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The Psychic Soul of `Twilight`
by Derryck Strachan
The Twilight Saga is perhaps one of the most popular film series in recent years, and has grossed over a billion dollars worldwide at the box office. Based on the series of four Twilight novels by author Stephenie Meyer, the films are to the outside observer a story of romance and drama entwined in a fantasy world containing vampires and werewolves. But what deeper spiritual meanings lie beneath the surface that hold such allure and intrigue for their young audience?

Alienation and the search for belonging

The protagonist of the saga is the young Bella, a teenage outcast in a new town who doesn’t quite fit in with the rest of the kids in her school. This feeling of alienation and loneliness is a familiar theme for many in their teenage years. As the story progresses however, this void is filled by an unlikely love interest in the form of Edward Cullen, whom she later discovers is a vampire. This less than ordinary romantic pairing perhaps holds a symbolic appeal for teenagers searching for a spiritual answer to their own loneliness. Feeling like the ‘normal’ world holds little for her, it is only natural that Bella turns to an ‘other’ who is radically different from anything or anyone to be found in conventional society.

Star-crossed lovers

Bella and Edward soon fall head over in heels in forbidden love in a manner reminiscent of Shakespeare’s classic tale of ‘star-crossed lovers.’ This deep yearning for a love that is taboo or unreachable may also strike a chord with many youngsters around the globe, particularly with those living in societies with traditional values that may impose strict norms on their lifestyle choices.
The relationship between Edward and Bella is a fine example of opposites attracting, he being a vampire and she being a mortal human, and must ring bells for anyone searching for their soul mate and wading through potential suitors to find one compatible with their spiritual personality type. It may also be seen as a call to action for continuation of the spiritual quest, and a reminder that even when you’re not looking, love compatibility can be found in the strangest of places.

The Transformation of youth

Spiritual changes are also of profound importance within the Twilight Saga. The character of Jacob Black, Bella’s childhood friend, experiences profound transformation of body and mind when he shape-shifts into a wolf. This animalistic transformation is triggered by the arrival of hostile vampires and can be seen to be a defence mechanism in response to a perceived threat. This deep change is symbolic of the many changes that young adolescents must go through on the path to adulthood, and how they may seek to turn themselves into something completely different in response to rapid change in their external environment.

Later on in the Saga, Jacob transforms into a wolf once more and runs away to deal with the pain of his unrequited love for Bella. This desire to regress to animal form and do away with the pain of being human may also strike a chord with Twilight’s young audience, who will likely be experiencing many of life’s great pains for the first time such as unrequited love, betrayal, loss and regret.

The spiritual difficulties of choice

Choice also plays a major part in the plot arc of the saga. As the story’s protagonist, Bella is the one who faces the hardest choices. One of these is the choice between her best friend Jacob and her true love Edward. This kind of choice is typical of the type faced by teenagers and young adults, and the audience no doubt feels her pain in making such an intolerable decision. Even more significant is the choice she must make whether to remain as a mortal human, or to ‘turn’ and become an immortal vampire. If she becomes a vampire she loses her very core, her humanity, but will be able to live forever with Edward, her one true love. Few teenagers are likely to be faced with such a stark and life altering choice, but it may be seen as symbolic of the important choices they face in their spiritual and physical lives. These may be whether to follow the religion of their parents or to make lifestyle choices that go against the grain of their society and its accepted norms. It is also symbolic of the spiritual and material sacrifices that must sometimes be made in the pursuit of true love.

A quest for something more

Two further films are set to be released in 2011 and 2012, and Twilight’s popularity seems certain to grow. Perhaps at the core of the film’s widespread fandom is a desperate spiritual yearning beyond the everyday reality we see with our eyes for something more deep, fantastical and meaningful.

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