The myth of the vampire existed in a multitude of civilizations and cultures under various names such is strigoi (for the Romanian territory), Apotamkin, etc. But no matter the name, vampires will always refer to gothic creatures that drain the blood of humans, thus being monstrous. The first writer to introduce the vampire in literature was Lord Byron in the eighteenth century, but the most significant writer to develop the myth was Bram Stoker.
He is the „father” of the vampire as he gave a complete description of the vampire in his most famous book” Dracula”. After the release of the book, the myth of the vampire became extremely popular amongst writers and as a consequence the books whose main characters were vampires sky-rocketed. Amongst the most famous contemporary writers which developed and modified the myth of the vampire is Stephenie Meyer with her famous „Twilight”.
In her book we find a multitude of deviations from the myth but still she keeps many things as they are with the main purpose of enhancing the vampire’s romantic features. For instance, when Bella takes on the task of finding out the reason why Edward isn’t allowed to come to the La Push beach, she finds a book which describes what Edward is. When searching the camera focuses on all the key words that point to the unnatural and supernatural abilities which Edward has: „the cold one”, one who drinks” the immortal drink” , „undead”, „immortal” and so on.
When Bella confronts him she says that he is „impossibly fast and strong” that is another stereotype kept by Stephenie Meyer most definitely to put emphasis on the fact that Edward is a character that fits the pattern of romantic characters, and like all romantic characters he need features that make his special, that separate him from the crowd. Probably the greatest change that the myth of the vampire went through was the fact that it is no longer associated with the figure of „ walking cadavers” as popularised in the folklore, nor with the rich and aristocratic being as it appears in Bram Stoker’s „Dracula”.
Stephenie Meyer introduces a whole new perspective on the vampire and this is reflected in the movie as well. The director of the Twilight movie makes sure that Edward keeps his „angelic” aura which the author wanted to underline and he does so in the scene of the biology class, scene in which Bella was placed by their professor next to Edward. As she is walking towards him the camera focuses on him sitting in front of an owl which has the wings wide spread.
This scene is interesting from a visual point of view because of the positioning of the owl which gives the impression that Edward is actually winged, thus resembling an angel rather than a „monster”. But Stephenie Meyer isn’t so quick in erasing all the notorious mythological traits of the vampire. She introduces a few well known characteristics of the vampire unaltered. For instance vampires are „pale white and ice cold”, which is in fact the first clue Bella is given , clue which leads her to the truth of Edwards existence, to the fact that he is a vampire.
All these elements give us the image of a lifeless body, as the blood no longer circulates robbing the skin of its colour and of its warmth. Another element that circulates in the Twilight book/movie is the fact that vampires drink blood. What kind of blood is the real question. Edward and all the Cullen’s call themselves „vegetarians” as they only feast on the blood of animals not humans. Stephenie Meyer uses this particularity making it a clue that shows us the kind of vampire one is.
From the beginning of the movie Bella notices that Edwards’s eyes change colour. The first time she sees him his eyes were black, but after he returns form his „trip” the colour of his eyes turned golden-brown. So, the colour of their eyes are an indicative to how hungry they are for blood and how strong they are to resist the call of blood( the first time Edward didn’t even want to look at her but when his thrust was quenched he approached her rather suddenly and unexpectedly).
Another particularity of the eyes of a vampire is that they show whether a vampire feeds on human or animal blood. This is best shown in the baseball scene when James and the other vampires come and disrupt the Cullen’s game. The camera focuses on the eyes of every new vampire( which , as we were previously shown, attacked humans) and we can clearly notice that their eyes are scarlet red. So the redness of the eyes is an indicative of the fact that these vampires are not” vegetarians”. The similarities stop here.
There are definitely very few elements which are kept from all the previous books that present vampires, and to sum everything up we know that they have cold and pale skin, the fact that they drink blood and the fact that they are very fast and strong. The differences are way more numerous that the similarities and in this part of the essay we are going to present just that. Stephenie Meyer also introduces a lot of new elements. For instance the most important entirely new element is that blood has a distinguished smell, a smell which can trigger the vampires hunting instinct.
