The idea of a vampire falling in love with a human was a pretty novel idea when Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight book came out. And it’s been the inspiration for knock offs and parodies alike. But it’s also been wildly successful in its own right. And ‘why?’ has been a source of bafflement to many people, mostly men.
Allow me to explain.
While adding supernatural powers and mythical creatures was part of the genius as a recipe for success…the true reason the books and movies are so compelling is because of the passionate love story.
1. The hero and heroine are young, healthy and beautiful.
Many people look back on their late teens and reminisce about the way it felt to be fresh, optimistic and mostly effortlessly healthy and fit. Before the struggles of life, the stress and frustrations of failures and tragedies started wearing away at their ambitions and dreams and causing wrinkles, age spots, hair loss or discolorations and weak aging bodies.
It’s a fairly common belief for those who believe in a life after death that they’ll return to the physical and mental state of their own personal “prime”, which is for most people their late teens, early twenties. Edward and Bella are at their “prime” and the readers and viewers older than that enjoy suspending belief that they are back in their prime as well.
Even if they’re endowed with additional powers, the fact that the lead male and female are physically attractive adds to the appeal. The actor Robert Pattinson is a fairly good looking guy, but he cannot do justice to the description in the book where “Edward” is described as breathtakingly gorgeous and practically the epitome of physical perfection. “Bella” is supposed to be somewhat average looking so the readers can at least try to relate to how an ordinary girl would feel extraordinary for being not just wanted but 'desperately wanted' by someone who is supposedly far out of her league.
Kristen Stewart does an excellent job of coming across as lacking self-assurance and being sweetly vulnerable but still being stubbornly determined to seduce the man she loves. There is of course the fact that in addition to being more physically attractive than she gives herself credit for, the character “Bella” has abilities and skills she later realizes that makes her Edward’s equal and balanced counterpart, a concept that is very important for the sensibilities of a post-feminist-movement generation.
2. The chemistry between the hero and heroine is intensely magnetic.
One of the most amazing things in life is the sensations associated with being in love. The chemicals released when a person is in the glow of infatuation is possibly the most powerful natural drug. “Walking on air”, “Being on top of the world”, “Feeling invincible” are some of the clichés that have come from this blissful state of adoring and feeling loved, accepted and wanted. Edward and Bella accept each other as they are, with all the craziness that entails. It is the same “loving beyond sanity and reason” that makes other famous love stories like Jane Austin’s “Pride and Prejudice” and Emily Bronte’s “Wuthering Heights” and Nicholas Spark's "The Notebook" so compelling and beloved.
3. Beyond physical attractiveness, the hero and heroine embody highly desirable relationship characteristics like devotion, trust and selflessness.
There has been much joking about the fact that Edward wants to kill and eat Bella but Bella without logic trusts him not to. I read a very good review in “Bitch” magazine that came out right after the release of the movie version of “Twilight”. It raised some good points about how it’s somewhat animalistic that the story depicts the male as the predator and the female his hapless victim that he simply chooses to have mercy on. And that her chastity is always in his hands and his for the taking if and whenever he wants it.
The fact is though on the flip side, most women want a loving relationship with someone they trust, someone who will defend them and someone who not only has enough self control, but loves them enough that they would never, could never cause them physical harm. Most women go their entire lives wondering if the man they’re with is that way or if they will find a man who is that self-less and devoted to them. The character Bella has solid proof of that level of trust and devotion by the very fact that he restrains himself from the very beginning and never gives in to his selfish wants above carefully protecting her.
It’s true that humans are a kind of animal, and in most species of living creatures the males are larger, more powerful and use those features to protect and provide for their chosen mate and their offspring. This is a very natural and biologically pleasing thing. By virtue of the fact that since Edward is far more powerful (and therefore more potentially dangerous) than normal human males, he immediately and solidly proves his level of devotion, trust and selflessness by simply never taking advantage of his obvious desire for her or his unstoppable ability to overpower her any which way he wants. THAT is a very sexy thing to a women.
4. The sex appeal is strong but the love is stronger.
For a man to desperately want a woman but to love her enough to exhibit obvious self-control and selflessness for her happiness and well-being is at the root of every woman's fantasy and romance novel.
Women want to be desired by a man with a passionate frenzy that displays itself in day to day forms of thoughtful help and loving gestures. Incredible sex is important to most women, but they need to see and feel evidence of loving commitment through words and actions before they open themselves sexually to a man. Because Edward made Bella feel so loved, protected and cared about, she practically threw herself at him sexually. There’s nothing like a woman wrapped in the emotional hot blanket of ‘loving relationship security’ to have the confidence and urge to unfurl like a nectar laden flower begging to be sampled and pollinated.
While men may not understand the appeal of a teenage love story, women (and some men) all over the nation (and world possibly) are vicariously living through Edward and Bella their fantasy if being young, strong, beautiful and knowing without a shadow of a doubt that their lover is powerful, trustworthy, sexy and crazy in love with them.
Men who make fun of the Twilight story and scorn how enamored women are with it, are not just jeering at an unrealistic story about a mythical creature choosing a mortal mate. They’re making fun of every woman’s burning need to feel powerful and yet desperately needed and wanted in a devoted relationship.
Just thought you should know.