Critical Analysis Of The Representation Of Relationships In Twilight

When growing up, there was an absolute craze over the Twilight series. At the time, l did pick up a copy in order to see what the book entailed. After reading 30 pages in, l knew it was a book that l would not be picking up again. However, before reading the text for class, l attempted to remove as many expectations, assumptions or ideas that had previously influenced my thoughts. It took some initial reflection to truly move past the overall reviews, worries and preconceptions that l had in order to provide a succinct analysis and to try and to give it a fair chance. From the onset of the text I was able to relate Bella, her awkwardness and somewhat comedic remarks allowed me to view her as similar to who l was as a teenager. Yet, my fondness for her changed abruptly when she confessed her love for Edward, “…l was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him”. l found that from that point on, l experienced a lack of empathy and my emotional responses to her had changed to feelings of fear, anxiety and worry. What initially was admiration, turned into irritation as Bella essentially falls in love with Edward based on his looks, scent and 'dazzling' eyes. l found that Meyer emphasised the idea of falling in love with the 'forbidden vampire' or 'fantasy' trope, then actually with who Edward was as an individual. Arguably, he was not the most likeable character, being depicted as ill-reasoned, controlling, and contradictory in nature. When he would engage in a conversation with Bella, l was often bothered by the way he would speak to her and make her feel at times.

As a reader, l constantly worried for her inability to reflect on her actual 'love' or reasons for why she felt the way she did for Edward. Thus, raising several questions; Why does she really like him? What is it that she likes about him if we are to take away the fact that he is a vampire? What truly drives Edward to want to be with Bella? These questions kept flooding my mind as l read through each page. Meyer did not manage to convince me that there was a strong interesting relationship developing at all. The relationships in the book appeared to be very superficial and lacking depth. Additionally, there was no genuine focus on the strained relationship between Bella and Charlie, or any true development between Bella and her friends. Although there are many issues with the text, it is still possible to find some positives. Initially, my admiration for Bella started with her ability to discuss books/bookstores and this ultimately came across as a passion for reading. For example, “l did dive to the library Saturday, but it was poorly stocked that I didn’t bother to get a card; l would have to make a date to visit Olympia or Seattle soon and find a good bookstore”, “I decided to kill an hour with some non-school related reading”, “I had a small collection of books that came with me to Forks, the shabbiest volume being a compilation of the works of Jane Austen.” and, “My favourites were Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility”. Additionally, when Bella discusses the title of her essay with Mike, there is this moment where the reader can see her as a strong feminist character. Bella states that her thesis involves the concept of, “Whether Shakespeare’s treatment of the female characters is misogynistic”, where she is able to highlight and understand the prejudices against women in literary texts, however, this emphasises the problem with the text once again.

The constant reprisal of the motif of a damsel in distress and Edward playing the hero who saves her continuously, for example when Bella is almost killed by Tyler’s van and the moment men are following her during her shopping trip etc. Relating back to the aforementioned texts of Austen and fairy tale tropes. There is a form of intertextuality at play, influencing the overall ideas of the story and relationship between Bella and Edward. That is, Bella always requires Edward to be there to in times of need, demonstrating that a dominant male character (Edward) is what younger individuals may be idolising or responding to in terms of the themes in the text. I personally find this worrisome, as Bella is often portrayed as weak and clumsy majority of the time and this does not send the best message to younger readers. Thus, this emphasises the notion that the text is polysemic. As a younger reader I was drawn to this text due to the hype and idea of a taboo relationship which many of my friends enjoyed and revered. Looking at this text as an adult, I found it extremely problematic in terms of its representation of younger women and relationships. 

16 August 2021
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