The Harry Potter-Twilight Connection

I turned in drafts for four chapters of Harry Potter’s Bookshelf yesterday, and, while waiting for guidance about what to do next, I read Twilight, the first of Stephenie Meyer’s Bella Swann novels. Here are 10 thoughts from my first pass through it:

1. Ms. Meyer has admitted to five important influences on her writing: Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, William Shakespeare, several rock music bands, and Orson Scott Card. In Twilight, four of these five influences were evident. She isn’t being coy about the hat-tips, either, because she drops explicit references to Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, and Macbeth (especially with respect to the 3rd act of same and to Shakespeare’s portrayal of women as problematic and relevant). I have not read anything by Orson Scott Card but, qua ‘notable LDS writer,’ I’ll be touching on LDS influence in a minute.

As a rule I do not listen to popular music, but Ms. Meyer is very involved in the poetry of her age, to the point of creating a music video and doing an interview with Rolling Stone about her musical preferences and how they shape her creative work. Anyone doing serious research into the backdrops of Twilight, consequently, will have to listen attentively to Muse, Blue October, My Chemical Romance, Coldplay, and Linkin Park.

This was a wake-up call to me as a Potter Pundit because I have neglected Ms. Rowling’s musical favorites, The Smiths and Siouxsie Sioux, “whose look she adopted early on and maintained for many years; when she began university she still sported startling back-combed hair and heavy black eyeliner . I expect much of her postmodern underdog identification and support for WRock bands begins in the poetry of these groups’ lyrics.

2. I thought there were several other influences in Twilight not mentioned on the Wikipedia entry or the few articles I have read on the subject, most notably, Harlequin-Gothic romances, Young Adult adventure stories, Judy Blume’s books on divorce (It’s Not the End of the World) and teen sexuality (Forever), and the Zeitgeist popular deconstructions of occult characters, most notably Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the Anne Rice vampire novels (if Ms. Meyer has said she has not read any of the latter).

More importantly, there is the shadow of Herman Hesse’s Demian and Narcissus and Goldmund in being an exploration and celebration of the artist’s coming to self-realization or some understanding of himself as a creature who is different and of a different mind than his Apollonian contemporaries. (The much shorter and less challenging version of this artist’s bildungsroman frequently read in American literature survey courses is Fitzgerald’s Curious Case of of Benjamin Button, the biography of a man who is much older than his contemporaries as a youth, younger than they are, even eternally youthful, as they age, and always different in being concerned with timeless things; it’s popularity with literature teachers, I think, led to the film released on Western Christmas, 2008). Bella Swann’s story is her writer’s chrysalis, what she calls her “self-chosen purgatory,” and I’d say is her Portrait of the Artist as Young Man.

And Harry Potter? Yes, I think there is an important and fairly obvious echo in Ms. Meyer’s work of those best selling novels. To belabor the obvious (all in a single run-on sentence), we have a de facto orphan with clueless relations going into sacrificial exile for a new school where she relates best to the magic folk and decidedly “other” in a seamless cross-genre bildungsroman laden with postmodern themes and religious meaning (Ms. Rowling waited until the last book in the Harry Potter series to quote scripture; Ms. Meyer puts an apple on the cover and a quotation from Genesis (2:17) as her frontispiece). The buzz words tag on Twilight specifically and the Bella Swann novels in general as “the new Harry Potter” is justifiable beyond the popularity it enjoys with young readers; it’s in many ways the same story. More on this, of course, in a minute and in a few days.

3. C. S. Lewis wrote in Of Other Worlds that “To construct plausible and moving `other worlds’ you must draw upon the only real `other world’ we know, that of the spirit” (pp 35-36). Ms. Meyers is a faithful member of the Church of Latter Day Saints (usually known as “the Mormons,” whom I will refer to as LDS), a graduate of Brigham Young University, the principal LDS academic institution, and is married to another Mormon who are raising their children in that faith. “The only real ‘other world'” she knows, “that of the spirit,” is the spiritual world of LDS revelation and understanding; we can safely assume, therefore, that it informs her work. In setting, even the drinks in her setting, the book shouts “LDS” from the rooftops; in what other mental and spiritual universe could there be clandestine teen parties without alcohol, an Olympic Peninsula without coffee shops and bars, and a secret lover’s tryst in which a woman drinking two Cokes in a rush is the gateway to the dropping of inhibitions and openness?

More significant is Brigham Young’s teaching about God being a man (not Jesus, mind you, but God the Father being Adam), though the God-Adam theory has been disavowed by LDS leaders. The “Divine Man” heresy continues to be reflected both in LDS ideas of “eternal Progression” [thank you, MaryannF!), “celestial marriage,” “sealed in the Temple,” as the sole means to a woman’s salvation, and in the persistence of polygamy in LDS states with man-child unions a commonplace among LDS fundamentalists.

Edward Cullen is described as “perfect” and a “godlike creature” to whom Bella longs to submit herself, sacrificially and forever. This has a universal spiritual content that is important and I’ll speak about in a moment; its LDS aspect, however, is hard to miss. Forgive me for thinking that the idea of hooking up with a centenarian, even if an Adonis, would make the skin crawl on any teenager not raised in a faith that adores a Prophet who married girls in their early teens.

Also in the LDS column for influence tracings are the occult backdrop of the story, which differs from Gothic literature in having vampires as misunderstood heroes. This is partially postmodern deconstruction and rejection of “myths” that create an alienated minority, the “other,” of course, but it also reflects vividly several realities of LDS life and belief.

Occult or secret teachings are at the origin and core of LDS revelations, in which Joseph Smith’s study and acceptance of aspects of Masonic, Swedenborgian, and the Millerites’ teachings are evident. No, vampires aren’t held up as gods to LDS believers — but ideas of divinization or eternal progression through marriage and procreation unheard of in orthodox Christian faiths are, ideas that the world disavows as uniformly as it thinks of vampires as evil. The self-conception of an LDS believer in the United States, consequently, can be that the LDS are a minority faith whose correct views on eternal life and the means to it are misunderstood by the larger world as upside down and dangerous. Hence the deconstructed vampire.

Joseph Smith’s revelations, too, were largely about indigenous peoples of North and South America and the revelation of Jesus Christ to these Native populations. LDS faithful, consequently, feel a special relationship with Native Americans, even a bond with them beyond other mission fields, perhaps, beyond the content of the golden plates, because of their shared persecution and status as foreigners in their own country. This feeling, however, to my limited understanding is not reciprocated, Native to LDS (perhaps due to historical events like Mountain Meadows). I suggest this is reflected in the history of the Cullens and the Blacks, who are both magical people whose spiritual lives, if not joined or even at peace, are radically different than conventional Americans.

