Like an 18th century novel of manners, Twilight criticizes social assumptions and regimented ideas of appropriate behavior. In an interesting twist, whereas Austen’s heroines single-mindedly protect their reputations and seek marriage, Bella must struggle against a 21st century taboo against teen marriage to wed and find happiness in Edward. Even so, social reputation and marriage are central to both stories.
Austenites Shirley and Wallis Kinney discuss the links in “The Jane Austen—Twilight Zone.”
Twilight operates on multiple levels, Morrison writes. The book entertains, provides social commentary, “offers universal themes about love and society” and “inspires a vision” of ideal romance.
For teen readers, Twilight is the book that makes classics relevant. While Twilight references Pride and Prejudice, its sequel New Moon draws parallels with Romeo and Juliet. Eclipse, the third book in the series, is littered with allusions to Wuthering Heights. For many of my students, the Twilight series has opened doors into much more difficult, classic texts. Because they know the story, students are more resilient in the face of complex language; they bring more background to their reading and they are able to engage with a strong point of reference.
My 28-year-old daughter, who once worked as a literary agents’ reader and a book publicist, says Twilight is badly written and infused with a 13-year-old virgin’s vision of sexual passion without actual sex. But it’s a page turner anyhow.
If sexy but chaste vampires aren’t your thing, try Our School: The Inspiring Story of Two Teachers, One Big Idea and the Charter School That Beat the Odds. The hardcover is here.