On the Twilight series

Romeo, Ripley, and Bella Swan

By Rosemary Clement-Moore

Romeo and Juliet nearly killed my GPA in high school. This is difficult for me to admit, being not only a literature geek, but a theater major. Shakespeare wrote some of the world’s most beautiful verse for those tragic lovers from Verona, but it took me a long time to understand why the play is a classic. What does this have to do with Stephenie Meyer’s compulsively readable, engrossingly gothic tale of Bella Swan and the vampire she loves? Well, Twilight is a little like Romeo and Juliet, except one of the pair is already dead. Meyer nods to this by opening New Moon with a quote from the play. Within the first chapter, Bella and Edward are discussing the similarities (sort of) between their relationship and that of Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers, and I’m patting myself on the back for my masterful insight. It’s the parallels to Shakespeare’s play that keep readers turning pages. One of the strengths of Bella and Edward’s story, at least for me, is that, for the first three books, it never loses the sense of jeopardy. Meyer doesn’t shy away from hurting her main characters. The happy ending does not feel like a forgone conclusion. The allusions to Romeo and Juliet are a reminder that love does not conquer all. In fact, sometimes it can really screw things up. Yes, I said the first three books. Breaking Dawn breaks this mold, so let’s just put the fourth book on the shelf for a moment and  …

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