In Sincere Defence of Twilight

February 12, 2020

Image courtesy of Empire

Now that we’re entering a new decade, looking back at the books we loved seems like a fever dream. From baffling phenomena like Fifty shades of Grey to the plethora of dystopian YA novels, the Twilight series is perhaps the most iconic romance to come out in this century and Ever since, it has been victim to scrutiny and extensive ridicule. Well, I’m here to argue that the Twilight series isn’t as all bad is it seems (though undeniably there are problematic threads running through it).

 

One argument against the series seems to be that our protagonist Bella Swan is far from the ideal feminist icon the literary scenes is so craving. However, I’d argue that this perception comes from an unfair standard towards women. When Bella experiences heart break during New Moon she falls into a deep depression and partakes in life threatening activities. It’s criticised that her life stops because of a man, however I think this is quite a cruel perspective. Bella’s passion for her boyfriend and the initial intensity of the relationship is clear as day; frankly it would be odd if she wasn’t wildly upset about it. Why shouldn’t female characters experience their emotions or vulnerability? Must Bella be such a healthy vision of a feminist character that she ceases to be human? Her passion towards her boyfriend further comes under fire. The series concluding with her spending eternity with Edward. Though unfashionable, marriage and family don’t have to be inherently oppressive and I’d argue that her power to choose this life  empowers Bella rather than suppresses her. What Bella Swan exhibits is passion, love and bravery, sticking to her morals despite what people around her believe.

Image courtesy of Amazon.ca

The romance between Edward and Bella is certainly a sticky topic. Are there problematic and unhealthy rituals between the two? Yes definitely, and these should be called out. In the end, Bella succumbs to the dark side and crosses into the world of supernatural creatures. However, it’s evident to me that the series concludes with Bella becoming a vampire not for her boyfriend but for herself. As a vampire she now has the superhuman strength to defend herself and her family instead of constantly relying on others. She gets her man, her abilities and becomes immortal, so she can have as many career paths as she wants. She was given a choice to make, that no one else could make for her, while examining the themes of destiny versus choice in a stimulating and interactive way. There’s also the topic of the love triangle. Personally, I don't think it’s actually a triangle, more of a couple and a third wheeler. The coupling between Renesmee and Jacob was very strange but it does highlight the overarching theme of the entire series containing love and family. The readers are taken on a journey and finish with a symbolic full circle. In a way, it was brave of Meyer’s to conclude with such a positive ending. It’s worth asking as well, was Meyer writing with the knowledge of the series future infamy? Probably not, she was probably writing escapist fantasty, purely for fun, and moreover for herself. The indignant hate she received during Twilight’s peak years was excessive to say the least and had little to do with any kind of genuine concern surrounding abuse the series portrays.

 

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First published in 1965, InQuire is the University of Kent student newspaper.

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