LDS supporting Stephenie Meyer discussion

a question of metaphor

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message 1: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen | 4 comments Mod
I have about decided that part of the problem some people have with the Twilight books is that they are taking Edward as a metaphor for teenage boys with raging hormones.

The thing is (and Orson Scott Card discusses problems with metaphors in science fiction and fantasy in his book HOW TO WRITE SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY--which I need to list in my Good Reads, come to think of it) that Edward is most emphatically NOT a metaphor for anything. He is a vampire with raging bloodlust.

If he were a metaphor, then I could see where there might be a problem.

Since he's not a metaphor, the next question might be, "Can teenage girls tell the difference between real, live teenage boys and imaginary vampires?" I submit that those who have problems with the books because they think Edward is a metaphor also don't believe teenage girls can tell the difference between what is real and what is imaginary.

And that's too bad, because I think they can tell the difference.

message 2: by Cayenne (new)

Cayenne | 1 comments I am pretty sure that as a teenage girl, I could tell the difference, but I haven't read the Twilight series, so I can't really say. Why am I in this group, then? Good question. I loved THE HOST. How can Edward not be a metaphor, though? If he isn't supposed to be a metaphor for teenage boys, maybe she should have made him look older, but that creates all kinds of other problems because she meets him at school, right?

message 3: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen | 4 comments Mod
Well, by metaphor, I mean that Stephenie is saying things about teenage boys and using Edward to represent them. I don't think she is saying things about teenage boys, but there are people who are all angry at her because they think she is. I think she is saying things about vampires. Meyer does not expect readers to take him as a symbol (metaphor) for teenage boys. She expects people to take him as a vampire.

When Orson Scott Card talks about writers using metaphors in science fiction and fantasy, he means that what a mainstream writer uses metaphors they are not expected to be taken literally. Example: "His eyes fell to the table" would mean that he looked down at the table in regular fiction, but in fantasy, it could mean they actually fell to the table.

Another example: "The baggage train snaked its way across the tarmac" in regular fiction would mean that it moved in a zig-zag manner, but in science fiction, it could mean that the baggage train actually was a snake moving across the tarmac.

Those two examples are metaphorical statements in regular fiction, but they could be literal statements in science fiction or fantasy or horror.

message 4: by Scott (last edited Dec 11, 2008 10:00AM) (new)

Scott (scottbear) | 5 comments I'll add my 2 coppers.

When my Mom told me she didn't want to see the movies, she told me that a friend had told her that reading the books was like watching a person with obsessive-compulsive disorder--who was untreated--in their modus operandi. The problem she has with it is that this obsessiveness is treated (according to this friend) as acceptable. Meyer doesn't moralize to the reader and say, "this is over the top, Bella really needs to cool it down, can you believe she's behaving this way?" My Mom comes from a perspective that in order to be good literature (or filmmaking), media needs to be moralistic, with good behavior portrayed as good, and bad behavior portrayed as bad, and nothing that is unwise, foolish, in bad taste, or inappropriate have a portrayal that is normalizing, accepting, or even tolerating.

My reply to this stance is that teenage love *is* obsessive, and it would be silly and dishonest for Meyer to portray it otherwise. It isn't just that Edward has this supernatural pull and attraction, its also that teens of all stripes (not just ones dating vampires) regularly think about their boyfriends all day, get lightheaded when touched by them, don't want to be anywhere except beside them, etc. So whether or not Edward is supposed to be a metaphor for teenage boys (and I don't think he is), the portrayal of teenage love, as bordering on obsessive-compulsive behavior, is true for a vast swath of the populace. It's called infatuation, and readers respond to the books, in part, I believe, because they can relate to this portrayal of infatuation as obsessive-compulsive.

We've all been there (except, perhaps, my Mom), and we can relate. That helps us love the books--not because it is showing us a moralistic view of the way tame and wise people engage in love, but the way we often behave (or want to behave) in oh-so-human ways.

Now, as to the question of whether Edward is a metaphor for teenage boys, I think that is far from the mark. It would be NICE if teenage boys were so self-restrained as Edward chooses to be.

Unlike our hero, so many of them are eager to take advantage of a young girl. She thinks "I want to be with him all the time, talk with him, look into his eyes, touch his hand, feel his hand touching my face." And at the same time, he sees this eagerness as an opportunity--he's thinking of how all this could lead to the "good stuff"--getting to see her underwear (or what's beneath it), getting to touch her in places that she isn't bargaining for. It's unfortunate, but girls just don't seem to realize how persistently focused young male minds are on sex, and inasmuch as they underestimate the power of testosterone to cloud male perceptions and goals, they are going to get more than they expect. Such as when they lay on a meadow alone with a boy, spend time alone in a bedroom with a boy, go on extended road trips with a boy, and other incredibly foolish things that Meyer has Bella doing with Edward--without thinking for one moment that she could be in danger.

Unfortunately, those kinds of choices (putting yourself in the wrong place, without safeguards, and just expecting that things will somehow be fine) don't work out so well for today's teenage girls as they do for Bella. So (1) Bella's freewheeling attitude about safety is disturbing, and not a good model to follow, and (2) if only we could compare Edward to teenage boys, that would be nice--but I think teenage boys are actually more dangerous.

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