Twilight Series Casebook: affects on young adult readers
~Approaches to English Studies Casebook~
I have chosen to write my casebook on The Twilight series, Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse and Breaking Dawn and the affects these books have had on readers using theories we learned about in class. The books were written for a young adult audience and dealt with the supernatural world of vampires and werewolves. It’s a love story between a human and these mythical creatures. Author, Stephenie Meyer wrote these books between 2005 and 2008 captivating readers everywhere. In fact, after Eclipse was released in 2007, “the Twilight Saga became a worldwide phenomenon! With midnight parties and vampire-themed proms the enthusiasm for the series continued to grow.” (Twilight Website) The fan base became even more immense after the publishing of the final book of the saga, Breaking Dawn. “The book was released at 12:01 midnight on August 2, 2008 and it sold 1.3 million copies within the first 24 hours.” (Twilight Website) Meyer’s agent Jodi Reamer, “secured her a three- book publishing deal with Little Brown and since their completion the books have sold over 250 million copies, been translated into 37 languages, and adapted for a hit film series that includes five installments.” (Meyer’s Bio) I picked up these books off the shelf before they became a worldwide phenomenon and I never saw it coming.
The Twilight book series was inspired by a dream and has created a sort of teenage frenzy about love and vampires within the last decade. “Stephenie Meyer's life changed dramatically on June 2, 2003. The stay-at-home mother of three young sons woke up from a dream featuring seemingly real characters that she could not get out of her head.” The dream was actually the popular meadow scene in the first novel where Edward and Bella finally admit their attraction to one another. Meyer constantly credits this vision to her success, "Though I had a million things to do, I stayed in bed, thinking about the dream. Unwillingly, I eventually got up and did the immediate necessities, and then put everything that I possibly could on the back burner and sat down at the computer to write—something I hadn't done in so long that I wondered why I was bothering." I read these books from 7th grade all the way to my freshman year of high school and I loved them. I ate them up, they gave me an idea of what it would be like to love someone deeply and it made me feel better for being a sort of loner because the main character Bella Swan was in fact a loner as well. She was average looking, shy, and out of place in the small town of Forks, WA where everyone knew each other. I loved feeling like I could connect with the experiences of the main character, I too felt awkward and out of place in my world and I had not experienced love of any sort at that point in my life. It was my fantastical ideas about love at first sight and finding myself that drew me to these books and it was my mature self that looked back on them and realized that a lot of what I read was terribly inaccurate. I am not trying to blame these books for anything because I chose to believe the ideas presented in them but those ideas may have harmed the way I viewed relationships and ways of being social.
As authors write snippets of their own lives often slip into their works. When readers look closely they are able to find some of these details and better understand the outcome of the story. Stephenie Meyer married very young and started having children right away after getting married. Meyer became reacquainted with a childhood friend while away at school. “The reunited friends soon began dating, and were married less than a year later, when Meyer was just 21 years old.” (Meyer Bio) Immediately after becoming a wife Meyer graduated from Brigham Young University and started having children. She was incredibly settled for a 21 year old. Stephenie also married the man from her first serious relationship and there is nothing wrong with this but Bella has this kind of mentality throughout all the books and I think Stephenie put a little bit of her own ideals into her character. In the Twilight series Edward Cullen has a strong opinion about “marriage first”. In the third book Eclipse he rejects Bella’s proposal to have sex because they aren’t husband and wife yet. He says to her, “Bella, would you please stop taking your clothes off.” Then Bella sullenly asks, “I have to marry you first?” Edward tells her easily, “That’s the deal, take it or leave it.” (Eclipse Ch. 20) Sex is something that would be so easily written in other young adult romances but in this one Meyer kept it out until Edward and Bella were married. I believe she did this because it was the kind of relationship value that she upheld but also because of her religious background.
Stephenie Meyer grew up in the Mormon faith. This aspect of her life carried over to her books. One of the commandments/beliefs of Mormons is to live the law of chastity. “It requires abstinence from sex before marriage and complete fidelity and loyalty to our spouses after marriage. God expects us to keep our thoughts clean and be modest in our dress, speech, and actions (Matthew 5:27–28). We must also avoid viewing pornography and engaging in homosexual relations.” This law may sound strict to the rest of the world yet the Mormons believe that “great blessings of peace, self-respect, and self-control come from obeying this commandment.” (Mormon.org) obviously, this was part of Meyer’s motivation for Edward and Bella to uphold the idea of absinthe. In a way, it was her chance to spread those ideals to the rest of the world which is also another aspect of the Mormon faith.
