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Why I Love Twilight

Posted: 18/11/11 11:34

I love Twilight and I'm not ashamed to admit it.

Many feel the opposite, which is fair - each to their own. But why is there this need to mock and ridicule those who love it? People scorn the saga for being about vampires and werewolves (and therefore unrealistic), for being lovey-dovey (and therefore unrealistic) and for promoting a worldview through the eyes of a female (and therefore unrealistic).

Since when was realism such an issue? Is the Bible, overflowing with myths and poetry, not one of the most influential books ever? Were you not raised on Ancient Greek myths, legends of Robin Hood, Grimms' fairytales and Disney movies - stories of love and sacrifice, discovery and adventure? If not, I pity you.

We do not read fiction for its truthful account of the world we inhabit; that would be non-fiction. We read it for the places it takes our mind, for the ways it enables us to understand ourselves and what we encounter, for what it teaches us about the human condition and for how it makes us feel.

On this count, Twilight gets a gold star from me.

Bella Swan and I do not have much in common. What we do share is our favourite book, both hers and mine thumbed almost to dust: Wuthering Heights.

I defy anyone to read the classic tale of Cathy and Heathcliff and not feel heartbreak and horror at their situation: a love so strong that it tears your world apart, a passion so deep that it haunts you in life and in death, a fate so inescapable that it consumes your every thought. Cathy says:

"I cannot express it; but surely you and every body have a notion that there is, or should be, an existence of yours beyond you. What were the use of my creation if I were entirely contained here?... If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and, if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the Universe would turn to a mighty stranger... Nelly, I am Heathcliff."

It is the same emotion that causes Cathy to realise, "He's more myself than I am", and it is this understanding of self and other, of love and enemy, of choice and fate, which is at the core of the Twilight saga.

This is pretty obviously stated in the book (as are references and comparisons to another great and heart-wrenching love story, Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet) and I am not the first to write on the matter. While it is not in the same league as these texts, Twilight is an exploration of some of the key themes in classic literature - ideas and emotions that speak to us now as much as they did in the Shakespearian London of the 1590s, or on the Yorkshire moors of 1847. Its protagonists are epitomical tragic heroes and heroines.

Stephenie Meyer may not write in the most beautiful or sophisticated language. Her books may be, at their core, abstinence propaganda. But Twilight is a franchise for teenage girls, and in this sense it is refreshing, if not unique.

Should they not be allowed to suspend their disbelief in a way that speaks directly to them? Why should teenage girls be left with nothing more challenging than a movie about robots who can transform into machinery, or some baseball analogy modern adaptation of a classic text?

If you don't enjoy Twilight, that's fine. It's not for everyone. It has its flaws. But it is a tale of love, loss, power, family and the search for meaning outside of our mundane lives. In my eyes, that's some biting fiction.

 

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