As it usually happens with literature, opinions on the Twilight saga differ heavily. Stephanie Meyer’s five part series (the newest of which came out in 2020, eight years after the release of the fourth book and twelve years after the first) can be described as many things, most accurate of which would be inescapable. The books’ popularity led them to be adapted into a series of movies consisting of five parts, starring Kristen Stewart as the main character, Isabella Swan, and Robert Pattinson as Edward Cullen, her vampire boyfriend.
To those who haven’t read the books, the premise sounds silly enough to write off the series without a second thought. Surely, there isn’t so much to say about a girl moving from Arizona to Forks, Washington and falling in love with a handsome stranger who acts like he loathes her very existence. For the most part that’s true. Then again, anyone picking up Twilight is in no way expecting Austen quality writing. But it’s not nearly as shallow as the movies or watered-down, irritated summaries make it out to be. And the series doesn’t deserve nearly half the hate it has gotten over the years, and still continues to get.
The main criticism, apart from the whole- spoiler alert!- Bella’s friend Jacob ,,imprinting’’ on her unborn daughter being pedophilic and probably a few other violations of human rights, is that Bella Swan, our darling main character and first person point of view narrator, isn’t interesting enough to warrant Edward Cullen’s strong feelings of curiosity and attraction toward her in the first book. That being said, for the sake of my readers’ and my own patience, this article will only refer to the plot of that single book; Twilight. Moreover, it is less a literary analysis and more of the exploration of an idea presented in this particular piece of fiction.
On Bella Swan’s first day at her new high school in Forks, Washington she notices a group of five students sitting silently by themselves at lunch. In her eyes, as well as the rest of the school’s, they are the epitome of beauty. Bella’s new friend Jessica explains that they are all adoptive children of Dr. Carlisle, a doctor working at the local hospital. This, Bella will later find out, is a cover that the vampire ‘’family’’ use to remain somewhat inconspicuous. Their whole time at the school they hadn’t befriended anyone, let alone romantically pursued. In fact the group is made up of two couples; Emmet and Rosalie and Alice and Jasper. As they aren’t related by blood, no one seems overly put off by the fact. The existence of these vampire couples later serves as a contrast to Bella and Edward’s unusual relationship.
It is to Bella’s horror, then, that she finds herself seated next to Edward in Biology class a few moments later. He spends the entire time at the edge of his seat, not acknowledging her, even giving off the impression that he despises her. Still, Bella is inexplicably drawn to his beautiful face and god-like build. The next day he doesn’t come to school. One day turns into multiple, during which Bella tries to convince herself she isn’t the reason he’d left.
When he comes back, he’s a changed man. His seeming hatred of Bella turns into an effort to befriend her and soon enough they’re pretty much in love in the span of just a few days. It doesn’t take Bella long to figure out he’s a vampire, mostly due to a hint she gets from her friend Jacob Black. Nevertheless, she finds out, he finds out she knows and it’s not that big of a deal actually. Now this is where the fun bit comes. Edward lets Bella in on a little secret, a tiny little skill he has where he can read anybody’s thoughts as long as they’re physically close enough. Anybody but Bella’s, a fact which often frustrates him when she evades his prying questions. She also finds out, after asking him the question we’d all been wondering -why Bella?- that he is so attracted to the scent of her blood that he simply can’t stay away. The feigned hatred at the beginning of their acquaintance, he explains, was because he was trying so hard to control himself not to suck on her right then and there in the middle of Biology class. Anyways, that’s all well and good, but it still doesn’t quite explain his readiness to not only put up with but also fall in love with her boringness. Because, let’s be fair, the girl brings nothing to the table. Apart from the odd sarcastic comment or self-conscious remark, there’s really nothing she has to say. So why is it that the most attractive and sought after immortal (not that anyone knows about that part) at her school is so enamored by her?
It’s pretty obvious, actually. See, his ability to read minds means he can quite literally know what anyone is thinking at all times. So why would he ever bother getting to know anyone? Why would he bother talking to anyone when he can hear anything they have to say before it’s even left their mouth? There’s no point in investing time and effort into getting close with someone when all the information he wants is at his fingertips. And that’s really all any sort of relationship is; exchanging information. The closer you are, the deeper you get and for Edward Cullen that just isn’t the case. And yeah, Edward is incredibly drawn to Bella’s scent but that is no reason to stick around and talk to her. So why does he? Simple; she’s the only one worth getting to know. She’s the only one who can actually surprise him with her words and actions and as that hasn’t happened to him since 1918, when he got turned into a vampire, that is quite the attractive quality. Bella could be the most boring person in the world, which she nearly is, and it wouldn’t matter to Edward because to him everyone is already the most boring person in the world. People aren’t just open books to him, they’re two-minute YouTube video summaries and Bella is an ancient scroll begging to be deciphered. It is no surprise that Edward places her on the high pedestal that he does. Any one of us would do the same if we found the world full of perpetually boring people and then finally found the one person worth speaking to.
Edward’s situation puts into perspective how much effort we humans put into forming relationships. Not only do we have to get to know them on a simply factual level, but also on a habitual and moral one. We have to blindly put our trust in someone whose intentions might be everything but benign, and we could be doing that for years while being none the wiser. Yet it also gives an infinite amount of value to the people in our lives that actually bother to get to know us, who have no idea how to sort the Bella Swans from the Luna Lovegoods (from Harry Potter) but still chose us, despite the harrowing possibility of ending up with the former. We shouldn’t overlook the effort someone put into getting to know us, let alone fall in love with us.
Twilight isn’t a perfect book, and it certainly isn’t for everyone. But if there’s one thing you can take from it, and there always is something to learn from stories if you look hard enough, it’s that we shouldn’t take any of our relationships for granted. As unappetizing as it may sound, we should all be grateful to be Edwards living in a world full of Bellas.
Hana Kanter, 12b