Contemplating “Twilight” – Story, Symbolism, and Mythology
I had put off reading Twilight initially.
Maybe it was out of loyalty to Anne Rice’s vampires.
Maybe because it looked like a teenage vampire story and I thought I couldn’t relate to the kids today.
Honestly, it was largely because I’m in the midst of writing my next book—still a spiritual adventure set in Sri Lanka, but a gothic and supernatural one–and I didn’t want to be influenced too much.
Photo from http://www.flickr.com/photos/sweetknez23/
But then I gave in. My mind needed data.
I’m so glad that I did! For one thing, it made me feel young! And apparently, I CAN relate to the kids today, since I know a few Tweens who are totally into the series, as well as several alleged-adults like myself. Youth is a state of mind.
Also – it reminded me that true creativity isn’t diminished by appreciating others’ creative work, instead, it breeds inspiration by feeding the imagination. Creation feeds creation—it’s the circle of life and of giving and receiving. And that’s all good stuff. Her praise for the band “Muse” * for inspiring her is a good example.
The first time through the series, I read for fun, marveling at the author’s craft once the spell was broken and I had to put the book down. The second time, I read for analysis. (At least that’s what I told myself.)
It’s been a while since I’ve been so obsessed by or addicted to anything, and in fact, I don’t think I’ve ever been so obsessed by an entire series of books to read four in a week and then turn around and do it again immediately. So I wondered what it was about them. Here’s what I came up with:
• The first person narrative and lengthy passages of inner dialogue–thought processes and feelings– made me feel like I was experiencing Bella’s story.
• The descriptions of feelings were so realistic, I felt them as my own. I felt like I was in love. Like I couldn’t wait to be done with work whatever had to be done so I be with Edward and Jacob again. I felt like I was cheating on my husband!
• The mystery of Edward unraveling was exciting initially, and new mysteries were continuously supplied.
• The conflict that occurs on so many levels—within each character, between characters, and the limitations and challenges of circumstance—created page-turning suspense.
• Somehow the author wrote a vampire story without much blood and a passionate love story without sex.
About names and symbolism:
• I liked that Bella Swan felt like an ugly duckling for the majority of the series, and then she found her swanhood.
• I wondered why the tribal characters all had Jewish names, but I guess they’d be Old Testament names too, seeing as how the first 5 books of the Bible are the Judaic Torah. I guess Israel has/had tribes too, or groups like Ethiopians and Mormons couldn’t identify themselves with “The Lost Tribe of Israel”, right? It just struck me: Jacob, Seth, Samuel, Leah….
• Symbolically, and archetypally, we all love the super-natural for letting us imagine improving upon our best and most valuable assets—time, life-force, power, beauty. And for describing the cost for them as well.
• People always find resonance with familiar archetypes, it’s our inheritance from the myths of our ancestors that helped the world make sense and guide us through life. *The author’s love for the band named for the nine sister goddesses of Greek Mythology whose purpose was to inspire is a classic example!
I eventually had to wean myself from the books so I could get something, anything, done. I’ve picked up other books—I re-read Anne Rice’s “The Witching Hour” and bought “The Thirteenth Tale”, but they haven’t affected me like the Twilight series did. However, a line from “The Witching Hour” seems to have struck a chord.
“he always connected most truly with those who were passionate as he was—craftsmen, artists, musicians, people who went about in the grip of obsession.”
I can relate to that. And really without obsession, life would be boring indeed. Doncha think?