The last biographical context I wanted to address was the Mormon’s idea of raising children. It’s a pretty ideal one, the kids are supposed to do chores around the house and rightfully worship their faith. “As children grow, parents are encouraged to include them in doing household tasks, with the goal that the resulting skills and attitudes which they develop can contribute to the quality of family life, as well as prepare them for confidence and competence in the world external to the family.” (BYU) While Bella’s family was not ideal in respect to Mormon standards her deposition was ideal. Bella always helped out around the house, did the cleaning, the laundry, and the cooking. She essentially took care of her father and put his needs ahead of her own needs and desires. Both the Cullen and Quileute Families were also very close and upheld traditional values of love and respect which is another reason why I felt Meyer’s religious upbringing had an effect on her books.
Historically these novels addressed the ideas of identity/bullying and the differences in love from a Victorian and Modern perspective. Bella Swan is a loner, she would rather spend her free time with herself than to go out and socialize with her other peers. Many people might attribute her shyness as reasoning for her choice to become a vampire but I don’t believe that is the case. It appeared Bella was bullied her whole life. In Twilight when Mike and Jessica, friends of Bella ask her why she is so white coming from Arizona Bella says, “Maybe that’s why they kicked me out.” (Twilight) Mike and Jessica get the idea that Bella is joking and so they laugh but there’s something about the context that makes it feel like Bella is wounded by her experience in Arizona and felt like she didn’t belong in that world.
Her sense of identity is warped at best especially since she sees herself belonging to a group of the dead. The Cullens are vampires and even though they are painstakingly beautiful they are ostracized by the entire school, everyone avoids them which is a sure sign of bullying. According to blogspot.com, “bullying was mainly viewed as physical or verbal harassment commonly linked with, “…death, strong isolation or extortion in school children.” (History of Bullying) This, believe it or not, occurs in Meyer’s books. In the cafeteria after first encountering the Cullens Bella says, “I felt a surge of pity, and relief. Pity, because as beautiful as they were, they were outsiders, clearly not accepted. Relief, that I wasn’t the only newcomer here and certainly not the most interesting by any standard.” (Twilight) Bella feels lost for most of the series until she becomes a vampire. This actually makes me sad because looking at it from a bullying perspective people can see that Bella never really found herself, she was left out of everything and missed out on basically all of high school. She identified with a crowd of people who were basically ignored by the whole school. She was an outsider forever and gave up her mortality to become part of a group that she loved. This concept is very negative because it is sending the message that bullying wins and that giving up who you are and succumbing to it is the answer.
Love is a rather broad category but it is one that is explored quite in depth in the Twilight series. The entire nature of the work is in fact centered around love and attraction. What intrigued me about the love between Bella and Edward was how different the two felt in terms of romance. Those differences can be attributed to the two time periods that these characters came from.
Edward was alive during the 19 teens; he actually became a vampire in 1918 after dying of the Spanish Influenza. Edward’s love for Bella is old-fashioned at best. In Eclipse Edward and Bella argue frequently about getting married and then finally Edward sits Bella down and explains his take on becoming a husband, “If I had found you, there isn’t a doubt in my mind how I would have proceeded. I was that boy, who would have — as soon as I discovered that you were what I was looking for — gotten down on one knee and endeavored to secure your hand. I would have wanted you for eternity.” Bella then pictures herself in a long skirt and a high-necked blouse with her hair piled atop her head, a classic Victorian flashback. A major part of relationships in the early 20th century was courtship. A scholarly essay in the Historic Journal describes the purpose of this endeavor, “Courtship, therefore, constituted an important rite of passage which could provide an opportunity to perform, reject, and refine new roles and responsibilities, whilst negotiating future status and identity.” (Historic Journal) Edward sees marriage as permanent and he sees intimacy as something sacred that should not be done until matrimony. He is a very gentle lover and respects Bella far more than she is used to during her own time period some 90 years later.
