Saturday, July 3, 2010

A Case for the Value of the Twilight Saga

An accusation of insanity would not be far off from my mental state right now.

However, consider a few things for a moment.

Insert spoiler warning here.

Admittedly, Twilight (the first book) is an unrealistic romance. Not only that, it's downright cheesy at times, and the portrayal of vampires is -not- traditional by any means. Though it's explained well and makes sense (yes, even the sparkling), it still can not be placed in the same category as a vampire, at least for me. I think we all know the story, a girl falls in love with a vampire, there are about 100 mind-numbing pages of descriptions of his body, and he returns her love and protects her from everything, mostly perfectly.

New Moon introduces another drastically flawed character, but not one like Edward Cullen, who is seemingly this impossibly perfect model of what a man should be. Jacob Black (aside from Taylor Lautner, gag me please) is by comparison a drastically immature character that is extremely manipulative with his pursuit of the protagonist, Bella Swan. He is an excellent character because of how easily relatable he is to how many people feel. While Edward is like Ice, cold and unmoving and seemingly passionless in the face of a situation that would make -any- man jealous, Jacob is like fire, constantly governed by his passions and will stop at nothing in his pursuit.

The contrast is fascinating.

Even more fascinating is the fact that in Eclipse, Edward is the one chosen. The sun is eclipsed by darkness, or more aptly, fire is defeated by ice. The dispassionate Edward is shown to be true to his word, and he constantly shows a kind of infallible love for Bella. Even his mistakes show love, and it is that love that wins Bella over, even though she also loves Jacob. She sacrifices everything she possibly can for him because they bonded in New Moon, when Edward was gone.

Breaking Dawn is a story of marriage, and it quickly comes down to Bella being nearly killed by her unborn half vampire child. Edward is again willing to sacrifice whatever it takes to protect the one he loves, and eventually comes to love their child, and Jacob goes from being completely devastated by rejection to imprinting on the child, solving the love triangle present throughout the series. His commitment is absolute, and he goes from being a violently unstable individual to a constant protector of the child.

You may wonder why I am going on about impossible amounts of seemingly soap opera-like drama. Here's why.

Firstly, having had the experiences I have, I don't think a lot of it is too far off. Love is a messy thing, relationships are a messy thing, and no amount of talking about destiny or soul mates will change the fact that they are a choice. Both people choose, and they continue to sacrifice whatever it takes to make it work, and it works.

To digress slightly, no man is like Edward Cullen. The constant impossibly selfless behavior, the ageless physical beauty, and the flawless display of manners all held in perfect balance is nothing short of a fantasy. Jacob Black, while being much more realistic, is also a fantasy. His passionate nature that so entirely governs him and his immediate attachment to the one he should be with, no matter how well explained are fantasy.

This brings me to my second point. The fact is, the human heart is a fickle thing. But one thing that makes stories like Twilight so interesting is that they show us some of the best parts of ourselves. Because a man can be a gentleman, and his passions are able to be governed. And a choice to be with someone, to love them for their entire life, can be final. Though life does not often work out in a neat set of ideals, and never seems to at all times, I think it is beneficial to remember that these ideals exist within flawed people, and they can be chosen. Life is not always clearcut, but there is a thing about Twilight, as an idealistic series, that is very captivating because it speaks a little about the human heart and how it can work.

Lastly, I think it is important to be guarded, no matter who you are, when confronted with beautiful ideals of any kind. Because living merely by many ideals is not acknowledging a great many things about what it is to be human. A woman looking for Edward or someone with any one of his characteristics at a constant will be disappointed every time. A man trying to be such an ideal will quickly find himself lacking, because the truth is life does not work that way. It is possible for a man to be honorable, and to hold to ideals that make him an excellent mate.

It is impossible for anyone to be perfect, and anyone expecting perfection out of the one they claim to love might as well hate them. Forgiveness is as much a part of who we are as humans as honor and love and respect are.

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