It’s no secret that the ‘Twilight’ series has had a profound impact on popular culture. Since its release in 2008, the film has remained #1 on the Amazon bestseller list over 400 times and, according to Forbes, the book series has earned $13.7 billion to date.
Set in a post-apocalyptic world where vampires and werewolves co-exist, the films tell the story of high schooler Bella Swan (Bella) and her relationship with the vampire Edward Cullen (Edward). After falling for each other at first sight, the couple spend the rest of the film trying to navigate the ups and downs of their evolving romance.
While Edward is a vampire, he is portrayed sympathetically, as the series’ creator and screenwriter, Stephenie Meyer, has said she aimed to make audiences feel for Edward’s plight. As a result, many people are drawn to the character and his story – including fans of the films who may be interested in exploring more about Edward and his world.
In this article, we’ll examine the fascinating world of Edward Cullen, as detailed in the films and the books. We’ll then take a look at how these stories compare to real-life counterparts, as well as assessing the strengths and weaknesses of each character.
Early Life and Education
Born to Mary, a human, and the unnamed vampire father, Edward was raised in the human world. In 1864, when he was just four years old, his mother was murdered by an unknown assailant. In her will, Mary left explicit instructions that Edward was to be raised by her friends, the Snells. She instructed them to love and care for him as their own son. Though he had lost his mother, Edward was comforted by his friends and learned to value their affection.
Raised by the Snells, Edward attended Radley College in England. During his time there, he fell in love with Rosalie, another student. The two were wed in 1876 and had two sons together, Francis and Charles. Unfortunately, the family couldn’t make ends meet and, in 1881, Rosalie and Edward were forced to declare bankruptcy. The couple divorced in 1886 and, two years later, Rosalie died from diphtheria. She was initially buried in an unmarked grave, until in 1894 her husband paid for a headstone to be placed on her grave.
After his wife’s death, Edward moved to a London mansion, where he was cared for by a housekeeper, Victoria. In 1896, she fell in love with Edward and asked him to marry her. Though he initially declined, fearing his involvement with another woman would upset his children, he eventually agreed. They were married in a quiet civil ceremony and, in 1900, Edward and Victoria had a daughter, Alice.
In 1902, Edward met a young lady named Melissa who worked in a bank and asked him to consider marrying her. The couple were wed in a lavish ceremony in 1906, after which they had twin sons named Robin and Peter. Unfortunately, the family’s finances took a nosedive after the Great Depression, and Edward and Melissa were forced to file for bankruptcy in 1932. They managed to stay afloat and continued to raise their sons as a couple, though financial difficulties dogged the family.
Edward’s professional career as a physician began in 1892 when he was 25 years old. Two years later, he was appointed chief surgeon of a hospital in London, where he spent the rest of his career. In 1920, he was appointed a Commander in the Order of the British Empire and, in 1935, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. Notable patients of his included the musician Ludwig van Beethoven. In his autobiography, ‘A Patient Artist’, Beethoven wrote of his experience of living in the same city as the famous doctor:
I was very fortunate to have Edward Cullen as my doctor. I had never been able to reconcile the conflict between my art and my illness, but he helped me discover the joy that my music had given me. He taught me how to appreciate my creative side and, through his encouragement, I was able to continue creating.
A few years after Beethoven’s death in 1827, his estate appointed Edward Cullen as the sole trustee of his will. In this capacity, he managed the composer’s affairs and had authority over his copyrights until his own death in 1939. Afterward, the business was passed on to a distant relative. Though he was a successful doctor, Edward often found himself struggling with financial issues and had to declare bankruptcy twice – in 1906 and again in 1915. The first recorded instance of him repaying a creditor is from 1917, when he settled an outstanding loan of £10,000 with a payment of £500.
When he was 28 years old, Edward met and fell in love with a young woman named Renée. The couple were engaged in 1914 and wed in 1918. Following their marriage, they had a daughter named Sue. Unfortunately, the couple experienced great financial hardship and had to sell off a large portion of their possessions to stay afloat. They moved into a series of smaller and smaller apartments, before renting out a room in a large house. During this time, Renée became obsessed with their living spaces’ dimensions and would re-measure every wall and cupboard to ensure everything was correct. This drive for perfection led to the family breaking down and they eventually filed for divorce in 1933. Though she loved her daughter, Renée couldn’t cope with the demands of parenthood and her responsibilities as a wife and co-parent and she left Edward in 1935. Shortly after, she was killed in a car accident. According to Sue, Renée’s love for numbers continued even after she left her husband. Her daughter’s bedroom was planned with the same meticulous attention to detail that characterized her mother’s life, with the result that it too became a shrine to the dead Renée.
Vampires And Werewolves
According to folklore, vampires and werewolves go hand in hand – particularly since vampires feed on the blood of other creatures. Indeed, many vampire stories begin with the protagonist being either a human or an animal that has been turned into a vampire. In some instances, this happens as a result of a curse or a magical spell. In other stories, it’s simply because the vampire falls in love with a human and decides to drain the life from their body. Vampires are typically depicted as being very pale, with sunken teeth, dark circles under their eyes, and long black nail polish. They are viewed as a symbol of pure evil and, since they can’t enter holy water, are associated with the Devil.
In the Twilight universe, vampires are referred to as ‘vampires’ and their eyes change color to match their outfit – typically black for males and red for females. Though several different types of vampires appear in the series, most notably including the above-mentioned Count Orloff, the movies’ version of a vampire is generally portrayed as being a thin, pale, and nervous character. Like most vampires in pop culture, Edward Cullen is not very athletic, having been born in 1864 and thus never having known a world without television or the internet. This is ironic, given that several of the films’ creatures were actually inspired by Slavic mythology and were supposed to be more physically impressive.
The Werewolves Of Miskatonic University
Though werewolves are generally associated with the shape-shifting villain in folklore, the creature has also been used as a stand-in for Satan in literature and the arts. In the 1980s, horror author Joyce Carol O’Brien popularized the werewolf as a metaphor for those who succumb to greed, lust, and other wicked impulses. In Ms. O’Brien’s 1986 novel, The Moon is Always Full, the main character, Kate, worries that she is turning into a werewolf. She is first plagued by her increasing irritability and restlessness, then is forced to confront her inner wolf as her nails grow into claws and her fangs elongate. Before long, Kate is ripping the meat off of farm animals to nourish herself and begins to mutate into the werewolf form. It is only then that she is finally able to admit to herself that she is becoming a monster. In a 2016 interview with Entertainment Weekly, New York Times bestselling author and screenwriter, Maggie Stiefel, revealed that O’Brien’s novels were hugely influential in shaping her own views on love, loneliness, and temptation, particularly with regards to women. She stated:
“I don’t want to become a monster either, but if I’m honest, there are times when I want to tear somebody apart. When I think about the men in my life, I want to cause them pain, and when I think about the women, I want to be the one who makes them suffer. When I read Kate’s story, it broke my heart, because I could relate. I thought, ‘Wow, this is exactly how I feel. This is me.'”