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Kristen Stewart and the Evolution of Bella Swan

6 years ago by Nadya Vlassoff

The “Forever” themed poster with Bella Swan for The Twilight Saga: Breaking: Dawn Part 2 – Photo: Summit/Lionsgate

When The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 hits theaters on November 16, fans will see a much different Kristen Stewart as Bella Swan than the first film when the character debuted in Twilight back in 2008.

After a year-long wait, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 will hit theatres in less than two weeks. It’s the culmination of the love story between Kristen Stewart’s Bella Swan and Robert Pattinson’s Edward Cullen. Although the love triangle between Edward, Bella, and Jacob (Taylor Lautner) divided fans into three distinct teams, it was the relationship between Bella and Edward that lured most fans into The Twilight Saga.

In the four years between Twilight and Breaking Dawn Part 2, Kristen Stewart has grown tremendously as an actress since taking on the role of Bella Swan. From Adventureland and playing Joan Jett in The Runaways to taking a dark and explosive lead in Snow White and the Huntsman, Kristen Stewart has gone from young girl to young woman throughout The Twilight Saga and beyond. Amid all of the success of The Twilight Saga films, there’s no denying that Kristen Stewart grew not only as an actress but also as a woman along with the character of Bella Swan.

Since the publication of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight in 2005, Bella has become one of the most polarizing female figures in today’s popular young-adult literature. Meyer was heavily criticized for the way she portrayed Bella, an emotionally fragile teenage girl seemingly dependent on her relationship with Edward.

Despite the criticism, however, Bella’s relationship with Edward was a very real portrayal of first love. That all-consuming emotional wonderland that makes a young couple strong but also vulnerable as individuals.

Although many fans were swept up by Edward throughout the entire Twilight Saga, Bella was always the center the story. It was her evolution as a character that allowed others to explore themselves.

But Bella was forced to change in order to become the woman she needed to be: a wife, a mother, a friend. Dependency, maturity, and self discovery were all essential in Bella’s evolution from a teenage girl to a mother and wife.

Kristen Stewart stars as Bella Swan in Twilight – Photo: Summit/Lionsgate

From girl to woman

In Twilight, Bella arrived in Forks intent on remaining emotionally closed off to everyone. But when Bella met Edward and the Cullen clan, all of that changed. She finally gave herself permission to open up.

But Bella’s interest in Edward went far beyond just a crush on the hot, mysterious guy at school. Like Bella, Edward was also emotionally walled and hesitant to get close to anyone. In a way, Bella gave Edward the opportunity to feel again, something she hadn’t allowed herself to do until she met the right guy.

In New Moon and Eclipse, Bella finally came to terms with her relationship and her role. After trying to kill herself in New Moon in the hope of catching a glimpse of Edward, she raced to Italy in order to save his unlife.

With that one decision, Bella began to mature.

Her dependency on Jacob Black as a love interest started to fade. Although Jacob was vital to saving her life while Edward was away, Bella realized that the only way she could have a committed relationship with Edward was to cut romantic ties with Jacob. Bella did have authentic feelings for Jacob, but she loved Edward more.

In the end, she had to make that decision on her own. The Bella from the first Twilight book was no more. She was a woman who knew what she wanted and went after it. Was it difficult? Of course, but it was necessary. Bella never would have matured as a person otherwise. It’s what ultimately led her to become a vampire.

From woman to vampire

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 will showcase Bella’s transition into a vampire. Although it was something she asked for, Edward refused. And he only did so out of necessity. With Bella a newly turned vampire, would she be consumed by blood lust? Would she have the strength to raise her daughter? Would she be remorseful at all?

Who knows, but Bella didn’t get turned the normal way. She wasn’t bitten and then turned. Bella wasn’t a traditional newborn vampire, she was much more serene. Eager to explore her newfound abilities, Bella showed remarkable control as a vampire. After all, she would soon be a mother.

Kristen Stewart returns to the role of Bella Swan in The Twilight Saga: Breaking: Dawn Part 2 – Photo: Summit/Lionsgate

From vampire to mother

In the final stage of her evolution, Bella, like any mother, puts her own well being second as she and Edward take on the Volturi in a full scale supernatural battle. This Bella Swan is a far cry from the Bella in New Moon, the one who could barely function without Edward’s presence.

And for a second, you have to stop and wonder: If Bella wasn’t a vampire, would she even be attempting to fight?

Of course. It’s a mother’s instinct to defend her family. A vampire without emotional and physical control would never be able to make that conscious decision. But Bella does. It’s the Mama Bear syndrome at its finest. This time, however, the mama has super strength and speed. And now that she’s a vampire, it only helps that Bella doesn’t get squeamish at the sight of blood.

Let’s face it, Bella was never perfect. In many ways, that’s why we relate to her. But the great thing is: she never had to be perfect.

In Twilight, Bella didn’t care about much. As The Twilight Saga evolved, so did she. Bella became a pillar of strength for her family and friends. And we can’t deny that without Bella’s presence, Jacob would never have become the leader of his own pack. Interestingly, Edward would never have found a reason to (un)live. And Charlie, dear Charlie, would never have rediscovered his daughter or himself.

Whether you love Bella Swan or hate her, you should at least respect her evolution.

What do you guys think of Bella’s evolution from Twilight to Breaking Dawn?

What do you think?

Nadya Vlassoff joined The Deadbolt in 2009 and currently serves as associate content director and contributing editor. A former writer for the boutique apparel and accessories blog, Nadya has interviewed and worked with a variety of top names in pop culture, fashion, entertainment and sports.
  • Evolution? Pillar of strength? This couldn’t be more ass backwards…..She can’t act for shit. She was the same whiney EMO girl in every movie. Nothing changed. TRY AGAIN

  • SAmmy

    Great essay.

  • AvaJayne

    Lenny, Lenny, Lenny….why do you confuse the character with the actor? Oh wait, you probably didn’t actually read the books.