Twilight as Literature: Is Alice a Mary Sue; Meyer and Keats?

Sadly, Forks High School Professor was knocked for a loop last month when Hogwarts Professor and The Hog’s Head went offline for a day to facilitate repairs. I’m assured the posts there weren’t lost and will be available again soon.

As part of today’s Twilight set, I wanted to share an idea posted as a comment to the ‘Anne of Green Gables and Twilight discussion over at the comatose FHS Professor. [For a similar, shorter discussion, see ‘Anne of Green Gables and Harry Potter‘ at this site.] The question and wonderful answer are from Caroline at the challenging and fun Briarfield Chronicles weblog:

I just discovered your post [on Anne and Twilight], and I’m struck by the parallels between Anne Shirley and Bella Swan. Especially Gilbert/Edward. ¬†What I’m wondering is, is Alice Cullen the true Mary Sue instead of Bella? Also have you noticed the similarities between the Twilight Saga and Keats’ The Eve of St Agnes?

No, I really hadn’t thought of Alice as the true author-in-the-story and I missed the Eve of St. Agnes parallel, too. But I should have picked that up, right? I wrote to Caroline:

Dear Caroline, if I may,

Lenten greetings!

A fascinating idea! Alice has no identity until she awakes as a vampire which would parallel the experience of someone born Mormon, not to mention her non-resistance to the idea being similar to the cradle believer never having known another world or life. Her ability to see the future, something like omniscience or a view from eternity, also is like an author’s.

I’d still have to side with Bella as Mrs. Meyer’s self projection vehicle because of her dream-erotic relationship with Edward the Prophet and her hoped-for divinization at death-resurrection as a goddess more than his equal.

But I love the thought! I wonder if each of the Cullen women are not aspects of Mrs. Meyer’s idea of herself and wish-fulfillment fantasies reshaping those ideas. The perfect mother, the raped sister, the clairvoyant pixie, all fabulously rich.

At least that part of her story came true… I would love it if you’d write up 5 connections you see and send me the link so I can share it with the HogwartsProfessor reading audience.

Thank you for this great comment and your two questions!

Gratefully,

John

It turns out, of course, that she’d already written up her thoughts on Keats/Meyer at The Briarfield Chronicles, which post I urge you to read. Especially if you’re prepping for your A Level tests on Keats or for your Oxford entrance questions on Twilight!

Comments

  1. I was quite surprised to see this in my inbox – I had forgotten most of it by now. Thanks for putting up my post on your site. By the way have you considered doing a review on that latest sensation, Fifty Shades of Grey? Apparently it started off as Twilight fanfiction. It’s interesting how bestselling fiction nowadays come as trilogies or a series.

  2. I’m rather on the fence about ‘Fifty Shades.’

    One the one hand, I think it is important to explain this publishing phenomenon in terms of the Eliade thesis and Muggeridge’s insight about sex and the materialist; the complaint that all popular books aren’t edifying literature is borne out here in spades but it also confirms the Eliade thesis about why we read.

    On the other hand, I have little respect for critics who review books they haven’t read, not to mention those who make make sweeping generalizations about these books and their readers from that position of ignorance. And I have no intention of reading what every review, negative or apologetic, says is essentially pornography for the imaginative eye.

    Your thoughts?

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