On my first run through the book, my thought is that the Cullen family are LDS believers and Bella Swann a wannabe-initiate to their salvific community, whatever the cost. I would have to know a lot more about LDS beliefs, history, and current practice than I know or want to know to make this assertion as anything more than an observed possibility; I’d suggest, however, that it would be silly to discount or dismiss said possibility. That the first chapter title of the first book, ‘First Sight,’ a reference to Bella’s first seeing the Cullen “children” at Forks High School, points to ‘The First Vision’ which is the historic, supernatural origin of LDS faith alone makes this credible.

4. Along the lines of Twilight being both an LDS morality drama and artist’s bildungsroman, we come to Orson Scott Card or, because I haven’t read anything by Mr. Card, to the idea of Twilight as a “Portrait of the Mormon Artist as a Young Woman.” In a thumbnail sketch, this first novel by a Mormon artist seems to be her story as a woman of considerable talent in a patriarchal community.

Again, only as suggestion for your reflection: the “decision” she makes in the Forest (in answer to her dream about the Forest), in Chapter 7, ‘Nightmare,’ can be read as a the trial of a faithful, intelligent woman drawn to LDS beliefs and the choice or decision she must make to escape or join this “dangerous” cult. It is an apology or self-explanation for her decision and it amounts to no more than her recognizing she is unable to imagine any other life.

The two questions she asks herself, “Do I believe this is true?” (p. 137) and “What must I do if it is true?” (138) is the two-step dance every missionary offers to inquirers and strangers. Her “twilight” (139) is recognizing she is already in “too deep” to escape. What is left to her is the seemingly impossible task of full initiation into this community while retaining her full integrity and individual powers. This last she does through her gift of an impenetrable mind, the refuge of the artist and especially women artists in such communities.

The biggest failing of the book as I experienced it on my rush through it yesterday was in my inability to believe the narrator was a 17 year old girl. She acts, thinks, and responds more like a postgraduate student of English at BYU might if sent back to High School as a student (in Ms. Meyer’s defense, she notes Bella’s unnatural maturity in several exchanges between Edward and Bella). I think, though, as a representative of the LDS woman writer and of humanity longing for God, this Ancient-of-Days Bella in her sacrificial purgatory surrounded by Lilliputian tweenies is a winner, even when her language (topaz, garnet, and onyx, noting that the girls listened to whining rock music, etc) suggests too strongly that the narrator is the author rather than the character involved.

5. I think after my first reading of Twilight I understand the parallel in critical response to Ms. Meyer’s work and Ms. Rowling’s. Both were greeted with significant critical warmth and attention. Each then suffered critical pigeon-holing as “slop” “not worthy of adult attention.” Ms. Rowling has largely recovered from this patronizing dismissal; Ms. Meyer may be reaching the nadir of her critical misapprehension by the Ivory Tower and literary pundits. If she will ever be able to regain the opinion of the New York Times which put Twilight on its Editor’s Choice list in 2005 or of Publisher’s Weekly which gave the title its Best Book of the Year Award is very much in doubt at this point, but why she has fallen as far as she has among the chattering class I think is evident in Ms. Rowling’s dismissal year’s ago.

Ms. Rowling was discounted by academic critics because they saw (and continue to see her) as a genre writer in a tradition they despise, namely, schoolboy serials and penny dreadfuls. Yale’s Harold Bloom, for example, Harry’s most noted Ivy League hater, sees Tom Brown’s Schooldays as Rowling’s “ultimate model,” albeit Tom Brown “reseen… in the magical mirror of Tolkien.” Anthony Holden, a despiser in the UK, asks, “Why, in the weariest tradition of English children’s literature from Tom Brown’s Schooldays on, did she have to send Harry to a neo-Dotheboys Hall, complete with such arcane rituals as weirdly named hierarchies and home grown sports with incomprehensible rules?”

Citing the anti-hero of Charles Hamilton’s Greyfriars boarding school books, Holden describes Potter as ”a tedious, clunkily written version of Billy Bunter on broomsticks.” And the highest praise that Alan Jacobs, English professor at Wheaton College and C. S. Lewis biographer, can give Ms. Rowling’s work is that she “has produced, in the vast, seven-book, thirty-five-hundred-page arc of Harry’s story, the greatest penny dreadful ever written.”

But what the academic criticism misses is that Ms. Rowling’s writing is not a function of a single “tired schoolboy novel tradition” or of one, maybe two other genres, say “fantasy” and “gothic romance,” but of as many as ten genres woven together masterfully (hence my Harry Potter’s Bookshelf, about which more later). And what they miss in Ms. Meyer is the same thing.

Neither Ms. Rowling nor Ms. Meyer are anything more than workmanlike writers in their prosedy. There simply aren’t any flights of magisterial prose to make the angels weep in either one of their series. Both make obligatory gestures to scenery, weather, and setting; both plan their work in light of important literary predecessors and drop their pointers in plain sight for those attentive to such things (the theme of Deathly Hallows, the struggle to believe and the consequences of that choice, for example, is given away in Hallows‘ second chapter title ‘In Memoriam,’ which is Tennyson’s masterpiece on this very subject). Despising Ms. Meyer’s writing style as miserable, unbearable, and the like reflects a critic’s disdain for the genre strain that any critic finds most obvious in the genre-mix of the series, to which tradition’s conventions the author is simply conforming. I suspect what especially grates on Ms. Meyer’s critics is the Young Adult novel or Harlequin gothic romance qualities (the soft porn of the ‘bodice-ripper’ yarn) of her work or the absence of conventions they do like, say, those of satire, fantasy, and comedy.

I can only say I really enjoyed reading Twilight and look forward to reading the next three books in the series (and to re-visiting Austen, Bronte, and Shakespeare in between). No, I wasn’t dazzled by the artistry or the heights of eloquence in the telling of the tale; I wasn’t put off by the writing, though, either, which I found engaging enough to keep me turning pages eagerly.

6. I wrote her before I read Twilight that I suspected Eliade’s thesis that entertainments, especially novels, serve a mythic or religious function in secular culture would almost certainly be relevant in explaining why this paranormal romance is as popular as it is. I think I was right. LDS issues aside, the power of this book is in its expression of universal human longings much more than it is in satisfying Harry Potter’s teen girl fandom with a second fix.

I’ll expand on this later I hope but in the books we see the fundamental desire for union between God and man expressed as a divine sexuality involving restraint and respect from both parties to retain the human being’s integrity, free will, and idea of him/herself. I thought the tension between Adam-God and his human lover was a well-done conceit or allegory about longing between God and man for communion or congress and the dance of synergy involved if this is not to result in the eradication of the human individual’s identity and freedom.

