The best thing that came from Twilight

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

Lately as I’ve browsed the YA shelves of Half Price Books, I’ve noticed a new trend: recovering classic novels similarly to Twilight and placing them in the YA section instead of the fiction section.

The first time I saw a recovering, it was of Wuthering Heights, and I was outraged. How dare they take one of the great classic novels and cheapen it by placing a cover based off of one of the worst novels of all time! What would Twilight fans think when, unfamiliar with the Brontë sisters, Shakespeare, or Jane Austen, whose styles (and vocabularies) are grossly different from Stephenie Meyer’s, they naively pick up Wuthering Heights, Romeo & Juliet, or Pride & Prejudice?

But then I paused and thought… they’d be picking up classic literature, whereas before they likely never would have. And what’s wrong with that? Any English teacher can attest to how difficult it is to get teenagers to willingly read these books. As much as I dislike Twilight and think it’s poorly written, if this crossover campaign causes teenagers to become interested in classic literature, who am I to complain? At least something positive will have come from the series.

Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

Apart from my personal pride and prejudice against Twilight, Romeo & Juliet and Wuthering Heights do have similar themes: they showcase extremely dysfunctional relationships.

The eponymous characters of Romeo & Juliet “fall in love” after briefly meeting each other and marry within days. Their romance leads to the death of their family members and themselves, as well as an all-out war between their families.

Heathcliff and Catherine from Wuthering Heights control and manipulate each other for their entire lives (and in one instance, beyond it). Their children’s lives are ruined because of their immaturity and severe selfishness. I’ve seen a few dramatizations of Wuthering Heights, and all of them romanticize Wuthering Heights as the “Greatest Love Story of All Time.” The interesting part is that they cut the movie at about the 1/3 mark of the novel. The reason why? If you told the whole story, you’d quickly realize that it’s a far cry from the greatest love story of all time. Far, far from it.

The only major difference between these two novels and Twilight is that the dysfunctional relationships aren’t romanticized. Indeed, both stories end tragically purely as a result of immature, obsessive romance.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Pride & Prejudice, on the other hand, is an excellent novel and one of my favorites. (I’m watching the BBC series as I write this!) Although the two main love plots in the novel experience many barriers, by the end, the reader can see that the relationship is healthy. The couples genuinely care for each other, make selfless sacrifices for the benefit of their partner, don’t attempt to control or manipulate, and don’t stalk “romantically.” The characters grow, develop and mature as a result of their relationships. Quite the opposite of any of the aforementioned novels.

Although I wish that teenagers would read these amazing classic novels own their own accord just because they’re wonderful, I know that’s a far-fetched notion. Twilight has many failings—none of which I desire to go into, as the subject tends to bring up violent passions on both sides—but if its popularity has led to more people reading classic literature, then I won’t complain.

I selected this post to be featured on my blog’s page at Book Review Blogs.

About these ads

Tags: , , , , ,

About Kimberly Dyer

Kimberly is a Reference Librarian at her local library in Texas. She loves reading Young Adult and Teen Literature.

3 responses to “The best thing that came from Twilight”

  1. Sandra K says :

    I hadn’t really thought about it like that…. good insight.

    Like this

  2. thewhisperingbook says :

    Pride and Prejudice is amazing. I’ve read the book, and watched the movie (well, one version of it, since there are so many). But I don’t read too much romance anyway. I like 1984, Animal Farm and Black Beauty more.

    But it’s an optimistic point you’ve brought up. Twihards may just start reading good literature because of the new covers! :)

    Like this

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 106 other followers

%d bloggers like this: