As seen on Reddit, of all places. Snip:
Bella is warned by numerous people and events throughout the course of the story that she is actively pursuing her own destruction – but she’s so dependent on Edward and caught up in the idea of the romance that she refuses to see the situation for what it is. Charlie tells her Edward is bad news. Edward tells her that he believes he is damned, and devoid of a soul. He further tells her that making her like him is the most selfish thing he will ever do. Jacob warns her numerous times that Edward is a threat to her life and well-being. She even has examples of other women who have become involved with monsters – Emily Young bears severe and permanent facial disfigurement due to her entanglement with Sam Uley.
… [Ultimately], her entire identity – everything that made her who she was – has been erased.
This is powerfully underscored on p. 506, when Charlie Swan (remember, the conscience of the story) sees his own daughter for the first time after her transformation:
“Charlie’s blank expression told me how off my voice was. His eyes zeroed in on me and widened. Shock. Disbelief. Pain. Loss. Fear. Anger. Suspicion. More pain.”
He goes through the entire grieving process right there – because at that moment, he recognizes what so many readers don’t – Bella Swan is dead.
The most tragic part of the whole story is that this empty shell of a person – which at this point is nothing more than a frozen echo of Bella, twisted and destroyed as she is by her co-dependence with Edward, fails to see what has happened to her. She ends the story in denial – empty, annihilated, and having learned nothing.
I would say that read in the proper light, it’s a powerful cautionary tale about accepting traditional gender roles and conforming to expected societal norms. Particularly with regard to male dominance (rather than partnership) in relationships.
P.S. I haven’t actually read any of the Twilight novels, but my understanding is that they’re popularly seen as a weird parable about sexual abstinence.
If you want decent vampire stuff, then here are my personal recommendations. Please feel free to apply gender-related deconstruction to them, or to share your own in the comments:
* The movie “Night Watch” (originally of Russia)
* The song “I’m A Vampire” by the Future Bible Heroes
* Neil Gaiman’s “Vampire Sestina”
* The comic “Vamps” by Elaine Lee, if you can find it (I just wrote about it!)
* The novel Blindsight by Peter Watts (free to read online)
* The novel Agyar by Steven Brust (one of my favorites)
* The classic roleplaying game “Vampire: The Masquerade” (non-nerds need not apply)