Twilight – Book Themes

Lust

Twilight is arguably a story of forbidden love, but the lines between love and lust are blurred between Edward and Bella. Because Edward is a vampire and Bella a human, Edward’s love for Bella is at first imperceptible from lust for her sweetly scented blood. For Bella too there is an element of lust that she partly cannot resist because of Edward’s alluring vampire charms (his incomparable beauty and dazzling eyes) and her natural attraction to Edward on a more personal level. While Edward does genuinely come to love Bella, his primal instincts were the key to his spending more time with her. Similarly, Bella’s natural instincts should have warned her against getting too close to Edward, despite his luring charms, but instead she craves being near him at all times. When they finally become an exclusive couple, even kissing and physical intimacy is dangerous, but their passion is so intense that they each claim to have no choice but to be with the other. Their love keeps them together, but it was lust that led them to each other.

Love

Edward is a vampire. Bella is a human. The lion shouldn’t be with the lamb, as we have famously read, but despite being a forbidden love, the relationship of Edward and Bella in Twilight illustrates that love isn’t governed by any rules. It is boundless, and cannot be restricted by what other people may think is wrong or right. Edward goes against his natural instincts to be close to Bella, and while their relationship is fraught with complications, the book goes to painstaking lengths to show that Bella’s world is changed for the better when she becomes involved with Edward. He cannot offer her a normal future or a normal relationship but he can make her happy despite the challenges that face them. We can see the difference between mere lust and true love when Edward pushes himself to the very limits of self control to save Bella’s human life when she is bitten by James.

Choices

If love is the most important theme underlying this book, choices is the theme that reveals how the characters deal with the emotions that make up the other themes in twilight. Lust, love and alienation face Bella throughout the year that Twilight takes place. She feels drawn to Edward, despite knowing that her emotions are contrary to the base instinct she feels to run away from him. But she decides that she needs to know his secret, and so sets out determined to learn what she can before she can choose what instinct she should trust more – her head or her heart. Edward too makes a decision early on in Twilight. He is faced with the most dangerous obstacle in his vampire life and chooses to come back to Forks to face Bella and the temptation of her sweet blood rather than hiding in Alaska. He knows he should stay away from her, but as time passes and his love for her grows he decides that despite the obstacles in their way he wants to be with Bella as much as she wants to be with him. The Cullen family also practices a choice that they have made. They have chosen to live their vampire lives in the most ethical way they can. They refrain from drinking the blood of humans, and instead feed on animals to be morally conscious and prevent the murder of innocent human beings. They are the unnatural creatures of the fantasy world, and their true nature is to drink the blood of humans because that is the blood that makes them strongest. But they choose to go against nature and live their lives as normally as if they were still humans. The lesson in this theme is simple: the choices you make don’t need to be governed by the obstacles that you face along the way. As Stephenie Meyer has said, “”It doesn’t matter where you’re stuck in life or what you think you have to do; you can always choose something else. There’s always a different path.”

Alienation

Before Bella even met Edward she is characterised as the quintessential alienated teenage girl. Her parents divorced when she was young, and she splits her time between two very different locations: small town/big city. Bella does not really fit in anywhere. She never made any good friends in her high school in Phoenix, Arizona and doesn’t seem to feel too attached to her home when she has to leave it for Forks, Washington. On her first day at Forks High school she is apprehensive about being the new girl, but is surprised that there are people who want to befriend her and invite her to eat lunch with them. Despite the attention, she feels uncomfortable and prefers her own company. Bella loves her father and mother but she doesn’t really confide her problems and thoughts to them. When she starts to learn about Edward’s true self she keeps it to herself. Meyer’s depiction of Bella as the awkward teenage girl speaks to the reader who can identify with being different or not fitting into social norms.

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