Friday, 7 August 2009

Bella Swan, the Queen of Mary Sues?

A question that came to me a few days ago. Who really is the queen of Mary Sues and other two-dimensional characters.

Isabella Swann, from Twilight.
For those who have been hiding under a rock, and have so far managed to escape from the terror that is sparkly vampires, and the rabid craziness of Twihard fangirls, I suggest closing your eyes and skipping this. If you already know what Twilight is, go find a copy and burn the thing! Now, yes, the summary. know what? I think I'll stick a picture in here. This is all you really need to read.

You read? You enjoyed? Good.

OK....her Mary Sue traits would be....

  • Her 'ordinary-ness' - She starts off in the beginning of this cesspool by telling us al how she is just like every other female on the planet, that she is average, and someone like her could be found anywhere. However...she is a Mary Sue, which completely contradicts that. She has no flaws whatsoever. SMeyer attempted to pass clumsiness off as a flaw, but some people don't see this as a flaw. As a matter of fact, most males I know like clumsiness in a girl. Apart from this one 'flaw', SMeyer didn't attempt to add anything else, or to make her any more ordinary. Modesty is one common trait of a Mary-Sue.

  • Secondly, something that always got me. Every male seems to be vying for a position to go out with her, or woo her with their charms at some point. However, if she is ordinary, as she puts it, how could they all turn away from the countless other girls in the school? BellaSue is not good-looking. In fact, even Edward points this out in Midnight Sun. He says that her face wasn't particularly good-looking, or something along those lines. How could every male be attracted to her instantly? And still, Rosalie and Alice are still in the school. Although both are taken, they are still the most beautiful around. How could Bella, who is not gorgeous, or pretty in any way, compete with two beautiful and immortal vampires? That is impossible.

  • Bella is based off her creator. There is no denying this fact. Bella shares the same looks as SMeyer, the brown hair, brown eyes, pale skin, lips too big for her face. Self-insertion is one of the most obvious clues to point you towards a Mary Sue. Proof:

''In my head, Bella is 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. And there's your very detailed description.''

-Stephanie Meyer on Bella's looks. Which....surprise, surprise, is her looks as well! Coincidence? I think not.

And, this is all helped by the fact that SMeyer herself said that Twilight was based off a dream that she had about sparkly vampires. Don't believe me?

I woke up (on that June 2nd) from a very vivid dream. In my dream, two people were having an intense conversation in a meadow in the woods. One of these people was just your average girl. The other person was fantastically beautiful, sparkly, and a vampire. They were discussing the difficulties inherent in the facts that A) they were falling in love with each other while B) the vampire was particularly attracted to the scent of her blood, and was having a difficult time restraining himself from killing her immediately. For what is essentially a transcript of my dream, please see Chapter 13 ("Confessions") of the book.
Though I had a million things to do (i.e. making breakfast for hungry children, dressing and changing the diapers of said children, finding the swimsuits that no one ever puts away in the right place, etc.), I stayed in bed, thinking about the dream. I was so intrigued by the nameless couple's story that I hated the idea of forgetting it; it was the kind of dream that makes you want to call your friend and bore her with a detailed description. (Also, the vampire was just so darned good-looking, that I didn't want to lose the mental image.) Unwillingly, I eventually got up and did the immediate necessities, and then put everything that I possibly could on the back burner and sat down at the computer to write—something I hadn't done in so long that I wondered why I was bothering. But I didn't want to lose the dream, so I typed out as much as I could remember, calling the characters "he" and "she."

-Stephanie Meyer on her dream that caused the rest of us nightmares.

  • Her name. Bella means beautiful, and the close French word, belle means beautiful. Swan is literally...a swan. So, her name is beautiful swan. Fancy or what? Plus, there are references to other famous characters from elewhere.

Belle, from Beauty and the Beast. Belle is beautiful, as well as being good, kind, clever and brave. Beauty and the Beast is something that thousands of people all over the world adore, and a musical that many girls drag their significant others to. I myself have dragged countless friends to see it. Bella...Belle...horribly similar...

Elizabeth Swann, the main girly from Pirates of the Carribean. Elizabeth is strong, beautiful, brave and completely head over heels in love. Practically every man on the ship is after her. That, however, is understandable. She's the only female on the ship, and men are men. Bella, however, has everyone falling at her feet...with about a thousand other prettier girls than her in the near vincity.

Now, onto a simplified Mary Sue Litmus Test

Does the character's name describe her/his personality?
SMeyer thinks it does.

Is the character's name just generally unusual in relation to the time or place where she/he lives or grew up?
Yes, there's not many Isabella's in America.

Is the character's name foreign, even though the character isn't?
Yep. It's, to quote Wikipedia, 'The Romance-language given names Isabel (Portuguese, Spanish, Catalan, Provençal), Isabella (Italian), Isabelle (French)'. It is also 'Hebrew via Greek via Latin'.

Is the character highly attractive without having to work at it?
Yep. SMeyer seems to think so, while she is in fact, just plain-looking.

Are one or more other characters attracted to her/him?
Six mentioned. And two are in love with her.

Is the character of above average intelligence?
Seems to be, according to SMeyer

Does the character have angst in the present?
Hell, SMeyer influenced most Twitards to angst over one boy in your life leaving.

Is the character unusually accomplished for her/his age/species/etc.?
Yes....and when she turns into a vampire in Breaking Dawn, she's the only new-born to control her thirst.

Does the character ever easily learn a difficult skill (e.g. learn to play guitar in a matter of weeks)?
I consider controlling her bloodthirst as a difficult skill.