7. Do I think this was intentional on the author’s part? Wouldn’t bother me if it was or wasn’t, truth be told, because I think it is the aspect of the story that really engages readers anagogically. But, yes, the Genesis references make it pretty clear this is what the story is about. Between the cover ‘apple,’ the forbidden fruit quotation in the frontispiece, and Bella’s referring to herself as “Eve” in her first biology class with Edward (oh, and Jacob, lest we forget), I think the author has thrown down her hand to reveal she’s writing about man’s full relationship with God — and how not to blow this chance at a return to paradise.

Chapters 12 and 13’s time in the Circle of Light where Edward reveals himself as a “godlike creature” of crystalline immobile perfection and where both confess their longing for one another and her confession of her fear that submitting to him will mean her destruction (and his assurance if he takes her on his terms alone that this is exactly what that would mean!) is the most upfront depiction of Man-God synergy I can remember reading in popular fiction. It is the drama of giving oneself totally to God in the faith that He will respect your free will offering and the grace of impenetrability so that you retain your self (if those boundaries are re-drawn in dying to oneself) while communing with Self.

I thought this was very well done, however disconcerting the Adam-God Edward. Though neither is Orthodox, I prefer this re-casting of the Garden of Eden and return to paradise to Hodgson Burnett’s Secret Garden.

[I’ve learned Ms. Meyer had no input into the cover art of the first two books. The apple was a very good choice, whoever made it, to represent the novel’s meaning!]

9. Like Harry Potter, Twilight‘s themes resonate with postmodern core beliefs while illuminating a few of its blind-spots. Certainly we have the celebration of the misunderstood “other,” the tribe(s) alienated by the predominant metanarrative, as the secret keepers holding the answers longed for by those despising them as evil and inhuman. And there’s quite the conflation of sexuality and spirituality, a real signature of our times, if love of the divine has been expressed in carnal language since the ‘Song of Songs.’

The potholes filled in and spiritual needs addressed that cannot be addressed outside of entertainment and theology in our times are an imaginative experience of union with God and the desire to belong to a community of believers in which our individual gifts and qualities will be respected. Again, Twilight is another footnote for Eliade’s Sacred and the Profane.

10. I wrote back in point number (2) that both Harry Potter and Twilight are “cross-genre bildungsroman novels laden with postmodern themes and religious meaning.” Which is better?

I don’t want to go there right now, especially as I haven’t read three of the four books or spent much time with the first. I can say, though, with some confidence on this first pass through Twilight that it is much better than its critics allow, that its fans are largely unaware of its meaning baggage (though it almost certainly this meaning that they are responding to and why they are returning to it repeatedly), and that, with Orson Scott Card, we now have two significant LDS writers on the American fiction scene.

I look forward to your comments and correction.

FYI: Tomorrow is Orthodox Nativity so I’ll be gone, but, family and Bookshelf commitments allowing, I’ll return on Thursday to talk about the Twilight ‘big finish’ specifically to fill out some of the thoughts expressed here. Merry Christmas!

Comments

  1. Hey John, I liked to this site from a forum I’m a part of called Avonlea Treasures where the Twilight series is being discussed, in case you’re wondering (it’s a closed forum so if you do get a linkback you won’t be able to see it).

    On a different note, in that discussion I came across an interesting article linked to by someone there, evaluating Edward as an abuser in the relationship. Having not read the books, I can’t really evaluate it (if what the author says is true, however, I would be concerned), but here it is for your and all HogPro perusal:

    Edward Cullen – Abusive Boyfriend (Eclipse SPOILERS) (hopefully my superduper ‘coding’ will work…)

    I haven’t read the books, and as I mentioned in another discussion, I don’t intend to, but the information I have come across makes me really wary of Edward representing God, even in the form of Adam-God or however the LDS doctrine puts it. He’s just… well, in the Catholic Church, we’re taught that part of being able to live a moral life is avoiding occasions of sin (you probably have similarly expressed beliefs). That is, if, say, I were tempted to drugs, I should avoid parties where I know drugs will be present, or if I am tempted to lust, I oughtn’t go to strip clubs. From all I’ve read, Edward does state his desire for chastity, but makes it much harder for himself by cuddling all night every night, etc. etc. I guess it’s disturbing that anyone representative of God would choose to satisfy his desires in a way that would increase temptation/lust/etc. when he knows it to be wrong.

    Anyway, I’ve probably written far too much for someone who hasn’t read them but oh well. Have a wonderful Christmas to you and the whole Granger clan! 😀

    best,
    ~Nzie

  2. Arabella Figg says:

    I knew you would not disappoint.

    Despite fish-tailing at Ch. 14’s drawn-out Harliquinism, I continue to be drawn to this story. You’ve given more reasons to consider why. (However, I don’t feel its being “genre” excuses writing-bloat or Bella’s flatness, and I’m certainly no literary snob).

    Your point #6. “…we see the fundamental desire for union between God and man expressed as a divine sexuality involving restraint and respect from both parties to retain the human being’s integrity, free will, and idea of him/herself.” Well put and a defining motif in the book.

    As for Bella as an “adult” 17-year-old. Much data supports caretaking children becoming “old souls.” And Bella notes early on that she’s mystifyingly doesn’t relate to other people (foreshadowing!). Therefore, isn’t Bella herself also an “other” on some level?

    I look forward to more of your insights and feel more inclined now to read the sequels. Merry Christmas!

  3. Thanks for the post, it was well thought out. I thank you for discussing some of the Mormon influence on the Twilight sage without degrading Mormon beliefs.

    With that being said some of your information on Mormonism is wrong. As a life long Mormon, I can tell you the Adam-God doctrine you mentioned is incorrect. I believe what you are actually referring to is the doctrine of eternal progression or “As man is, God once was, as God is, man may become”. Without getting into a discussion/argument about the validity or correctness of this doctrine, I agree that this belief has an impact on the Mrs. Meyer’s writing.

    There are many other aspects of Mormonism that can be seen in the Twilight saga. The use of the Adam and Eve in the books seems to show a Mormon interpretation of the fall, at least to my mind. There are also a number of lines and scenes in the books, where I can see the influence of both church doctrine and culture. A few even made me laugh.

    If you would like to understand more of the mormon beliefs and doctrine you may want to look through either lds.org or mormon.org.

