Study Guide: Twilight by Stephenie Meyer - BookNotes|
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TWILIGHT BY STEPHENIE MEYER: BOOK SUMMARY / CHAPTER NOTES
Humanity and Mortality is the next major theme of the novel, which encompasses the motif of vampirism since vampires as a species are traditionally positioned as being both "above" and "against" humans by being immortal and preying on human blood. In Twilight humans in general represent intellect and reason, but also a limited perspective on the world due to both limited senses and a limited lifespan. Vampires defy mortality, and in doing so they are gifted with a wider perspective - much sharper senses, heightened physical abilities, and a very different sense of time. However, the price they pay for this is the inhuman desire - the taste for human blood based on instincts. Thus, vampires preying on humans is not only fatal in the literal sense of taking a life, but is also a draining of the vampire's humanity by performing an act of murder and cannibalism.
As stated before, Bella is ready to give up her mortality and humanity
out of love for Edward; her ideal of romantic love is a very human impulse,
and a highly passionate one, but it is also balanced by the intellectual
concern of being able to always be with Edward and to save herself from
the future problems that come with being a human in a vampire's world.
For his part, Edward is also acting out of love by denying Bella her desire
to become a vampire: he sees her human experiences as being too precious
to give up (as seen by the Epilogue's prom surprise) and that mortality
is an acceptable price to pay. So in the same way Change and Risk is left
open thematically in terms of what is acceptable change and what isn't,
the value of Humanity and Mortality is left in dispute between the two
couples. Is it worth more than eternal love, as Bella feels - or is love
in the here-andnow sufficient as long as one's humanity is preserved?
The book leaves this for future volumes to resolve.
Family is the last major theme of the book. It's worth noting right off the bat the three major families in the novel - the Swans / Dwyers, the Blacks, and the Cullens - are not typical "nuclear" families. Bella's parents divorced and her mother remarried; Billy Black is a widower; and the Cullen children are "adopted" through vampirism. Thus, thematically we already see that the definition of family is expanded to include non-traditional models, but all are based on love and commonly-shared obligations for each member of that family. Rifts threaten each family: Bella has the secret about the Cullens that she holds back from her parents; Renee in turn has her long-ago break from Charlie; Jacob doesn't believe the legends that his father Billy knows are truths; and Edward wants to bring a human, Bella, into the Cullen household. None of these are fully resolved by the end of the novel: Charlie remains uninformed, Jacob remains willfully ignorant, and Rosalie continues to feel hostile towards Bella.
However, the strength of family ties remains clear throughout the book,
but the positive aspect is not always clear. Bella is willing to sacrifice
herself twice for her mother at the beginning and end of the novel: first
by moving to Forks for the sake of Renee's marriage to Phil Dwyer; then
at the climax when she actually offers her life to James when she thought
her mother was endangered. While these are noble deeds, Carlisle Cullen's
obligation to family is not: as a human in 1630s London, he becomes a
vampire out of a desire to please his father, pursuing a crusade which
he does not personally believe in. Thematically, the most important development
is when Bella is welcomed to the Cullen family as one of their own - with
the exception of Rosalie, who dislikes Bella but nevertheless complies
with the general family decision. When James threatens Bella, Carlisle
makes the declaration that "She's with us." At the end of the
novel, Bella says she'd side with the vampires if they attack the prom
attendees - as well as affirms her desire to become a vampire. In this
sense, she is like a bride waiting to be accepted by her new family -
another rite of passage that many adults face. Whether or not she will
be welcomed in this manner is not determined by novel's end.
Popularity is a minor theme in the book, explored through intertwining
subplots: Bella is the new girl at Forks High School, earning the attention
of several boys who wish to date her; meanwhile, the Cullen children are
a clique unto themselves, beautiful but aloof from the rest of the school.
Bella does not like the popularity she experiences, not having stood out
in Forks, and manages to even out her popularity by becoming a part of
the Cullen clique. At the end of the novel, she attends the prom with
the Cullen clique, but feels herself perfectly at home among the humans
as well. Popularity is thus developed as something not worth pursuing
- that it is actually a source of weakness in bringing undue attention
Beauty is another minor theme, and actually tied intimately with the
theme of Popularity. There are two aspects that the novel develops. First,
beauty is fatal: that is, the beauty that vampires posses is part of how
they lure in their prey. This is a biological beauty, based on what attracts
creatures to a predator, and Alice even makes the comparison to a carnivorous
flower. Further, there is an attraction between Edward and Bella because
her essence is the most enticing that Edward has ever faced as a vampire;
here, beauty works against the couple, it would force Edward to give in
to instinct and kill Bella. Second, beauty can have a spiritual component:
Edward is able to resist his vampiric instinct to attack his perfect meal,
Bella, because he learns to love her. He also compares Bella to the beautiful
Rosalie, admitting to an objective beauty in Rosalie but not feeling the
same attraction for her that he feels for Bella. In this manner, Edward
shows he still has some human impulses, and so beauty becomes a form of
redemption for him.
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Mescallado, Ray. "TheBestNotes on Twilight".
. 09 May 2017