Twilight: Book Summary, Theme & Author

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  • 0:01 Background on Twillight
  • 0:35 Plot Summary
  • 2:58 Inspiration and Popularity
  • 3:28 Major Themes in Twilight
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Francesca Marinaro

Francesca M. Marinaro has a PhD in English from the University of Florida and has been teaching English composition and Literature since 2007.

Twilight is one of the most popular young adult fantasy novels within recent years. With film adaptations, fan-fiction, and a huge following of teen girls, it is easily tagged a cultural phenomenon. This lesson will give a brief overview of the book's plot and major themes, and test your knowledge with a quiz.

Background on Twilight

It was the best-selling book of 2008, has been translated into 37 languages, and has created a craze in popular culture commonly referred to as the Twilight Phenomenon. Its film adaptations have smashed box-office records, and everywhere you go, teen girls are debating over 'Team Edward' or 'Team Jacob.' All in all, millions of people have wanted to take a bite out of Stephenie Meyer's popular young adult vampire novel, Twilight (first published in 2005), possibly for its romance, intrigue, sparkly vampires, and danger.

Plot Summary

Meet 17-year-old Isabella (Bella) Swan, a teenager like many other; she's just left Phoenix to live with her dad in Forks, Washington, while her mom is busy traveling with her new husband. As if settling into a new routine in a new school isn't enough, Bella becomes entangled with the most mysterious boy in her class, the attractive and aloof Edward Cullen.

When Edward saves Bella's life in the school parking lot after a classmate's van nearly crushes her, she starts to wonder obsessively about who he is. Normal boys don't go around picking up cars as if they were stacks of books, after all.

While chatting with her new friend Jacob Black, of the local Indian tribe, Jake tells Bella that the Cullen family is dangerous and is on bad terms with his tribe. After this discussion, Bella develops a theory that Edward and his family are vampires who drink animal, rather than human, blood. Edward confirms this, explaining that the main reason he kept his distance from her at first was that he found the scent of her blood too tempting.

Edward and Bella begin a relationship, and among other things, Bella learns that one of the reasons why overcast Washington State is an appealing place for the Cullen family to live is that when these vampires go out in the sunlight, they don't disintegrate like Dracula; rather they sparkle. Whenever he's absent from school on supposed camping trips, he's really off hunting animal prey.

Despite the fact that Edward is an ancient vampire rather than a 17-year-old boy, his relationship with Bella goes fairly well until another family of vampires arrives in town, curious about the Cullens' befriending a human. The Cullens are a rare kind of vampire in their decision to suppress their urges for human blood.

One of the members of the new vampire family, James, decides to go after Bella just for the fun of hunting a human. The Cullens send Bella to hide in Phoenix, but James tracks her down and lures her to him by tricking her into thinking he's holding her mother hostage. He nearly kills her before Edward and his family show up to save the day but unfortunately, James has managed to bite Bella's hand. The only thing that keeps her from becoming a vampire is Edward's quick thinking, as he sucks the poison from the wound.

The novel ends with Edward and Bella attending their junior prom, at which Bella tells Edward she wants to become a vampire. He refuses, telling her he hates being immortal and doesn't want that life for her. It's a battle they will continue having with each other throughout the remaining books in the series.

Inspiration and Popularity

Stephenie Meyer claims to have written Twilight based on a dream she had about a vampire boy who was in love with a human girl. She drew inspiration from some of literature's most famous stories, from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility to Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights.

Twilight and the other novels in the series (New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn) sparked a plethora of fan-fiction, several successful film adaptations, and a multimillion-dollar franchise in Twilight merchandise.

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