  4. Merry Christmas to you and your family!

    Fascinating article–I had to read it through a couple of times to absorb it. The thoughts about the search for union between God and man, and Meyer’s portrayal of that search, were especially interesting. I just read your Deathly Hallows Lectures‘ section on mirror symbolism, too (will have to hear your thoughts eventually on the mirror encounters in Breaking Dawn …) and am now going to have to start looking for this sort of thing in every book I read.

    Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Little Princess was one of my favorite books as a child and I still read it occasionally. I’ll have to give it another look and hopefully will not find the same New Age ideas that were present in The Secret Garden–that was sad and a little creepy as well. I’m with you on feeling more at ease, as a traditional Christian (Catholic, in my case), with Meyer’s LDS-toned hunt for God and paradise than the emptiness of what Hodgson Burnett had to offer.

    I’ve got to run but will be back for more. Can’t wait to hear your further thoughts …

  5. Red Rocker says:

    LibraryLily, not too happy with a bit of pantheism on the moors, eh? I didn’t mind the theology as much as the way it was force-fed through the medium of the children. And the way it swamped a good story. I don’t think that Little Princess has the same message. What “magic” there is is definitely of human origin. As far as I can recall – I too have read it a few times but not in the last few years – it’s more about how true aristocracy is due to internal qualities, such as fortitude, courage, compassion and dignity, rather than a matter of externals, such as wealth or status. But maybe my reading was simplistic (insert grinning emoticon).

  6. reneegladine says:

    Your analysis of Edward & Bella’s romance speaking of the desire for God and his people for each other is fascinating. Personally I thought that Edward was more Adonis-like than God-like in ‘Twilight,’ but on her website, Stephanie Meyer has a partial manuscript of ‘Midnight Sun,’ a retelling of ‘Twilight’ from Edward’s point of view. I read it after reading your comments and was repeatedly struck by how much it reinforced your interpretation.

    While I don’t doubt that the novels are based on LDS doctrine, they can also be seen in a more orthodox Christian light–Christ is the bridegroom and the church is the bride, after all, and we all are looking forward to those glorified bodies. ;~)

    I do think you’re letting Ms. Meyer off too easy by downplaying her poor writing and ascribing it to romance conventions. There are some very good writers in the genre, and even the mediocre ones can do better than describe the hero as beautiful and dazzling once, let alone 843 times.

  7. It’s rare that I am cloaked with the accusation of showing excessive charity to authors I am critiquing — but I will accept that mantle!

  8. Arabella Figg says:

    For those of you who slogged through Twilight, do read the incomplete Midnight Sun, Edward’s version of Twilight, at Meyer’s website; with one chapter to go, I have been riveted. You want conflict? You got it! This gripping story is the one Twilight should have been and Edward is absolutely compelling from the first page. The writing is so much better, and the characters come to life, even in non-final copy. What a shame her work was sabotaged and she’s put it on hold. Even if you don’t want to read the other books (and I don’t intend to at this point), this one’s a corker. And one I would buy.

    Although I’m not keyed in to all the literary symbolism to be seen, there are plenty of goodies to go around: Edward’s view of himself; his life (singly, communally, and in relation to humans); his inner struggle and perspective (including insight into vampire life), and story backfill are intriguing and far more satisfying. Curiously, Bella is much more fully realized through Edward’s story, than she is in her own narrative; I don’t feel her Twilight gave me any advantage. (MS also confirms my adult caretaking child/”old soul” view.)

    Edward’s mindreading into others fleshes out the story better and holds some surprises, too. He ruminates on spiritual issues regarding his condition, his past, and how he views his doomed eternal fate.

    Although this is fantasy, since fantasy is usually metaphorical and philosophical, there’s a theological question in here. If a person is vampirized (made an unhappy monster) without choice against their will (and it seems Bella is the only one to choose it), then why would they be eternally doomed if they tried to make up for what they are by living a virtuous life in that condition? Although the Cullens’ attitude toward error (rare succumbing to what they acknowledge as evil desire–killing humans) seems sometimes a bit casual, they are 24/7 attempting to live disciplined, righteous and moral lives; they demonstrate confession of sin, forgiveness, grace, redemption and help.

    Of course we humans often have a casual attitude to sin as well, so how does that make us better? Despite the LDS slant, I think the question is valid. To me, the Cullens in MS are even stronger metaphors for the Christian struggling with the inner beast, than in Twilight.

    Also, apparently the Cullen family is the only one of it’s kind, an inspiration to other vampires everywhere (some follow them in attempting to live this way). They consider themselves an example, constantly monitoring themselves with the goal of doing good, not harm. This would fit neatly into LDS theology, but also orthodox Christian theology in which the Church is set apart, we are to be light in a dark world, do good, draw others, etc. And it would also fit the Jews as a set-apart people who were to be a light to the nations (aha! LDS connection).

    I’m not trying to overanalyze this. But I often think of whom we regard as outside “other,” because I believe we’ll be surprised by who is in Heaven and who is not.

    I hope Meyer decides to continue the compromised Midnight Sun, beyond the portion at her website. Not only because it’s great storytelling. She provides a strong and needed course-correction by vigorously deglamorizing vampire, which I consider critical after Bella’s naive viewpoint. These are vampires to make you shudder, more true to the Stoker view. That Edward is able to overcome his impulses and sacrificially love Bella makes this quite the poignant story, the better and more meaningful one I knew was in there.

  9. Arabella Figg says:

    Also, some of the “creep factor” stuff is shown to be something different than it appears to be in Twilight.

    I finished MS yesterday. It goes through the school cafeteria discussion chapter after Port Angeles. Sure wish there was more.

  10. Red Rocker says:

    I see the Cullens as ethical vegetarians in a world full of meat-eaters.

    I am reminded of the self-help group for sharks in Finding Nemo with their mantra: “Fish are friends, not food.” There is one scene in the movie which strongly reminds me of the chapter in New Moon where Bella severs an artery with shocking but predictable results. Bruce (one of the dieting sharks) gets a scent of Dory’s blood, goes into a feeding frenzy, and has to be forcibly restrained by the others in the self-help group while the heroes run (well, swim) for it.

  11. Red Rocker says:

    Arabella, although I’m still struggling with Twilight, I took your suggestion and read the first chapter of Midnight Sun.

    Have to admit, it reads a lot better than Twilight. Interesting juxtaposition of the two perspectives, although I think what really works is seeing Bella from the outside and not having any access to her thoughts. She’s not – to me anyways – that interesting a character. Whereas Edward is, and seeing her through his eyes – well, through his senses – makes her much more fascinating than listening to her tell her own tale.

