Twilight- Stephanie Meyer (2005)
(Confused? I sure as hell am)
Yes, I admit it, I read Twilight. I didn’t like it, and only went on to read half of the sequel… and no, I didn’t see the P&P link. However, it has been said that Meyer based some of the ideas of the book on P&P, namely the struggling romance. Bella Swan is no Elizabeth Bennet. She has little to no wit, no strength and plays the struggling, clumsy victim for the duration of the book. Edward Cullen has the same darkness and mystery that surrounds Darcy, but he is too perfect, too faultless- and while he sneers at those he believes are below him (read: human) he doesn’t have any of the character development and opinion changes that Darcy embodies.
As for the romance between the two- there is this original dislike that serves Austen so well, however in Twilight Meyer makes the mistake of letting us know from the very beginning that they obviously like each other. In P&P we gradually see Lizzy change her mind about Darcy, whereas we only see Bella like Edward more and more- and although she is infuriated to start with, she still shows outward interest and attraction towards him. There are also some obvious similarities- the characters are in a very different situation in life, much like Lizzy and Darcy, however unlike this classic duo Bella and Edward’s situation is more like prey and predator than anything else. The dynamic between Lizzy and Fitzwilliam is also far more balanced, and we see a lot of push back from Elizabeth as she challenges the status quo. Bella submits, every time, to Edward and wishes to become a vampire to join in with him- rather than retain any sense of who she is.
The Jane Austen Society of North America believes that Twilight follows Pride and Prejudice closely (apart from the whole vampire thing), but I fail to see this. They think that because Bella’s parents are divorced, they must closely match Mr and Mrs Bennet who no longer love each other. Well… no, not really. I’m sorry, but although they don’t love each other, they are hugely different characters… and I’m fairly sure Mr. Swan still loves his ex-wife. The only other similarity with any sort of evidence at all, are the hardships that the two must overcome to eventually marry. But this is an ingredient of all successful romances and is hardly a suggestion that it is based on Austen’s best work.
I’ve heard that Meyer herself told people that she based the story, at least somewhat, on P&P- that is was a conscious decision on her part. I haven’t managed to find this interview, or anything claiming this, yet. (If you’ve found something that includes a comment from Meyer about this then please comment, I’d like to see/hear it). I know she is a fan of the book from reading articles about her life, and that somewhere she claims it was a bit of inspiration (also citing Muse and the X-Men- Entertainment Weekly online), but I can’t imagine that this was based on anything other than the dream she supposedly had about vampires.
It can be deduced that there are plot similarities, such as the spring dance being reminiscent of many of the balls in the novel, and Bella’s refusal of some of the boys as alike to Lizzy’s refusal to Mr. Collins (who similarly goes on to her friend in Twilight as he does Charlotte Lucas in P&P). However these similarities are slightly contrived, and generally thought of by people who want to see the parallels between the two. Are these credible examples?
Any encouragement to get Twilighters onto proper literature, however, is definitely a good thing. Maybe my dislike of Twilight is putting me off of finding any similarities that have a proper basis. Can you see anything in this comparison?
As brought to my attention by the reader below, Anna, the link made by Stephanie Meyer being mentioned is one made in a Hachette Book Group promotional video, called ‘Breaking Dawn’. You can find it here (bottom of the page, at the right) where Meyer says: “All of the books in the Twilight Saga have a classic inspiration, with Twilight it was Pride and Prejudice, very loosely related but there was definitely an element of Mr Darcy in Edward and an element of Elizabeth Bennet in Bella…” (she then discusses the other books relationships with Wuthering Heights et cetera).