Twilight Saga, Book 3, eclipse: bella's continued march toward vampirehood

By Marcia Montenegro, December 2009

"I wanted his venom to poison my system." Bella, speaking of her desire to have Edward turn her into a vampire

"Quil . . . imprinted . . . with a two-year-old?" Bella, after learning that a teenage werewolf, Quil, found his mate, who was still 2 years old at the time
 

"I have to be with you. It"s the only way I can live." Bella, speaking to Edward

If you think that this vampire-werewolf saga is all action, then Eclipse, the third book in the Twilight Saga, should put a total eclipse over that belief. Most of this long, tedious book is talk, (punctuated frequently by Bella's agonized longings for Edward and her desire to become a vampire) spiked here and there with action scenes. One section of mostly talk covers 158 pages (383 to 541)!

TALK AND TALES/TAILS
The book slowly builds up to a coming confrontation that involves the vampire hero Edward's family/clan, aided by werewolf Jacob's pack, fighting together against the "newborns" - newly formed vampires whose cannot control their blood lust. These newborns have been "formed" by the villainess vampire, Victoria, who is after Bella, of course. Everything revolves around Bella, and these "good" vampires and werewolves will risk life and limb to protect her, though the reader must wonder why since Bella is self-absorbed, uninteresting, and basically contributes nothing to humanity. In fact, she wants to leave humanity behind by becoming a vampire, even though this is a "conversion that would make me forever a prisoner of my own thirst," as Bella puts it (74).

Page after page builds up to this coming confrontation with the newborns, which has the heroine, Bella, in her usual anguished state, fearful she will lose Edward; and then, after persuading Edward that she cannot live without him so that he agrees not to fight, despairing that she will lose Jacob in the fight. Yet when the big day arrives, the fight is totally "off-stage." Bella and Edward hear the sounds of the wolves and Edward gets some clues as to what is going on, thanks to his superpower of reading minds, but it must be pretty much of a letdown for most readers after such a long buildup.

There is a very detailed and wearisome section relating the "legends" of the werewolves (tales of the tails, one might say). However, there are interesting touches. The man telling the story states that the Quileutes (the Native Americans in the story) were in the beginning "spirit warriors" (244). This is interesting in light of the Mormon belief that everyone on earth was once a spirit child of Father God and his wife in heaven before coming to earth, although here it seems to mean that the Indians fought outside their bodies. This is still noteworthy due to the Gnostic aspects of Mormon theology and their belief in spirit beings becoming human. The story also involves out-of-body travel (245, 247), a man's spirit entering the body of a wolf (249), and references to the "spirit world" (249). These events are presented as sacred and special.
 

VIOLENCE
Though most of the violence takes place "off-stage" in the book, there are so many violent acts and threats of violence that violence does have a presence in the book. There is a rash of terrifying killings in Seattle, later revealed to have been perpetrated by the newborn vampires.

The upcoming conflict with the newborns has Bella worried because she knows she will soon be a newborn, as soon as she is turned into a vampire (that is, if she is not killed in the process, which remains an option). She wonders if she will be "Wild. Bloodthirsty. Maybe I would not be able to stop myself from killing people" (344). This condition is supposed to last a few years!

Bella discovers that Edward's clan is betting on how many people she will kill when she becomes a vampire (p. 343). Since Jasper, the newest "good" vampire, still has to restrain himself against attacking people (primarily Bella), she is told that Jasper is feeling good about not being the "weakest link." So Bella jokingly states, "I guess I could throw in a few extra homicides, if it makes Jasper happy. Why not?" (343). Keep in mind that Bella is joking about killing people.
 

MORMON MARRIAGE AND FAMILY
There is also the issue of Edward's clan being a "family," as they are consistently called, although none of them are actually related to each other. In fact, Edward's supposed siblings are two couples: Rosalie and Emmet, and Alice and Jasper. According to what is said in the book, a vampire's mate is his or her partner forever, and they will fight for each other. How can a brother and sister be a couple? It is incestuous. But the Mormon ideal of eternal marriage and family after death is so strong, that apparently the author either ignores or does not recognize this problem in her books. Regarding Mormon marriage, blogger David Henson notes:

"No primary character is married in the series outside of eternal vampires and werewolves. Bella's dad, Charlie, is divorced and a celibate loner. The one character who is married, Bella's mother, is largely absent [in] the series. Still, her marriage would be considered dysfunctional, in Latter-Day Saints thought, as it is breaks up the mother-daughter relationship, forcing Bella to move in with her father in Forks.

