On the Twilight Saga

The Case for Edward Cullen

By Susan Carnell

Possessive, moody, unreliable murderer, 104 years old with weird yellow eyes, seeks shy, pallid, clumsy teenage girl with low self-esteem for unprecedented levels of sexual tension with no payoff. Likes: rainy weather, killing animals, drinking blood. Dislikes: smiling, hanging out with humans, sunlight.” Would you date this man? I have to say he’s not exactly what I’d call my type.

But what about this one? “Athletic, brainy, supernaturally handsome romantic with intriguing past (and healthy bank balance) holding out for True Love. Excitement, passion, and devotion guaranteed–no interest in playing the field. Likes: flying, fast cars, being a gentleman, buying expensive gifts. Social competence, physical coordination, and conventional attractiveness immaterial–will love unconditionally.”

Now you’re talking.

While both profiles are pretty accurate representations of Edward Cullen’s character, I think everyone would agree the second is infinitely more appealing. But here’s the surprising thing: Bella Swan doesn’t just love Edward because of all his good qualities–her psychology also drives her to desire the bad ones. And it’s not just Bella–in all likelihood the rest of us would fall for him, too, vampire or no. Let me explain why.

First, let’s deal with the obvious. Edward is six foot two, lean and gorgeous, with tousled hair, a “low, attractive” voice, and “surprisingly hard and muscular” forearms. What’s not to like? These traits all signal masculinity, testosterone, and good reproductive ability. Women are evolutionarily programmed to lust after this guy.

Take height. Numerous studies have shown that females of all ages prefer to date taller men. Some researchers (small  …

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