by Emily Fuller
Arnaudin B, 2008: Mormon Vampires: The Twilight Saga and Religious Literacy, A Master’s Paper for the M.S. in L.S. degree. University of North Carolina.
Edwin Arnaudin’s master’s paper provides an interesting perspective on the religion of Stephanie Meyer, the author of the Twilight books, and the impact it had on her writing. Stephanie Meyer has been a devout Mormon for her entire life, and according to Arnaudin, this has shaped the way she writes. Arnaudin points out that although Mormon scripture and the LDS church are never explicitly mentioned in the Twilight books, there are many aspects of the book that have clearly been influenced by Stephanie Meyer’s faith.
There is a lot of discussion, especially amongst the Cullen’s, about the ‘meaning of life’, and souls and redemption. Carlisle’s admission that this kind of discussion “sounds a little bizarre coming from a vampire” is a line which Arnaudin believes sums up the whole Twilight series perfectly. Arnaudin outlines each main character’s opinion on the fate of the vampires. Although there are many different views, the existence of souls, and the value of good deeds are central themes.
The only direct reference to Mormon literature Arnaudin was able to find is Meyer’s tribute to her favourite story from the Book of Mormon. The young warriors from the scripture are represented in the Twilight series by the young men of the Quileute tribe, who are revealed to be vampires.
According to Arnaudin, the books are only popular because people don’t know enough about Mormonism to be able to find these references. He believes that if people were made aware of these references they may feel betrayed at being ‘subjected’ to such material.
The paper is well written, and can be understood even by those who have no prior knowledge of Mormonism or Twilight. However, Arnaudin fails to go past the surface of Meyer’s writing in his analysis. All of his examples are relatively obvious, and open. He doesn’t analyse themes which are hidden a bit deeper in the writing, such as the traditional gender roles in the book, which could also be quite closely linked to Meyer’s Mormon upbringing.