Personally, when I think of marrying my significant other at this age I cringe. It gives me anxiety because I feel like I am so young and there’s still so much more that I want to do before settling down. Marriage equals kids in my mind and young marriage equals a high divorce rate to me. Bella’s mindset is oddly similar. When Edward asks her to be his wife she says, “I’m not that girl, Edward. The one who gets married right out of high school like some small-town hick who got knocked up by her boyfriend! Do you realize what century this is? People don’t just get married at 18. Not smart people, not responsible, mature people!” Obviously today there are some negative connotations with getting married as a teenager, it seems frivolous and irresponsible and obviously, there has to be some kind of underlying meaning behind it all like pregnancy. Bella is simply stating the views of our society today. We look at marriage as some kind of curse and the end of our freedom. Bella also claims that marriage and eternity are not mutually exclusive anymore and she is right.
Divorce rates are through the roof compared to Edward’s time where they were nonexistent. And some researchers have attributed the lack of education to high divorce rates. They claim that someone who gets married before attending college is more likely to get divorced than those people who marry after college. (CBN News) Either way ideas of love or what is acceptable in society today has changed drastically from 90 plus years ago. Edward’s idea of love seems problematic to me, I get that for Meyer it’s a nostalgic view of how things used to be but it’s not really a good idea to present someone’s first love this way because it doesn’t fit our time period.
Culturally these novels have inspired a lot of feedback both positively and negatively for a variety of reasons. One that I chose to explore was young adult fiction and how the themes have changed over time. What is acceptable in society shifted and what is considered entertainment also shifted. Young adult fiction was a term coined in the 1960’s. “The roots of young adult fiction go back to when “teenagers” were given their own distinction as a social demographic: World War II.” (WTVR.com)The novel, “Seventeenth Summer” was released in 1942 and is considered the first young adult fiction book. “It was a novel largely for girls about first love. In its footsteps followed other romances and sports novels for boys.” (WTVR.com) In the 1970’s authors like Judy Blume, Lois Duncan and Robert Cormier wrote books that are viewed as time capsules to high school life. Realistic values and scenarios dominated the 60’s and 70’s the 80’s opened up with more fiction such as teen horror. There was a lapse in reading for young adults in the 90’s but a baby boom in 1992 resulted in a new age of reading for the 2000’s.
According to WTVR.com the 2000’s featured, paranormal and dystopian themes for teens but why? “Just like adolescence is between childhood and adulthood, paranormal, or other, is between human and supernatural,” said Jennifer Lynn Barnes, a young adult author, Ph.D. and cognitive science scholar. “Teens are caught between two worlds, childhood, and adulthood, and in young adulthood, they can navigate those two worlds and sometimes dualities of other worlds.” The teenage experience is very different now and I believe these genres are a way to keep children from growing up too quickly, it allows them to deal with adult issues in a surreal setting. Stephenie Meyer’s novels give readers a chance to explore their identities and their ideas of young love. I guess my question about all this is if it’s really a healthy genre for children to grow up reading? My belief is that themes like these keep readers from actually getting ready for the real world, they grow up with fantasy and so they continue to think that fantasy will occur.
