In honour of the fact that The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part One was released last night, I thought it was only appropriate to do a post about the series that has captured the hearts of women of all ages across the world. Since Stephenie Meyer first introduced Twilight to the world back in 2005, it has slowly grown into a world-wide phenomenon. The four books have been translated into 38 different languages and have sold over 116 million copies with the popular film series grossing over $1.8 billion world-wide.
The Twilight Saga has been called the next Harry Potter.
A typical story of a teenage girl falling in love with a vampire (and yes, it’s typical with all the vamp-lit that has emerged) has become incredibly popular. Women all identify themselves with the series heroine, Bella (portrayed by Kristen Stewart). This is probably due to the fact that Meyer was very non-specific when describing Bella, most certainly in the hope that more women would be able to see a little bit of themselves in her.
Despite the pure coincidence that I share a birthday with Bella Swan (13th September, if anyone was wondering) and am also a brunette, the similarities between us end there. There is a good reason for this. I simply refuse to be like her.
Don’t get me wrong, I like Twilight as much as the next person and own all the books and DVDs to date, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t find Bella infuriating. In my opinion, Bella Swan is an abominable (yes, abominable) role model for young women. Instead of the strong heroines of past literature, such as Elizabeth Bennet from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre from Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, we are given Bella.
Bella, who moves to Forks, Washington, to spend some more time with her father Charlie (and to give her mother Renee, a chance to follow her new husband, Phil, wherever he goes) shows little or no personality. She is someone I would call ‘dull’. There’s nothing wrong with this per se, but for whatever reason, it really irritates me. She feels unimportant until her first day at Forks High School.
Enter Edward Cullen (portrayed by Robert Pattinson).
After finding out that he is, in fact, a vampire, Bella throws herself into a relationship with Edward and loses her identity as she loses herself when she’s with him. He then leaves, as most men seem to do, and she walks around acting like a zombie (I know it’s a vampire movie), like someone has died. She can’t seek comfort in friends as she alienated them all when she was dating Edward. She only begins to find happiness again in another man, this time, Jacob (portrayed by Taylor Lautner). Then Edward comes back and all is forgiven in a heartbeat (hers, not his) and she continues to act like it was her fault he left. She’s very good at playing the victim.
I could go on, but I don’t really want to. All I want to say is “seriously Bella? Get a life outside of Edward, you’ll be much happier then!”
I’m not saying that a committed relationship isn’t fantastic, it is, but this kind of co-dependency is unnatural and really bad for emotional health. A crucial relationship lesson that is brushed over in these books and films is this: it is important to maintain strong friendships outside the relationship so that if the relationship ever fails, you have people to help you through it.
I’m not saying that people shouldn’t read or watch Twilight, because I most certainly do those things, but don’t ever model your relationship off Edward and Bella’s because it is destructive to say the least.