|Isabella Marie Swan|
|Last appearance||Breaking Dawn|
Midnight Sun (unpublished)
|Created by||Stephenie Meyer|
|Portrayed by||Kristen Stewart|
Catherine Grimme (as a child)
Vampire girl (by Emily Young & Embry Call)
Arizona (in films)
|Species||Human (Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, Breaking Dawn)|
Vampire (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)
|Spouse||Edward Cullen (husband)|
|Children||Renesmee Cullen (daughter)|
Isabella Marie "Bella" Swan (later Bella Cullen) is a character and the protagonist of the Twilight novel 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, but partway through Breaking Dawn it is written from the point of view of Jacob Black. 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, but Edward refuses to "turn" her. 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 the peculiar nature of her baby, Bella nearly dies giving birth to their daughter, Renesmee Cullen. Edward turns Bella 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. Meyer has said that there are similarities between Bella and the title character of Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre, a novel which she has cited as an influence on the Twilight series.
Bella, who first appears in Twilight, is a 17-year-old girl, who moves out from her mother's home in Phoenix, Arizona, to live with her father, Charlie Swan, a police chief, in her birthplace of Forks, Washington. There, she is enrolled at Forks High School, where she becomes intrigued by a student, Edward Cullen and his family. When Edward saves her life, he exhibits super-human qualities. Bella learns from her family friend Jacob Black that Quileute legends say the Cullen family are Cold Ones. Edward eventually admits he's a vampire, though his family have what they call a "vegetarian" diet-only hunting animals. 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 met. Bella's love and confidence in Edward's restraint is such that his warnings go unheeded, and while playing baseball with the Cullen family, she becomes the target of a sadistic vampire, James. Edward is able to save Bella from James' predations, though Edward is still unwilling to change Bella into a vampire himself.
New Moon begins on Bella's eighteenth birthday. She dreams of looking much older than Edward Cullen, her boyfriend. During a birthday celebration at the Cullen residence, Bella gets a small paper cut while unwrapping a present. Edward's brother, Jasper, instinctively thirsting for her blood, attacks Bella before Edward and Emmett restrain him. In a misguided attempt to protect Bella, Edward moves away with his family. Edward's departure results in Bella being depressed and isolated for months.
To appease her worried father, Bella attends a movie with her school 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 runs high. Desperate to hear his voice again, Bella continually seeks out danger by convincing Jacob to repair two old motorcycles and teach her how to ride. Their friendship increases, 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 wolves. Later, Bella learns that Jacob and other tribe members are shape shifters who phase into 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 jumping and nearly drowns, but she is saved by Jacob. Edward, after mistakenly being informed by Jacob that Bella has committed suicide, travels to Volterra, Italy, to request the Volturi to destroy him. Alice returns to Forks and discovers Bella is still alive, and the funeral she envisioned was really Harry Clearwater's funeral after his death from a heart attack. Alice 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 would either killer her or have her become a vampire herself. Alice shows Aro a vision of Bella and Edward as vampires, and they're free to leave. Upon returning home, Edward tells Bella that he never stopped loving her, and he only left Forks, because he thought it would protect her. Edward promises to never leave Bella's side ever again. Bella, intent on becoming a vampire, decides that Edward's family should vote on her fate. Only Rosalie and Edward say no, but Edward agrees to change her himself if she will marry him.
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 to her while she is still human and then turn her into a vampire. Edward initially refuses, saying that he could easily lose control in the heat of the moment and unintentionally kill her. He also reminds Bella that he's from another era, where relationships had fewer complications, and agrees to make love to her after marrying her.
The plot is driven by the machinations of the vampire Victoria, who first encountered Bella and the Cullens during the first novel, Twilight. Victoria, seeking to avenge her lover, James' death, hunts Bella while building a new vampire army. To combat this threat, a reluctant truce is struck between the Cullen family, and the shape shifting wolf pack led by Sam Uley and Jacob Black, who pits himself against Edward as a love interest for Bella. Bella considers Jacob only as a friend, but despite her engagement to Edward, she shares a kiss with him, and realizes that she loves him, too, but loves Edward more. Bella acknowledges that Edward is the most important person in her life, and knows she has to tell her father.
Breaking Dawn begins with the wedding of Bella and Edward at the Cullen home. They spend their honeymoon on Isle Esme, a small island off the coast of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil that was given to Esme as a gift from Carlisle. They make love, but their lovemaking sparks a conflict between the newlywed couple: Edward is horrified that he has bruised Bella, but she insists that she is fine and wants Edward to make love to her again. Although he vows not to do so again while she is still human, he eventually gives in.
Two weeks later, Bella becomes very sick, and realizes that she is pregnant. Edward is shocked and rushes Bella home to see Carlisle, who is a doctor. He confirms that she's pregnant, and Bella's health deteriorates from the baby's accelerated growth. Edward tries to talk her into having an abortion to save her own life. Bella refuses, and asks Rosalie to act as her bodyguard, as she 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 undergoes a cesarean section, and nearly dies, but Edward successfully delivers their daughter, Renesmee. He then uses a special needle to inject his venom into Bella's heart, and bites her neck, arms, and legs. During Bella's transformation, Jacob imprints —an involuntary process in which a shape-shifter finds his soulmate — on their 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 Cullen family as punishment for the alleged transgression. The Cullen family find witnesses to observe the mortality of Renesmee. Bella learns she's a shield and learns to shield people from other's 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 as being petite, with a height of roughly 5'4", and a very translucent, pale complexion. She has thick, long, brown hair, with a wide forehead, and a widows peak. Her eyes are described as being "chocolate brown" and widely spaced. She has a small, thin nose, prominent cheekbones, lips a bit too full for her slim jawline, and thin eyebrows that are straighter than they are arched. Her fingernails described as stubby from being bitten down.
