Books

9 Lessons to be Learned from Twilight

There’s a lot of talk out there about how awful the Twilight Saga is, and I can understand it. People don’t relate to the characters and the vampires aren’t “typical” vampires (which is beyond strange to me, because vampires aren’t real- there’s no such thing as “typical” vampires, but whatever). However, I think most of the hate is out there for one reason, and one reason only: Twilight is popular. The most popular books/movies/TV shows will receive hate rivaled only by the amount of love they receive.

Think about it… how many people do you know who HATE Twilight, even though they’ve never read a single word of it? Or hated it before they read it, read 100 pages to silence their critics and claimed that they just “can’t get through it!”

Now, all those people are perfectly entitled to their opinions. If modern paranormal romance isn’t your thing, that’s okay. I certainly won’t force anybody to read anything, but I will point out that there are some lessons everyone can learn from Twilight. To save you the “horror” of having to actually read these immensely popular books (they have sold over 100 million copies in 38 different languages), I have compiled a list of lessons to be learned from Twilight.

Lesson #1: You don’t have to “pretty” to be attractive. Bella is described- both by herself and by the author outside of the books- as being fairly plain. She isn’t into makeup or trendy clothes. She doesn’t obsess about her weight, and she certainly doesn’t buy into any other false-beauty trends like tanning, hair coloring or acrylic fingernails. She’s real. And the boys go crazy. There is literally a line of guys who are vying for her attention. Some are too shy to do anything about it, and some a mythical monsters, but the point remains that a real-life, normal girl is plenty attractive.

Lesson #2: Having a lot of money isn’t everything. The Cullens are loaded. 400 years of practicing medicine, no actual need for anything tangible and a psychic ability to predict the stock market has left them with more money than any human person would ever know what to do with. Yet, before Bella came along, Edward was depressed. Rosalie despises her lot, and Esme aches for the baby she lost as a human. They all experience pain and suffering despite their riches. In contrast, Bella’s mother, Renee is lower middle class and entirely content with her life. The Blacks live in a very modest home on the reservation, with very little in the way of possessions, yet are also quite happy.

Lesson #3: You can choose to defy expectations. The Cullens are vampires. They crave human blood. When they drink human blood, they usually cannot stop themselves and end up killing the human in question. But, they don’t enjoy being senseless murderers, and so they choose not to be. They choose a diet of less satisfying animal blood and live inconspicuous lives. Just because you are expected to be something: boring, exciting, mean, nice, prompt, forgiving, rude, busy, lazy- doesn’t mean you have to be that way. You can choose to defy expectations and live your life exactly as you see fit.

Lesson #4: When somebody says “Don’t look.” or “Cover your ears.” or “Run!”- they mean it. You don’t want to see. You don’t want to hear. You just don’t want to know. I promise. Heed the advice.

Lesson #5: What you see may not always be the truth. When Bella reawakens as a vampire, her suddenly heightened vision shows her the world as it truly is. Her limited human vision left out prominent scars on a friend’s body, minuscule life forms, extra colors and extensions of the light spectrum as well as a thousand other details. While most of us are never going to have the chance to become a vampire, we can recognize that things may not always be as they seem. We don’t have all the information, and our limited field of vision colors our ability to understand things.

Lesson #6: Usually, the bad guy is lying. James (the villain of the first novel) gets Bella alone by lying to her. Victoria (the villain of the third novel) reaches her goals by lying to a young man and getting him to do all her dirty work for her. The Volturi (the villains of the fourth novel) lie in an attempt to discredit the Cullens, start a war, destroy an opposing point of view and remain in power. How often do we fall victim to the lies around us? You know that somebody doesn’t have your best interest at heart, yet you believe what she tells you (or worse, says about you!) because you’re afraid it might be true. Sometimes, we hope something is true, so we believe the lies. Don’t be so quick to believe something that doesn’t make sense. Think with your head, pay attention to the details and work things out for yourself.

Lesson #7: You have to give up something to get something. OK, so this is technically a lesson from economics, but it’s played out well in Twilight, so I’m including it. Bella wants to be with Edward. Edward is immortal. Bella is not. In order to stay with Edward, Bella would have to give up everything that goes with a mortal life: her parents, her friends, the chance to have children and grow old. She would give up everything normal for the chance to have something special. We all face choices like this- not every day, but at least a few times in our lives. You want to go to an extra fancy college? You have to leave your friends and family behind. You want to marry the fabulous man who loves you? You have to give up the dating world. You want beautiful little babies? You have to give up your right to sleep whenever you want need to. Life is full of trade offs and choices. Which leads me to…

Lesson #8: The most difficult decisions; the ones that wrench your heart out, in one way or another, are usually worth the pain. The fancy college? Best education you could possibly attain. Marriage with the fabulous man who loves you? Wonderful. The fat little babies? Little pieces of magic and love looking up at you every single morning. For Bella, it was eternity with her soul mate, looking forever like a teenager. For you, it’s probably more mundane. But, when you make the right choice, and you stick to it, it’s worth it.

Lesson #9: Evaluate your choices. Really evaluate them before you make your decision. Critics complain that the Bella/Edward/Jacob love triangle lessens the validity of Bella’s love for Edward. Stephenie Meyer pointed out (and I agree) that it actually strengthens Bella’s love for Edward. Think about it: it’s not like Bella fell in with the first guy to come along. She had another option. A viable one. One that wouldn’t be so difficult physically or emotionally. A man who loved her and would fit into her normal, human life. A man who she cared about and could have been happy with. But it wasn’t right for her. She made the difficult choice, she chose what was right for her over what was easy.

Gina blogs over at Fantasy Casting, where she’s usually spouting her opinions about who should be cast in the movie versions of her favorite books. She wants to know what you think, and would love to see who YOU would cast.

Stacie Vaughan

Stacie is the mom of two girls and lives in Ontario, Canada. She enjoys cooking/baking, photography, reading, DIY and is fueled by lots of coffee!

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