From a more pointed perspective this time, I want to continue and expand upon what I started explaining in one paragraph of my previous post about Carlisle Cullen:
In the second volume, ‘New Moon’, of her ‘Twilight’ saga, Stephenie Meyer writes a very daring statement about what causes certain people to possibly go to Hell, and what doesn’t.
I know very well that the main vampires she focuses upon in her books, the Cullen ‘family’, are, as described by her, extremely different from the regular vampires of the horror books and films, but this is precisely why I am so interested in them, and want to speak about them in this blog as a new, wonderfully promising departure from the traditional, horrible and terrifying image we were used to.
This question of Hell and who goes in it and why, is one more reason for me to applaud the great new vision of them now emerging:
In a direct challenge of the belief held and affirmed within some of our western religions, that all vampires are demonic beings without a soul who will irremediably go to Hell, Stephenie makes her main character, the sweet and loving human teen-ager Bella, tell Dr. Carlisle Cullen, whom she knows very well to be actually a vampire (but a ‘vegetarian’ one, feeding on animals only, not humans), that he can’t possibly ever go to Hell, being in fact such a good and compassionate and utterly loving person as he is.
When I first came across those astonishing great lines in that second volume, I rejoiced that someone – Stephenie – had written for everyone to read such a heretical perhaps, but nevertheless obviously true statement, against the usually accepted religious dogma.
But only the first film was existing then, the second film was yet to be realized, and I sighed, thinking it was such a pity that they would most probably never dare to keep those lines in the coming second film, adaptation of the second book.
Well, I’m so glad to say I was wrong: they did dare to!!!
Let’s go through the scene when it happens, which they kept just like it is in the book:
It’s Bella’s birthday, the Cullens, who like her very much, have organized a quiet family party for her at their own home, in spite of her usual shyness and reluctance to be ‘celebrated’.
It’s night time, the party is started, Bella is now opening her parcels one by one, when suddenly the paper ribbon on the gift she is trying to unwrap cuts her finger ever so slightly. A drop of blood pearls on her finger, sending its scent all over the room. Then all goes very fast: Jasper, the newest member of the Cullen family, cannot resist and darts towards Bella; Edward has just anticipated his move and, flinging Bella aside, he stops Jasper with a blow that sends him against the opposite wall, but Jasper, unable to control himself, comes right back towards Bella, as Edward and all the others, aghast, realize that poor Bella landed onto the table amidst the glasses there, and now things are much worse: she has an open cut on her arm, blood is gushing out of it. This becomes too much then for most of them, but as they leave the room, Emmett, the strongest of the big adopted children of Carlisle and Esme, tries at least to help, as we see now in the script I copied down below:
Emmett reins himself in, elbows Rosalie. They drag the snarling Jasper out. Esme holds her nose, politely exits with the others. Alice looks at Bella, apologetic:
ALICE: I’m sorry , I… can’t…
She slips out the door.
Edward’s still on guard as Carlisle examines Bella’s arm.
CARLISLE: I’ll have to stitch this up.
EDWARD: I’ll carry her to the kitchen.
He moves to pick her up, but his eyes dart to the blood.
CARLISLE: I’ll take care of her, Edward. (Edward doesn’t move) . Check on Jasper. Go.
Edward looks from him to Bella. Then steps back, allowing Carlisle to lift Bella and carry her to the kitchen. But just before the kitchen door closes, Bella sees Edward’s agonized face. He turns away, unable to meet her eyes.
(CULLEN HOUSE – KITCHEN – NIGHT)
Bella sits in a chair opposite Carlisle who mops up her blood as he removes glass shards from her arm. He drops one into a bowl; PLINK. She tries not to look at the blood.
BELLA: I sure can kill a party.
CARLISLE: It’s not your fault. Jasper hasn’t been away from human blood as long as the rest of us.
BELLA: Seems like you’re the only one it doesn’t affect.
CARLISLE: Centuries of practice.
BELLA: Did you ever think of… living differently?
CARLISLE: I enjoy my work too much. Helping people, saving lives. I’m hoping there’s a point to my existence, even if I am damned.
BELLA: (shocked) Damned? (smiling, shaking her head) You’re not damned.
CARLISLE: Then you and I agree. But Edward doesn’t believe there’s an afterlife for our kind. (looking at her) He thinks we’ve lost our souls.
BELLA: (realizing) That’s why he won’t… He thinks he’d be *damning me.*
CARLISLE: If you believed as he did, would you risk it?
BELLA: (off) No, not ever…
We can see the wisdom and kindness of Carlisle, who, although he himself disagrees actually with Edward on this so important point, still understands him and manages to help Bella understand him too, without ever being judgmental about the one she loves, and he loves dearly too, as his adopted son.
Even towards the regular vampires who attack them already in book 1 and keep doing it in book 2 and 3 as well (and so also in the three corresponding films), Carlisle shows the same deep compassion and inclination to mercy, particularly in book 3: it becomes clear that the army of recently bitten vampires who were sent against them, being especially strong as ‘newborns’, but totally ignorant otherwise, were only used as tools by the more ancient vampires trying to get revenge from the Cullens after the latter had no choice but to kill the mate of one of them, a ‘tracker’ who had set his devious mind on making Bella his prey, and very nearly succeeded. But by the time the fight with this somewhat innocent army of ‘newborns’ is over and the Cullens, victorious, have taken under their protection a ‘newborn’ girl who prayed for mercy, it is too late: the executioners sent by the Volturi have arrived on the scene, and in spite of the personal request by Carlisle himself, won’t give a second chance to the poor ‘newborn’ vampire girl, killing her with even unnecessary cruelty, under the revolted eyes of the Cullens, helplessly watching.
What we see all along in all members of that extraordinary vampire ‘family’ gathered by choice around Carlisle Cullen is the full emergence of the true love that can come actually only from our soul – and Bella is totally right: that true love in itself is the sure sign that they do have a soul, quite capable of developing just as in normal human beings, if only they find the inspiring example of an exceptional being like Carlisle.
If he had never been bitten and would have remained a human being, in that lifetime he would probably have become an example of true goodness, and have inspired the lives of many other people, and so would probably have been called a saint; the added extreme problem of having been turned into a vampire made his new kind of existence even more challenging for his natural goodness than it would have been had he remained a mortal human, so I feel as a vampire even more than as a human, Carlisle deserves to be called a saint or something like that, respected and honored as such by all other beings in whom a soul is present, active and growing too.
So I start here my campaign, as you can see, for the very special vampire named Carlisle Cullen to be ‘canonized’, not especially in the official way of any specific religion, but in the equivalent manner in our minds and hearts, recognizing and saluting the special quality of a being under whichever skin s/he happens to exist…
- ‘Twilight’: at last good, great, evolving vampires! (labofevolution.wordpress.com)