The Most Controversial Topic in the History of Books. (Not Really)

Okay, so I told you I’d come back to this topic, and so I shall: Twilight. Possibly the stupidest, most cliche book ever – if you talk to a hater/cynic. Also possibly the most romantic, well written book you could ever come across – if you talk to a hopeless romantic/optimist. So clearly, there are many different opinions. I’m not going to share mine, because I’ll be bashed either way, and I don’t plan on offending anybody with my opinion. However, I will say that my friend presented this amazing speech last year in class about Twilight – and completely dissected the story into nothing while keeping her audience – whether they loved or hated the book – completely entertained. While you read this speech, keep a very sarcastic, humorous viewpoint/voice in your head, because obviously it’s different reading it than it is to hear it.

“His skin, white despite the faint flush from yesterday’s hunting trip, literally sparkled, like thousands of tiny diamonds were imbedded in the surface. He lay perfectly still in the grass, his shirt open over his sculpted, incandescent chest, his scintillating arms bare. His glistening, pale lavender lids were shut, though of course he didn’t sleep. A perfect statue, carved in some unknown stone, smooth like marble, glittering like crystal.” (Twilight, pg 260)

Who needs three adjectives to describe eyelids? In this passage, there are 69 words, 18 of which are either adjectives or adverbs, 5 being synonyms for “sparkling.” The Twilight saga has been an insult to relationships, literature, women, and even love since the day Stephenie Meyer got published.

Edward and Bella have a very unhealthy relationship. It can even be categorized as “abusive.” An abusive relationship can be characterized by jealousy, sexual coercion, verbal abuse, control games, and power plays. Within the Twilight Saga, there are many examples of all of these. Edward is so jealous of Jacob that he steals the engine from Bella’s truck to keep her from seeing him. He manipulates Bella into marrying him, despite her protests that they are too young, by telling her that the only way he will have sex with her is if they marry. When Edward leaves her in the second book, Bella puts her life in jeopardy just to hear his voice. She confronts some man on the street who she thought was the same man who tried to rape her in the previous book. She crashes while on a motorcycle and slices herself open. She flings herself off a cliff and almost drowns. This extreme behavior should not be condoned and definitely should not be portrayed as an effective way to get your boyfriend back. Additionally, Edward has complete control over the physical relationship between the two. He decides how long and when Bella is allowed to kiss him, and rejects her when she tries to act on her own. He also has control over every other aspect of their relationship. He never takes Bella’s opinions or wants into consideration, and often reacts violently and makes it impossible for her to do what she wants. He withholds sex “for her own protection”, insulting her intelligence. Is she not mature enough to know what she wants? And when they do get married and have sex in the last book, Bella gets badly bruised. Unintentional abuse is still abuse. Edward tells Bella “I can’t live without you” and threatens to commit suicide if she were to leave him. Suicide threats are characteristic of abusers, and teaching hormonal pre-teens that suicide is romantic will not lead anywhere good. He frequently scares her with his vampirism, constantly reminding her that he could easily kill her. She knows that he is dangerous, and can decide to take that risk by herself. She doesn’t need anyone, not even her “lover,” telling her what to do. Not to mention that he habitually breaks into her room through her window and watches her sleep, even before they professed their supposed love for each other. Meyer celebrates this abusive and downright creepy relationship as the ultimate form of romance.|

Secondly, Stephenie Meyer is an inexperienced and just plain bad writer. The books have an over-all lack of depth and literary quality. She used a forced vocabulary in the wrong context, as if she uses right-click thesaurus on every other word. She overcomplicates everything, turning “small town” into “diminutive municipality,” and it just doesn’t make sense. Good writing is written simply. In addition, the plot is basically non-existent. One sentence can cover the whole series: a girl falls in love with a vampire, who she winds up with together forever despite a few minor discrepancies. The rest is nothing more than fluffy filler. The climax occurs in the last two chapters of the book, and is completely irrelevant to the preceding 400 pages. The conflict is resolved way too easily. Also, the characters are flat and predictable. Meyer tries way too hard to develop characters that have no personalities, and the end result is a bunch of forced, awkward characteristics that do not hold up to closer scrutiny. You can sum up all of the characters in one word: Bella is clumsy, Edward is sparkly, Jacob is a rapist. Good books have dynamic characters with multiple personality traits.