What I find most interesting about the concept of eternal marriage in the Twilight series is that Meyers seems to have created this allegory for Mormon marriage unintentionally. Her assumptions about marriage and the after-life are likely so unconscious that this theology surfaces in her books clearly but nonchalantly" (From http://unorthodoxology.blogspot.com/2009/05/twilight-saga-mormon-theology-and.html

Mormon marriages are "sealed" in a Mormon Temple and are supposed to last forever. One reason Bella wants to be a vampire is because she wants to be with Edward forever; since Edward will not do this without a marriage, the future for them is to be together in an eternal marriage.
 

EROTIC ABSTINENCE
The Twilight stories are not chaste. Vampire tales have always had a subtext of sexuality (both hetero and homo), and the sexual undercurrent in this third book is quite strong.

In one rather racy scene, Edward is in bed with Bella, as he always is at night. Edward reaches down Bella's leg and then, as Bella recounts it, he "pulled my leg up suddenly, hitching it around his hip" (186). After kissing, Edward "rolled till he hovered over me. . . . I could feel the cool marble of his body press against mine," and then, "Cold as ice, his tongue lightly traced the shape of my lips" (186). This is verbal soft porn for women, plain and simple.

The night before the big fight, Edward, Jacob, and Bella are in a tent and the weather is frigid. Edward, being a cold creature, cannot keep Bella warm, so it falls to Jacob, who relishes getting under the covers with Bella and holding her all night. Edward, who is able to read Jacob's impure thoughts, becomes sullen and angry, and Jacob makes remarks full of sexual innuendo. Since Edward has been with Bella at night for a long time, it is provocative that now she is with Jacob all night. One wonders what the obsession may be with Bella needing a man at her side during the night.

There is a near-bodice ripper scene when Jacob imposes himself on Bella in the tent when Edward is not there. Jacob kisses Bella "with an eagerness that was not far from violence" (526). The scene is non-graphic but quite erotic, and continues with Bella giving in and responding passionately to Jacob's advances.

As a Wall Street Journal writer puts it: "Proponents of 'Twilight' may claim that the series is driven by romance, but sex dominates the franchise. Though the characters aren't having it, the whole premise of the book rests on its lure. It's clear that the connection between Bella and Edward isn't based on a mutual love for, say, Derrida--or even for each other. It's a physical attraction, at most, that's already drawn $380 million in movie-ticket revenue from fans who crave Edward as much as Bella does. Indeed, to say the sexual machinations between human and vampire are the stuff of romance misses the point entirely. Vampires inspire lust." (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203863204574346483925579944.html).

Some may argue that compared to other books, the Twilight series is restrained; however, the standard should not be the existing licentious market, in which the standards are so low that, practically speaking, they are non-existent.
 

RESOURCES
The correspondences in the Twilight saga to Mormon theology have taken on significance for me after reading some of the articles that reveal this connection.

This article by John Granger is full of interesting points and parallels between the books and Mormon faith. I do not necessarily agree with all his points, but his remarks on the Mormon correlations are quite enlightening.
http://www.touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=22-08-024-f
Paper written for a Master's Degree in Library Science, "Mormon Vampires: The Twilight Saga and Religious Literacy" (this is 102 pages!):
http://etd.ils.unc.edu/dspace/bitstream/1901/469/1/Mormon+Vampires+-+The+Twilight+Saga+and+Religious+Literacy.pdf


"Big Vampire Love: What's So Mormon About Twilight?"
http://religiondispatches.org/archive/mediaculture/2052/big_vampire_love:_what%E2%80%99s_so_mormon_about_twilight/


A blog essay:
http://unorthodoxology.blogspot.com/2009/05/twilight-saga-mormon-theology-and.html


Brief article with reference to Meyer's faith
http://www.sj-r.com/beliefs/x466663776/-Twilight-author-s-Mormon-faith-a-big-influence-in-books-film

 

Support
This Ministry
Gospel Communications Alliance Member