Study Guide

Breaking Dawn Themes

By Stephenie Meyer

  • Love

    In Breaking Dawn, true love overcomes all obstacles. True love also leaves the characters no choice but to give theirs lives to save the people they love. Bella is willing to sacrifice her life out of love of her daughter, Renesmee. Jacob stands against his own werewolf pack to protect Bella and the Cullens. When Jacob imprints on Renesmee, he dedicates his life to her. After Bella transforms into a newborn vampire, her love for Edward remains stronger than her thirst for blood.

    Questions About Love

    1. Jacob imprints on newborn Renesmee. Do you believe that a grown man falling in love with a baby is ethically questionable or not. Why do you think so?
    2. How does Bella and Edward's relationship change after her transformation?
    3. Do you believe that Jacob imprints on Renesmee because she's partly Bella and not for Renesmee's own sake?

  • Choices

    As with all the books in the Twilight series, Breaking Dawn pitches individual choice against traditionally-set rules and group pressure. Throughout the story, the characters decide to trust and to stand by their own choices. Bella opts to sacrifice her life to give birth to her daughter Renesmee, acting against Edward, Jacob, and the majority of the Cullen family. Jacob, on the other hand, fights against his brother werewolves because he loves Bella and because he sees the Cullens as his friends, not his enemies. The right choice, it seems, arises out of an evaluation of unique, individual circumstances, not set rules.

    Questions About Choices

    1. After the Romanians promise to stand with the Cullens in a fight against the Volturi, many of the Cullen friends declare their allegiance as well. Do you think they were partly motivated by peer pressure?
    2. At some point in the story, Jacob believes that if he just imprinted and had his choices taken away from him, it would make his life easier. Do you think that a life without choices is easier? Do you think there was any choice involved when he imprinted on Renesmee?
    3. If Bella had chosen to abort the baby, how would that have affected her relationship with Edward? If Bella had died giving birth to Renesmee, how would events have unfolded differently?
    4. What do you think of Jacob's choice to tell Charlie about the supernatural world surrounding him? What about Charlie and Bella's decision not to tell her mother?
    5. Bella often says that love doesn't give you options. If you love someone you'll do anything for that person. Do you think that's true?
    6. Every character in Breaking Dawn is faced with choices. Did any of the decisions they made surprise you and why?

  • Sex

    In the Twilight series, sex comes after marriage – at least according to Edward. So when Edward and Bella get married, they make love for the first time. Breaking Dawn links sex and danger, at least initially. Before Bella becomes a vampire, sex with Edward poses a serious threat to her. Edward is afraid that he'll accidentally kill Bella, and she does indeed wake up covered in bruises after they first have sex. However, Bella doesn't seem to mind. While Edward is afraid to hurt her, Bella comes up with all kinds of tactics to tempt him into continuing to sleep with her.

    Breaking Dawn also explores sexuality as a sensual experience. Because vampire senses are superior, vampires are apparently able to enjoy their sexual relationships more deeply than humans can. At first, however, Bella wants to stay human, because she believes that as a newborn vampire, her thirst for blood will overshadow her physical attraction for her husband. She's surprised to find that after her transformation, her physical attraction for Edward actually increases, because her senses are now able to fully appreciate his body and his mind.

    Questions About Sex

    1. Bella actually toyed with staying human as long as possible to be able to experience sex with Edward. So is most of her love for him physical?
    2. Do you think Bella acted irresponsibly by not using protection when she slept with Edward?
    3. How do you feel about the way sex was portrayed in the book? Do you think that sex is portrayed in a healthy or unhealthy way? Does that change when Bella is transformed into a vampire?

  • Suffering

    Pain and love are inextricably connected in Breaking Dawn. Characters suffer because their love isn't returned, they suffer because their loved ones are in pain, and they suffer from feeling too much love for another person. Yet, they all come to realize that feeling love is worth experiencing the pain that comes with it. For example, Jacob maintains his love for Bella until the end of her human life and into her new vampire life. And Bella endures the pain of her pregnancy and her following transformation because she loves her daughter.

    Questions About Suffering

    1. What is the connection between mental and physical suffering for the characters in Breaking Dawn?
    2. Do characters in Breaking Dawn experience personal growth due to their pain?
    3. Why does Kate seem to enjoy hurting others with her gift to electrify her body?
    4. Jacob seems to believe that feeling the physical pain of hunger or thirst is easier to bear than emotional pain, like love. Does he have a point?

  • Sacrifice

    Many characters in Breaking Dawn believe that it's worth sacrificing their lives for what they believe. Jacob is prepared to fight against his own werewolf brothers because he believes that the Cullens are not his enemies. Many of Cullen friends are ready to die for their belief that the Cullens are innocent of breaking any of the Volturi laws. The werewolves are willing to sacrifice their lives to fight the Volturi, because they believe that it's their mission to protect their land and their loved ones from vampires. All of these characters' willingness to sacrifice themselves make them noble as compared to the Volturi, who are mostly concerned with power.

