Eps 1708: life and death

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Vickie Pearson

Vickie Pearson

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This article discusses the gender swap of Bella and Edward in Meyer's new book, Life and Death. Meyer introduces Beau Swan as a replacement for Bella, and changes many supporting characters to be different only in name. Some readers find the love story between Beau and Edythe difficult to accept, as Beau is in every way a less specific and less compelling protagonist than Bella.
But for many fans of the Twilight franchise, the gender-swapped retelling is a fitting way to honor the 10th anniversary of Stephenie Meyer's first book in the series. Beau Swan and Edythe Cullen remain true to their original personalities – while Edward and Bella's genders are swapped, they remain faithful to Meyer's original story. Stephenie Meyer has written a new book that follows the original characters as they experience this gender-swapped version of events.
It is important to note that Meyer attempts to challenge gender roles and assumptions by having the characters experience a change in their gender. Despite Meyer's attempts, many have criticized her work because they believe she makes exactly gendered assumptions and claims about gender. For example, Bella's character changes to Beau and Edward’s character changes to Edith in the book. While Meyer claims Beau has a “typical male persona”, some have criticized this claim as it is based on traditional gendered assumptions of what it means to be male or female. Similarly, some have taken issue with Meyer’s claims about gender roles when it comes to Edward’s story in her book. Although Edward is still the ‘protector’ of Beau throughout the story, his role as a protector is seen as more of an emotional one than physical one which some argue goes against traditional gender roles. Despite this criticism, many readers find comfort in Edwards story as part of the book which helps make sense of the transition from Bella to Beau and vice versa for other characters in the book. Ultimately, Stephenie Meyers attempts at using a gender-swap to challenge traditional gender roles can be seen both positively and negatively depending on how readers interpret her characters such as Bella/Beau and Edward/Edith within her book.
For example, Bella Swan is portrayed as a vulnerable female character who falls in love with Edward Cullen; however, in Twilight when Beaufort Swan meets the alluring and telepathic vampire Edythe Cullen, he falls for her despite her vampirism. His stalker-like behavior can be interpreted as a sign of infatuation or vulnerability. Similarly to Bella’s story, Beau’s story is also one of accepting love despite the rules of morality and the established twilight species. However, his once taught dance class and overall maleness bring an interesting dynamic to this otherwise similar story. In other words, Stephenie Meyer’s twist on gender roles in Twilight not only changes how readers view traditional gender roles but also how they view relationships between men and women. Although some may criticize the book for its predictable plot or lack of real depth, it still stands out as a unique take on classic romance that challenges traditional notions of gender roles and relationships. While Bella was portrayed as vulnerable to Edward’s advances due to her inexperience with love and relationships, Beau is portrayed as a more confident character who does not let his inexperience prevent him from pursuing what he desires from Edythe Cullen. This shift in character dynamics makes the story much more dynamic than if it had been written traditionally with Bella Swan being pursued by Edward Cullen.
Beaufort Swan, the swan mother, is a key figure in this story. Her death from old age mirrors the plot of Twilight, with Charlie Swan and Renee Dwyer both passing away. This leaves Beaufort’s son, Beau Swan, to be raised by his father alone in the gloomy town of Forks. It is here that he meets Edythe Cullen during a biology class and eventually develops feelings for her. Unfortunately, Joss bites Beau and turns him into a vampire leaving Edythe to try and save him. This further complicates their relationship as they must confront their different life paths while also trying to keep their true selves hidden from those around them. In the end, Edythe helps Beau find peace by helping him transition into his swan life as he had always wanted before Joss bit him.
In the original book, Edythe and Bella share a special bond that Meyer didn't know about until after the fact. Stephenie Meyer said that while it was too late to change the plot, she did want to give Beau more respect and justice by having him endure a lot more pain before his death. The timing of this development with Twilight's end was perfect for Stephenie Meyer as it gave her an opportunity to tell the story of Beau, his mother Jessamine and Eleanor in a much more meaningful way than she could have in the original book.
This meant that the plot twist of changing Bella's gender and Edward's to Beau was possible without causing too much conflict or confusion for readers. The idea of a surprise new novel, which changes the genders of characters from Meyer's beloved Twilight series, was both exciting and daunting for fans. It meant extra work for Meyer as she had to rewrite the entire story and make it land with fans going only by the original book. The change in genders also meant a shorter book and that Edward becomes Beau, which is something that only true Twilight fans could appreciate. The twist in itself means that readers are able to get a new perspective on the beloved characters while making sure not to take away from the original story or meaning behind them. Despite all this, Stephenie Meyer has managed to make her story land with her audience while making sure they still get their desired twist without ruining their beloved books or characters.
In the movie, Twilight, a vampire named Edythe saves Bella from an uncomfortable age gap situation, taking her backpack instead of her with heavy chivalry. This scene is also a commentary on male chivalry as it is often seen in literature. However, by the end of the movie we learn that Edythe's offer to take Bella's backpack was really just a way for her to miss out on her chance to be with Beau Swan.