Some people have said he is a fairy. And true, things that sparkle can very seldom be attributed to vampirism, however, the author is always right, and if Stephenie Meyer says Edward Cullen is a vampire, then we must assume she knows best. Irrespective of public opinion, the success of the character of Edward Cullen deserves attention. Thousands of screaming teenage (and middle aged) fans, I suppose he earned his spot on the Vampire Exposé.
I will be the first to admit that in recent years I have come to hate Twilight, feeling that the movies were lacking in inspiration and originality with gaping holes in human logic and terribad (to coin a phrase from my partner in crime, Richard) acting. The casting felt all wrong and, personally, I am adamant that the director was high when he directed the acting. The movies feel emotionless, devoid of feeling in a story which should have evinced so much from the audience. But, despite all this, when a friend of mine first gave me a copy of Twilight to read, months before the movie was released, I loved it. I found it sweet and endearing. Maybe not the horrific combination of blood and romance I have come to expect from the vampire genre, but cute nonetheless.
So trust me, Twilight fans, I don’t comment lightly here.
In the novels, Edward was funny and suave with a hint of self-deprecation to colour him. His character had an element of depth that he thoroughly lacks in the movies. Where book Edward swaggers, Pattinson’s Edward is awkward and walks like a shy dinosaur. Where the former grants Bella a combination of love and mockery, the latter combines fawning and irritation – something we would not have expected from the character in Meyer’s books. I simply disliked Robert Pattinson’s portrayal of a character that I really pictured – at the time – as not entirely god-awful. Unfortunately, the prolific nature of the movies soured the books for me. So badly, in fact, that I went back and reread them with an editor’s eye (something I had avoided at the onset), discovering tense errors, horrible grammar and staid, boring syntax. Not to mention the sheer dullness of the most of the characters. All stereotyped and all too simplistic for my approval. Except for Edward.
Many Twilight haters attribute their loathing of the story to the “sparkly” vampire phenomenon… And, yes… It seems somewhat daft. But I understand what Meyer was trying to achieve with it and I applaud her on her approach. It just would not have been my choice. In Anne Rice novels we come to see vampires as being statuesque in both beauty and make-up. They quite literally strike us as being marble or solid, unlike pliable humanity. All Meyer has done is take that one step further to create of them something near indestructible. If something shimmers in the sun we imagine diamonds (for some ungodly reason). Hence the invulnerable factor. It just seems a pity to me that she made such a build-up of it for such a great portion of the first book. I was imagining bat wings, or horns, or green, toad-like skin… When he started sparkling, I had to put the book down and step outside to stifle my laughter.
As I said, not the route I would have opted for.
What I do want to explore is Bella’s strange attraction to Edward. Love at first sight does not exist. Lust maybe, but I don’t think Bella has the emotional maturity to give in to such behaviour (all evidence to the contrary in the last two books aside). In fact, all vampire literature displays some evidence of supernatural attraction. The hint that vampires exude a pheromone or aura which draws people to them. And maybe this is what we are seeing in this very broken, stalker-esque relationship.
Perhaps vampires have a survival mechanism built into their systems? The hungrier they become, through lack of access to blood or their own martyrdom (viz Edward), the more likely their body is to override their mind and find food. Vampires are, traditionally, sexual predators. They feed through romance and lust – when I imagine traditional vampires, I see the Count rallying hordes of heaving-bosomed women around him. So, perhaps in all this, if a vampire decides to be a hero, his body resigns itself to the fact that the mind is being obstinate and starts emitting attraction waves to any eligible blood bag nearby… It would certainly explain how Bella seems all the more drawn to Edward despite his insistence on them not seeing one another.
In the Sanguinem Emere universe, we explored this notion to some extent. The level of which will become more apparent in book2, where we will see Devika struggling to come to terms with her (un)natural attraction.
Sigh… I find the image of Edward Cullen sad, to be honest. He was a likeable, if unmemorable, character when I first flipped casually though the pages of Twilight. Now, however, the sight of his tortured expression causes one’s ears to be assaulted by not just the screaming of teenagers, but the screaming of their mothers as well (creepy much?). I can understand the animosity so many intellectuals feel when confronted with Twilight paraphernalia and images.
I feel quite the same.
And is it just me, or does Pattinson’s Edward always have the same expression on his face?