Juliette is a 15 year old high school student in North Carolina. She is interested in pursuing a career in writing and in her free time enjoys volleyball, juggling, and photography.
Witches and wizards have recently been booted out from their long held position as the most popular mythological creatures among teens. With smashing hits such as ‘Harry Potter‘ the captivating the population of young adult readers for a generation, it is no wonder that sorcerers held a prominent position in teen culture for so long.
While young adults used to wish for entrance letters to Hogwarts and dream of cursing their teachers, they now lust after slightly darker transformations. Vampires have become the latest teen fad and like ‘Harry Potter’ have inspired teens who formally thought that reading was only for school to rush to the library or bookstore.
Stephenie Meyer, author of the bestselling Twilight series, a teen series focusing on vampires, has been compared to J.K. Rowling and was one of Time’s most influential people of the year. The first book in the Twilight Saga, entitled Twilight, takes place in a small town called Forks where an ordinary human teenager named Bella falls for a vampire named Edward.
The underlying tension which is present in all of the books is whether or not Edward will turn Bella into a vampire, which she fervently wishes while he is hesitant. Because Edward will live forever, if he does not turn Bella he will eventually have to watch her die of old age while he stays forever a 17 year old. Even though this book was the first book that Stephenie Meyer ever published, it instantly became a sensation and two much anticipated sequels followed. The fourth book in the series, Breaking Dawn, will be released this August.
Whether it was the growing popularity of the vampire among teens that helped promote Twilight or whether Twilight ushered the new era may never be known. The one thing that is apparent is that this book caught the hearts of a large percentage of the population of teenage girls. Tee-shirts with slogans such as “Only a Vampire Can Love You Forever” and “Bite Me: Edward Only Please” have gone on sale Facebook bumper stickers such as “Real Men Sparkle” and a picture of Edward with “You can climb in my window any day” have appeared.
While Twilight is in many ways an elegantly spun romance, there are many well thought out romance stories that do not become bestsellers and inspire such a following. Twilighters has been voted the official name of such fans and yes there was an official vote. I always liked the name Fanpires, but unfortunately that did not win.
Like Harry Potter, Twilight has reached the point where crazed fans begin to blur the line between fiction and reality. With a book such as Twilight this is rather easy since it is set in our time and in our world with the minor change of there being vampire who live among us secretly. In online chatrooms, girls discuss what they would say if they met a vampire or more disturbingly that they have. Less extreme are the girls who create large arguments in school classrooms on whether Bella would be better with Jacob (a werewolf and her other potential beau) or Edward. These arguments soon exclate into shouting matches on which boy is better in which I rather ashamedly admit that I have participated in (Go Team Edward!). A friend of mine also was showing me a picture of her summer crush and said, “Doesn’t he look like what you imagined Edward to look like?” Truthfully, no I did not think so, but he certainly did to her, such is the influence of Twilight in the lives of teenage girls.
This veritable obsession with Twilight and Edward stems from the fact that Edward represents what most teenage girls are looking for in a boyfriend.
1. The Perfect Gentleman. Edward was alive (as in a human) in the early twentieth century and it shows in his manners. He opens door for Bella and tries to pay for everything. He is also completely interested in Bella. Soon after meeting her, he bombards her with questions about herself involving everything from her favorite color to her childhood friends. Teenage girls like most woman would love for a guy to be completely interested in every mundane fact of their life and personality.
2. Loves Her for Her. Edward loves Bella for exactly who she is. He knows all of her flaws and loves her even more for them: her clumsiness, her seemingly coincidental ability to attract dangerous situation, and her unconsciously exacerbation of any potentially hazardous event. Even with Bella’s close friendship with Jacob the werewolf (werewolves and vampires are sort of natural enemies in case you did not know), Edward seems incapable of being mad at Bella and only worries about her safety.
3. Protection. In an early scene, Edward who as a vampire possesses super speed and unusual strength pushed a speeding car away from Bella so it does not smash her. Later, he saves her from a sadistic vampire bent on killing her. Being with Edward, offers her near complete protecton – except of course from himself.
4. A Hint of Danger. This would all seem to be boring without a little risk. As on psychological study would tell you, teenagers thrive on risk and for girls this often takes the form of boyfriends. Many girls do not want to date someone who is completely safe or even if they do in real life, there dreams are to the contrary. Because there is always the possibility that Edward will lose control and bite Bella, there is a tantalizing element of danger that attracts teens.
5. The Mystery. Like the danger, Edward is attractive because he presents a sort of mystery as he is like no one else we have ever met. So handsome, yet in a inhuman way. So protective, yet so dangerous. He sort of old world mannerisms give him an air of mystery that any vampire lead needs to become a hearthrob.
6. This one is actually about Bella. Because he is rather ordinary, the love story becomes all the more compelling. Girls can imagine themselves in her shoes because there is nothing particularly special about her. She is smart, but not a genius. She does not have any world renowned talents, and is in many ways just a human teenage high school student dealing with many problems that teens around the world are dealing with right now.
7. “Only a Vampire Can Love You Forever.” The tee shirt slogan is of course correct. Edward offers a notion of forever that is impossible in most love stories. At the end of a romance we like to think that the lovers stay together forever, but we logically realize that even if they do, one of them will eventually die and the other will follow. There is therefore no concept of ‘forever,’ at least not on earth.
However, in a vampire love story, they really could be together forever. In Edwards non-biological family of vampires with whom he lives there are three pairs of vampires who are living the life of being a couple forever. It is assumed that if Bella became a vampire as well, she and Edward would actually have true love forever. Teenage girls, like the woman they will become, crave commitment. In Twilight, Edward represents the complete form of commitment because not only would he die for Bella, he would love her forever.
Because of these aspects of the vampire love story that Stephenie Meyer spins, teenage girls find in the charactor of Edward everything that they are looking for in a boyfriend. If you have not read the Twilight Saga, I would stongly suggest it as, in many ways, it is a manifestation of the teen culture of our time. Despite being fiction, it is the kind of insight into the world of teenagers that this website is always striving to provide. While it used to be that every girl wanted to marry Romeo or the latest celebrity hottie, it is an illustration of our time that every girl wants to marry a vampire.