In my Honors Thesis, Things That Go Bump in the Night: Vampires and Feminism, I develop a feminist critique of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series (2005-2008). I use Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula (1897), Sheridan LeFanu’s novella Carmilla (1872), and Joss Whedon’s television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003) in order to highlight Twilight’s domestication of female identity against these other vampire texts. I argue that throughout these vampire works there is a shift in the representation of vampires towards a more domesticated, or self-controlled, vampire that is seen in Twilight. This domesticity not only applies to vampires, however, as Meyer confines females, particularly Bella, to traditional female roles. In doing so, the series comes to represent an overwhelming backlash against the struggle of feminism. Rather than showing an empowered female as seen in Buffy, in Twilight the female is shown as a regressive figure akin to the Victorian ideal of womanhood, creating a backlash against this empowered feminist ideal. Bella comes to symbolize that backlash through her weakness and dependency on male characters to give her value. She illustrates female submission in a male dominated world: disempowering herself and symbolically disempowering women. The series does so by Bella not only viewing herself in a negative light, but through the depictions of the largely domesticated vampires. Whereas previous vampire works depicted vampires as threats and outsiders to society, Twilight depicts vampire characters as accepted in society, integrating their lives into mainstream society; as such, they highlight modern society’s fascination with physical appearance and the ideal of female beauty.
Bite Me: Twilight Stakes Feminism.
Undergraduate Review, 7, 148-153.
Available at: https://vc.bridgew.edu/undergrad_rev/vol7/iss1/27
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