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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Wisdom in Vampire Temptation

I like to check out the books and movies my kids are interested in. In this spirit, I just read Stephanie Meyer's Twilight, a hugely popular novel that all of my daughter's friends are talking about.

First, happily, I didn't have a problem with this book, although the subject matter -- vampires -- made me a little nervous before I began. I'd give it a solid PG rating, with nothing particularly scary or otherwise inappropriate. No bad language, nothing beyond a few chaste kisses, and references to blood drinking were minimal and superficial. For those of you who need a little story background (no spoilers), this book is about a 17 year old high school student named Bella, who transfers schools and is perplexed by her sudden popularity. However, there is one student she sits next to in Biology -- Edward -- who seems utterly repelled by her.

To cut a long story short, Edward turns out to be a vampire -- a *good* vampire, who drinks only animal blood and wishes to live as well as he can, but a vampire nonetheless. He could relapse at any time. Bella falls in love with him, of course, and he with her. Objectively, it is best for Bella to stay away from Edward -- he will always be a vampire, tempted to kill her or even usher her into his own dark life. And therein lies the dilemma threading through most of this story:

Are Edward and Bella strong enough to stay together despite temptation, or should they separate?

Edward, with his greater maturity (90+ years old), seems to understand the danger and the ramifications of his lifestyle better than Bella, especially once some bad vampires appear on the scene. But I promised no spoilers, so I'll stop the plot description here...

What interested me the most was this question of temptation -- forbidden fruit -- how is it best handled? I found myself identifying with Edward, who knows his nature is bad despite all efforts. He knows he could destroy that which he loves if he moves closer, and yet he can't bear to stay away. To break an attraction like this can be excruciating, and may leave wounds that never heal. In the book, Edward and Bella decide instead that they can fly close to the flame without being burned. It makes a better story, anyway, although objectively I doubt the wisdom. Flee temptation, I've always heard.

Just for you parents, I found lots of good things in this novel, especially Edward's and others' successful struggles to live good lives. It is very innocent/romantic with a brooding hero; I found it a reasonably interesting novel, although slow in some places. Then again, I'm not exactly the target audience, so I may be missing some of its charm.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This question of temptation you refer to is very similar to the one presented, very effectively, in Bram Stoker's Dracula. The questioning soul is portrayed quite well with the character of Mina Harker. Mina is very firm in her Christian belief and yet the lure of Dracula is overpowering for her at times. When we lose sight of the source of this faith, Christ, and instead rely on faith itself, our eyes can get carried away to the temptation.