Study Guide

Breaking Dawn Setting

By Stephenie Meyer


Forks, Washington and Isle Esme

Most of the story of Breaking Dawn takes place in Forks, Washington at the Cullen house and in Bella and Edward's new cottage in the woods. There's also a short jump to Isle Esme, just off the coast of Brazil, where Edward and Bella spend their honeymoon.

Forks, Washington

The story begins in fall with Bella and Edward's wedding in Forks. Although Forks itself doesn't change (it still rains), Bella now spends a lot of time at the Cullen house. When she drives through Forks with her new Mercedes Guardian, she feels like she sticks out to people in town. Her association with the Cullens and her upcoming wedding have changed the way the townspeople look at Bella and how she experiences her surroundings.

The Woods

During the wedding dance, Bella discovers Jacob hiding in the woods. He has disappeared into the woods "to go full wolf" after receiving the wedding announcement. As in all books of the Twilight series, the woods seem to represent a hiding place, a secret, supernatural world where werewolves and vampires do their hunting and fighting. Not necessarily a place for a human.

In fact, whenever Bella used to spent time in the woods, she felt quite out of place, and wasn't able to take two steps without tripping over a branch or rock. As a vampire, however, she no longer feels out of place in the forest. She belongs. She leaps over rivers and races through the trees. Her fear about the woods turns into fear for the woods, because she can't quite control her physical power yet:

I was suddenly sure that if I wanted to tunnel under the river, to claw or beat my way straight through the bedrock, it wouldn't take me very long. The objects around me – the trees, the shrubs, the rocks… the house – had all begun to look very fragile. (20.38)

Her new superior sense of sight allows her to see in the darkness just as well as in daylight, and her sense of smell enables her to find home easily. She's definitely no longer in danger of getting lost in the woods.

The woods also figure prominently in the battle with the Volturi. The Volturi army arrives (as Alice foresaw) as the first snow lies on the ground. The choice of season for the battle might have to do with the fact that in wintertime, the forest looks dead, because life and growth are muffled by ice and snow. It's in this atmosphere in which the Volturi arrive, just as soundlessly: "a dark, unbroken shape that seemed to hover a few inches above the white snow, so smooth was the advance" (36.2). The image of fluidity, of black against white, is very powerful. It seems to evoke a sense of good and evil, a sense of judgment day.

Bella and Edward's Cottage in the Woods

Bella and Edward's cottage looks right out of a fairy tale:

There, nestled into a small clearing in the forest, was a tiny stone cottage… Late summer roses bloomed […] a little path of flat stones […] led up to a wooden door. (24.52)

The inside features an eclectic mix of antique and modern, old and new, which might reflect Bella as she unites her old human life with her new vampire life. She brought all her old books, for example, which features prominently in the story, since Alice later leaves her note in Bella's copy of The Merchant of Venice. So her old life has relevance to her new life.

Bella also realizes that the place exudes a positive vibe. Plus, the fact that this cottage belongs to her and to Edward defies her new husband's idea that "he belonged to the world of horror stories" (24.97). It's a place of love, intimacy, and protection.

Isle Esme

There's no doubt that this fictional island off the coast of Brazil is a dream come true. Still, Bella feels stage fright at the thought that this will be the place where she'll first make love to Edward:

[…] I could see a warm light ahead… I realized the light was a house – the two bright, perfect squares were wide open windows, framing a front door […] the stage fright attacked again. (5.33)

The scenery is almost too beautiful and too perfect.

Later, Bella admits to herself that she believes the surreal beauty and the too-bright colors of the island might be the cause of her vivid nightmares. So, despite its dreamy postcard island quality, Isle Esme seems to also introduce an element of danger.