* * *Sandra L. Gravett’s book From Twilight to Breaking Dawn: Religious Themes in the Twilight Saga is another publication which examines the Twilight saga through a religious lens. Dr. Gravett is a philosophy and religion professor as well as a biblical scholar. She takes her expertise in these areas and uses it to show the reader how religious themes are clearly evident in Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight saga.
Gravett begins with a brief introduction, reminding (or in a rare case, enlightening) us of the societal impact that this book series has had in recent years. There is also a short summary of all four books, plus the mention of the online work Midnight Sun. These summaries are helpful for readers (like me) who have not read the entire series and do not mind plot spoilers.
Continuing, the subsequent chapters take on individual characters or issues and examine them in light of scripture and religious tradition. For the most part Gravett references the standard Christian Bible, but she also uses Mormon texts and other non-canonical books as reference points. As a Southern Baptist Christian, I personally had no need for the comparisons to issues found in non-canonical works. However, if you’re looking at these themes in a purely literary manner, they do provide some interesting things to ponder.
Several of the chapters single out one of the main characters in order to examine them. In one, Edward’s character is shown to be a Christ figure (according to the Kozlovic model). In another, Bella’s possibilities as an Eve figure as well as a Mary figure are explored. Father Carlisle is shown to be a God figure, and Renesmee also shows characteristics of a Christ figure.
Other theological and philosophical issues are addressed, such as determinism, moral choice and Armageddon. In these chapters we get to hear more about Mormon philosophy, as they highly value moral choice (as other faiths do). Armageddon’s ties into the final moments of Breaking Dawn are not as strong, but Gravett finds a few ways of comparing them. Overall, she concludes that “on the surface, nothing about the Twilight saga explicitly expresses a religious agenda.” (p.99) Yet at the same time, she notices that Meyer often suggests a Christian-themed progression.
Overall I enjoyed Dr. Gravett’s work. She came to this subject from the standpoint of a literary and philosophical scholar, not as one standing in any kind of negative judgment of the series. Everything was stated in observation, just as if she was holding a light up to parallels that may not have been easily seen in the past.
Gravett’s writing is well crafted and decidedly collegiate, and she ends each chapter with interesting discussion questions. This lends this title toward easy implementation in a classroom or any other small group discussion. The questions she raises and the ideas she presents have given me a deeper appreciation for not only themes that are in the Twilight saga, but also for other works of fiction that I may read in the future. Not every book, character or plot will perfectly mirror those found in scripture, but it becomes interesting to see how God’s word and philosophies can permeate all of life.
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