While no one will ever confuse Stephenie Meyer with being in the same league as such great authors as Homer, Virgil, Dante, Milton, Shakespeare, etc., there is some thought in her books that can be illuminated for the purposes of examination. On her blog, Meyer writes concerning the third book in her Twilight Saga: Eclipse, “Jacob doesn’t have a tragic flaw. He has one goal and one hope. His goal is to save Bella’s life. His hope is that he’ll win her heart in the process. He fails at both. But that doesn’t mean he regrets trying. If he could do it over again, he’d do the same thing.” However, upon closer examination it would appear that the author of the book doesn’t quite seem to understand her own characters, or is too blinded by her affections for her character to adequately evaluate them. Eclipse is a tragedy and in particular is the tragedy of Jacob.
The book begins with a letter from Jacob to Bella; Jacob has alienated himself from Bella because of choices made at the end of New Moon. Effects of Jacob’s actions are at the center of the beginning of the story, rather than what caused those effects we see that Bella is grounded and her boyfriend Edward unable to come over except under certain guidelines. Jacob is immature, but this is not what brings about his demise throughout the course of the story. Rather, Jacob’s arrogance and jealousy is what brings about his tragic fall. It is a flaw in Jacob’s character that causes him to fall, not events outside of his control. He spends the entire book attempting to win over Bella, yet his own nature gets in the way of convincing Bella (if he even could) to leave Edward for him. Above all other characters in the book, Jacob is the most flawed of all. While Edward can make it appear he is comfortable with Bella going on to the reservation to visit Jacob, Jacob is never fully convincing that he is ok with Bella leaving to go back to Edward.While Meyer attributes Jacob’s flaw to his age, yet Jacob’s attitude throughout the book demonstrates that age alone is not what causes his fall from grace.
While Bella is the main character of the story, Eclipse is more about Jacob and Edward than it is about Bella; albeit the story is about Jacob and Edward in relation to Bella. The eclipse of the story is that of Jacob, who as a werewolf represents the moon but also represents the sun in regards to Bella who, if she chose to be with him, would be able to step out into the sunlight as often as she would want. Jacob is eclipsed not only by himself, but by Edward who passes in front of Jacob and blocks out his radiance. Edward is so successful in his eclipse of Jacob that Jacob opts to run off at the end of the book rather than stick around and be the friend that Bella needs. Jacob eclipses himself when Bella admits at the end of the story that she does in fact love Jacob; this fact actually hurts him rather than helps. By realizing that she loves Jacob, she realizes the threat he poses to her happiness with Edward. Had Jacob chosen to pursue only friendship with Bella, he may have found a way to continue being a part of her life. The whole course of the book leads to the point where Jacob has so fallen that he believes his only option is to run away and never return. In addition, Jacob’s choice to fight for Bella causes him to act in such a way, that had he not chosen to fight, may have allowed Bella to see that he in fact may have been better for her.
Like the great tragic figure Hector from Homer’s Iliad, Jacob can’t get past himself in order to do what is ultimately the most correct action to take. Where as Hector chooses to leave the safety of Troy’s walls and eventually is slain by Achilles, Jacob chooses to leave the safety of his friendship with Bella to do battle with Edward. Meyer explains that Jacob believes he must take these actions, and therefore does not have a tragic flaw. Yet it is the very undertaking of his attempt to win over Bella that directly leads to his decline. If the story is seen in the light of the story of Jacob, there is no rise for the character. The entire story is one continuous decline for Jacob. Like Dante in Dante’s Inferno, Jacob finds himself in the middle of the forest. He is lost and cannot find his way back to an even keel. The tragedy of Jacob isn’t that Bella chooses Edward, or that Edward wins Bella, but rather that he loses Bella completely and destroys himself.
To understand Eclipse properly, one must look at the character of Jacob and understand that the story is the Tragedy of Jacob. Jacob alone is the character who brings about his own tragic fall. Rather than a victim of circumstances, Jacob creates the circumstances under which he declines. Jacob’s tragic flaw is his immaturity, because it is what constantly steps in front of him and prevents Jacob from seeing logic and reason. The “eclipse” of Jacob is twofold, first that Edward eclipses him, but also that Jacob eclipses himself and blocks Bella from seeing the guy she became such close friends with. Bella and Edward are only side characters, as the story is fueled by what Jacob continues to do in order to win Bella. Stephenie Meyer severely lacks the knowledge of her characters and her story in believing that Jacob is without a tragic flaw, or that the story is not entirely centered around him and his fall.