    Questions About Sacrifice

    1. Do you think that it's worth sacrificing your life for your beliefs?
    2. Do you agree with Carlisle that Jacob's willingness to fight against Sam's pack for the Cullens would be a wrong sacrifice to make?
    3. Jacob accuses Rosalie of sacrificing Bella's life for Renesmee's. Do you think he's right? Which choice might Bella have made if Rosalie had been pregnant?
    4. Some critics believe that Bella gets everything she's ever wanted in the end of the story without making enough sacrifices. What do you think?

  • Transformation

    Breaking Dawn explores the positive and negative consequences of the characters' transformations from human life to supernatural life. While Leah is strong and her speed is unmatched as a werewolf, she can't bear children. Bella, on the other hand, quickly overcomes the negative consequences of being a newborn vampire because she chose her transformation and had thought about it for a long time. Yet, she struggles with the fact that she poses a danger to her daughter, her human father, and humankind.

    Questions About Transformation

    1. Stephenie Meyer thinks that after Bella transforms into a vampire, she loses her relatability for readers. Do you think she's right?
    2. What does Bella gain and what does she lose through her transformation?
    3. How did you envision Bella's transformation before reading about it?
    4. Before reading Breaking Dawn, what did you think Bella's vampire superpower would be? Why? Were you surprised by her strength, grace, self-control, and human-shield abilities? Why or why not?

  • Warfare

    Warfare in Breaking Dawn revolves around war strategies rather than physical combat. The Volturi arrive in perfect formation to intimidate the Cullens. They use several strategies to draw the Cullens into starting a fight. Although Bella is physically the strongest vampire amongst the Cullens and their friends, it's her mental shield that causes the Volturi to withdraw. In the end, there is no war, and the Volturi and the Cullens can continue to coexist in peace.

    Questions About Warfare

    1. Compared to the Volturi army, the Cullen team appears to be leaderless. If you could choose a leader, who would it be?
    2. Do you think the Volturi will come back to fight the Cullens?
    3. Do you think it was believable for the Volturi to leave?
    4. Aro mentions that human weapons are advanced enough to decimate the vampire world. Do you believe he's right?

  • Language and Communication

    Breaking Dawn explores the advantages and disadvantages of communicating through thoughts, rather than spoken words. While telepathy is immediate and covers long distances, it also leaves no privacy or way to hide your thoughts. Alice deserts the Cullens after she foresees the coming fight with the Volturi, because she knows that Aro's telepathy will allow him to use her mental gifts to his advantage against the Cullens. Bella, on the other hand, saves the Cullens and their friends by shielding their minds from the Volturi's offenses.

    Questions About Language and Communication

    1. Do you think that being able to read other people's thoughts is an asset or a disadvantage?
    2. Which character possesses the best communication-related mental gift?
    3. How would our world change if we could hear each other's thoughts?
    4. What's a more effective talent: Edward's ability to read thoughts, or Renesmee's ability to project her thoughts as images to others?

  • Strength and Skill

    In Breaking Dawn, mental skills and mental strength prevail over physical strength. Although Bella is physically the strongest vampire in the Cullen family since she's a newborn, her inexperience as a fighter renders her useless against the strategic fighters of the Volturi army. On the other hand, her strength of mind and her ability to expand her mental shield around her family and friends eventually prevents a war with the Volturi. Plus, Bella possesses the mental strength to control her thirst for blood as a newborn vampire.

    Questions About Strength and Skill

    1. Would you rather have vampire eyes or human eyes?
    2. Bella says that vampires see an extra color. Which one could that be?
    3. Is Bella's self-control a skill or a personality trait?
    4. When Bella first discovers her physical strength, she chops a rock, breaking it into small bits. What would you do?
    5. Do you think that as a vampire Bella is too powerful and too skilled? Or does her level of abilities seem to be on par with that of the other vampires?

  • The Supernatural

    In Breaking Dawn, the human and the supernatural worlds meet, which changes the lives of the characters forever. After Bella turns into a vampire, she notices that her human memories are fading in the face of her far more complex experience of the vampire world. When Jacob exposes Charlie to the supernatural world around him, the man struggles between denial and his wish to know the whole truth.

    Questions About The Supernatural

    1. Bella mentions that she hopes that Charlie will make his own false assumptions about her new looks as a vampire. What "false assumptions" could she be thinking of, and what assumption do you think Charlie is making when he sees her for the first time after her transformation?
    2. What do you think is J. Jenks's take on the strange nature of the Cullens?
    3. Do you believe – as Bella does – that her life has been guided by magic, or supernatural powers, to where she ends up in Breaking Dawn?
    4. Do you believe that Bella will ever reveal the full truth to Charlie and how might he react if she does?