***WARNING: DO NOT READ THIS POST IF YOU HAVE NOT READ ALL OF THE TWILIGHT BOOKS AND PLAN ON EVER READING THEM IN THE FUTURE. THERE ARE SPOILERS***
I feel as though vampire mania is sweeping the nation. The Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer has been called "the new Harry Potter" by many, and the books have sold millions of copies. There were midnight parties last fall celebrating the release of the movie Twilight, and there promises to be even more hysteria this fall with the release of the movie New Moon.
So I ask myself: why all of this hype?
I first wondered about the movie's male lead: Robert Pattinson. Girls everywhere are going nuts over him. A girl in my Bible study has a life-sized cardboard cutout of him in her apartment. I've noticed girls surfing fansites of him on their laptops during my math classes. There have been books written about him, and he's on the cover of multiple celebrity magazines every month. Why? Honestly, he's not that incredibly attractive. That's what started my quest to solve this Twilight hysteria mystery. He's not ugly, but based on looks alone I see no reason why he would cause this much of an uproar. I first thought perhaps this was a situation like the one I had in high school, where all of the girls in my class thought Eric was soooo sexy but I just wasn't seeing it. Upon further investigation, though, I realized that this is not the case. As a general trend from those I asked, those who had read the Twilight books found Robert Pattinson attractive, and those who had not read the books wondered, like me, what all of the fuss is about.
From this I came to the conclusion that girls are not in love with Robert Pattinson the actor, but rather are in love with Edward Cullen the character. I read the books myself to further investigate this theory, and it is one that I now believe is completely true. Edward Cullen is pretty irresistable. I've had girls from Jr. High obsessing over him and divorced single mothers telling me how they secretly pine for Edward Cullen as well. He appeals to all ages - why? I have come to the conclusion that it is because Edward Cullen is an ideal character and makes a great boyfriend/husband in the stories, but he is an unrealistic character due to circumstances in society today.
For girls to wish they could find their own version of Edward is kind of silly. While he is a work of literary genius, his character could not realistically exist in our world today. The first reason is because Edward is constantly doing heroic things to save Bella's life. In the books this is seen as great and Bella is seen as a practically helpless girl relying on Edward every step of the way. Even with overlooking the fact that real guys can't run at the speed of light and pick up vans, guys who are constantly rescuing girls are seen as white knights. The existence of a white knight is still longed for, but the existence of damsels in distress is becoming more and more frowned upon. If a girl is constantly needing rescuing and is fully dependent on a man, she is seen as forsaking her independence and as a "sellout" to her feminist peers. Girls are supposed to be strong and self-sustaining, and for a guy to constantly be saving them would be looked on with disdain rather than with admiration as they are in these books.
Another reason Edward cannot exist is because of his constant pressure on Bella to marry him. He convinces her to marry him at age eighteen and gets her pregnant on their honeymoon. In the books this is seen as soooo romantic and great that they're young and in love. In reality, if someone gets married and has a baby at age eighteen, this is seen as incredibly weird. Parents would not be as supportive as Edward and Bella's parents are. Society would put such a social stigma on them that it would undoubtably have an effect on their relationships with their families and friends and, in turn, on their relationship with each other. Also, raising a baby and keeping up a house at age eighteen would be financially pretty difficult if not impossible. Luckily, Edward has an unlimited supply of money at age seventeen. No seventeen year old in the world has an unlimited supply of money. Real people have to have jobs and have to struggle for a while before they can stand on their own feet. This is less romantic, though, so it's not in the story.
Edward can also not exist because his ending cannot exist. At the end of the Twilight books, Edward, Bella, and Renesme live happily ever after in their perpetually young and beautiful states with unlimited money, fancy cars, and beautiful house. Eternity is not seen as a progression of time that all of the characters will live through but rather a frozen state in which the moment of their extreme happiness will never end. This cannot happen. No one can be happy all the time. People are all going to have struggles in life, and the ups and downs of life are all part of reality. Edward never has to lose - he always wins and lives happily ever after in the end of any situation.
So, while many girls are looking for their "Edwards," they're going to be looking for a long time. He is a great ideal and makes a fantastic addition to the stories, but I fear that girls who constantly find themselves measuring the guys they meet against Mr. Cullen will find themselved perpetually disappointed. He's a fictional character, and no one quite like him will ever be able to exist. The fact of the matter is that reality keeps this from happening.