After Leeches, Mongrels, Velvety Voices and Bella’s Holey Chest, Comes Garrett’s Speech


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.”

My findings…

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.

I know many of you have said that you couldn’t force yourself to finish the first few pages of the first book, but I wish to ask you something: if you have a chance, find a copy of Breaking Dawn, read Garrett’s speech (about ten pages into chapter thirty-seven) and compare it to the first pages of Twilight. The difference in the writing when it comes to tone, complexity of motifs, charisma, delivery… is simply startling.

Your thoughts    
Lee Pace, Garrett in Breaking Dawn
via The Holy Shrine

30 comments:

  1. I may have to pick up the final book just to read Garrett's speech. I did read the first three books, but just read the Wikipedia article on the last one. Terrible, I know. It's the only book I've given that treatment to.

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    1. Not so terrible, there are times when we have to do what we must in order to survive lol

      Do let me know your thoughts after you compare Garrett's speech to the rest of the book. I'm very, very curious ;-)

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  2. I haven't read any of the Twilight books. I actually bought the first two and then, after watching the first film, I was so completely underwhelmed that I promptly gave them away to a charity shop. I can't forgive the damage done to the vampire genre by Twilight, but dissecting the books for the purpose of a little critical analysis does intrigue me, I have to confess! :D

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    1. I understand. The "satanic hero" was always an interesting (and terrifying if we really thought of it) character. But stuff happens (not always good) when we rob the darkness of its ways, and cover it with sparkles...

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  3. Women and girls look for the special love. I've found that to be the reason that they read these pathetic books. They all want that love that "won't die". The perfection of it. To be swept off their feet by some knight in "shining armor". These are the women that love The Titanic. They walked around with that Titanic Necklace on and they just knew that their Jack would be waiting for them.

    Anyway....all the people that read it and liked it, in my area......that's them in a nutshell.

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    1. I've met all kinds of people interested in these books: young girls, old girls, scholars... But yes, for different reasons.

      Your Titanic reference is really, really, really intriguing...

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  4. I'm more interested in the political aspects of popular vampire fiction.

    Like, if you go back to Dracula, he's basically depicted as a megalomaniacal serial rapist. There's a reason why our culture took that character, and turned him into a suave seducer, and then a misunderstood anti-hero, and I think it has a lot to do with America's transition from scrappy underdog to self-proclaimed "policemen of the world".

    To an extent, the modern sexed-up, super powered vampire is very much an apologetics for our hypocritical blood-sucking foreign policies.

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    1. Your words made me cringe a little. They brought to mind the voice of 100-and-something-year-old Edward telling a teen girl, "I like watching you sleep." Creepy and very telling...

      I've said it many times, but will repeat it: One of the things I love most about fiction, is that it touches real issues in ways reality can only dream of (or have nightmares about).

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  5. I'm doing a course on the Supernatural this semester at Uni, next week is Vampires and the readings/videos consists very much of folklore, vampires in literature and why the fascination with them throughout the ages. It seems like I'll never escape the bloodsuckers (and Twilight)... The Mormon view is interesting though.
    Have a wonderful day!

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    1. I better fly over to your blog to see what you're finding out! A class on the "Supernatural" sounds delicious!

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  6. I think I'll stick to "Vampire Diaries"..mmmmmmmmmDamen......*drools* :D XXX

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  7. This was an interesting expansion of the few snippets of Mormon/ religious influences I had heard of before. Never thought I'd see the two words 'Mormon' and 'feminism' joined together in a sentence ;)

    Lee Pace is one of the world's most beautiful men, and I loved his outfit in Breaking Dawn.

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    1. I've never watched the Twilight movies, so I didn't know Lee Pace was part of the cast. I was beyond surprised when I found out... almost as surprised as I was when I read that Bella was a feminist. You know I'm not as informed as you when it comes to the Feminist philosophy, but... well, you know.

