Writers are sometimes fond of posting a bit of prose or poetry before a larger work, such as a novel, and the Twilight Saga is no exception. If you look at the beginning of the first three books and at three separate places in the fourth book, there is a short quote or piece of poetry, linking part of the Twilight Saga to the larger literary world of story.
These are not throwaway pieces of poetry on the part of the author. They are carefully chosen for their meaning and the similarities that mirror the story of the Twilight Saga and give readers further insights into the story.
At the beginning of the first book in the Twilight Saga, also entitled “Twilight”, there’s a short Bible verse from the book of Genesis, the first book in the Bible. It reads as such:
“But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” (Genesis 2:17 KJV)
It was this quote that led to the iconic book cover of the two pale white hands holding an apple out in an offering gesture. This is “forbidden fruit”, just as Adam and Eve were forbidden to taste the fruit of the tree of good and evil.
The story of Adam and Eve in the Book of Genesis actually holds many parallels with the first book of the Twilight Saga. Adam and Eve were the first man and woman, placed by God into the Garden of Eden. They were allowed to eat from any tree in the garden, except one. If they ate fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil they were warned that they would “surely die”, as the quote says.
A serpent in the Garden tempted Eve with the forbidden fruit. The serpent told her that she would become “as gods, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5). She ate the fruit, and then gave some to Adam as well, and he ate it. When God found out what they had done, they did not immediately physically die, but were turned out from the beautiful garden into the world as we know it, as mortals, and they were forbidden to return to the Garden.
The story of Adam and Eve is complex and controversial, and the nuances of the Book of Genesis have been debated for as long as the story has existed. This debate is beyond the scope of this article. Instead, we are considering why Stephanie Meyer chose this particular quote to begin the story of Twilight, and already there are some clear literary parallels to be made.
Bella and Edward are not the first man or the first woman, except in being each other’s first love, but their lonely obsessive love for one another blocks their minds to just about everyone else, so that they are alone together in their longing for each other. At one point in the story, Edward takes Bella to a “meadow [that] was small, perfectly round, and filled with wildflowers” – very much like a garden, where they can be more intimate with each other. (259) The echoes of Adam and Eve’s story in the Garden of Eden are there.
Recurring themes of good and evil and temptation are apparent in Edward’s thoughts. Edward considers himself an evil creature for his desires to kill Bella, even though he doesn’t act on them. The vampires that hunt humans and kill them for blood are much less concerned for the welfare of humans, and thus have lost something of their humanity in the process. Adam and Eve experienced loss of their garden paradise when they gave in to temptation to eat the fruit and became mortal – a “death” of one kind of creature meaning a “birth” of another kind of creature. There’s a sense of this in the wording used for when a new vampire is created, and referred to as “a newborn.” – or in other words, a new creature.
Some scholars of the Bible have speculated that the forbidden fruit of Genesis was really sex, and sex is undeniably tied to temptation. Edward is attracted to more than Bella’s blood in the Twilight story. He is also attracted to her sexually, and Bella to him as well.
One of the most central character conflicts of the story of Twilight is Edward’s temptation to drink Bella’s blood, thus killing the woman he loves. Eventually she adds to the temptation, since she wants to be with him, and the only way she can is if she becomes a vampire herself.
Bella lives under the constant threat of Edward giving in to his temptation for her blood, and she tempts him with her “forbidden fruit” because her own desires for him are very strong. If Bella gives in to her temptation, again it will mean death, but not a death as in leaving her body and Edward, but joining Edward in a living death. In wanting something she should not, Bella finds herself in Eve’s place, tempting Adam as in the Book of Genesis.
The story of Twilight holds many parallels of theme to the story of Adam and Eve in the book of Genesis in the Bible. The central conflict is the two main characters in the story, and the temptation they face. Giving into the temptation means death, but the female (Bella or Eve) feel that giving in is the right thing to do, and will lead to good things. Thus, the poetry of the book of Genesis is a fitting lead-in for the story of Twilight.