Seeing through Twilight

What’s behind the passion for this vampire-book series?

By Andrew Graham

Talon staff writer

It has sold over 100 million copies worldwide, been made into blockbuster movies and has the ability to attract teenage girls by the millions. It is a phenomenon that has not only seized the nation, but the entire world. But what exactly makes Twilight so popular, and why does it have the power to captivate audiences everywhere?

Vampires are not foreign to American literature: take Dracula for instance. But in Twilight, Stephanie Meyer has created a new kind of vampire, one whose appeal is addictive and has captivated American teenagers.

Those new vampires are “immortal, beautiful, extremely tempting. Humans want to be with them, humans want to be like them,” explains Marcela Kostihova, a professor of literature, Shakespeare and pop culture along with other subjects at Hamline University. These vampires are a new breed entirely, and are ones who break the old stereotypes of traditional vampires who, “have to sleep in a coffin and can’t come out in light and drink blood,” said Kostihova.

This combination has sparked an obsession that is clearly evident in many Twilight fan websites, including mylifeistwilight.com and bellaandedward.com to name a couple. We all know about the Team Edward and Team Jacob conflict, named after the two men fighting for the love of Bella, who is at the heart of the novel, and in fact, the heart of the problem as well.

Bella, the girl in which Twilight is based off of, lives a charmed life.

“A fairy tale where anything is possible,” Kostihova explained. “She does not have to work. She does not have to go to college. She is going to be young forever, she is never going to age, she is never going to be sick, she is never going to pay taxes and she can do whatever she wants.”

This creates a perception, Kostihova suggests, that all women can and should be living a life like Bella, with their very own Edward, which is simply not realistic, explains Kostihova.

“It provides a fantasy in which no work is required,” says Kostihova.  “Bella really does not have to do anything except run away.”

Kostihova’s view however is not uncommon, that teenagers try to live a life similar to that of Bella’s, and many dream of finding the perfect boyfriend similar to an Edward or Jacob. What can unfortunately end up happening is that many teenage girls won’t try to work at a relationship like most people have to do, and start to expect to meet their own personal Edward.

“They expect that they will have Edward’s in their lives, and they break up with the boyfriends they have because they don’t want to work on their relationships,” Kostihova explains.

The Minnehaha perspective on Bella is not positive, to say the least, and many seem to have many problem with her character in the story.

“She is annoying because she can’t be away from the guy” said Junior Eleanor Cashman.

Freshmen Kathryn Doty agrees. “She is annoying and whines a lot,” said Doty, “She is mean to everyone.”

Even if Bella is unpopular, Twilight remains wildly popular, especially here at Minnehaha. Cashman has read each book eight times, saying she “she can’t be away from it for more than 10 seconds.” Doty says she has read each about four times and calls the novels, “just really cute.” Junior Luke Anderson especially enjoys Twilight because he said it “makes you think about the world.”

And what about if you just want to sit down, read Twilight and not get caught up in the crazy obsession? Actually this is recommended. Despite its flaws, many believe it to be worthwhile literature.

“They are really page turners,” says Senior Ava Henrich. “It always makes you wonder what will happen next.”

Kostihova, the Hameline professor, admits however that Twilight can be, “really compelling, it is written in a way that is really simple, and so it can be really griping, and so in that sense it can be valuable literature” explains Kostihova. “We can collectively disagree that Twilight is bad, but that does not change the fact that millions of people are reading it around the world.”

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