Fans of the books will tell you that all of the vampires are beyond gorgeous, god-like even and they sparkle in the sunlight. Where did all of this come from? Why sparkle? The cultural norm for vampires is quite different from those creatures in Twilight but the story behind their creation is pretty much the same on both sides. According to Gods-and-Monsters.com vampires are pale, cold to the touch, will burn in the sunlight, are immortal and have super senses. Personally, when I think of vampires I think of fangs, pale skin, dark lanky hair, skinny bodies, dungeons, and moats. There is nothing strong or attractive about these creatures. They avoid sunlight and sleep in coffins all day, coming out at night to drink the blood of humans. To kill them you either shoot them with a silver bullet or stab a wooden stake into their chest and warding them off is easy, just bring garlic. In Twilight the Cullens are all beautiful, like models they are airbrushed to perfection and they have no aversion to garlic, although they don’t eat real food at all. Bella finds information online regarding vampires that are somewhat relatable to the Cullens, “ The Romanian Varacolaci, a powerful undead being who could appear as a beautiful, pale-skinned human, the Slovak Nelapsi, a creature so strong and fast it could massacre an entire village in the single hour after midnight.” (Twilight)
These traits mentioned are not things I would normally equate with vampirism. Movies and books I read as a kid like Scooby Doo and even Disney Channel portrayed these monsters as rather repulsive. They could turn into bats, they didn’t cast a reflection and they had long sharp fangs. Perhaps their appearance was for show, to scare and entertain people more than anything. After doing research online I found that Stephenie Meyer’s interpretation of vampires was closer to the real definition of them than that of mainstream culture. In the Twilight series, for example, the vampires are said to originate in Italy and they are all ruled by the Volturi, a very powerful and ancient clan of vampires. On the monster site, it says, “The first vampire started out as not a vampire at all, but as a human man named Ambrogio. He was an Italian-born adventurer who fate brought to Delphi, in Greece.” It was in Greece that he was cursed by the Gods and made into this immortal creature that thirsted for blood. (God-and-Monsters.com) The story goes that, “Ambrogio later moved back to Italy, now as a full-fledged vampire. Legend traces him to the city of Florence (Firenze), where he creates the first Vampire Clan. We don't know a whole lot about this clan, other than they were most likely willing volunteers - humans who wanted power and immortality, and were willing to trade their souls for it.” This tale mirrors that of the Volturi and how they were the first clan that essentially set-up the rules for the vampire race. Meyer did well with the little details here and there like the no breathing and psychic abilities and mood swings that are typical of average vampires, she even added in werewolves to make the tale more interesting. What I didn’t know was that “werewolves are sometimes known to become vampires after death, and vampires are frequently held to have the ability to transform themselves into wolves.” (god-and-monsters.com) This was odd because Meyer wrote these two monsters as being enemies of one another when in actuality they are connected, it opened up a new perspective to me and gave me insight as to why these creatures were able to develop a civil relationship by the end of the series.
Essentially, the vampires in Twilight are the real version of the creature besides a few embellishments. Meyer may have exaggerated a bit when she made these immortals god-like and gorgeous but who wants to read a romance about ugly, grotesque monsters. She also made them sparkle in the sunlight, which I believe was for practical reasons. She had to make something happen to them in the sun but it couldn’t be that they would burn and die because then her world would seem too fantastical and the Cullens would never be able to go out in the real world. So she gave them glittery skin big deal. “Real” vampires also can sleep, they don’t like to swim and they don’t have reflections, in Twilight we know the Cullens are always awake they have beautiful reflections and they swim better than most fish. They are pale, cold-skinned, extra-strong/fast, blood drinking monsters that everyone who read the books looked forward to seeing on film.
After re-reading Twilight I realized that the books deal with a lot of feminist issues that I could relate to theorists we talked about. Elaine Showalter for example starts her essay off by addressing right away the claims she is investigating. They include, “images and stereotypes of women in literature, the omissions and misconceptions about women in criticism, and the fissures in a male-constructed literary history.” Showalter uses history as her guide when tracing the issues of femininity through literature. She divides the criticism into two distinct categories, women as readers and women as writers. She addresses Thomas Hardy’s, The Mayor of Casterbridge and his male character Henchard, who finds himself discarding his wife and child. This was Hardy’s way of highlighting Henchard selling his entire share in the world of women. Showalter makes a very important claim after this she says, “Feminist critique is male oriented. If we study stereotypes of women, the sexism of male critics, and the limited roles women play in literary history, we are not learning what women have felt and experienced but what men have thought women should be.” All we have read and learned about women in literature can be seen as trickery. It was not how women regarded themselves but how men thought about them and because of that we can’t know the true feelings of women in literature. Women themselves cannot even formulate their own feelings because they are surrounded by masculine intakes on their own sexuality that taints their very understanding of it.
