyes. Her face is heart-shaped—a wide forehead with a widow's peak, large, wide-spaced eyes, prominent cheekbones, and then a thin nose and a narrow jaw with a pointed chin. Her lips are a little out of proportion, a bit too full for her jaw line. Her eyebrows are darker than her hair and more straight than they are arched. She's five foot four inches tall, slender but not at all muscular, and weighs about 115 pounds. She has stubby fingernails because she has a nervous habit of biting them."
Bella also has a small crescent-shaped scar on her arm/wrist where she was bitten by James, a tracker vampire, in Twilight. The scar is described as pale, always a few degrees colder than the rest of her body, and slightly sparkly in the sunlight.
After Bella was changed into a vampire by her husband Edward Cullen in Breaking Dawn, in keeping with the appearance of most vampires, she became extremely beautiful, her eyes turned red, and her skin became paler and smoother.
Personality traits and abilities
Bella is described as being clumsy and stubborn. She is also said to be a terrible liar, but occasionally demonstrates good acting ability. She has a habit of biting her lower lip. Bella becomes faint when she smells blood, though this no longer bothers her once she becomes a vampire. Stephenie Meyer has stated that Bella's "tragic flaw" in Eclipse is her lack of self-knowledge. After being turned into a vampire, she describes having a much clearer view of the world. She is also very self-controlled, being able to ignore the scent of human blood on her first hunting trip. Bella's private mind that was able to repel some vampires' mental abilities while she was human evolved after she became a vampire; her skill strengthened, allowing her to shield herself and those around her from other vampires' mental gifts. By the end of Breaking Dawn, she is able to cast the shield away from herself. She is also described by Edward as "very graceful", even for a vampire, in comparison to her earlier clumsiness.
In the film adaptations, Bella is portrayed by actress Kristen Stewart. Meyer stated that she was "very excited" to see Stewart play the part and that she was "thrilled to have a Bella who has practice [in a vast array of film genres]", since, according to Meyer, Twilight has moments that fit into many genres. Stewart wears contact lenses in the films in order to achieve a chocolate brown eye colour as described in the books.
Bella has received a generally negative reception from critics. Publishers Weekly states that, after her transformation into a vampire, "it's almost impossible to identify with her" in Breaking Dawn. Lilah Lohr of the Chicago Tribune compares Bella's character to the story of the Quileute wolves and describes it as "less satisfying." During Twilight, Kirkus Reviews stated that "Bella's appeal is based on magic rather than character", but that her and Edward's "portrayal of dangerous lovers hits the spot". In the review of New Moon, Kirkus Reviews said that Bella's personality was "flat and obsessive". Laura Miller of salon.com said, in regards to Edward and Bella, "neither of them has much personality to speak of." Entertainment Weekly's Jennifer Reese, in her review of Breaking Dawn noted, in regard to Bella, "You may wish she had loftier goals and a mind of her own, but these are fairy tales, and as a steadfast lover in the Disney Princess mold, Bella has a certain saccharine appeal", and that during Bella's pregnancy "she is not only hard to identify with but positively horrifying, especially while guzzling human blood to nourish the infant." Washington Post journalist Elizabeth Hand noted how Bella was often described as breakable and that "Edward's habit of constantly pulling her onto his lap or having her ride on his back further emphasize her childlike qualities", continuing to write that "the overall effect is a weird infantilization that has repellent overtones to an adult reader and hardly seems like an admirable model to foist upon our daughters (or sons)." Gina Dalfonzo, in an article posted on the National Review website, calls Bella "self-deprecating" before her transformation into a vampire, and afterwards she is "insufferably vain". Dalfonzo also states that Bella gets what she wants and discovers her worth "by giving up her identity and throwing away nearly everything in life that matters."
- "The Story Behind Twilight". Stepheniemeyer.com. Archived from the original on 30 July 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-02.
- "Bella's Move to Another High School". Stepheniemeyer.com. Archived from the original on 30 July 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-06.
- Meyer, Stephenie (2005). Twilight. Park Avenue, New York, United States of America: Little, Brown. p. 126. ISBN 978-0-316-01584-4. "Blood drinkers," he replied in a chilling voice. "Your people call them vampires."
- Meyer, Stephenie (2005). Twilight. Park Avenue, New York, United States of America: Little, Brown. p. 337. ISBN 978-0-316-01584-4. "One night, a herd of deer passed his hiding place. He was so wild with thirst that he attacked without thought. His strength returned and he realized there was an alternative to being the vile monster he feared."
- Meyer, Stephenie (2005). Twilight. Park Avenue, New York, United States of America: Little, Brown. p. 475. ISBN 978-0-316-01584-4. "Exactly", he [Edward] snapped. "And I won't end it [life] for you [Bella]."
- Meyer, Stephenie. (2006) New Moon. 563pp.
- Meyer, Stephenie. (2007) Eclipse. 629pp.
- Meyer, Stephenie. (2008) Breaking Dawn. 756pp.
- "What Does Bella Look Like?". Stepheniemeyer.com. Archived from the original on 4 October 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-02.
- "Eclipse FAQ". Stepheniemeyer.com. Archived from the original on 5 October 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-02.
- "Kristen Stewart chosen". MTV. Archived from the original on 25 July 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-20.
- StephenieMeyer.com "Excitement Towards Stewart's role". Stephenie Meyer. Retrieved 2008-08-20.
- "Publisher's Weekly for Breaking Dawn". Publisher's Weekly. ASIN 031606792.
- "Chicago Tribune Breaking Dawn review". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on 8 August 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-08.[dead link]
- "Twilight at Kirkus Reviews". Kirkus Reviews. Archived from the original on 8 August 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-08.
- "New Moon at Kirkus Reviews". Kirkus Reviews. Archived from the original on 8 August 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-08.
- "Twilight series at salon.com". Salon.com. Archived from the original on 8 August 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-08.
- "Entertainment Weekly Breaking Dawn review". Entertainment Weekly. 2008-08-08. Archived from the original on 28 August 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-20.
- Hand, Elizabeth (2008-08-10). "Washington Post Review". Washington Post. Retrieved 2008-08-20.
- "National Review". National Review. Archived from the original on 26 August 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-22.