Eclipse attempts to settle the dispute made in the first films: what is love and what is coercion?
As I’ve mentioned in the post about New Moon, Edward cannot really tell with Bella (because he cannot read her mind) why she is in this relationship with him.
A Brief Note on Two Kinds of Wealthy Behaviors
The rich must be wary of their wealth, and must do what they can in order to preserve it.
In some cases, when a person ages they may bring a wisdom to their understanding and share when possible. This is a sort of guardianship.
Others may accumulate wealth for its own sake and, as paranoia increases, so does the hoarding.
Both of these ideas are documented among those of the Harvard Grant Study, if you’d like more information on the topic.
End of Note
But for the scope of this reading, coercion may come into play far more often than one might think in this movie. In continuing the Marxist reading, the ruling class must deal with its own squabbles, and somehow is able to have the working class fight for them and alongside them.
Howard Zinn’s Werewolves
Now that Bella has to dwell on the prospect of marriage, the attention paid by Edward to curtailing any desire for Jacob has reached its peak. Jacob has not been heard for some time, not returning Bella’s calls, and this upsets Charlie.
It’s no secret that Charlie prefers Jacob. As they are both members of the community and part of the working class, Jacob is a much easier pick to understand from his perspective than the aloof and ethereal Edward.
As Bella attempts to leave to find Jacob, her truck will not start. Edward admits that he is attempting to keep her safe by sabotaging efforts for Bella to go see him.
Throughout Eclipse, we’ll see characters and their backstories, as they debate for themselves what amounts to love and coercion. For Jasper and Rosalie especially, they’ve had to detail to Bella what it was like to have a person control them for their own damaging ends. It also represents the problem that leads Victoria for revenge for the death of her lover, and in so doing has characters doing her bidding under the pretense of love.
The same holds true for Jacob, who will eventually be lumped in to kill vampires in an effort to protect Bella from Victoria’s plot for revenge.
Perhaps Howard Zinn is useful here. Howard Zinn is the famous writer of A People’s History of the United States, a book which seeks to tell the revisionist history of America through the oppressed, persecuted, and invisible. One of his theses about the middle class is that it exists to be a buffer between the monied class and the poor, where those in the middle stand by the upper class for further repression of those below.
As System of a Down repeatedly sang, “Why don’t princes fight the war?/Why do they always send the poor?”
It seems as though the werewolves are brought in to deal with the squabbles of vampires. This is a fight that could have his brothers and sisters die, but to Jacob the ends justify the means, even if Bella does not choose him. Repeatedly Bella will choose Edward in these last movies and each time Jacob keeps changing the red line, suggesting that she does not cross it. And each time that she does, Jacob gets angry, and then eventually accepts it on his own rationalized terms.
Jacob’s inability to see comes from a working class hotheadedness, a stubborn disposition that is best portrayed in the fantastic tent scene with all three of the characters. In a common moment of introspection, Edward admits that, under different circumstances, the two could have become friends. Jacob dismisses the idea, suggesting that they would still be “frenemies.”
It seems that Jacob and Edward must work together despite their misgivings. And while the vampires continue to benefit from the exchange, the werewolves are given nothing in return. Far from it, they have characters suffer damages and the pack has intense disagreements. It’s unclear what the motivations are beyond the obvious for Jacob why they should be involved at all, other than the dangerous and hot blooded thrill of the sport of fighting vampires. Jacob seems aware enough to despise Edward and his clan for taking Bella, but seems either unable or unwilling to compromise on his dedication to her, and so must grin and bear it.
Who I Am vs. Who I Should Be
When Bella kisses Jacob and finds that she has feelings for him, the passion there is outweighed by Bella’s admission that she “loves Edward more.”
Though at the end of the movie, it becomes more clear why she loves Edward more.
It’s not pretty. Bella gives this whole self-actualizing speech about how she intends to go along with Edward’s courtship, because she has never felt normal in this world, and only by becoming a vampire will she feel complete. She states that she has always had to struggle with who she is, compared to who she should be.
What is interesting about the delivery in this scene is that she does not answer which of these she actually is.
She is not yet a vampire, yet she feels as though she should be.
Though, in Breaking Dawn, Bella admits in voice over that she was “born to be a vampire.”
There is some shady business going on here with Bella’s desire to enter the ruling class. Edward seems okay with it, leading us to infer the whole request for marriage to be a very diplomatic and sterile experience. Bella is just as much interested in the prospect of vampirism as she is in spending time with Edward. It takes the theme of Eclipse, that of love and coercion, and it conflates the two.
Love to the working classes is absolute and without compromise. Love to the ruling class is a persuasive act. And while the ruling classes see it as such and attempt to manipulate it to their favor, such as taking Bella in with marriage before vampirism so as to be sure that the wealth stays intact, Jacob will repeatedly make concessions towards love without quarter because he is unable to see the coercive side.
This foreshadows the “imprinting” of Jacob for the following films, one that forces Jacob into indentured servitude for the ruling class.
To me, Bella has responded to Edward’s response by suggesting that her goal to be a vampire is just as much a part of her goals as loving him. While to Edward this seems like a well-adjusted decision that proves a kind of readiness, a kind of confidence that is necessary to wield the kind of power that the upper class does, it is really a sort of unabashed desire to get out of the humdrum existence of normal life.
While the other students graduating must suffer the impermanence of ordinary life, of majoring for things like Philosophy despite it lacking any monetary value, Bella is able to escape that existence. When Bella is asked by Jessica about her graduation speech, it seems in her response that she has forgotten the thing entirely. Because to Bella, who is going from changing her mind to literal permanence, none of the problems the others have to face will be something she will have to face.
For breaking into the upper class, the arc of Bella’s transformation is largely over. She has impressed Edward’s family, and conceded to Edward’s terms. She has managed to coerce the working class not only into letting her go, but into funding her dowry (in a metaphorical sense). And all that’s left is to walk the walk.
The next movies are all about inherited wealth, and about some of the growing pains of what it means to exist in the upper class. It’s a fight between new money and old money, Charlie trying to fit in a tuxedo, and Bella trying to walk in heels.