This brings us to Showalter’s next point that even with Gynocritics trying to create a female framework for the analysis of women’s literature they still write themselves as they are seen through male’s eyes. Muriel Spark, a supposed Gynocritic wrote about a desperate heroine seeking revenge on a woman hating psychopath in her 1970’s short novel, The Driver’s Seat. Showalter calls to attention her flaw in the revenge seeking heroine’s thought process. “Spark has given us the devastated postulates of feminine wisdom: that a woman creates her identity by choosing her clothes, that she creates her history by choosing her man.” It’s a very good point, women are constantly seen in literature thinking about men and trying to catch a man. Who really is in control here, is the power to choose one’s destroyer in respect to men, a woman’s only chance at self-assertion? Why do women write themselves as damsels in distress? They make themselves into the kind of people that can’t do anything without help and whose ultimate goal is to find a husband. Showalter believes all this happened because males formulated their opinions on feminism and spread these views that everyone else in turn adopted.
Stephenie Meyer, in my opinion, is Gynocritic, her entire series of books features a woman whose ultimate goal is to find a mate. Bella is borderline obsessed with Edward and his family. “I was consumed by the mystery Edward presented. And more than a little obsessed by Edward himself.” (Twilight) Leaving the fact that they are vampires out of the equation readers can see that Meyer created the very kind of women that can only make one decision in life and that’s who she ends up with. “It was not going to be the end of the world. Just the end of the Cullens. The end of Edward, the end of me. I preferred it that way – the last part anyway. I would not live without Edward again; if he was leaving this world, then I would be right behind him.” (Breaking Dawn) When I first read this book I was caught up in the plot as a whole and so I didn’t really notice little phrases and sayings like this one that really makes Bella appear as a bad role model for young women. Here she is willing to throw her life away for a man that is not even human, for a man that essentially made it impossible for her not to fall in love with him. He even told her as she was falling for him, “I’m the world’s best predator, aren’t I? Everything about me invites you in — my voice, my face, even my smell. As if I need any of that!” (Twilight) I believe Stephenie Meyer wrote this character in a certain way because her own views of how women should act are tainted by male-oriented criticism. She doesn’t know how a real, strong and independent woman would react in this situation because she’s never been exposed to it in literature or in real-life.
Edward is also rather controlling, he has the ability to read people’s thoughts. I know that may be a little extreme but because of his perceptiveness he can manipulate people’s emotions and make them feel powerless against him. This relates back to the idea that men need to control. Bella at one point has to decide between being with a werewolf, Jacob or being with a vampire, Edward, tough decision right? Well, Bella chooses Edwards because she can’t bear to leave him. Jacob, the wolf acknowledges this in Eclipse, “He’s like a drug for you, Bella. I see that you can’t live without him now. It’s too late. But I would have been healthier for you. Not a drug; I would have been the air, the sun.” This connects with the point Showalter made in her critique that males believed females couldn’t make choices and so now, today women believe themselves to be indecisive and incapable of deciding anything. Bella never actually made the choice to leave Jacob, she just stayed with Edward and kept entertaining the idea of a life with the werewolf man.
Gilbert and Gubar focused their essay on a male’s image of women in an angel vs. monster form. The ideal would be for a woman to be angelic but unfortunately, they have a hard time taming the monster that is within them. I found it interesting that Meyer based her novels around monsters specifically, vampires and werewolves. Bella a human fights for most of the novels to become a monster. “I can’t always be Lois Lane. I want to be Superman, too.” (Twilight) For me, this quote was the only quote that showed Bella trying to take control and make a point about her vulnerability. Perhaps this was Stephenie’s attempt to go against the stereotypical views of women by making Bella chose something that any normal human would not. Men assume women should be angelic but Bella Swan wants to be this murderous creature, she desires it above everything except Edward.
For me, the entire series is centered on a woman who is the wrong definition of feminist. She exemplifies all of the outdated and male dominated opinions of a woman and she does a terrible job at being a role-model for future generations especially when it comes to love. It is showing girls that obsession with a boy is okay and that changing your whole life to make it work out with him is the right thing to do as well. Edward did nothing to alter his life to stay with Bella because he couldn’t. Why must it be the woman? The only answer that I can give is that Stephenie Meyer’s view of women is flawed and that as long as that is the case her female character will continue to lack self-esteem and self-direction.
