The following is an extended analysis of Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight”, which spawned a series of books and films after its release in 2005. All images featured here are property of their original owners.
In Twilight, the love between Edward and Bella is the driving force behind a lot of the events that take place in the novel. Consider Edward saving Bella from Tyler’s wayward minivan, Edward saving Bella from the thugs at Port Angeles, Bella asking Edward to turn her into a vampire at her own expense, and Edward and his family joining together to keep Bella safe from James’ evil coven — all these acts are wrought by Edward and Bella’s desire to strike up a significant romantic relationship; “because when I thought of him … I wanted nothing more than to be with him right now”. However, three specific circumstances unique to Edward, Bella, and their union become factors that ultimately make Twilight a predictable but entertaining and teenage-friendly pop culture love story.
One circumstance is Bella and her life in Forks. Bella’s character — a timid, quiet and introverted teenager with apparently dashing good looks — is one that identifies with its audience — which includes real-life teenage girls for whom the description might be apt — and connects them to Bella’s struggle. Some Cuban individuals’ liberal use of the term “pobrecito” to express pity for someone undeserving of a certain life situation would apply well here; to describe the teenage damsel in distress that Bella is painted to be. She’s the daughter of a divorce that has placed a former couple in two completely opposite geographies, with Bella’s mom in sunny, urban Arizona and Bella’s dad in rainy, rural Forks. Perhaps as a result, Bella’s not excited about making friends in a new environment; rather, she’s concerned about not fitting in and even contemplates giving up on her first day in town. She makes one think about how many teenage girls in similar situations must’ve connected to her character and gotten hooked on the book from the beginning.
Contrast that with the second circumstance, which is Edward and his life as a vampire. He’s not pleased about having lived as a teenager for over a hundred years and he’s not pleased about never having had someone to really develop an intimate interpersonal relationship with. However, he lacks the family and self-integrity issues that Bella faces, for his family is a supportive bunch and his supernatural strength and ability convince him that he’s a worthwhile individual. He spends time hunting with his family while Bella spends time just being by herself and not doing a lot of talking.
Edward and Bella are nearly polar opposites, but they fit in together because characteristics about Edward’s life situation permit him to be the knight in shining armor that rescues and diverts Bella, the damsel in distress, from her down-on-her luck life. Edward isn’t even the only one who takes a crack at this. The other boys in the high school, who fall head over heels for Bella, also want to be the shining savior.
The third circumstance arises only when Edward and Bella get together, and it’s the simultaneous blessing and curse known as obsession. Edward and Bella fit so well together — given what each has and lacks — that the rush they get from being able to find someone that complements them is one that they can’t control. They become each other’s world, with little to nothing going on in their life that doesn’t involve the other — “You are the most important thing to me now. The most important thing to me ever” (Meyer, ch. 12).
This circumstance is significant, because it mirrors the ubiquitous teenage trait of impulsiveness. Teenagers are typically seeking someone they can identify with, be it a group or a significant other of the opposite gender, and the search is typically so difficult that when they find someone, they don’t let go. They hold on like no tomorrow, thinking this is the best they’ve got — “I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him”. Bella goes from never having really been in a relationship to choosing the most sinister-looking and emotionally complicated boy she can find, amongst a slew of other males that are effectively throwing themselves at her.
The circumstances unique to Edward, Bella and their relationship make up for a predictable novel — where obsessively staying united, against all odds, is always the solution — that nonetheless grabs and holds on to its audience — an interesting group of teenagers that may want to resolve their emotions through the novel — in a classically pop culture way.