It may sound melodramatic and a tad cliché to say that Twilight is misogynistic, but it undeniably is. Bella is completely dependent on Edward. She is insecure and needs his attention. She is ecstatic that some guy she doesn’t know has been watching her sleep. She has decided that Edward is the only thing she needs; forget college, a career, and even her family. She wants to throw her life away to become a vampire for some guy she just met. Also, Bella is a stereotypical girl. Meyer tries—and fails—to give Bella some individuality by making her love classical literature and excel at biology. But she doesn’t demonstrate this in her thoughts or speech. When she starts dating Edward, she loses all sense of independence. She just does whatever he wants her to, because he knows best. She is also physically, logically, emotionally, and mentally feeble. She faints at the sight of blood. She never thinks anything through, and all of her decisions end in disaster. Whether it be walking down dark alleys at night, or going into a ballet studio where she knows an evil vampire bent on her painful death is hiding, Bella always gets herself into trouble, out of which a man always carries her. She fits the traditional gender roles, taking up the cooking and cleaning because her father, who has lived alone for some 17 years, can’t manage to do that on his own. In Twilight, Bella is not the only female who supports sexism. Alice is another stereotypical, superficial woman who is obsessed with parties, clothes, and looking pretty. She is dependent on Jasper, does whatever Edward says, and doesn’t even contribute to the fights. All Rosalie wanted from life was to be pretty, rich, and have pretty babies, until she got raped and became a bitter victim. And Esme? We know nothing about Esme other than she threw herself off a cliff because her baby died. She has no special power, and is just a maternal figure; yet she doesn’t even serve as a role model, the way Carlisle is to Edward. Bella’s mom is silly, unorganized, flighty, and can’t care for herself, which is a foil to the man in the relationship, Bella’s dad, who is solid, consistent, and responsible. The human females are immediately assumed to be shallow, and Bella never give them a chance to disprove her unexplained prejudice. Again, they foil with the human males, who are at least given personality traits. If you’re looking for a strong female lead in this book, I can assure you that you’re wasting your time.

Lastly, Bella and Edward claim to be in love. But really, you can’t fall in love in a matter of days, especially not with someone you don’t even talk to. It takes at least a few months to establish a meaningful relationship, something that never happens in Twilight. She doesn’t even know him. All Bella knows about her “lover” is that he’s a sparkly vampire with serious anger issues. She never lists his personality traits as a reason for her love, but she does mention his physical traits many times. Face, voice, eyes, movement, smile, teeth, muscles, skin, chest, breath, scent, and laughter are all reasons she loves him, but they’re not very good ones. Not once do they discuss subjects of importance, such as politics or economy. Basically, they know nothing of each other. At least get to know someone before you decide to devote your life to them.

All in all, Twilight is a bad influence. It has many underlying messages that we do not want to teach our youth: self-sacrifice makes you a worthy girlfriend. Female passivity is a state to be encouraged. Your life should be dependent on your boyfriend. Your boyfriend knows what’s best for you. You should compromise your own safety to draw the attention of a lover. Promoting unhealthy relationships, proving that anyone can get published, setting women back twenty years, and demeaning love are not exactly the best impacts a book could have.

So there you have it. I hope you had a couple of good laughs in there, whether or not you’re a fan of the series. Feel free to voice whatever opinions you have, and if you don’t happen to agree with either me (which I didn’t really share my opinion, but go ahead anyway 😛 ), my friend, or anyone else, please have the common sense and courtesy to be respectful and polite. I know this is a hot topic with many people – there doesn’t seem to be a moderate on the subject, at least as far as I’ve heard.

Happy reading!
Yours Truly

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