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Rosalie Hale Deserved Better

by Ted Ryan 2 months ago in pop culture · updated 2 months ago

The "Twilight" character who deserved her own standalone

When I read Midnight Sun last year, something bothered me on my re-read of the Twilight franchise that dominated my adolescence. No, it wasn’t just Edward’s stalker tendencies trying to be justified as romantic - the lowest point was him taking the time to oil Bella’s creaking window while she slept and then hide while she got up to go to the bathroom - it was the way Edward’s perspective undermined and patronised Rosalie’s character.

In my honest opinion, Rosalie is one of the best female characters in that series. Rosalie Hale gets a bad rap for being icy, snobbish and vain. But Rosalie is perhaps one of the most intriguing characters in the entire franchise with more nuance and complexity than is given credit.

However, revisiting these books as an adult I noticed more the Madonna/Whore complex that was visible throughout these books. Whether it was intentional or not, it gives readers the internalised message that if you are a Bella, Angela or Alice that you have desirable traits and if you are a Rosalie, Leah or Jessica these are undesirable traits. I touched upon this in my Not Like Other Girls Toxicity article, but it is really visible the divide between the women in this series that I still take issue with.

Specifically because we have had three retellings of Twilight - Bella’s perspective, Edward’s perspective and a gender swapped version - but never has a supporting character got a standalone book, aside from the Short Second Life of Bree Tanner.

I also think actress Nikki Reed didn’t get the credit she deserved by embracing Rosalie’s vulnerabilities and not portraying the snarky antagonist blonde archetype we’ve seen countless times. With all that in mind, I’m certain Stephenie Meyer should’ve written Rosalie her own standalone book for the following reasons:

Her Backstory

Rosalie’s backstory alone is a good enough reason to give this character her own full-length novel.

One of the biggest disservices the Twilight films did for the series is to omit the most significant aspects of their storylines from their cinematic narrative. For instance, fans who have just watched the movies have very little idea about Rosalie’s past.

Rosalie was born in the early 1900s in New York and was a child when the Great Depression happened. Her family was very wealthy and her father worked at a bank, which is why they didn’t struggle during the Depression.

Despite their wealth and financial security, Rosalie’s parents were also still social climbers and projected those ambitions onto their daughter.

Rosalie was quite famous for her beauty and sense of style, and Rosalie’s parents, specifically her mother, wanted to use her to get to a better social standing. Even going as far as staging a meeting with Royce King, seeing him as an eligible bachelor and not the vile person he actually was.

Fans will know from the book or film that Rosalie was the victim of a horrific sexual assault by her fiancé and his drunk friends. Her vampiric life started with Carlisle finding her and saving her, but Rosalie couldn’t rest until all her attackers were dead - her revenge spree ended on a wickedly dark “theatrical” moment for her former lover.

Overcoming Trauma

One thing that cannot be denied is that Rosalie’s tale is that of survival. As she was a survivor of sexual assault, this could have been a poignant arc to follow from a first person perspective.

Actually, all three of the Cullen women and even Bella have experienced trauma - be that mental, physical or sexual - and there could be some great scenes, specifically with Rosalie, Esme and Alice that could have beautifully explored the healing process or just seeing the characters in a safe space to express their emotions would have opened up some great discussions.

The Love Story

I never understood the hype of Edward and Bella when you read/see other healthier relationships in the series.

Rosalie and Emmett’s relationship has a much more solid foundation than the later. I know Edward gets a lot of hype from fans for controlling his bloodlust, but Rosalie definitely deserved more. While Edward compared Bella to heroin and vividly imagined how he would murder an entire classroom to drain his love interest lifeless, Rosalie carried a dying Emmett covered in blood and still had way more control than most of that vampire clan.

Again, a standalone book with Rosalie could’ve seen her coming to terms with a mutually trusting relationship and letting her guard down with Emmett. Those are scenes I’d be dying to read.

Her Relationship with Immortality

Much of the dislike of Rosalie is rooted in her distain for Bella’s enthusiasm for vampirism and inability to look at everything she’d be sacrificing for Edward.

Given everything Rosalie has been through, this is more than justification for her resentment of Bella’s eager willingness to give up her mortality.

It’s established from early on that Rosalie often mourns the life she could have had with Emmett if they were human. She confides these feelings in eclipse and prior to that in New Moon she didn’t want Bella to turn into a vampire because she didn’t wish her fate on anyone else.

“I don't mean that I have an aversion to you as a sister. It's just that… this is not the life I would have chosen for myself. I wish there had been someone there to vote no for me,”

Rosalie even becomes Bella’s greatest ally in Breaking Dawn, understanding Bella’s choice to have her hybrid baby and even defending her against the family when they seemed willing to go against what Bella wanted. Despite, the relationships she had built throughout four books and five films, Rosalie was Bella’s biggest support system - because Rosalie in particular knew what it felt like to have your choices made for you.

However, she is found she liked how she looked post transformation and relished in her newfound strength and abilities. She uses the fact they’ve restarted their lives in different places, learning new skills and delving into her hobbies.

An Unbiased Perspective

This is something that frustrated me so much in Midnight, because Edward turned out to be a pretty misogynistic narrator. He rather juvenilely put Rosalie’s dislike of Bella down to petty jealousy and that is a very juvenile mentality for a man over a hundred years old to gloat over.

Rosalie was raised in a time where a woman’s value was solely on her looks - of course it would be a hit to her ego that Edward didn’t find her attractive, even though the feeling was mutual and their relationship was strictly platonic.

Plus, Rosalie made valid points in conversations that were either dismissed or ridiculed. Anyone would be frustrated if they lived in a dynamic like that. At least Rosalie had scenes where she admitted she was in the wrong and owned her mistakes, the same can’t be said for other characters.

If Meyer could write a Rosalie spin-off, I would hope she goes into the multi layers of her character and not be influenced by how other characters have perceived her.

This article was inspired by a podcast from the Black Prose Book Club - specifically the Movies From Our Youth episode (which I am proud to have suggested for the discussion) - I’d highly, highly recommend their channel. All three hosts promote fantastic in-depth discussions on diversity and representation across literature and screen.

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Ted Ryan

Screenwriter/Director/Playwright/Reviewer

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