I’ve finished Twilight now; and so here are my thoughts. In my previous post I said:
My other (massively patronising) theory is this: kids younger than me, who were introduced to the idea of reading and enjoying actual books through Harry Potter, will then have progressed on to these books. From Twilight, perhaps they’ll move onto adult real literature with ideas and themes they can really get their teeth into and learn to actually love reading.
Well, yes, on one hand. On the other, this book made me very angry, from my usual feminist-rant perspective. This book portrays an idealistic relationship between Edward and Bella in which they never more than kiss – and in which whenever they do kiss, he jumps back if she doesn’t stay completely stock still. Let me put that more plainly – the moment she starts to get really into the kiss, starts to exhibit any form of passion, he steps back. The way she tightens her hands round his back and clenches her fists in his hair is portrayed as strange, un-womanly, and wrong, rather than an unthinking expression of her sexuality and a perfectly natural response to a good kiss with the man she supposedly loves. And therefore she is supposed in her own mind as well as his, and for no particularly I-am-kissing-a-vampire-this-is-probably-dangerous reasons that I can think of or that are ever explained, she is supposed to stay still and not really respond in anyway, like a doll or a child or the perfect victorian woman.
Furthermore, it seems to me that the further into the book one gets, the more Bella relinquishes any power she may have had to Edward. He makes all the decisions, and everyone is surprised when Bella has an idea worth the mention. He is her protector, her stalker (in the name of furthering his cause of protecting her), he looks out for her, and with all his special vampirey powers they are in no way equal – there is nothing Bella can do that Edward can’t do better, it seems.
This book is the worst kind of wish-fulfilment story in many ways – Edward is the perfect hero, and Bella is the perfect damsel-in-distress – as Lucy Mangan says she is a “bloodless cipher”, weak, ordinary, although apparently more beautiful than she herself realises, and subordinate. It comes as no surprise that Stephanie Meyer is a Mormon. Bella spends the entire book sacrificing things and slowly fading away into the background – starting by taking on all the housework from her father, ending by wishing to still her own pulse so that Edward will not be tempted by it to do any more than kiss her and thus risk getting all hot under the collar and either biting or sleeping with her – entirely taking all responsibility for how Edward feels and acts onto herself in the ultimate act of self-sacrifice; and finally, begging Edward to turn her into a vampire because that would make it possible for her to stay with him forever. Of course the author doesn’t let this happen because then she would no longer be a seventeen-year-old girl, she’d be an ‘old one’ and there would be no reason from then on in why she couldn’t sleep with Edward, or rather, any reason to hold off from doing so indefinitely, and in the moral compass of this novel that would be indescribably bad.
In the defence of the novel, to me this was a reasonably entertaining read. Objectionable in many ways, but with the suspension of disbelief comes the suspension of one’s normal moral compass so that one can empathise with the characters at hand. However it is not a novel I would feel happy about handing over to impressionable teenage girls, who might not see all the millions of flaws in Edward and Bella’s anachronistic, imbalanced relationship, who might put it on a pedestal for themselves to aim at, thus longing after a damaging, emasculating relationship with what what Lucy Mangan not exaggeratedly calls a ‘proto-rapist’. Edward is a gentleman in the most damaging sense of the word. Bella is utterly spineless. If I had read this when I was younger and more impressionable god knows what I would have been looking for in a potential boyfriend but it certainly wouldn’t have been the partnership of equals I’ve otherwise always wanted. Quite honestly, in the wrong hands, I think this book could do some damage.
I’ve rambled on for quite long enough. What do you think? Am I as usual being a bit too mad about this?