Escaping the Vampire: The Allure of Darkness
- Thursday, November 05, 2009
I loved Trina's honesty. Through her email, I saw the books and film from her perspective and started to think about a few things myself.
So why do we devour these books whole and memorize quotes from the films?
Perhaps it comes down to two main reasons:
1. The love story between Bella and Edward is captivating.
2. We desire our own epic love story in real time.
Just breathe …
What do you think it is about Bella and Edward's story that draws so many to the books and film? What do you love or not love about it?
Let's take a close look at Edward. I have to admit, he seems like the full package: charming, attentive, noble, and mysterious. His devotion is evident in the way he talks to Bella, how carefully he protects her. He even watches over her as she sleeps! And his desire to really know her is flattering. He wants to figure her out.
An article in Vanity Fair characterizes Edward this way: "Everything a girl could want in one dreamy fiercely protective, carrying his beloved great distances in his arms like a groom forever crossing the honeymoon threshold."8
We are enthralled by the idea of our very own Edward. Is this fascination because he is a vampire? No. We are drawn to him because of the many awesome qualities he possesses. Let's look at those qualities again: Trust. Protection. Selflessness. Choice. Vulnerability. Sacrifice. Love. With Edward, Bella is desired. Protected. Loved and fought for. It's obvious in his continual attentiveness to her every thought, his desire to understand who she is. To receive this kind of attention from a mystifying, handsome, talented, intelligent guy—and to have that guy so interested in every detail of what she considers an otherwise boring life—would be enough to enrapture any vulnerable heart. If we're being honest, it's the connection we all long for.
But there's more to it than just connection. The fact that he is a vampire makes things exciting. A popular blog recently posed the question, "What is it about a vampire hero that is so irresistible and sexy?" One reader left this revealing comment: "It's got to be that irresistible combination of Alpha-ness and possessiveness … of course all mixed in with a huge dose of deep internal torture." Edward's untouchable, "forbidden territory" vampire self is attractive. But Edward calls himself a killer and a monster. He knows his tendencies and attraction to Bella are dangerous.
But lots of girls have told me that they admire many qualities of Edward's character. He is from a family of "good" vampires who control their thirst for human blood. He is chaste and self-controlled. He continually holds himself back from getting too physically close to Bella. It is not the vampire's passion that is captivating but his self-control. Ken Gelder has said that "there is that sense that because Edward is such a self-restraining vampire, he's not really a vampire."10
Jennie Yabroff of Newsweek writes, "These vampires are not so much scary as noble, fighting against their inherent natures for the sake of love."9
In other words, maybe Edward can't help who he is, but he can control what he does and doesn't allow himself to do. It's an admirable example of self-restraint. We girls love that, don't we?
And then there's Bella, the girl next door. She's clumsy and self-mocking. Not totally insecure, but not wildly popular either. I think we can all relate to her in one way or another.
"It doesn't surprise me that girls identify with Bella, a character that cannot imagine she is lovable," writes Beth Felker Jones, an assistant professor of theology at Wheaton College. "Her clumsiness and willingness to erase herself form an apt portrayal of the self-understanding of many young women today. Dark romance, a love that erases the awkward heroine, is an answer to desire and self-loathing that draws on the worst cultural assumptions about what it means to be female."11
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