    As for Edward, his consuming thirst and extremely violent fantasies might become tedious after a while, but they play very well for one chapter. I enjoyed listening in on his listening in on others’ thoughts. Also enjoyed the interplay between Edwards’ telapathy and Alice’s ability to foresee the likely future. So far, Alice’s powers are the most interesting thing about the books – for me – and I suspect that Meyer might not be a bad science fiction writer. It’ll be interesting to see if she’ll get over her obsession with externals – Edward’s appearance and Bella’s intoxicating scent – or if those things are essential for her writing.

  12. Arabella Figg says:

    Oh, Red Rocker, what a laugh, with the Finding Nemo comparison! I’m not reading the other books, so haven’t read the artery scene, but can just visualize it. (I read the sequel summaries at Wikipedia; if you know a better place, do tell.)

    I’m glad to know you don’t completely think I’ve drunk the Kool-Aid (a sip was enough.)

    One difference I see between T and MS regarding perspective–both books are told mainly through two senses: Bella through visuals, Edward through appetite (though touch in both also plays a critical part, natch). Alice (and her backstory) and Edward’s conflict were the most interesting to me in both books (minus the trilling) and I enjoyed her prominence in MS. Meyers does wean away from Edward’s overwhelming focus on thirst and violent fantasies.

  13. Red Rocker says:

    OK, I’ve read chapters 2-4.

    I think someone said this before – Arabella? Meyer is badly in need of an editor.

    The novelty has worn off and some predictable things are happening. Edward is beginning to sound a lot like Bella. The dialogue – especially with his family – goes on and on. It’s becoming pretty boring. Which is a shame, because the members of the coven do have some potential to be interesting characters. the saintly father-vampire, Carlisle; the Cassandra-like Alice. In one scene she actually assigns a probability to one of her visions coming true. A lot like Mr. Spock.

    And Bella, seen through the eyes of Edward, is becoming boring as well. She actually works better as a character when she doesn’t have any dialogue. Reminds me of a short story by De Maupassant: the hero falls madly in love with an English girl who speaks no French because she is so fascinatingly mysterious. He marries her. And it’s only when she starts learning French that he realizes to his chagrin that she’s pretty normal after all.

  14. Red Rocker says:

    Up to chapter 9 now.

    One good line:

    Edward (listening to Jessica’s thoughts in order to keep tabs on Bella): I was already tired of listening to Jessica

    I’m getting tired listening to Edward’s thoughts. He’s become just as irritating on the subject of Bella as she was on him. Also, he may still call himself a monster and obssess about trying to do the right thing, but he sounds just like a 17 year old.

    Which, if you think about it, is the saving grace of the book(s). Edward may claim to be 107, and have read many books and gotten many degrees, but his thoughts and speech and emotions reflect none of that experience. LDS notwithstanding, this is a tale about two very immature 17 year olds, wrapped up in each other to the exclusion of everything else.

    BTW, Emmett agrees with me on the subject of the coven’s feeding habits: he self-identified them as “vegetarians”.

  15. Red Rocker says:

    Arabella, I had already sensed that you had not drunk deeply of the purple Kool-Aid , based on some of your other comments.

    I base my knowledge of the books on having read (about half of) Twilight and 4/5ths of Midnight Sun, and the same Wikipedia summaries that you did. The severed artery scene from New Moon was thrown in as a bonus at the end of my copy of Twilight; that’s how I came to read it.

    Alice’s backstory and her powers are amongst the most interesting things in the books. Her powers remind me a little of John Smith, the hero of Stephen King’s The Dead Zone. Smith finds that his visions of the future change as he acts to try to change the future. Anyways, I find the way Alice tracks an ever changing future fascinating. As I said, I think Meyer does have a future as a sci-fi writer.

  16. Arabella Figg says:

    Yes, it was I with the eager blue-pencil. MS could use it, too (and Meyer notes that Edward’s “rough” is too long).

    I still consider MS a far more compelling book than Twilight; it could have been more so with even more detail on the coven and their lives. And, maddeningly, Edward never once discusses his own feelings about his beloved Carlisle making him a “monster”–surely a subject ripe for dissection.

    Edward notes that he was sort of locked in age and personality at 17, so his writing naturally reflects that (Emmett constantly calls him “kid”). Though an angsty teen book, I enjoyed Edward’s far more revealing and detailed thought processes. I also feel the story accurately reflects the realistic, obsessional-love insanity teens do experience, fueled by nature and novelty (I call it “hormonal addiction”); should my sharp memory ever dim, I have a squirm-worthy high school diary as a reminder.

  17. Arabella Figg says:

    Having dwelt on the shortcomings of Meyer’s writing and story, I want to say what I feel she did well, even excellently, with Twilight and Midnight Sun.

    1. She wrote a terrific story of transcendence. The Cullens transcend, or struggle to transcend, their base, evil impulses and live safely amongst humans to contribute to society. Bella and Edward struggle toward an unselfish transcendent love and succeed, even if they are at cross purposes at the end–still, even their cross-purposes are sacrificial.

    2. She’s done a great twisty retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Only this time Beauty must transform to a beast, instead of the Beast transforming to a human. And, in fairy tales, usually someone must die, die to self, or be changed for the main couple’s victory. In this story, it will be our heroine.

    3. In Bella’s flat fatalism, Meyer’s portrayed very well the impact of a dysfunctional home, and children who are “old soul” caretakers of parents and siblings. Many home situations today are way worse than Bella’s. Such children are usually emotionally delayed, as I feel Bella is. In fairy tale language, she “awakes” to the prince’s kiss.

    4. In Edward’s MS struggle, Meye’rs done an excellent job portraying our private and usually unseen struggle with our “beast” within and what can help us overcome it.

    5. She’s written a good resurrection story–the resurrecting of Edward’s humanism through his love for Bella, and the resurrection of Bella’s emotional life through her love for Edward.

    6. She’s written an un-ironic pre-modern/pre-postmodern romance that I feel fills a void for teen girls. Teens today don’t treat each other very well and due to the many dysfunctional homes today, are unable to negotiate romance very well. If Edward’s nobility raises teen girls’ expectation, I’m not sorry. I myself had to turn down immature men and wait until I was 30 to marry a noble man who put me above himself, treated me like a queen (and still does); yes, such men do exist.

    None of these are really literary keys, but I feel the power of their resonation.

    Are Twilight and Midnight Sun “deep” books? Do they go as far as I wish they would in terms of development? No. But they’re a savvy ones.

  18. Red Rocker says:

    Arabella, I have a theory which I want to run past you.

