Tag: Post-Feminist

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

Posted August 9, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Romance / 0 Comments

Twilight by Stephenie MeyerTitle: Twilight (Goodreads)
Author: Stephenie Meyer
Series: Twilight #1
Published: Little Brown and Company, 2005
Pages: 434
Genres: Romance, Young Adult
My Copy: Library Book

Buy: Book Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

I don’t think I need to tell people what this book is about; rather I need to explain my actions,which I have done in a blog post called Reading Twilight, where you can read what made me pick this book up and just how crazy I was. Also you can read my live tweeting of the book which was the only way I was able to get through the story without rage quitting.

Twilight is an escapist book, plain and simple; I don’t fit in the demographic of this book so I’m reading it and looking at how this would translate in real life and not the fantasy.  I want to take the time and look at the book as well as the difference between reality and the fantasy. I might be a little harsh  and I’m not trying to make anyone that enjoys this book and the fantasy feel bad; this is just how I see the book.

First of all let’s look at Isabella Swan; the everywoman of the book but this is assuming that women are post-feminist, co-dependent, quick to fall in love women that are full of angst or have a morbid obsession with death. I’ve been told that women do fantasise about the post-feminist lifestyle but in reality most of them don’t want to be stuck in the kitchen. The little descriptions we do have about Bella has been made out to be a needy woman with no notion of independence and what she really wants; I hated her from the start. Apparently the lack of descriptions about Belle is so that female readers can put themselves in her shoes and live out this fantasy but really do people even like Bella, let alone be in her shoes?

Then you have the love interest, Edward Cullen who I tend to associate with Mr Rochester (whose name is also Edward) since I know there is this link to the Brontë sisters that tries to be made but really comparing the two feels futile, the only links I see have to do with sexuality and proto/post-feminism. I get the sense that Edward Cullen is supposed to be this Byronic hero but all I see is the type of man  woman need to run away from; a jealous, controlling asshole that stalks his girlfriend. Now the Byronic hero is as Lord Macaulay describes it “a man proud, moody, cynical, with defiance on his brow, and misery in his heart, a scorner of his kind, implacable in revenge, yet capable of deep and strong affection.” While there are similarities between Edward Cullen and the Byronic hero (to me anyway) he doesn’t really fit the mould.

Someone told me that the blood in Twilight is a metaphor of adolescent sexuality which is interesting and explains why Stephenie Meyer went to all that effort in explaining why Belle got nauseous at the sight and smell of blood. This brings up another fantasy; the older more experienced man. While I don’t really want to compare this book to other novels (I’m sorry Brontë’s and the whole Romantic era) but this is almost like a polar opposite to Tampa. One explores the fantasy of a younger partner; getting them before they have been tainted by the world which is problematic because that person ends up being the one to corrupt and break that young man. Twilight looks at the older partner; but not in the same in-depth way. this plays out the fantasy and it’s up to the reader to look for the problems with a naive woman dating an older man (hint reverse the roles in Tampa or read Lolita). I’m not saying it doesn’t work, because it does work; I’m just looking at Twilight critically and wanted to look at fantasy verses reality.

I’m sure there are positive themes within this novel that you can explore like, sacrifices you make for the one you love, true love conquers all and even overcoming the bad within you to be a better person or vampire. I think those themes are in the book but for me they feel problematic, firstly Edward continues to tell Bella that she should run away but they never do and I got frustrated with them repeating the same conversation over and over and never making the sacrifice for the good of the other. Then I don’t believe this is a good example of true love, they hardly knew each other and they were madly in love, they never sacrifice for the good of the other and they are co-dependant, jealous, stalkers; to me this is not true love, this is a teenage relationship or something creepy. Finally overcoming the bad within to be a better person, the only example of that is the vampires eat animals rather than humans.

I’m going to overlook the obvious problem with the vampire mythology because it’s been done to death but I want to leave you with one thought (which you can answer in the comments if you like). Stephenie Meyer obviously has an interest in the romantic era and the Brontë sisters but is Twilight reflecting the ideas made by the romantic poets or has it missed the point completely? As you can see I didn’t like this book at all and I read it too fast to try and pull any more critical thoughts from the novel, but I think I have enough ammunition against Twilight. I hope I didn’t offend the people that enjoy this book, it’s escapism and I’m reading it critically so that might be my problem.

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