Edward calls the smell of Bella’s blood „ a drug” and „his personal brand of heroin”. First of all there is nothing that indicates Edward as a vampire apart from his cold and white skin( and the fact that he shines like diamonds but only in the sun). But if this were a novel written by let’s say Anne Rice, the vampire would definitely have fangs. Stephenie Meyes’s vampires don’t really have fangs, but really sharp teeth and when they bite they leave a pretty clear impression on the victims body as we are shown in the scene in which James bites Bella.
Another abolished myth is that vampires change their shape, and the most famous animal in which a vampire can turn into is the bat. This myth is not present in the movie as Edward like all his kin cannot fly; but Edward has the ability of running so fast that he appears to fly. When he runs at his full potential no one can even spot him doing so. To support this theory we have two scenes in which his speed is such that it actually makes him invisible to the naked eye. First of all we have the episode in which he save Bella from the car crash, running from the other side of the parking lot without being noticed.
The second time we witness this capacity of his to „disappear” in the scene in which Bella wake up in the middle of the night and sees him standing in a corner; but when she turns to turn on the lights and looks up at him again he isn’t there anymore. In fact he is so fast that he doesn’t even need to fly. This last scene is linked to another myth, or rather with the absence of a myth, the one according to which a vampire can only enter the house of someone only after he is invited.
It is obvious that Bella didn’t invite Edward in her room, but still he entered and this isn’t the only example which indicates this. Another feature of the vampire myth that Stephenie Meyer didn’t include in her book is the fact that her vampires have a reflection in the mirror. I could not demonstrate properly this theory because of the lack of mirrors in the movie but in the scene in which Bella first sees Edward, the camera focuses on him and we see, as he opens the door to enter the cafeteria, that he has a reflection in the glass (even through a glass is not a mirror it can show ones reflection).
In the same day when Bella confronts Edward and tells him that she knows what he is, he takes her to the top of the mountain to show her what he looks like in the sun. When a ray of light hits his skin Bella sees that his skin appears to be made out of diamonds. When she says that he is beautiful he answers” this is the skin of a killer”, „ you believe a lie, in a camouflage” ,” everything about me invites you in, my voice, my face even my smell”.
The fact that his skin shines in the sun is another novelty which Stephenie Meyer presents as all authors before her present vampires as creatures which are very vulnerably to the sun, as it can turn a vampire into ashes. All these elements that point to a perfect being; they are all part of their „weapons” as they ca attract their victims which find their irresistible charm. The fact that girls gravitate around Edward like moths around the light bulb is best shown in the scene in which he takes Bella to restaurant, when the waitress simply can’t take her eyes of him.
This is all part of their hunting strategy, and this is why Edward compares their relationship to that of a hunter and the hunted by saying that” the lion feel in love with the lamb”. When Bella enters Edward’s house for the first time we can see how the setting, the way in which they chose to decorate their house, a lot of myths are pulverised. When Bella came in the house she is astonished of how light and open the house is and Edward ironically asks” What did you expect? Coffins and dungeons? ; from his attitude we can conclude that they do not live in dark places and sleep in coffins as the myth states. Further more, when she gets to see his bedroom she does not spot a bed because Edward doesn’t ever sleep, so elements linked to sleep( whether it is the eternal sleep—coffins, or just regular sleep—beds) are entirely missing from the decor of the place. Another element that is in the house but that totally contradicts the myth of the vampire is the presence of a wooden cross, a big and ancient cross placed on the wall.
So, in Stephenie Meyer’s vision vampires do not have any fears concerning the cross, unlike previous authors that made the cross an object that can kill a vampire. This is interesting because of two things. First of all Meyer’s vampires cannot be killed by humans, they are too strong so they can only kill each other. Secondly because the cross symbolises God, the supreme power, the holy power that protects us; the fact that Meyer’s vampires do not dodge the cross means that they are no longer the creatures of demonic origin, no longer creatures from hell.
The fact that only vampires can kill vampires has already been established. But how is the question. We find that out in the scene in which James in killed by Edwards brothers. They do not use wooden stakes or a silver bullet to kill him as the only way of killing a vampire is to teat him apart and burn the pieces. To conclude it is safe to say that the vampire myth has undergone a number of important changes through the centuries which shows how „alive” these myths are, through the imagination of writers.