With an estimated 25+ million copies sold worldwide, it is safe to say that The Twilight Saga has officially become a cultural phenomenon. The novels—consisting of Twilight, New Moon, and Eclipse—chronicle the adventures of teenage vampire Bella Swan and her unlikely friendship with human girl (and fellow student at an exclusive private school) Alice. Over the years, the novels have developed a devoted following among teenage girls (and a lot of grown men) around the world. Many fans were probably inspired to read the series after seeing the first film adaptation, released in 2008. The film follows the journey of Bella (Kristen Stewart) as she ventures into the dangerous and unfamiliar world of vampires and werewolves in search of true love. The picture book format of The Twilight Saga makes it ideal for younger readers who may not yet be familiar with the complex world of vampire fiction and its rich mythology.
But just because the books are popular doesn’t mean that they’re all about vampires and werewolves. In fact, the stories tackle some pretty heavy issues such as death, identity, and the struggle for love. One of the things that makes the novels so relatable is that the characters tackle these weighty themes while still being completely believable and likeable. Perhaps this is why fans continue to connect with the stories so many years later. It’s not often that you see a main character emerge as a real protagonist, while also being a likeable and relatable human being.
The Evolution Of A Literary Genre
Fiction usually evolves over time as new technologies and styles emerge. For example, it wasn’t until the invention of the printing press that people started writing in earnest for publication. Prior to that, most writings were done solely for personal use or as part of a spiritual quest. With the onset of the modern era, literature began to flourish as new forms of expression evolved.
The same can be said of vampire fiction, which started out as a fairly tame story line in the 1700s. The creatures were mostly used as a metaphor for the cold winter months and had very little in the way of actual bloodsucking. It wasn’t until the early 1900s that vampires started becoming a real thing in literature, with many classic works of fiction (such as Bram Stoker’s Dracula) introducing the terrifying creatures into everyday life. In 1919, H.P. Lovecraft wrote, “If you’re ever stranded on a rainy night with a couple of hundred thousand dollars and no one to talk to, I’d recommend you try your hand at becoming a vampire.” The quote aptly summarizes the attitude of many in the literary community at the time: vampires were for séances and scary movies, not for regular folks to read about in bed at night!
The difference is that nowadays, vampires have transcended their cheesy cinematic origins and now live in popular culture. In fact, the Twilight Saga has arguably played a role in inspiring a generation of young people—including this writer—to explore the world of vampires and werewolves. Even children’s literary classics have started getting in on the action, as evidenced by Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman series, which infuses the creatures with both dark humor and horror, yet still manages to make them appealing and memorable characters.
An In-Depth Analysis Of The Twilight Saga
One of the things that makes the Twilight Saga so enduring is that the characters are so well-developed. Even now, after countless books, films, and stage plays, the story continues to maintain its freshness through the addition of new characters and settings. While the first two books were set in present day, the latest in the series, Beautiful Creatures, takes place in the 1890s and follows the adventures of a young man—Ben—who discovers he is a demi-vampire (part human, part animal) and is drawn to a coven of witches led by Alice (Ava Boggart-Reid). The story won the Duff Goldman Award for Novel of the Year in 2017, and it is expected to be released in 2018.
The Twilight Saga has always been admired for its extensive worldbuilding, and that attribute certainly does not go out of style. Throughout the course of the series, we learn that vampires and werewolves have their origins in Scandinavian mythology and that they are generally a persecuted species, forced to live in secrecy and fear of discovery. Many vampires choose to live in a human world, while others prefer to remain in their own kind, taking care of their own and hiding from the humans as much as they can. In the first novel, Twilight, Bella meets and befriends several vampires, who play an important role in her initiation into their culture and her eventual decision to become one of them herself. At the end of Twilight, we’re left to wonder: is Bella a vampire? Is she a werewolf? Is she a supernatural creature of some sort? The answer, of course, is that she is all of these things, and the series finale, Eclipse, provides us with an intriguing glimpse of what the future may hold for our intrepid heroine. At the end of Eclipse, we’re not so sure about Bella anymore. She has learned a lot in the two years since we last saw her, and we’re not entirely sure that she’s ready to be in charge of her own life. As she puts it, “I don’t regret any of it. It’s made me who I am today. A complete person, not just a vampire hunter.” Indeed. She may not have found her happy medium, but she’s certainly found her comfort zone.
More Than Meets The Eye
The Twilight Saga is more than just a coming-of-age story about a young woman discovering her true self. It’s also an exploration of love, loyalty, and obsession. In the first book, Twilight, Bella meets and falls in love with vampire Edward Cullen, who plays a major role in guiding and encouraging her to embark on her grand journey. Even though Bella is a late starter in the vampire world, she demonstrates exemplary loyalty to Edward throughout the series. The pair’s relationship is undoubtedly one of the most important aspects of The Twilight Saga, and we get the sense that Edward feels the same way, especially since he never seems to age, while Bella seems to grow more beautiful with each passing year. The devotion that Edward shows towards Bella, coupled with her own unwavering loyalty, forms a connection between the two that is both endearing and heart-wrenching.
The Twilight Saga is certainly not for the faint of heart. As the films and books progress, our heroines grow more and more desperate to be accepted by their fellow vampires. At times, the longing and obsession that they feel towards Edward and the other creatures is almost too much to bear. It can be quite the romantic trip, but it’s also a test of wills and endurance. This is quite possibly the reason why the Twilight Saga has resonated with audiences for so long: it is an in-depth exploration of love and loyalty, and how far these two admirable characteristics can be pushed until they become unhealthy attachments.
It is interesting to note that, in spite of all this, Edward finds it difficult to accept Bella as she is. He is a creature of logic and science, as opposed to Bella’s intuitive and psychic side, and he can’t seem to understand her desire to be with humans and fit in with the general population. Even after all these years, his unyielding moral compass still finds itself at odds with her willingness to try new things and be open to different perspectives. In essence, it is a tale of a scientific skeptic who is ultimately converted to the ways of the magical and mystical. It’s a fitting conclusion to the series, which, in its own way, is as much a love letter to the process of conversion as it is an ode to the allure of the occult.