    You make the point that the book accurately reflects the obsession teen-agers have with love, an “obsessional-love insanity”. I can accept that, I think. But I am not certain that Meyer is writing about that obsession as an author trying to describe something. I get the impression, listening to her going on an and on, first as Bella dwelling on Edward’s physical perfection, and then as Edward, dwelling on Bella’s delicious scent, that she is totally enmeshed in what she’s writing, that she’s really enjoying what she’s describing, and that ultimately she’s writing for herself.

    Nothing wrong with that, you say? Listen to my theory.

    I think that the Twilight books serve the function of fantasy fullfillment for readers. They are not just a story, they are vicarious gratification fantasy. Nothing wrong with that. But I think that they serve the same function for the author, that essentially she is sharing her own fantasies of a dream relationship. Because she does have some skill as a writer (not a great deal, perhaps, but more than just basic), her fantasies are convincing and fulfilling to others.

    I am reminded of another author, a far better author, who many years ago made a similar mistake. Dorothy Sayers created the fictional detective, Lord Peter Wimsey. She wrote about 10 books about him. And in the last four books she had him fall in love with a detective-story author and chronicled their somewhat bumpy courtship. It has been said of her that she fell in love with her own creation. If you read the last of her books, where the couple marry and celebrate their marriage, you can see that Sayers is writing about her own idea of an idyllic relationship and marriage, and her own idea of the perfect husband.

    I’m not saying that Meyer fell in love with Edward; I think she fell in love with the idea of Edward: an incredibly powerful and dangerous male, a superman almost, who is tamed by his love for a mortal girl. Who in exchange is given the gift of immortality. Reluctantly, of course, because in this story immortality is a curse, but at the end of the day, Bella and her Edward get to live happily ever after.

    From this perspective, I think that Midnight Sun is not so much about Edward, as Bella watching herself through Edward’s eyes. Very narcissistic.

    I’m not saying that all those things you wrote – about transcending base impulses, overcoming the beast within, noble, self-sacrificing love – are not valid. I do think that they are secondary to the fantasy of being loved by the dream lover.

  19. Great review.

    I bought two of your books for my 15yo son for Christmas.

    http://parentingfreedom.com/2009/01/14/twilight-review/

  20. Arabella Figg says:

    Well, Red Rocker, as I don’t know Meyer’s inner thoughts and motive, I don’t feel qualified to make any kind of judgment as to what you suggest (and I’ve not read interviews). However, many novelists acknowledge autobiographical influence in their early work, and I’m not sure a writer can be separated from any of their work. As I writer, I do enjoy what I’m writing and sometimes do write for my own pleasure (i.e., it’s fun to satirize the city council’s latest lame decision). As an embarrassed writer, though, I note two incorrect words I used above: I meant Edward’s humanity, not humanism, and resonance, not resonation.

    As to your theory, aren’t many fiction books “vicarious gratification fantasy” for their “armchair-traveling” authors and readers? Think of all the thrillers glutting bestseller lists and theaters–“guy” thrillers, thickly laden with testosterone-fueled fantasy where square-jawed heroes never seem to feel pain or fatigue, or be unable to rise above same for one more bone-crunching bout. Why single out Meyer?

    Fantasy writers do project ideals because they deal with metaphor, and no one can live up to their heroes/heroines. Loving and embracing an ideal is a positive thing, as long as the reader can remain within reality’s corridors (this applies to all areas of life). Dream lovers/heroes will always be with us; we don’t need them to be fictionally created. These innate desires reflect our natural longing for perfection found in relationship with God, as John points out.

    Of course Bella’s watching Edward avidly because she knows he is something “other” and she’s attracted to him. But I feel this is Twilight, and MS is about Edward, not Bella. Both books reflect the natural narcissism of youth. Whether the dream lover solely drives the book, or rotates the storyline car, depends, I think, on the reader as well as the writer.

  21. Red Rocker says:

    Very good question, Arabella: why single out Meyer when so many other books are also for vicarious satisfaction? And good point about the square-jawed heroes who never seem to feel pain: one of my favorite authors, Dick Francis, pummels and punishes his heroes to such an extent that I sometimes wonder about his sadistic/masochistic tendencies.

    So why single out Meyer?

    I think that authors need to balance their need to vicariously live out their fantasies with the need to tell a story convincingly. Now Meyer does, to me at least, seem to have some ability to tell an interesting story. She’s not just in it for the vicarious satisfaction. But she dwells too long on Bella dwelling on Edward, and Edward dwelling on Bella. You say, that is typical of adolescents. Yes. But it’s not very productive for an author when it really slows the story down and bores the reader. And I didn’t get the impression that she was making a statement about Bella (or Edward): she was being Bella, or Edward. She wasn’t saying: ( (Bella) am really obsessed with Edward. She was saying: Isn’t Edward fascinating? In other words, the author was identifying with the character.

  22. Arabella Figg says:

    1) We are adult readers. We expect more in a story than prolonged, detailed adolescent mooning to keep our interest (no we often prefer adult mooning in the glut of gloomy memoirs). Most teens (Meyer’s target audience) will read this book differently, because it’s written in their voice, and they will identify.

    2) Meyer is doing persona writing. In persona writing you really must inhabit the character, their interior world and perspective (*be* the box), as would an actor. So, yes, Meyer must “be” Bella and Edward; and her artistry is so good you’re questioning boundary lines. As I ‘ve written and performed persona readings of either gender, I understand and appreciate Meyer’s achievement.

    And if I’ve convinced you I’m middle-aged feline-loving upstanding American Arabella, when I’m really an octogenarian dog-loving male Austrialian serving time for a ponzi scheme….

    Joke over–truly Arabella, adorned with cat fur…

  23. Yay — I finally got my log-in to work again! Thank you, John….

    With a 12-year-old girl at home, I have other concerns about the book than its literary merits. Every girl — I mean *every* girl — in my daughter’s circles at both church and school has read “Twilight,” often multiple times and breathlessly.

    But I was concerned, in part because of comments I got on my own blog here. So I read it first.

    I’m with everyone here who feels it’s not that well-written. But my concerns had more to do with the content, of course.

    I am concerned with the idea of a young woman who gives up everything (including, eventually, her own humanity) for a man — any man, whether vampire or not.

    I am concerned with the idealization of a relationship between a teenage girl and a grown man — over 100 years old, actually.

    I am concerned with a relationship where the man sneaks into the girl’s room regularly, even just for cuddling, because in the real world, young men aren’t as self-controlled as Edward, and now we have given tacit permission to the concept of sneaking into girls’ rooms at night.

    I am concerned with the breathless, subtextually-sexual nature of the writing of Bella’s thoughts throughout, with the encouragement to girls reading to think the same way.

    Obviously I am looking at these books from a very specific point of view that doesn’t apply to everyone.