In Greg Zacharias’s psychoanalytic approach to literature, he equates psychological effects in an art with universal ones. He includes what characters focus on internally like their anxieties and he explores how fantasies and dreams portray how people would deal with internal thoughts in literary situations and in books. He also addressed the fact that people read in unconscious ways, and those ways differ depending on what’s going on psychologically within that person. Every other character in the Twilight series besides Bella Swan has confidence in themselves, whether it is the vampires, werewolves or the humans that Bella interacts with on a daily basis they all believe in their abilities. Bella, on the other hand, does not find her confidence until she becomes a vampire and even then it is minimal at best. “I wasn’t interesting. And he was. Interesting… and brilliant… and mysterious… and perfect… and beautiful… and possibly able to lift full-sized vans with one hand.” (Twilight) This girl is always down on herself, believing that Edward doesn’t love her or that she isn’t worthy enough of his love, it’s actually quite pitiful. “I don’t trust myself to be… enough. To deserve you. There’s nothing about me that could hold you.” (New Moon) Zacharias’s critique allows me to believe that Bella suffers from depression even though it is not explicitly stated within the text. When she is unhappy she is very low and when Edward left her in the 2nd book, New Moon she turned almost suicidal and thought about endangering herself a lot. In fact, when she did reckless things she would have visions of Edward, Zacharias would claim that this makes her unstable. Bella Swan is deranged when it comes to loving Edward and this makes her character dangerous to young girls who will believe that they too should pledge to give up their identities and happiness to be with the man of their dreams no matter what the costs.
Sigmund Freud’s essay brought the perspective of dreams to the audiences’ attention and related them back to literature and art. Freud believes that producing lies in your head is done through the action of dreaming. In Twilight series dreams are extremely prevalent and occur multiple times throughout all four books. These dreams further expose the deep psychological needs and desires of Bella Swan. Also, the entire first book and the subsequent idea for the entire saga developed from an actual dream that Stephenie Meyer had.
In Twilight Bella has a dream of herself trying to stop Jacob from being hurt by Edward even though Edward is the one hurting Jacob. “And then Edward stepped out from the trees, his skin faintly glowing, his eyes black and dangerous. He held up one hand and beckoned me to come to him. The wolf growled at my feet. I took a step forward, toward Edward. He smiled then, and his teeth were sharp, pointed. My subconscious had dredged up exactly the images I’d been trying so desperately to avoid. I was going to have to face them now.” (Twilight) The rest of the dream featured Edward making Jacob whimper and Bella worrying that Jacob was going to attack Edward. In my opinion, this shows how Bella psychologically feeds off of the attention and approval of males. In fact, she needs it to feel somewhat adequate. Bella is also expressing the fact that she doesn’t fit in or have the same interests as the other girls her age and this stems from a desperate need for masculine attention and affection. This could also be because growing up Bella never had her father around, as her mother fled from Forks, WA with her before she really knew her dad. She saw him twice a year for short periods of time but ultimately he was not around. I believe she has father issues, and Edward can be seen as that protecting father figure to her. She obviously loves him romantically but his element of strength and his over-zealous ability to keep her safe also lures her in.
Reader response is very important, it allows people to explore individually how they feel about something and give reasoning as to what makes them feel that way. Wayne Booth in his critique said, “About many great works readers agree on the basic facts of plot and character and about the responses called for. But readers of The Turn of the Screw find themselves unable to agree on the kind of story it is.” Reader-response critics also say, “Sometimes there are so many different reactions that we may wonder whether everyone has read the same text. Response critics raise theoretical questions about whether our responses to a work are the same as its meanings, whether a work can have as many meanings as we have interpretations, and whether some responses are more valid than others.” I love when readers question things and have differing opinions to me that shows that the author did their job in creating a captivating story.
Readers can interpret these books two different ways, they can look at them realistically or fantastically. In a real sense, they see a young girl throwing her life away to become something destructive. In a real world, Bella’s love for Edward and vampirism can be seen as a downward spiral into the world of drugs. “Yes, you are exactly my brand of heroin.” (Twilight) This is the only reference to drugs in the series but it is an effective one. Edward is Bella’s fall from grace into a world of temptation and emotional highs and lows. Jacob, on the other hand, can be seen as her recovery, he’s the light at the end of the tunnel, the place that she should be going. Bella even tried to convince herself that she can love Jake which could be seen in a realistic sense as her trying to sober up. “He wouldn’t begrudge me this: giving just a small bit of love he didn’t want to my friend Jacob. After all, it wasn’t the same love at all.” (New Moon) Obviously the two loves are different because she won’t ever love recovery the way she loves drugs. Realists will see this as a teenager losing a long battle with drugs and eventually succumbing to their effects.
