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Study Guide: Twilight by Stephenie Meyer - BookNotes

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TWILIGHT BY STEPHENIE MEYER: STUDY GUIDE / ONLINE NOTES

THEMES

Major Themes

Based on one of its genre traditions, Love and Romance is the first major theme of Twilight: that is, the way two people become attracted to each other and become mates. While the main characters Bella and Edward are the pairing readers focus on, there are others that serve as a striking contrast to further develop the idea. Change and Risk is the next theme: the way people make choices that places them in danger, what those choices mean, and why they do it. Stemming from another of the novel's genre traditions, horror and the supernatural, Humanity and Mortality: it is by looking to monstrous creatures that readers determine what qualities make humans unique and even redemptive. Family is the last of the major themes, providing another important way for people to bond: the traditional familial structure is practically non-existent in this book, and yet it is that sense of obligation and belonging which leads to many conflicts.


Minor Themes

Popularity is one of the minor themes of the novel, as it explores the way people develop relationships and hierarchies - in this novel, in the context of high school. In a related fashion, Beauty is the other minor theme,


MOOD

The mood is serious and at times melodramatic. This is in keeping with both the horror and romance genres that Twilight embodies: in both traditions, situations and emotions are heightened beyond the usual everyday concerns, often becoming life-and-death struggles with consequences beyond the lives of the main characters. There are frequent flashes of humor --sometimes sarcastic, sometimes morbid - which help break up the mood and make the serious sections more dramatically powerful.


Stephenie Meyer - BIOGRAPHY

Stephenie Meyer was born on December 24, 1973 in Connecticut. She grew up in Phoenix, Arizona and attended Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. She married in 1994 and has three sons, and is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.


Stephenie Meyer - Twilight Free Study Guide/Notes/Summary
Stephenie Meyer

The inspiration for Twilight came to her after a dream on June 2, 2003, that involved a human girl and a sparkling vampire sitting in a meadow. (This would become Chapter 13 of Twilight.) She wrote what would be Twilight - which originally was titled Forks - and signed a three-book deal with Little, Brown and Company. Twilight was published in 2005 to great success and critical acclaim. The second book in the Twilight series was 2006's New Moon, followed by Eclipse in 2007. The last book in the series, Breaking Dawn, is set for 2008, as is a companion novel Midnight Sun, which tells the story of the first book Twilight from the perspective of Edward Cullen.

The Twilight series has earned a strong and dedicated fan following, and a movie adaptation of the first book is set to be released in 2008. Meyer has also published a science fiction romance, The Host, in 2008.


LITERARY / HISTORICAL INFORMATION

Twilight follows several literary traditions, combining them in an interesting fashion. The most important traditions worth noting are: romances; supernatural horror, specifically vampire stories; and Young Adult.

The romance genre in the broadest sense involves any story that focuses primarily on the relationship between two people who are attracted to each other and, after some obstacles are presented, eventually come together. In a more narrow sense, the romance refers to a specific marketing category in modern publishing which often follows a specific formula in terms of plot and characterization. This includes: an initial misunderstanding between the two main characters that sets them in opposition at the start of the story; a romantic rival of some sort, either male or female; and the male being a physical Adonis who presents himself as a stoic distant figure despite possessing great emotional sensitivity. While there is often strong critical disdain for the modern romance, it is the most popular category of fiction in the modern publishing world and some academics (most notably Janice Radway in her book Reading the Romance) see a powerful social function that romance novels provide for their regular readers.

Horror fiction has its roots going back to various myths, with monstrous creatures figuring largely in how earlier civilizations understood the world around them. Vampires in particular have a long literary tradition, going as far back to ancient legends before surfacing as we know it today in John Polidori's 1819 story The Vampyre. (The social meeting that inspired this work also led to Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley writing Frankenstein.) Among the many literary works about vampires that have appeared in the following two centuries are the penny dreadful Varney the Vampire by James Malcolm Rymer, Sheridan Le Fanu's Carmilla, Samuel Coleridge's Christabel, and Richard Matheson's I Am Legend. Of course, the best known work about a vampire is Bram Stoker's Dracula, a structurally innovative novel which also helped establish many of the conventions regarding vampires as a popular culture icon.

Young Adult literature is often set in high school and involves rites of passages such as first loves and epiphanies about the true natural of the world. As a genre, it emphasizes strongly with the challenges that are presented when making the transition from childhood to adulthood. Young Adult fiction has also long included novels with horror, supernatural, and fantasy elements. They not only provide strong visceral thrills for readers, but also employ the fantastic elements of these genres to dramatize those everyday concerns of teenagers as powerful metaphors. While best known for his scary books for younger readers, R.L. Stine originally wrote young adult horror novels such as Blind Date and the Fear Street franchise. Another popular writer of young adult horror novels is Christopher Pike, whose works include Slumber Party, The Last Vampire series and Fall Into Darkness. Further, there are many notable horror authors who have works that are often considered Young Adult friendly, including Stephen King's Carrie, Anne Rice's Interview with a Vampire, and Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes.

Perhaps the most obvious comparison that can be drawn with the Twilight series is the television version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a major multimedia franchise with a strong female protagonist who juggles everyday high school concerns with supernatural adventures. Buffy, like Bella, falls in love with vampires - but while Buffy is charged with killing monsters, Bella wishes to become one because of true love.


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