Despite the vampires' godlike qualities, looks, and talents
prominently featured in the story, the vampires are also very
animal-like. Edward and his clan often "hiss" and "snarl." They curl
their lips and show their teeth when angry; they crouch, ready to
spring, if they sense danger. Edward and his clan only drink the blood
of animals but know they can become unrestrained if they give in to
their desire for human blood. Alice, a member of Edward's clan, explains
to Bella that "We're also like sharks in a way. Once we taste the blood,
or even smell it for that matter, it becomes very hard to keep from
feeding . . . . to actually bite someone, to taste the blood, it would
begin the frenzy" (Twilight, 414).
Bella is told that "newborns," that is, people who are newly made vampires, are unable to control their urge to attack people for at least a year or two. This does not sway Bella, who contemplates what it will be like once she is a new vampire. She realizes that members of Edward's clan have been betting on how many people she will kill. Jasper, one of the clan, is hoping that Bella will be more unruly, since he is the newest vampire and has difficulty controlling his thirst for human blood. Playfully, Bella states "I guess I could throw in a few extra homicides, if it makes Jasper happy. Why not?" (Eclipse, 343). Then she imagines the possible future newspaper headlines proclaiming the list of names of her victims.
Edward candidly reveals to Bella that when the vampires hunt, "we give ourselves over to our senses . . . govern less with our minds. Especially our sense of smell. If you were anywhere near me when I lost control that way . . ." (Twilight, 225). In another scene, Edward growls, "a low sound in the back of his throat; his lips curled back over his perfect teeth. His body shifted suddenly, half-crouched, tensed like a lion about to pounce" (Twilight, 345).
In the final book, after Bella becomes a vampire and hunts with Edward, we read about her kill of a mountain lion: "My teeth unerringly sought his throat, and his instinctive resistance was pitifully feeble against my strength" (Meyer, Breaking Dawn, [NY: Little, Brown and Company, 2008], 422). Biting into the animal was "effortless as biting into butter" (Breaking Dawn, 422). The account continues:
"The flavor was wrong, but the blood was hot and wet and it soothed the ragged, itching thirst as I drank in an eager rush. The cat's struggles grew more and more feeble, and his screams choked off with a gurgle. The warmth of the blood radiated throughout my whole body, heating even my fingertips and toes" (Breaking Dawn, 422-423).
Shortly after this, Bella remarks that it was a "surprisingly sensual experience to observe Edward hunting," and she notes that with his lips parted "over his gleaming teeth," as he is about to bring down a deer, Edward is "glorious" (Breaking Dawn, 425). Later, they hunt with their young daughter, who is so advanced that she can join them in this festive tearing of animal flesh and blood-drinking.
So while vampires are portrayed as superior to humans in every way - faster, vastly stronger, smarter, sharper senses, breathtakingly beautiful, possessing supernatural powers, and immortal - they still devolve to an animal-like state when instinct takes over. This is revealing of Meyer's vampire unable to breach the distinction between God and man, because despite the vampire's godlike powers, he is not free from the bondage to his thirst for blood.
This portrayal is also an attack on the biblical truth that a person is made in the image of God ("God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them," Genesis 1:27) because although vampires are not considered human in the books, they are actually dead humans changed into vampires. They still look human and have human qualities such as intelligence, will, a sense of right and wrong, and philosophical questions about the afterlife (vampires do not die but can be destroyed) - all traits that reflect the character of God. To give them bestial instincts they are unable to master and to describe them in animal terms disdains the distinction that God made between man and beast.
Once Bella is part of Edward's world, she experiences the joy of
superseding the limitations of being human, and enters a new world that
seems thrillingly blissful. However, there are gruesome scenes that
range from disgusting to utterly repulsive.
