The Introspective Role of Twilight

8 years ago

I've had a somewhat unhealthy appreciation for the Twilight series since I first read the books last summer.  I had heard bad things about them from people who hadn't read them, but I thought I'd give them a chance, just in case.  Ever since, I've been hooked.

Of course, there are some things about the series that I don't particularly appreciate.  I don't like the fact that Bella has to depend on guys to take care of her so much of the time.  You rarely see any women in the novels as being capable of taking on any threat.  It seems to stereotype women in roles as helpless characters who must always be with someone stronger than them.  It's not just Bella depending on Edward in that instance.  Rosalie is not as strong as Emmett.  Alice is never seen as being more "vicious" than Jasper.  Esme is even cast as a wallflower compared to the overly compassionate Carlisle.

It makes sense on some level that Stephenie would cast her characters in such a way that the women need to be taken care of, but did she have to go so far?  It seems to push this view that the LDS church has that women are subserviant to men onto the world.  Girls might see themselves as somehow being limited by the fact that they are women because their favorite characters from these books are somehow incapable of taking care of themselves.

At least in her interpretation of the book, Catherine Hardwicke was able to give Bella the capability to actually follow through with kneeing an attacker in the groin.  I know that wouldn't have stopped much, but it at least gave Bella some sort of "street cred" instead of just being a sad little girl that has to depend on her big tough boyfriend.

Of course, this interpretation of Hardwicke's could cause people to feel a little worried that she didn't pay enough attention to the book because in the book Bella is a complete damsel in distress type.  I would have liked to seen Bella a little more hardcore in the books, but Stephenie, again probably drawing on the LDS upbringing, thought it would be best to show her needing to be taken care of in so much of a way that it is almost painful to a fellow church member.

The thing that I liked least about this aspect of the book had very little to do with the book.  It had to do with my own personal issues with my own faith, as you may be able to tell.  Over the past few months, I have noticed that men in the Mormon church seem to take it very personally if a woman seems to have an opinion that directly contradicts theirs and that the girls who are around my age (25) don't choose to formulate their own opinions.  Rather, they pick the opinion of the church and stick to it.

It is very difficult to see Bella as a clingy and dependent young woman, when that is what I see so much of in my days with friends from church.  It is so annoying that this is the heroine of the story.  I think Bella is a lovely character, but she is not the best role model to young girls...especially not young Mormon girls who see her as the perfect role model for what a good girl is supposed to be like in her behavior towards guys.


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