The scent of her O negative blood is incredibly attractive to vampires, described by Bree Tanner to be the "sweetest scent she'd ever smelled", though it is a thousand times more intense to Edward Cullen.
As for distinguishing features, Bella has a small crescent-shaped scar on her hand where she was bitten by James, a tracker vampire, in Twilight. The scar is described as being pale, always a few degrees colder than the rest of her body, and it shines like a vampire's skin when exposed to the sunlight. After Bella is changed into a vampire by Edward, she becomes extremely beautiful with even paler skin, straight waist-length hair, and crimson red eyes that will eventually turn gold after months of drinking animal blood. Her features are also heightened and perfected by the transformation.
Bella wears plain shirts, jeans, and sneakers for everywhere she goes, as she lacks care in her appearance.
Bella is described as being clumsy, having a weak constitution, being nonathletic and hating anything physical. Bella is also described as a reclusive loner, shy, quiet, insecure, and very sensitive. She also cares for the rest of the Cullen family, her father Charlie and mother Renée, and her friend Jacob Black. She has a tendency to underestimate the people around her mainly because of her concerns for their safety.
Having learned to take care of her mother over the years and being naturally responsible, Bella had developed into a very mature person, especially for her age. She mostly prefers to spend her free time reading classics from school.
When it comes to fashion, Bella is not traditionally feminine. She hates dressing up, saying that makeup "is a pain" and that she feels uncomfortable in impractical, elegant clothes; however, Alice does not care what Bella thinks and continues to persuade her to dress up and look glamorous. She is not materialistic and does not like spending money on luxurious items, telling Edward in New Moon "not to spend a dime on [her] birthday," and that fast cars are unnecessary, saying that Edward gave her himself and anything else he gives her would throw their relationship off balance. She hates being singled out, and does not like her birthday being celebrated. She also has very negative views on teen marriage due to her parents' early experience, but learns to overcome them later.
She is an extremely private person who keeps her thoughts and feelings to herself and hates when someone tries to understand her, which is thought to be why Edward is unable to hear her thoughts. She is also known to be incredibly stubborn with herself, because of her determination to become a vampire in order to be with Edward forever. She is also said to possess poor acting skills. Ironically, she demonstrates good acting ability in Twilight when she makes her father believe that she has dumped Edward and is leaving Forks. She is a very shy and timid girl with a stiff uptight position, habit of biting her lip, which she shares with Kristen Stewart. Bella knits together her eyebrows when feeling strong emotions such as anxiety. As a human, Bella easily fainted at the sight or smell of blood, which she said smells like rust and salt in Twilight, though it changes after she became a vampire. Bella is also shown in Breaking Dawn, to have a good mood climate, and is able to run away from the smell of human blood when she goes on her first hunting trip as a vampire.
Bella has a sarcastic sense of humor, especially when she gets mad; Bella is almost always a very soft and forgiving person who is hard to anger. She is easily scared but can be surprisingly very brave, able to block painful thoughts and memories (hence her special vampire ability), and tends to come face-to-face with life-threatening danger head-on, even though she can get scared later. She puts Edward before herself and everybody and everything else, but several 'selfish' tendencies emerge (as when she asked Edward to stay with her instead of fighting vampires in Eclipse). Meyer has stated that Bella's "tragic flaw" in Eclipse is her lack of self-knowledge. This is most obviously illustrated in her consistent denial of any romantic feelings for Jacob Black, despite the fact that she later realizes that she is, indeed, in love with him.
Bella is also a very bad liar except to herself. According to Eclipse, Jacob and Edward saying that she's a terrible liar, are evidence to this. Besides, she also admits this throughout the whole saga, though she seemingly manages to lie to herself about her romantic feelings for Jacob.
In contrary to her fearful demeanor, Bella, according to Edward in Midnight Sun, has no sense of fear when she finds out Edward is a vampire. Instead of running away, as she should have, she decides to ask lots of questions with extreme curiosity. This makes Edward believe that it is not bad luck that follows her around, but that she has no sense of self-preservation. Bella isn't very rational nor sensible as she lacks common sense and street intelligence.
She hates anything cold and wet, even snow, which is why she initially hated to live in Forks. However, after meeting Edward, she found the town much more comfortable, even calling it "home". As a vampire, she also dislikes the idea of feeding on humans, but is glad to have found the strength she needed to protect her loved ones.
Bella inherited her mother's high perceptiveness to some degree, as she was able to guess Edward was a mind reader, the first human to do so. However, she was not able to guess that Edward was in love with her.
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 color 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." Bella Swan was often compared to Katniss Everdeen on the publication of The Hunger Games.
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Blood drinkers," he replied in a chilling voice. "Your people call them vampires.
- Meyer, Stephenie (2005). Twilight. Park Avenue, New York City, 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 City, 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].
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- Meyer, Stephenie. (2007) Eclipse. 629pp.
- Meyer, Stephenie. (2008) Breaking Dawn. 756pp.
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