When readers look at the story in a fictitious sense they are able to interpret it as more of a romantic love triangle. The whole series is Bella having to make a choice between Edward and Jacob and then she finally becomes a vampire and has a family of her own. Readers can see Bella is unsatisfied even though it’s not explicitly stated in the books. First she wants to be with Edward, then she wants to be a vampire, then she wants Jacob, then she wants a wedding and finally a kid. This interpretation involves the values of typical American life, find a partner, get married, have children and live happily ever after. These novels show that the typical American dream can still occur in a fantasy setting between vampires and werewolves. Bella desperately wants a baby but only after she finds out she is pregnant. “This child, Edward’s child, was a whole different story. I wanted him like I wanted air to breathe. Not a choice – a necessity.” (Breaking Dawn) There are many different ways to read this popular text and Booth highlighted the fact that everyone may see it differently but that’s what makes reading so special, the ability for it to inspire people in extremely different ways.
Booth’s beliefs allowed me to formulate my own response to the Twilight Saga. I think the books were honestly easy and captivating to read. Granted I was in seventh grade at the time when the idea of ever-lasting love seemed totally possible. I still think Meyer did a nice job in a writer’s sense. However, I am not sure I am crazy about the subject matter anymore. The idea of a young girl attempting through four books to give up her life to be a vampire so she can stay with her true love is disconcerting. I know that it is fantasy but a lot of females, young girls especially will read this and became enamored with finding a man like Edward which is the wrong message. There are no men like Edward. He’s too good looking to be realistic and he’s rather controlling and condescending. The books are not a healthy representation of healthy “young” love and that needs to be realized by these young readers.
I think that after researching these books I can better understand where Stephenie Meyer was coming from when she wrote them. She was writing what she knew and the values that she upholds, obviously she over exaggerated at times but it all came out the way she planned. I think that religion is a major part of the series even though it’s not openly talked about and I do like that she kept Bella and Edward virgins until after they got married. Because even though that is not a popular practice today among couples she still didn’t promote teen sex which was refreshing.
In all honesty though, analyzing these books so extensively has made me realize how terrible they actually are. Meyer tried way too hard when she wrote them and it shows in her writing. She over describes things and uses corny love phrases. Her writing feels almost forced and I’m not sure there was any technique to it. It appears that she just got lucky her theme came at just the right time in young adult lit because everyone was obsessed with paranormal romances. What I really want to drive home from my analysis is the fact that this text is a very bad representation of women and how women should behave around men. They should not swoon, or think they have to try extra hard to be beautiful for them, they should not only think of that one man and they should live their life their way and not plan it all around this one guy. Stephenie Meyer created a damaging example of teen girls in love and it has affected men and women everywhere. Teenage boys will sometimes read these books and try to act like Edward or Jacob so that girls will fall for them and girls will try acting like Bella, and they will willingly give up everything to be with that one guy that says he loves them. Love definitely does not last forever, especially today and I think Meyer was trying to trick herself and readers into believing that it does. She uses immortal love as a way to make it into an eternity; this is not accurate. I also don’t feel like you can even know someone after only a year of being together, marriage seems to be a little hasty to me. If love really is forever then I say take the time to get to know that person before making the biggest commitment of your life. I really want people to read these books but take what’s in them with a grain of salt and don’t act like they are your bible and you must live by what they say. Look at it from different angles so that you don’t become sucked in to the pop-culture obsession with vampires and werewolves.
Meyer, Stephenie. Twilight. NY: Little Brown Company, 5 Oct. 2005. Print.
Meyer Stephenie, New Moon. NY: Little Brown Company, 21 Aug. 2006. Print
Meyer Stephenie, Eclipse. NY: Little Brown Company, 7 Aug. 2007. Print
Meyer Stephenie, Breaking Dawn. NY: Little Brown Company, 2 Aug. 2008. Print
James Henry, The Turn of The Screw. Boston/NY: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2010. Print.
Rice, Philip, Waugh, Patricia. Modern Literary Theory. NY: Oxford University Press, 2001. Print.