    If my daughter were 14 or 15, I probably would have responded differently. By then, she’d have read more “first love” books written from a healthier perspective (I gave her Madeleine L’Engle’s “The Moon By Night” for Christmas just for that reason). She’d be on Facebook with her friends, discussing how boys were treating the girls, or advising the boys on how they should ask a girl out (yes, I’ve been reading my 14-year-old son’s Facebook page, with his permission). “Twilight” wouldn’t be her fictional introduction to the world of young love.

    But she’s not 14. She’s 12. And I told her she couldn’t read the books. She wasn’t happy.

    I did take her to see the movie. She wasn’t all that impressed, and *really* didn’t understand the behavior of the row of girls in front of us who squealed and yelped every time Edward was on screen. And in a couple of years, she can read the books. But not yet.

    Maybe I’m being over-protective? (The only other book I’ve ever banned is “The Golden Compass” and sequels.) But for me, there was an insidious streak to “Twilight” that sets all the well-done literary analysis (such as John’s) off to one side.

    I just don’t want my daughter reading these books.

    –Janet

  24. Lest Janet feel she is the puritan alone with these feelings of prudent caution and misgivings about the surface content of these books, I certainly share those thoughts (as, I’m told, Regina Doman and others do, too). My 16 and 18 year old daughters have read Twilight; neither my 13 year old daughter nor any of my sons have been allowed to. I think the moral, allegorical, and anagogical content of Meyers’ books is edifying ultimately but the surface hooks of the story, which are barely disguised sexual fantasies and desires (acted on or not), are not uplifting, especially to the hook-up generation.

    Or so I think after my first hurried reading of only the first book. I await your comments and correction.

  25. Arabella Figg says:

    Janet and John I heartily agree with you. My comments on Twilight have been made *as an adult*. I don’t think the book is appropriate for tweens and early teens, who lack the emotional development and internal compass to distinguish between Twilight’s good and not good. Had I read Twilight at that age, I too would have been an enraptured Twihard, swinging on the hooks of the book’s sensuality without grasping the meat hanging from them.

    Here’s an example of hooks and meat in Twilight: the unfortunate truth of removed, self-absorbed adults. Hook–“I can get away with stuff; I’m capable on my own (because I’ve had to be).” The unseen meat–kids need involved, loving, grownup parents to prevent or balance harmful influences. And with a healthy, intact family, kids won’t look for other “families” to fill their need.

    There is far better literature, as Janet says, to introduce girls (and boys) to healthy young love. I’m glad I read some of those, before gravitating, in my mid-teens, to the absurd gothic romances of the mid-60s. I could recognize them as romantic fantasy apart from real life. Nevertheless, lacking a healthy family, or involved parents, I devoured a lot of trash, unaided by helpful guidance or discussion about romantic love.

    Which makes me wonder, what Twihards will gravitate to next. I can’t think these books drive the reader to great ideas and literature as Harry Potter does. Instead, I think they’ll read more of the same, ramped-up.

  26. Mrs. Weasley says:

    Arabella – “Twihards” – I love it!

    John and Janet, I share the same concerns as you, having read all four books at the same time as my 15 and 17 year-old daughters. My 11 year-old daughter won’t be allowed to read them until she is at least 16. I’ve posted some comments about this over on Travis’ Hogs Head site. To me, it gets worse throughout the series, and I find the 4th book just plain creepy (and full of too much information).

    Red Rocker – another “Finding Nemo” moment I had when reading the first Twilight book – Bella’s mom reminds me of Dory; easily distracted by shiny objects.

  27. Just read through the latest comments. A few thoughts to add.

    Reading a Newsweek they said, “The vampire books and movie did what Falwell and Dobson couldn’t: make waiting for marriage cool.” I thought that was an interesting quote for this group if anyone has any reaction to it.

    I was also listening to a podcast by a Messianic Jewish ministry (I had to look it up to make sure what they were) and they thought that Twilight was the next Harry Potter, so there’s another connection for you. Of course, they thought both series were engaged in spiritual deception, so you know they didn’t have a high opinion of either series. This has probably been discussed here before, but is this just a religious reaction to popular culture and/or the fantasy genre? Has this changed over time? Anyone, have a nice website/source that might address this?

    Last thing, John, do you have any suggestions for some books about reading the bible and other texts on the “four levels?” Thanks much.

  28. Arabella Figg says:

    I must confess I didn’t originate “Twihards.” I saw it somewhere online (everything’s gotta have a handle these days). But it is funny!

  29. Being probably the closest thing to a “Twihard” commenting here (and no, I don’t fit that description in the normative sense of teenage Edward/Rob Pattinson fangirl), I thought I’d throw in my two cents’ again. And I must agree in the concern that these books are being given to girls both too young and too thoughtless to deal with the actual dangers present.

    To me, the “perfect boyfriend” thing didn’t bother me as much as the level of emotion Bella experienced toward Edward all the time. I married a better man than Edward–protective, self-controlled, and incredibly loving, but not so prone to morbid overreaction and he’s never killed anyone. Love, for me, has been more the deep, quiet waters of utter trust than wildly irresponsible torrential passion, and it is not a weaker bond. Our culture is making a big mistake in teaching its young to seek addictive emotional highs as the ultimate good, and Twilight can really contribute to this for anyone not experienced or discerning enough to know better.

    Honestly, the sensuality was one of my least favorite parts of the books. I thought I read romance novels, but apparently Jane Austen doesn’t count. 😛 (Yes, I was homeschooled.) I realize Meyer is mild compared to some–even some of Madeleine L’Engle’s adult novels have descriptive sex scenes–but as one article I read pointed out, there’s more sex in some of Edward and Bella’s conversations than in “all the snogging in Harry Potter”. I can’t imagine giving that to an 11-year-old. Even 14 seems awfully young to me.

    For mature readers, I think the books provide an intriguing look at self-control (though Nzie is right about the morality of constantly putting oneself into situations of temptation) and some literary techniques that I have found fascinating. Mrs. Weasley, I tend to think the fourth book isn’t particularly comprehensible without looking at it through alchemy; on the surface level, it has real weak points and is certainly creepy.

    As much as I enjoy the books myself, my recommendation of them comes with far more limitation than my recommendation of Harry Potter, and I think even Harry Potter is sometimes given to those too young to handle it.

    All of that to say I agree.

    For those of you who read Midnight Sun or Eclipse, did you notice that Lauren’s last name was Mallory? Bitter, marginalized, jealous Lauren? Was that a Freudian slip? or coincidence? or not-so-subtle jab? I somehow missed that in my first reading.