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  8. I read all the Twilight Books and have seen all the movies and I must admit I thoroughly enjoyed them all. I have four teenage granddaughters and they were all Twilight fans. We had a lot to share and it was fun and bonding! Did I have deep theological or intellectual thoughts...no...I saw it as pure entertainment in a tween sort of way. It was about teen angst....love and breaking up with a fairy tale/fantasy blueprint. Does that make me shallow...nope...just a bonding time with my girls.
    Hugs
    SueAnn

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    1. I don't think any book can make us shallow. How can we know about the world if we don't experience everything, even the things not everyone else loves?

      One of my favorite novels is titled A Little More to Love. The writing isn't great, the topic is not fully explored, most of the characters are rather flat... but you know what? I LOVE the freaking little tale, and cry every time I get near the end.

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  9. I have not read the Twilight books. don't intend to though I do, in general, like vampire stories. just for some reason, I have no interest in reading these. but I enjoyed these thoughts about them.

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    1. I can't blame you. I kind of had to talk myself into reading it. At times, I even bribed myself LOL

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  10. I don't know what I think. I haven't been reading much fiction lately. It is interesting to see what parts people like. If you ask 30 people why they like them, you'll probably get 28 different answers. It's just not my thing. If I'm going to read vampires, I'd rather them be evil......I suppose that says something "not-very-good" about me. lol

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    1. Hot damn! Here I was hoping my favorite ex-Mormon would pick up the tale and share her thoughts with the world ;-D

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  11. As a writer, do you find the differences in beginning & end the maturation of a writer, or indicative of 'help' (in whatever form..editing, writing, suggestions)in finishing the last book?

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    1. Most of the fourth book reads exactly like the others. If I had to say something, I would say that the characters' development went backwards... About Garrett's speech, I think someone worked really, really, really hard at it.

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  12. I've got to be a hard-ass here, Magaly. Even your eloquence, teasing me to consider giving the "Twilight Saga" another chance, is not enough to purchase acquittal or redemption.

    Still thumbs down.

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    1. I was going to bribe you with coffee next, but I'll just drink it. I have a feeling that it won't work LOL

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  13. I will stick to my Supernatural series on t.v ;o) I love my Dean and Sam ;o) Yummy ;o)

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    1. Yummy is always more delicious than broody, so stick to the yum ;-D

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  14. I read all 4 books, one right after the other. I was very excited to read them as my best friend insisted they were fantastic. They started out promising and I was looking forward to character development. Sadly this never happened. In fact, in my opinion, the characters devolved. I could go into a long rant here, but I won't. Suffice it to say, I never got past the first movie.
    Now, that's not to say that I don't think the series is beyond hope. As an adult woman, if it gets other adult women to read, as it did my very anti-books younger sister, then I am more willing to accept its vapidity if only for that. However I will not allow my daughter to read those books until she is much older and has developed a strong sense of self. The character of Bella Swan is exactly the opposite of what we want young girls to look up to. She loses herself completely and never actually regains it back. She uses the people around her without any sense of guilt. I find this somewhat disgusting and I hope that the mothers of young girls are reminding their daughters to stand strong and be yourself. You are an imperfect human, but that is okay. You do not need someone else to complete you and you will not suddenly wake up and have all your faults gone.
    This series is very detrimental to the mental and emotional health of young girls and I really wish it weren't marketed to them.

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    1. This reminds me of a joke I read in Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar: Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes:

      "How many New Agers does it take to change a lightbulb?
      None, they just start a 'Coping with Darkness' support group."

      It's silly, but it is kind of true (weirdly wise) and so not Bella Swan. That child has so many issues that it is scary. She is suicidal, she hates being human (aging), and then all her problems are solved when she dies... Your last sentence rings terrifyingly true.

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  15. I truly liked the books, liked not loved, the movies were ok but felt they made Bella too much of a tomboy. But again I picture the vampires as faeries, I mean really they sparkle. Honestly I started reading them just cause it had vampires and werewolves when I was sitting at Barnes & Noble's one day. But I like reading books like that as a mind break.

    I find the Mormon aspect fascinating, I had not heard that before. Now I want to reread my books.

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    1. If you choose to reread them, let me know if (and how) the experience changes...

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