Does the character have a dependency or addiction that is or would be very hard to break?'s called Edward Cullen

Does the character have a significant personality flaw?
Personality? What personality?

If the character does not die, does this flaw persist beyond the end of the story?

Does the character have a physical "flaw" that does not actually detract from her/his beauty (e.g. lips too full, white strip in hair, missing one toe, etc.)?
Lips too full for her jawline.

Is an otherwise chaste or stoic character immediately attracted to her/him?
Yes. Edward. Jacob. And I believe that Eric is aswell.

Does the character remain in a committed relationship for the full duration of your story?
Yep. Although it's a weird one.

Does the character have a child or children for the greater part of your story?
Why, yes, she has a child in Breaking Dawn. Practically the whole book is about that, and the conflict was an afterthought.

Is the character selfishly manipulative or sadistic (e.g. threatens self-harm, lies, blackmails, etc. in order to get her/his way)?
Why, yes. She manipulated Jacob into telling her about the vampires and werewolves and stuff.

Is your character top of her/his class?
It seems so.

Is the character part of a clique that you consider cool (e.g. goths, punks, ravers, skaters, etc.)?
The populars.

Has everyone significant heard of the character?
What? It's all about Bella.

Do all of the important characters end up liking/respecting/fearing her/him?
Yes. And all of the unimportant ones as well.

Did they all like/respect/fear her/him from the beginning?

Does the character fall in (reciprocated) love with, or have sex with, a character you would like to fall in love with or have sex with?
Yes. Poor SMeyer knows this will never happen.

Does the character effect a major change in her/his love interest to make said love interest a more appropriate partner?
Yes, she does. She makes him all the more 'sparklier' and suicidal.

Has the character ever been nursed back to health from serious injuries by a warm, kind, and loving person?
Carlisle. Although he'd be a cold, kind and loving person.

Would you be very surprised if someone did not like the character?
Yes, SMeyer does seem to be.

Do you take any negative feedback about the character as a personal affront?
Yes, she does.

Do you ever wish you could be like the character?
Correction. She is the character.

So, all in all, Bella is a Mary Sue. I would even go as far as to say that she is the Queen of Mary Sues. Edward is the King, and there is no question there. But Bella....urgh.

Thank you for reading. If you managed to get all the way here, and not get bored by my rant, then I sincerely congratulate you.

Peace out.

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At 29 September 2009 at 06:39 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Haha, I've always thought both Bella and Edward were Mary-Sues/Gary-Stus.

Admittedly, for a person, Edward would be the perfect guy for any girl, considering he's 'perfect'. Who wouldn't like someone perfect?

But for a character, really? What kind of crappy, crap characters are they? Completely flawless, gah, I hated them.

Good job with the article! But question, do you know where it said Edward thought Bella was ugly? I only began reading Midnight Sun before I got sick and bored of it and stopped.

I'd just like to know, because I'd be surprised for him to think that. After he continuously tells her how beautiful she really is, and that she just doesn't see herself clearly. Was he just lying? XD Haha.

At 14 January 2011 at 08:33 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bella DOES have flaws. She's whiny, she's unobservant (despite whatever Edward says), she's apathetic, she lets herself be pushed around by Edward, she depends on others too much, she's incapable of any physical fighting (at least until Breaking Dawn), she's a damsel-in-distress, she has no life other than her boyfriend, she doesn't understand how lucky she is and most of all, she complains about EVERYTHING (her birthday, her truck, people being NICE to her.) She DOES have personality flaws and she ISN'T perfect. But those flaws are obviously not meant to be and have no impact on the plot AT ALL!

At 2 June 2012 at 04:36 , Anonymous Nora said...

Saying this is boring is like saying the truth is boring.

At 2 June 2012 at 23:05 , OpenID chocoriderix said...

The story was good! Until she wrote about it, that is. I'll admit, when I first read the very first book I found it to be ok. The way she tweaked the vampires was novel for me and it was nice to read a vampire book for once that wasn't totally about sex.
Pity she kept writing. The more she writes about them, they worse they get (with the except of Bella who cannot possibly get any worse yet somehow DOES). She's like a fanfiction writer who ruins the entire fan universe that she's inserted herself into, simply through virtue of her awful writing. That's terrifying and impressive considering it's her own Original Creations that she's maiming!

At 1 August 2012 at 16:17 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the person who said Edward was "perfect," I can understand why girls might fantasize about a big strong man who loves and protects them. But Edward exhibits many traits of an abusive boyfriend. Not that Bella is any better (they both go behind each other's backs, defy each other's wishes, upset one another, etc, all still claiming to luv each other soooo much) but he's creepy and obsessive and dominating in a very unhealthy way, and she is both defiant and slavishly devoted to him. Forgoing the fantasy, this is very twisted and unhealthy. All the characters in this story exhibit unhealthy and unreasonable behavior, except maybe Leah Clearwater, who is bashed repeatedly for not letting go of the fact that she was ditched and left broken hearted. Particularly, she gets a lot of hypocritical flack from Jacob because of it.

But yes. Bella is a textbook mary sue, and a highly insufferable one at that. She's a terrible, whiny, weak-willed person, yet Smeyer paints her as an "ideal" woman and a "martyr" in some chapters. Smeyer can bite me.

At 27 May 2013 at 16:53 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm trying to think if Scarlet O'Hara from Gone with the Wind would be a Mary Sue. In some ways Rhett is no Edward and had the strength to leave and stay gone.


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