Love Triangles in YA Romance: Why Team Jacob Was NEVER an Option

Rebekah Rahman, Staff Writer

Ever since the 10th anniversary of the cult-classic film adaptation of The Twilight Saga back in 2018, we have been living in what many Twi-hards (including myself) have affectionately dubbed the Twilight Renaissance. It is finally socially-acceptable to proclaim your love for the franchise without being met with scorn. For those of you who may doubt the existence of this movement in 2020, dancing to Carter Burwell’s iconic “Bella’s Lullaby” has become a popular Tik-Tok trend recently. As someone who has always been (too) proud to share their extensive knowledge of the series since elementary school, I thought I would add my contribution to the Renaissance. Although possibly controversial, I will be debunking two popular myths about the series: Bella was not indecisive about her love for Edward, meaning that Jacob was NEVER an option for her.

I will mainly be referencing the books here, and in turn, revealing a few of my critiques with the film adaptations. I will be omitting “Breaking Dawn” from this analysis, because Team Jacob was officially over by then. 

Jacob Black does not make many appearances in the first novel, but Bella’s initial actions and thoughts towards him are quite telling. Desperate to find answers about Edward’s unexplainable abilities, Bella tries to coax sacred familial lore out of fifteen-year-old Jacob by guiltily flirting with him: “I hoped that young Jacob was as yet inexperienced around girls, so that he wouldn’t see through my sure-to-be pitiful attempts at flirting… I felt guilty as I said this, knowing that I’d used him. But I really did like Jacob. He was someone I could easily be friends with.” Bella holds no romantic interest for Jacob. This interaction simply proves that Bella actually has a genuine friendship with Jacob from the beginning (something she struggles to find with her human peers). Admittedly, the entire foundation of the series would be lost if Bella showed signs of indecisiveness in the first novel. However, as we move on to the ever-unpopular “New Moon,” we will find these feelings of friendship to hold true. 

Considering that Jacob is objectively the star of the second (and my least favorite) addition to the series, there is a lot to unpack. I will not address Bella’s more controversial actions in this book, rather her growing bond with the new-werewolf in the wake of Edward’s devastating absence. After several months of nearly catatonic suffering, Bella finally finds comfort in spending her days with Jacob. She describes Jacob as a “perpetually happy person” making her “eager to see him” after being lost in “numbness” for so long. Still, Bella is not over the loss of Edward and she only deems her relationship with him as a friendship: “This didn’t feel anything like the last time someone had embraced me this way. This was friendship. And Jacob was very warm…. His fingers touched my hair, soft and tentative. Well, it was friendship for me. I pulled away quickly….” 

If we are going to criticize Bella for anything, it should not be for indecisiveness, but for not breaking off her friendship with Jacob, knowing she could never reciprocate his feelings. Bella herself even addresses this and wonders if there will ever be a happy ending for Jacob. She goes as far to connect her situation to that of “Romeo and Juliet” and compares Jacob to the fallen Paris. Once Edward and Bella are reunited, Bella still worries after Jacob when he decides to end their friendship, as vampires and werewolves are mortal enemies. This brings us to “Eclipse.”

Arguably the best book and film in the franchise, “Eclipse” shows us several things. One, Jacob is extremely pushy and aggressive, making him my least favorite character in the series. Two, the movie adaptation of “Eclipse” overhyped the love-triangle aspect and made Bella look a million times worse. Of course, I will be addressing the two kiss scenes (if you can even call it that) between Bella and Jacob. After finally getting to spend time with Jacob and rekindling their childlike friendship, Jacob confesses his feelings to Bella. Jacob is aware that Bella is planning on being with Edward forever, literally, and she has expressed more than once that she cannot possibly feel for him in that way. Despite this, he repeatedly asks her to explain herself because he “knows there’s more.” She is brutally honest with him: “When you’re happy, it makes me happy. But I could say the same thing about Charlie (her father), Jacob. You’re family. I love you, but I’m not in love with you.” Not accepting this, he proceeds to forcefully kiss her! She is completely uncomfortable. Realizing she cannot stop him as he is a thousand times stronger than her, she “shuts down” and waits for him to stop. She proceeds to punch him in the face. Like I said, “least favorite character.” 

Jacob’s antics do not stop there. The more famous kiss scene between the pair cannot be considered romantic either. Right before the big fight against the highly dangerous newborns towards the end of “Eclipse,” Jacob overhears Bella and Edward discussing their impending marriage. Heartbroken by this, Jacob emotionally manipulates Bella into thinking that he will sacrifice himself in this fight because it will be “more convenient for everyone.” Jacob is aware that Bella cares about him deeply and knows that she will do anything to keep him alive. He then taunts her and asks her if she can “convince” him to “stay alive.” Understanding this, Bella desperately asks him to kiss her. Although too long to reference here, the whole scene comes off as forced and scarily aggressive on Jacob’s part. By the end, Bella admits that “I loved him, much more than I should, yet, still nowhere near enough.” This begs the question, is being pushed into loving someone really love? Worse still, rather than blaming Jacob for any of this, Bella hates herself for kissing him and begs Edward for his forgiveness. Remember, Edward is a mind-reader, and is understanding of Bella’s actions. In fact, he calls Jacob out on his manipulation: “It’s just that he would have kissed you anyway–even if you hadn’t fallen for it… did you really believe that he was that noble? That he would go out in a flame of glory just to clear the way for me?” Of course, the movie oh-so carefully neglects this portion of the scene, leaving the viewer to think of the kiss as a passionate declaration of love.

There you have it. Bella never wavered from Edward in terms of her feelings. More importantly, Jacob is exponentially worse than any of us remembered. I have basically torn Team Jacob to shreds, unless you are simply appreciating Taylor Lautner’s six-pack. In my re-reading of the series, I have gained a newfound appreciation for Bella as she comes off as more personable and likeable than in the films. Hopefully, I have provided some newfound insights into this wonderful franchise. Maybe this will encourage you to become a Twi-Hard yourself, as it is the perfect time to do so (and the 10th anniversary of Eclipse is coming up, too). Personally, the other shameless Twilight fans and I will be patiently hoping for the release of “Midnight Sun” during this time.