Tuesday, October 4, 2011

"Hosting" a Supernatural Party: Vampires, Werewolves, and Souls - Oh My!

I was discussing the prevalence and popularity of vampires with my students today (wouldn't you like to be in my class?) when a student suggested the popularity of all things supernatural stems from their ability to represent what we think and feel.  I was intrigued and responded with this question of my own:

"If vampires today represent society's thoughts on sex and love and vampires are supernatural, does that make sex and love supernatural?"

I was met with mostly silence and shrugged shoulders, but the question stuck with me.  My thoughts meandered down the most obvious path: equating sex and love with the supernatural is indicating that they are an arresting, but ultimately unbelievable, fantasy perpetrated by teenage girls.  Upon further meditation on the poster-boy for vampire love, Stephenie Meyer's Edward Cullen of the Twilight series, I decided instead that the vampire as lover is actually a metaphor for the enduring qualities of love (and sex in love).  When a vampire says he (or she) will love you forever, he/she does not mean until next week, next month, next year, or even the next fifty years.  He/she means until the world implodes, the second coming of Jesus forever.  Teen girls are especially susceptible to this definition of "forever love," which explains the fascination with gentlemanly Edward Cullen.  All of the vampires in the Twilight series mate for life (and their life has no end for the foreseeable future).  Even the evil vampires like James and Victoria have mates who they would die for.

The monogamy of supernatural creatures seems to be a hallmark of Meyer's fiction.  The werewolves of The Host.  It's a lengthy tome that I finally finished after lamenting its repetitive plot in an earlier post.  Despite the slow start, the plot is a refreshing step away from Meyer's traditional vampires vs. werewolves dance.  The world of the souls is at once desirable, i.e. peaceful, and creepy, read: terrifying.  Although it takes awhile for Wanderer's, aka Wanda, story to unfold, her life amongst the souls demonstrates careful thought and ingenuity on Meyer's part.  Once Wanda becomes comfortable in her new cave-dwelling, human existence, she loosens up, and so does Meyer, and begins to share stories of her travels.  From here on out, I couldn't put the novel down.
Forks, Washington are also proponents of forever love as evidenced by their ability to "imprint" or recognize their soulmate in another, barring age, as Jacob and Quil creepily exhibit.  Supernatural, everlasting love is a theme carried over into Meyer's "adult" novel published in 2008,

Of course at the heart of the novel is not one love-knows-no-bounds story but two.  After the first half, the novel speeds towards a predictable ending, but Meyer has learned from the anticlimactic conclusion of the Twilight series that love and happy endings are not without sacrifices.

Best matched with an interest in sci-fi, an affinity for Meyer's particular brand of storytelling, and a need for repetition.

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