Why Bella Swan is secretly an addicted gambler.

We are covering the topic of ‘addiction’ in Psychology at the moment.

My teacher talks a lot during lessons.

These are not two unrelated statements; they can be combined to produce some fascinating little anecdotes about my Psychology teacher’s time as a social worker. Like that time he had to deal with a woman who threw her baby out of a van onto the M5 because she had a psychotic episode while high.

Anyway, when you’re not slowly dozing off (I’m sorry, Mr P, your voice is too soothing to stay awake to), you can pick up on some interesting ideas.

And so, I hereby present an argument for ‘Why Edward Cullen is a Fruit Machine and Bella Swan is the Addicted Gambler’.

“Like I was the prize rather than the outrageously lucky winner”. That quote came from Bella Swan herself, in response to Edward staring at her. Edward spends a lot of his time staring at Bella. He is usually immobile, until Bella interacts with him, at which point Edward starts wheeling out his arsenal of ‘attractions’ and Bella starts using words like “glorious” and “dazzling” to describe him.

Fruit machines are usually immobile, until one interacts with them. They then light up and start to sparkle and make loud noises and play pretty piano pieces loud and rackety music. The fruit machine is “like a carnivorous flower; [it is] physically attractive to [its] prey.”

Once Bella/the gambler has interacted with Edward/the fruit machine, she falls almost straight away “unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him”. She is unable to look away, and shows classic examples of irrational thoughts and distorted beliefs while in the vicinity of the fruit machine Edward. The addict alienates friends and prefers to spend more time alone with the object of their obsession; in this case a cold machine with the attention-catching display of a peacock’s mating ritual. In the same way, a fruit machine will attract potential addicts by flashing lights and screaming ‘look at me’ in Fruit-Machine-speak.

Bella’s addiction is maintained by the random win-loss system implemented by Edward, who refuses to yield his…money…on many different occasions, before suddenly dishing it out to Bella once. Having released his contents, he then returns to his previous behaviour of cold refusal. Bella, the hopelessly addicted gambler, refuses to acknowledge that she is losing more than she is actually winning and continues to see the source of her fix as “perfection”.

It’s not all about Edward the Fruit Machine and his attraction rituals, though. Bella herself displays the personality types associated with the classic addict. She is impulsive; unable to rationally think choices through (look how quickly Bella ‘Babies Are Bad’ Swan changed her mind after becoming pregnant), she is a high-sensation seeker, courting danger repeatedly by refusing to wear a helmet on her motorbike whenever she is not exposed to the thrill of pulling Edward Cullen’s lever and she is extremely susceptible to boredom. Other characters in the book barely hold her attention for more than a paragraph at a time; only her beloved Fruit Machine can engage her for longer than thirty seconds.

Bella shows symptoms of addiction-deprivation in New Moon, when Edward leaves. She suffers from depression, memory-loss and severe hysterics on at least one occasion. In addition, she has repeated nightmares and shows little interest in anything that is not to do with her fix.

The final argument is this: what if Edward never existed as a person? What if the whole of Twilight etc is the mental ramblings of  Bella Swan who spends her days sitting in a mental hospital with her favourite fruit machine, having created a new world inside her head to escape what she saw as a desperately boring life. Perhaps moving to Forks triggered a mental breakdown; with her addict’s personality, there simply weren’t enough social and emotional stimuli in that town to satisfy Bella’s cripplingly low self-esteem and raging narcissism. She is unable to describe her family and friends and their conversations in any detail due to the fact that whatever interactions she does have with them are entirely one-sided as she cannot drag herself away from her fruit machine long enough to respond to them in any meaningful way.

 

This is why I should not be allowed access to my imagination after English lessons where we debate the necessity of the literary canon and interpretations of various texts.

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