After becoming a vampire, Bella is afraid to meet her father, Charlie, because she worries that she cannot stop herself from attacking him. She remarks, "Charlie smelled more delicious than anything I'd ever imagined . . . And he was just a few feet away, leaking mouthwatering heat and moisture into the dry air" (Breaking Dawn, 507). This is Bella's father! But the same situation arose when Bella had her baby, Renesmee. Her daughter was taken away after birth and she could not see her because those around Bella feared she would attack her own child. Indeed, Edward himself tells Bella that the greatest pleasure for a vampire is to drink human blood.
The most grisly situation, however, is the labor and delivery of Bella's baby. Bella became pregnant on her honeymoon while she was still human. Therefore, in her pregnancy, which progresses about nine times faster than a human pregnancy, Bella, still human, is carrying a half-human half-vampire child. Bella is not able to eat and the unborn baby is not getting nourishment. Consequently, Bella grows weaker while at the same time suffering great pain from the rapidly growing child who is breaking Bella's ribs, one by one.
Edward figures out that the baby is craving blood - human blood. Fortunately, the clan has human blood available and they give Bella cups of blood (one wonders why they have human blood on hand). At first, Bella is unsure about drinking it, but after the initial drink, she declares it tastes good. Bella continues to down cups of blood until the stock is used up and Carlisle rushes out to procure more human blood.
The description of Bella going into labor is horrific. There is a "ripping sound from the center of her body," a "shriek of agony," and then Bella convulses and vomits "a fountain of blood" (Breaking Dawn, 347). Bella is so spent and damaged that the baby must be taken out, so Edward uses his teeth to rip into her flesh and gets the child out. Bella's heart fails, and Edward plunges a syringe full of his "venom" into her heart. This starts the process of changing Bella into a vampire. Edward continues forcing his venom into Bella by biting her all over her body. For three days, Bella experiences an agonizing burning through her body as she morphs from human to vampire. The depiction of these events is grisly and repugnant, and odious particulars are not spared.
Jacob "imprints" on Bella and Edward's baby girl. Werewolves like Jacob find their mate through an instinctive "knowing" of who their mate is, via an obsession for this person called "imprinting." There is no choice. This resolves the Bella-Jacob-Edward triangle but in a rather creepy manner. That Jacob will one day mate with this baby and in the meantime cares for her as though he's her babysitter or brother (it is hard for him to be apart from Renesmee and he does take care of her in the last book), is oddly repellent.
Although Edward and his clan do not hunt humans, when they host a large gathering of vampire friends in the last book, they accommodate those who do hunt humans (which is most of them). The vampires promise not to kill anyone within a 300 mile radius, and Edward, as "a gracious host," lends them cars. Bella even remarks that there is "rampant murder being condoned" (Breaking Dawn, 607).
The cover of the first book in this series is illustrated with an
apple, and Meyer acknowledges that it represents the forbidden fruit of
the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden. Meyer
states that it is appropriate because Bella gains a "working knowledge
of good and evil," and the apple says "choice" to Meyer (http://www.stepheniemeyer.com/twilight_faq.html#apple).
To Meyer, it seems that the forbidden fruit is a good thing. Of course,
in Mormon belief, the Fall into sin was a good thing, because it allowed
spirits in heaven to incarnate as humans so that they could become a god
in the future.
But the desire for a "working knowledge of good and evil," or knowing evil firsthand, is exactly what caused Adam and Eve's downfall (Genesis chapter 3). This resulted from disobeying God's command not to eat the fruit of this one tree (Genesis 2:7). The Fall brought the curse of sin to all creation and to the descendants of Adam, something the whole world is suffering to this day. It is because of this blight of sin that Jesus came and died on the cross, paying a penalty for those sins - a penalty so wrenching that we cannot imagine it - so that those who believe in Him can be redeemed and have eternal life with God.
This raises the question: Just who is God in this saga? Immortal life for Bella is trading in her humanity; heaven is trading in her soul to be wherever Edward is. The incessant descriptions of Edward as "godlike" and "glorious," along with Bella's passionate declarations that she is willing to lose her soul and that she does not want heaven without Edward lead to the inevitable conclusion that Edward is Bella's god.