The Twilight series, patriarchy and family ideals


Noting the feminist hype that surrounded/s Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series, Anna Silver asks: “Do the books promote retrograde ideas about female submission to male authority? Are the books particularly troubling in the genre of young adult (YA) literature, whose readers might not yet have developed the critical apparatus of the adult reader?” (122)

She continues: “The criticisms leveled against the series in the press indicate that it deserves a more in-depth discussion than it has yet received. The novels’ gender ideology is ultimately and unapologetically patriarchal. However, focusing merely on Edward and Bella’s romance obscures larger themes that the novels also explore, and that add to the series’ appeal and cultural significance, particularly within the genre of young adult fiction. Although Edward and Bella are the center of the novel’s narrative, the series is equally concerned with the contemporary American nuclear family, and a woman’s role within that family. Identity, in the series, occurs within the context of group identity, particularly family. Bella’s desire for eternal life as a vampire with Edward is closely connected with her longing for a stable family, which she has been denied after her parents’ divorce, and which the archaic Cullen family offers. Edward becomes a father figure to Bella, and the Cullens as a group stand for the ideal family of a mythic past. Emphasizing the ultimately domestic nature of her vampire saga, and breaking from the romance, or courtship, plot, Meyer does not conclude with Bella and Edward’s marriage. Rather, she continues the narrative into Bella’s pregnancy and new motherhood [-p. 123] because, as she told a USA Today interviewer, “I guess there’s a conditioning from fairy tales that the wedding is the end of the story, but I think most of us know that it’s another kind of beginning” (Memmott). In the final book of the series, Breaking Dawn, Meyer allows Bella to become the kind of mother that she never had, the apotheosis of the self-sacrificial, selfless mother, who is willing to die for the good of her unborn vampire child, and the warrior-mother who successfully protects the integrity and survival of her family. Meyer thus proposes that marriage and motherhood provide women with equality that they do not possess as single women. Motherhood becomes a location not only of pleasure and satisfaction but also of power.” (122-123)

Ref: Anna Silver (2010) ‘Twilight is Not Good for Maidens: Gender, Sexuality, and the Family in Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Series’ Studies in the Novel, 42(1 & 2), Spring & Summer, pp. 121-138


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s