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Thoughts on Twilight

November 17, 2008

I just finished Breaking Dawn, Stephenie Meyer’s last book in the Twilight saga. Whew, they were long. And entertaining. And addicting. And yet…

I’m not going review of any of the books, because there are more than enough of those out there. Instead, I’d like to share some of my thoughts and some insightful commentary and criticism on the saga that I’ve come across. Hearing reactions to the books from teachers, librarians, parents, authors, book sellers, publishers, and readers like me has been the most interesting part of my Twilight experience. Unfortunately, since many of the points are fairly in-depth, I’m going to try to be as brief as possible and just touch on three of the most interesting Twilight topics:

1. Love (or not). Can we really call Bella and Edward’s obsessive, possessive, lustful relationship one of love? One of the list-serve members made a point that the books are about desire, and the awakening of desire. The male epitome of power, beauty, talent, youth and intellect loves and desires you – and wants to marry you and make you his for all eternity. What’s not attractive about that? No wonder we like the books.

But as others have pointed out, what is Stephenie Meyers really teaching young girls? Bella is completely obsessed with Edward. When he leaves her, she falls – no, plummets – into a dangerous, multiple-month-long depression that only begins to lift through another relationship with another possessive male. Edward and Jacob constantly protect, control, herd, and steer Bella (even instances as simple as “He put his hand lightly on my waist and pulled me with him as he walked through the door” happen all the time) and Bella just eats it up. Bella is utterly sex-crazed (if I have to read about Edward’s perfect marble chest, smoldering eyes or favorite crooked smile one more time…) and she eagerly puts herself in danger and would literally rather die than be apart from Edward. When the relationship is finally consummated, Bella is black and blue…

2. Bella as a “Mary Sue” character. Another very interesting point brought up by the members of a list-serve I’m on, especially as I didn’t know what a Mary Sue character was until that discussion. According to Wikipedia’s definition, a Mary Sue character

plays a major role in the plot and is particularly characterized by overly idealized and hackneyed mannerisms, lacking noteworthy flaws, and primarily functioning as wish-fulfillment fantasies for their authors. Perhaps the single underlying feature of all characters described as “Mary Sues” is that they are too ostentatious for the audience’s taste, or that the author seems to favor the character too highly.

Well, I could definitely identify Bella’s flaws… but apparently, she scores a 70 (which falls into the “Kill it dead” category) on “The Universal Mary Sue Litmus Test” – and Edward scores a 124! Too funny.

3. Racism in Twilight? Notice the couldn’t-get-any-whiter skin of the civilized, refined, educated, talented, controlled Cullens next to the darker, simpler werewolves. Also interesting that in the movie, Jacob is not played by a Native American. Check out more discussion here. Update: The point-in-a-nutsell of this last critique was that casting a white actor in the main role of a Native American was denying opportunity to Native Americans. Taylor did, however, discover during the making of the movies that he has native heritage.

The books needed better editing and raised a lot of red flags for me (and, thankfully, many others). But, I will say, they were fun – and it’s been quite a while since a book has kept me up reading until the wee morning hours, which these managed to do.

Thoughts? Please share 🙂

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. thememorybox permalink
    November 17, 2008 3:32 am

    A friend of mine said the same thing, that Bella is a MarySue-ish character. And Mary Sue usually happens because the writer sees him/herself in the character, or wants to be like the character subconsciously.. Says a lot about Ms. Meyer, huh. And lol, Robert Pattinson said it himself. But still, I shouldn’t judge the book because I haven’t read it.

  2. November 24, 2008 2:37 am

    I wasn’t actually aware that Jacob isn’t native (Guess that’s what I get for not doing my research!), so thanks for clueing me in. I’ll correct it on my blog.
    You also made another point I was going to bring up about the Cullens in my post…how incredibly white their skin was. I saw this particularly in Carlisle…he was very noticeably marble white. I guess in Forks it’s normal to see doctors with corpse-like skin walking around the hospital.

    In regard to Stephenie Meyer putting herself in Bella’s place….I have seen/heard several interviews where she does, in fact, say that she identifies with Bella. She has stated that Bella has no special qualities, is a bit clutsy, and is mostly unimpressive..stuff she identifies with very well. She has also said, though, that she sees more of herself in Edward.

    Anyway, thanks for the input!

  3. lyndalepress permalink*
    December 2, 2008 4:38 am

    I’ve heard that about Stephenie Meyer, too. thememorybox posts (how do I link in a comment?) on an interview with James Pattinson in which he says he was convinced Stephenie Meyer thought she was Bella.

  4. Naomi permalink
    December 5, 2008 6:32 pm

    Taylor Lautner (the actor who plays Jacob) is of Native ancestry. Many natives, including myself, are of mixed blood. just because he shares other backgrounds, doesn’t mean he is NOT NATIVE.

    • lyndalepress permalink*
      December 6, 2008 12:26 am

      I agree. All of the articles (not just blog posts like mine) that I had read said that Jacob isn’t of native background. But after your comment I did a little more research and found an article where Taylor says that in the making of the movie, he discovered he does have some Potawatomi and Ottawa blood on his mother’s side. Thanks for the comment.

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