  30. Brent — I’m way out of my comfort zone in recommending a traditional Hermeneutics text (is there such a thing any more?). My bet is that RevGeorge or Travis Prinzi could help you here much better than I could.

    From what I read online, Pardes Four Level reading of Scripture is largely washed out by the Reformation. In art and literature it survives because of the models of such artistry in Dante and Shakespeare and because the “discarded image” or traditional four level worldview and epistemology endures much longer than it does in formal scriptural exegesis.

    Or so I think. I stand ready to yield to authoritative correction! RevGeorge? Travis?

  31. Probably Travis is the best bet for a good hermeneutics text. I had a wacky professor in seminary who was writing his own book on hermeneutics & using his class as the guinea pigs to test it out & constantly updating & revising things as we went through the course. Consequently I was pretty blown away & didn’t grasp as much of hermeneutics as I would’ve liked. So, I just know the basics.

    Sorry.

  32. rosesandthorns says:

    It was quite interesting to read your thoughts on the first book in this saga. Will you read more of the series? “Breaking Dawn,” the book that some say “divided a fandom” … I would be particularly interested in your thoughts on this one.

    Though there are many LDS ideas I have seen (mostly especially is the idea of the eternal family) in the Twilight books, I guess I hadn’t even really thought of Edward’s extreme age from hers as being any different from, say, the age difference of Arwen and Aragorn from “Lord of the Rings” … isn’t she something like 2,000 or 3,000 years old to his relative youth [I think he was about 20 when he first met and fell in love with her, and was 88 or something by the time he was eventually able to marry her], or at least, if I recall correctly. That age difference never bothered me, as they were both adults. (Of course, as a reader, I was more able to identify with Eowyn and Faramir than with Arwen and Aragorn.) Back to Twilight comparisons … though Bella is not quite an adult, she does have an “old soul” and both *mostly* wait for an “adult” relationship (the aforementioned sharing of the same bed at night putting more than a little temptation in the mix). Also, of course, there was no way for Aragorn to live forever with his beloved, unlike Bella, who can be made “immortal” … i.e. not quite immortal, as vampires can still be killed. Something to think about, if these random musings of mine make sense to anyone.

    (Personally? I am not a Twilighter, but did end up buying them because I could never find them on the shelves at the local libraries.)

  33. reneegladine says:

    Well, I wish that someone were reading the other books in the series because I’m noticing some interesting things, and I’d love to bounce ideas around. Each book seems to represent a different stage in life and the development of the relationship between the believer and God.

    Twilight (Childhood)–Bella’s story begins in Phoenix were she lives with her mother. At some point she says that her life had not yet begun. This tine would relate to a baby developing in the womb. Sacred time starts in the evening, so twilight is the start of a new day. The juvenile relationship that some have pointed out in this book seems to represent the whole-hearted but simplistic love that a child has for God. Note how accident prone Bella is throughout.

    New Moon (Teens)–The darkest night of the month and the book is appropriately angst ridden. Edward has disappeared from her life, and the focus is on Bella’s relationship with Jacob, which represents the social attachments that we form in our teen years that will go on to shape the rest of our lives. Now Bella is not so much an accident waiting to happen as a reckless risk taker. At the end, Bella makes the journey that all mature believers must. She has to search out Edward (God) if she wants him back in her life, and he goes on to tell her that the only way he will ever leave again is if she asks her to.

    Eclipse (Adulthood)–Just as something gets in the way of the moon during an eclipse, Bella & Edward’s relationship is eclipsed by a slew of problems that she has to deal with and overcome, but only with Edward (God) at her side. The danger to Bella is external like the illnesses or random accidents that Edward now worries about on her behalf. Bella even has a midlife crisis when she realizes that the death that she has been longing for for 1200 pages is nearly at hand and she is in danger of losing her loved ones. Her worldly ties (Jacob) and spiritual ties (Edward) pull her in opposite directions, but Edward refuses to come between her and those she loves (Jacob).

    Breaking Dawn (Transcendence)–Through giving of self in marriage and childbirth she dies, goes through purgatory, and is rewarded with eternal life and perfect union with God.

  34. John,
    You’ve pointed out some interesting symbolism in the Twilight books that did not occur to me sooner mainly because I don’t particularly care for the books. The final line of this entry particularly interests me:
    “Breaking Dawn (Transcendence)–Through giving of self in marriage and childbirth she dies, goes through purgatory, and is rewarded with eternal life and perfect union with God.”

    I just never thought of it that way and it’s probably because of the way Bella and Edward are written. The books seem to have an obsession with eternal youth. Nessie ages rapidly but magically stops aging at 18, for example.
    Bella and Edward both seem to have a selfish, self indulgent nature. I commend Bella for being willing to die for her child, but in the quest where Edward goes through his moral crisis of whether or not to change Bella into a Vampire, so many lives are destroyred, Victoria’s army for example. After reading The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner, I disliked Bella and Edward even more. Why did this innocent girl have to have her life destroyed because the Cullens failed to go after Victoria when she was obviously a threat and Edward wanted to dally and try to convince Bella not to become a Vampire.

    I love characters like those in the Harry Potter books, The Buffy and Angel shows, Charmed, Lord of the Rings, Chronicles of Narnia, Star Trek, Star Wars, Terry Brooks books, Firefly, ect because they realize that there is a greater purpose beyond themselves (Ultimately God’s Plan whether literally or symbolically in these works). They suffer loss and tragedy in their lives yet still fight to protect others. Bella never really loses anything or anyone she cares about. She gives up everything to devote herself to a godlike creature. (notice Meyer spells it with a small g), but they just live together with their happy family unit. Do they Cullens ever really try to stop the Voltari if they aren’t going after Bella. They are the so-called keepers of morality, yet they allow Victoria to create an army and lure innocent people underground to feed of them. They don’t want Vampires to be exposed, but have no moral value (they certainly do not value human life except for a source of food or if they forsee them having a really cool power they want to add to the collective.
    The Cullens hardly compare to the ragtag groups like Dumbledore’s Arms The Order of the Phoenix, the Scooby gang, The Fellowship of the Ring, the crew of the Enterpise, DS9 and Voyager (or Serenity).
    It’s easy to love characters like Harry Potter, Frodo Baggins, Willow, ect. They are endearingly imperfect and have a desire to help protect the innocent. Bella and Edward lack those qualities. Bella is completely annoyingly helpless during mostly of the series and completely vain and in love with herself once she becomes a vampire. For those reasons it is difficult for me to see the Christian symbolism in the Twilight series where it is easy to see it in the other works I mentioned because of the personalities and actions of the characters.

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