Remember the bit on Twilight and “Self-Defenestration via the Windows of My Eye Sockets”? Well, my Wicked Luvs, here is the discussion part…
Many of you, here and here, implied that I’m “indubitably brave” for enduring a second reading of Meyer’s books. My dear Kallan was so worried about me that she led “an intervention.” Lorelei said that the books feel like “a job, not a pleasure.” A writer friend told me “you must ask yourself what it was about the book that so many people connected to.”
The latter is not the reason why I reread the novels, for I answered the appeal/connection question during my first reading. I revisited the Twilight world to assist a friend with his graduate thesis, and because I’m always intrigued by fiction that is laden with religious philosophy.
The first time I said Twilight Saga and “religious philosophy” in the same sentence I got looks that went from confused to disgusted to doubtful (to quite lethal)… and continued morphing as I went on.
Yep, so I was nearly screaming with delight when Lauren DeVoe said, “I just got to see Margot Adler do her workshop on vampires as an analogy for current events. She talked a lot about Twilight and showed how Meyer’s Mormonism really showed through in a few ways that I (as a non-Mormon) was unaware of. It was a fascinating lecture and I was surprised at how relevant it all was. (This is not to say that I respect Twilight anymore, but… at least a few good things came of it?)
I agreed with her; “the [religious] motifs are definitely there… The very aware of her own weakness human (Bella) worshiping her perfect Christ-like figure (Edward). He is self-less, reborn (some would say undead), would take all pain so she won’t suffer, will burn so that she can keep her soul, will also keep her [in] the dark and treat her like a child that cannot quite protect herself... and goes on and on and on…”
Mandy Wells, an ex-Mormon friend, joined in to say, “that thought right there (when explained to an 8 y.o. me by grandfather) was the reason I started to doubt my faith. I mean who wants to risk their afterlife on some bozo (which I asked about)? Especially since my afterlife depended on my husband’s actions.”
To this, Lauren answered that “Adler… talked about how Bella by doing everything she is supposed to do… to attain vampire status becomes a goddess (no flaws, super strength, ect) and tied it back to the Mormon idea that if you’ve lived the proper life, when you die, you get to become a god over your own planet. It was a different take than the idea of Edward as Christ figure and actually empowered Bella… it was interesting to say the least.”
I added that “in doing all what she (Bella) ‘is supposed to do’ while alive involves a lot of worshiping [the very Christ-like) Edward.”
Mandy drove the point home by letting us know that “the idea of Mormon feminism is pretty impossible. Especially given that [her] mom was excommunicated at 19 for getting pregnant while [her] married, Mormon father wasn’t.” Oh and, “only men become deities in the Mormon tradition. Wives are only allowed glory in the after life if allowed by their husbands.”
So… Margot Adler’s workshop, Lauren’s reaction, and Mandy’s argument are examples of my main reason for agreeing to help my friend with his thesis, and rereading the Twilight Saga. You know me, my Wicked Luvs, I’m enchanted by contradictions. “Oxymoronic concepts provide good discussion, don’t they?”
Wait! This isn’t over yet. Let me highlight a few more comments before sharing my conclusion:
Petoskystone found “the writing very simplistic, to the point of being two dimensional… no complexities at all. This leads to the worrying thought that Twilight appeals to those who lack interest in, or skill in, critical thinking (which isn’t to say the targeted audience is stupid, just… meh)”
My sexy sister, Sarah, made me laugh. She said, “I really really tried to like Twilight. EVERYONE was raving over the books. Moms and daughters were bonding over their love for sparkly vampires and Bella. Aunts and nieces were bonding via shared werewolf inspired swoons. In the dark of the night I guiltily watched the movies to see if I could like Bella anymore if she was portrayed by the ever-sullen actress who brought her to life on the big screen. Alas! Something is truly amiss with me… I am frustrated that I truly don’t understand why so many LOVE the series.”
If you haven’t read the entire Twilight Saga, you might never figure out what has attracted so many. To put it short and simple, Bella Swan goes from feeling ugly, insecure and weak, to becoming a stunning “shield” that protects everyone she loves. Yep, “the meek shall inherit the earth…” after three books and thirty-six chapters of suffering and then dying in excruciating pain, before being resurrected as a vampire.
The interesting part (for me) came in the last book, in chapter thirty-seven (two chapters before the end), which was aptly subtitled “Contrivances.” I’m referring to a very long speech, given by Garrett, a minor character who doesn’t care for what the vampire ruling class calls justice. Here are some bits:
“These ancient ones did not come here for justice as they told you… Witness them struggle to find justification for their true purpose—to destroy… [They] come to erase what they perceive as the competition.”
The Cullens “are difficult to understand… But the ancient ones look and see something besides their strange choice [not killing humans for blood]. They see power.”
“I have witnessed the bonds within this family—say family and not coven. [They] deny their very natures. But in return have they found something worth even more, perhaps, than mere gratification of desire?”
“[I]ntrinsic to this intense family binding… is the peaceful character of this life of sacrifice. There is no aggression here… no thought for domination. And [the leader of the ancient ones] knows this better than I do.”
The ancient ones’ “guard is a mindless weapon, a tool in their masters’ quest for domination.”
“Who rules you, nomads? Do you answer to someone’s will besides your own? Are you free to choose your path, or will the [ancient ones] decide how you will live?
I came to witness. I stay to fight. The [ancient ones] care nothing for [justice]. They seek the death of our free will.”
There you have it, my Wicked Luvs. After enduring the vampiric leeches, the werewolf mongrels, the Cullens’ velvety voices and the pain perforating Bella’s holey chest, we get to Garrett’s sermonic speech. I swear that if I had read Garrett’s speech on its own, I would have never believed that it was part of the Twilight Saga.
Lee Pace, Garrett in Breaking Dawn
via The Holy Shrine