The Fascination with Edward
Unless you have been living under a rock at the back of a cave on a remote island in the South Pole, you will have heard about Stephanie Meyers series Twilight. Following, screaming and clutching chests or weeping undying love and devotion are the main characters fans; particularly those of Edward Cullen; played in the film adaptations by Rob Pattinson. Disturbingly, the overwhelming majority of these fans are women twice the ‘outward’ age of the character.
Most writers would sell off their organs in order to have the ability to create a character which conveys so clearly and with such depth, that commands such devotion and downright fanaticism. It begs two main questions. How did Stephanie Meyers get it so right and why are women so attracted to the character of Edward Cullen?
It needs to be pointed out here that although I am no fan of Ms Meyers tomes, I have read and enjoyed them for what they were. Additionally, I am not a fan of Mr Pattinson, finding his portrayal wooden at best. However – far be it from me to judge the success which has driven millions of crazed women into a merchandising frenzy.
Twilight, for those cave dwellers amongst us, is the age tested story of two people who fall in love and attempt to bridge the cultural gaps each of their backgrounds and experiences present them. At first glance the characters seem stock standard, differing little with most other romantic or supernatural fiction available. Herein lays the difference with Twilight. Stephanie Meyers maintains that Edward came to her as a fully formed character. Her series success hinges on her ability to tease out these qualities throughout the series which tantalize and entrap readers. It is also the unspoken messages which resonate so deeply with her fan base; echoing what is missing in our society and within most peoples experiences of relationships.
Edward Cullen is presented to the reader as a true gentleman, romantic in a soft old fashioned way, solid, dependable, driven by honor and loyalty. Although Stephanie Meyers constantly writes him as; for all intensive purposes, being a perfect guy; there is the delicious and entrancing element of mystery and danger about his character. This perfection intermixed with rebellion and a willful spontaneity make most females break out in a sweat; for he is the perfect balance between what women need and what women WANT; that of variety and danger stabilized by dependability and unshakable focus. Courtesy never goes out of style and neither does chivalry.
The main theme of the series is that of eternal love and the notion that soul mates exist. One of our basic human needs is love and as we grow older and our mothers unconditional love withdraws, most of us continue to seek this out in one way or another. As our society stands currently, it is full of self obsessed, selfish, shallow characters; inexperienced with meaningful relationships with themselves and thus unable to access any tools to attract or maintain deep relationships with others. Stephanie Meyers character, Edward presents as a rock solid, passionate and masculine energy which is undeniably attractive to both men and women.
Throughout the Twilight saga, Edward Cullen continuously focuses on Bella and explores the depth of his feelings for her. Fascinated by everything she does and thinks, his entire existence evolves around her safety and happiness. (Another post is deserved on the my perception of how creepy and controlling I see this as being.)
It would be an injustice not to allow the supernatural influences of the series be part of this attraction. People throughout the ages have been fascinated by the myths of vampires. Not only do they possess an unearthly beauty (most cultures maintain this part), but through their longevity, they appear as intelligent, worldly and in some cases godlike. Most humans fear death in some part of their mind and are fascinated by vampires timelessness and their freedom to pursue interests as they please. To be close to an opportunity where such a dream, held by a majority of people; regardless of culture, age or race, could be granted, presents a huge temptation – despite the brutality or harshness of the balancing characteristic of a vampires thirst. Meyers cleverly subdues this with her vegetarian options; making the option more ‘palatable’.
In the series, Bella is described as not possessing any particular beauty or grace. Meyers hit a gold mine with this; immedialty allowing her audience access into the skin of Bella and a step closer into the arms of Edward. Meyers ensures that a great deal of Edward and Bellas time together is spent talking; allowing that simmering sexual energy to bubble under the surface. Women, regardless of sexual orientation or age want to be heard and to be the centre of attention by those they care about. In both is actions and words, Edward shuts the rest of the world out and recognizes every minute detail about Bella as being individually and perfectly ‘her’, not wishing for her to change or alter anything about her. An age old fable involving a knight married to a hag by day and maiden by night echos this wisdom about women. (ps…The spell is only broken when he gives her the choice in both her appearance and future; accepting her decision as the most important thing.)
Meyers hits her target in a number of ways. She identified the deep need of her audience
- to be heard
- to be valued above others
- to be seen as an individual
- not compared with others
- to be loved unconditionally
- to have both danger and stability
It is with these tools that Stephanie Meyers is able to show Edward as being different than other romantic characters and figures and one that resonates with the dreams of countless women.
Annie Evett By the time most of you are reading this, Annie will be with another writer – who shall remain unnamed, in a Twilight Movie Marathon. Although unashamedly barracking for “Team Jacob”, she will attempt to avoid any other media brainwashing about the movie. Follow Annie’s shameless self promotions here on Twitter and start your escape into her world here