Since Breaking Dawn, Part I, is going to be released on Friday, Nov. 18, I thought this was a good time to post the following letter, first sent to Meridian Magazine on January 16, 2009:
I appreciated the article entitled "Edward, Self-Mastery and the Marital Fire" by Laura M. Brotherson. Obviously, there is a pull to the Twilight series that has been completely unexpected.
Sister Brotherson mentioned in her article that she hasn't read the series.
I have to admit that it took a long time for me to finally break down and read the Twilight series. Other than reading the Harry Potter series so that I could know whether it was safe reading for my kids (I didn't see any harm in the series) and other books that my children found interesting, I mostly read books on history and relationships.
I wasn't interested in reading a love story between a human and a vampire. I didn't think I could learn anything from a novel. I was wrong.
Through a strange and interesting twist of events, I was given a week all to myself in Washington, DC, where my husband of twenty-four years was teaching. As the mother of seven children between the ages of three and seventeen, I never get that kind of time to myself. A week stretched out in front of me. Since watching TV doesn't appeal to me, I picked up Twilight and was as smitten by the book as most readers have been. I read the entire series twice in one week.
When I got back from my read-a-thon, I sat down and wrote an ending chapter to a new book. It was about the fall of Adam.
I also read Midnight Sun, the book Stephenie released on the internet. It is in Edward's point of view.
Perhaps reading the entire series twice in one week enabled me to see patterns that might not be clearly visible to those who haven't read the series quite so quickly or so intensely.
The theme, over and over again, is one of protection. Edward, above all, is protective of Bella. He has a desire to protect her the first time he sees her. He hears some of the envious thoughts of the female students and feels an urge to step between her and the hurtful thoughts. It's a strange feeling. One he's never felt before.
As you saw from the movie, Edward protects Bella from the van. In the book, the van almost crushes her three times. Edward steps between her and the van THREE times. He makes the decision again and again to protect her.
Protective male as lover is the overwhelming theme of the book. Edward is willing to risk his life - exposure - to save Bella. He is willing to risk his happiness for her. He leaves her rather than risk her life or her soul.
Jacob, too, is protective of Bella. He is willing to break away from his wolf pack to protect Bella.
Some unknown vampire creates Alice and then dies protecting her from James. That information isn't discussed in the movie. But there is the theme of protective male - again.
Even the wives of the Volturi are put at the back of the vampire pack during their visit to accumulate Edward and Alice for Aro's collection. They will not be fighting - they are being protected.
Sister Brotherson's article hints at this. When men use self-mastery, they are actually being protective of their spouses. They are protecting them from their own excesses.
I believe the power in the series is the divine directive for men to protect women. The male protecting the female. In this post-Equal Rights era, women and men aren't allowed to feel comfortable with the divine order of things. Women play football with men and fight in the army next to them. When men lose the ability to protect the women in society, that society falls apart. The historical patterns are clear.
The speech Jacob gave to the Nephites in Jacob 1:7 comes to mind. "And also it grieveth me that I must use so much boldness of speech concerning you, before your wives and your children, many of whose feelings are exceedingly tender and chaste and delicate. before God..." This is the desire of a prophet to protect delicate feminine tenderness. Women cannot nurture if they have to defend themselves.
Moroni hoisted the title of liberty, "and wrote upon it - In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace. our wives, and our children -" (Alma 46:12). When the Jaredites and the Nephites ceased fighting for their women and instead fought with them, the whole people became entirely extinct. They didn't just die. They disappeared.
It is obvious from the enormous appeal of the series that women want and need to be protected.
I believe the power of the Twilight series is the divine power of the protective kind of love a man should have for his wife.