Now, to anyone who has read Jane Eyre, this comparison may seem ridiculous… and it is.
But there is a need, mostly because Stephenie Meyer has put Jane Eyre in the same sentence as Twilight several times (trivia I could have lived without: originally she named Rosalie “Carol”). She said that she got Edward’s name from Mr. Rochester, and has listed Jane Eyre as one of her “inspirations” for Twilight.
“I read it when I was nine,” says Meyer, ”and I’ve reread it literally hundreds of times. I do think that there are elements of Edward in Edward Rochester and elements of Bella in Jane.”
You heard it right folks – literally hundreds of times. So, she must know Jane better than I do, because I’ve only read it a couple of times a year since I was 13 years old; sometimes I read it more often and sometimes less. That means I’ve probably only read it between 20 and 40 times, but Stephenie Meyer has read it literally hundreds of times. Yikes! She must read it at least seven or eight times a year to get that number.
There is a parallel between the creation of both characters:
- It is said that Charlotte Bronte wrote Jane Eyre to prove that a heroine doesn’t need to be rich or beautiful to be interesting. Similarly, Meyer has said that Twilight was based on an idea about a “normal” teenage girl and a vampire.
- They are both teenage (17 and 18, respectively) brunettes who are exceptionally pallid in complexion.
- Both Bella and Jane have somewhat weak constitutions, with a tendency towards fainting episodes.
- Both Bella and Jane closely resemble their creators. Bella looks like Stephenie Meyer and Jane looks like Charlotte Bronte.
- Both of them get to experience the fantastical love of a Byronic hero which their authors never had in real life. I feel fairly safe in saying that Meyer probably never actually got to be worshipped by a vampire and I also know that Bronte’s real-life Rochester, Constantin Heger, probably never loved her back and definitely never married her.
When I list it like that, it seems like they’re practically sisters, doesn’t it?
Nevertheless, Jane could kick Bella’s ass from here to eternity using the sheer force of her awesomeness.
[Beware of spoilers]
Jane has real problems.
Let’s look at Jane’s life, shall we? Orphaned, raised by people who didn’t love her and sent to a school where you had to break ice just to wash your face in the morning. The highlight of her week was a Sunday lunch consisting of a single piece of bread with butter on it and this was usually stolen from her.
Many a time I have shared between two claimants the precious morsel of brown bread distributed at tea-time; and after relinquishing to a third half the contents of my mug of coffee, I have swallowed the remainder with an accompaniment of secret tears, forced from me by the exigency of hunger.
Half of her friends die of typhoid, and her best friend dies of tuberculosis in her arms. When she is 18 she ventures out into the world to work for a stranger as a governess to a child she has never met. Over the course of the book she ends up destitute, begging for food and freezing nearly to death in a field.
Bella has problems too. She doesn’t like the place where her daddy lives, you know. Forks is rainy, you see.
It was in this town that I was compelled to spend a month every summer until I was fourteen. That was the year I finally put my foot down; these past three summers, my dad, Charlie, vacationed with me in California for two weeks instead. It was to Forks that I now exiled myself – an action that I took with great horror. I detested Forks.
But wait! That’s not all! She also has to buy a car, pronto, or her father might end up having to drive her places.
My primary motivation behind buying a car, despite the scarcity of funds, was that I refused to be driven around town in a car with red and blue lights on top. Nothing slows down traffic like a cop.
Before the book is done, Bella will be subjected to gym class, be propositioned by several attractive young men, get lost while out shopping with her friends, and take an unnecessary taxi cab ride to a ballet studio in Phoenix before ending up in the hospital with people hanging over her lovingly.
Jane has a healthy self-esteem.
Throughout Jane Eyre, it is made clear that Jane is not pretty. She herself admits to it, and she is often referred to as plain by other people. Even Rochester, who worships her, calls her his “pale little elf” and his “mustard seed”. Jane has no pretensions about her looks.
I sometimes regretted that I was not handsomer[….] I felt it a misfortune that I was so little, so pale, and had features so irregular and so marked.
But she doesn’t let it get her down. Wistful as she might be at times about her appearance, Jane overall has a good opinion of herself. She believes herself to be respectable, intelligent, and a moral person, and she considers this to be more important than looks or wealth. She applies this principle to herself as well as to others. Mr. Rochester was not chosen for his looks.
“Am I hideous, Jane?”
“Very, sir: you always were, you know.”
Even when she thinks that Mr Rochester is going to marry Blanche Ingram, who was beautiful and rich, she tells us dryly,
I was not jealous: or very rarely;–the nature of the pain I suffered could not be explained by that word. Miss Ingram was a mark beneath jealousy: she was too inferior to excite the feeling.
That’s right. Jane feels superior to the beautiful and wealthy Blanche. She pooh-poohs Miss Ingram for being proud, unkind, and unoriginal. She believes that she herself is Mr. Rochester’s true intellectual equal. Nor is she afraid to tell him so.
“I have as much soul as you –and full as much heart! And if God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you. I am not talking to you now through the medium of custom, conventionalities, nor even of mortal flesh: it is my spirit that addresses your spirit; just as if both had passed through the grave, and we stood at God’s feet, equal –as we are!”
Hey, Bella! Do us a favour and treat us to a sample of your self-image, will you please?
“I’m absolutely ordinary — well, except for bad things like all the near-death experiences and being so clumsy I’m almost disabled. And look at you.” I waved my hand toward him and all his bewildering perfection.
Oh. Well, it’s okay to be ordinary and there’s certainly nothing wrong with having a disability. Deep inside, you must feel that you and Edward are akin to each other, and that he is your intellectual equal, right?
I wasn’t interesting. And he was. Interesting… and brilliant… and mysterious… and perfect… and beautiful… and possibly able to lift full-sized vans with one hand.
Well. But no one’s perfect, right? I mean, I have a Perfect Husband, but it’s the husband stuff he’s perfect at. He’s not a perfect person. You understand that Edward has flaws, too, right? Like (oh, picking something at random) a desperate thirst for your blood?
He was too perfect, I realized with a piercing stab of despair. There was no way this godlike creature could be meant for me.
Ohhh, right. You have the self-esteem of a wet dish rag and are nowhere near as useful.
Jane is feisty.
As anyone who has ever taken a Victorian Lit class knows, Charlotte Bronte was a feminist and Jane Eyre pretty much kick-started feminist literature. Jane spends the entire book verbally kicking ass and taking names. When a boy four years older than her throws a book at her, she descends on him in rage and attacks him. She wins a verbal battle against her unloving aunt at the tender age of ten. Her pugnacious attitude remains at adulthood, although it is tempered by some reason and maturity. Jane stands up to all of Rochester’s shenanigans, even when he is her boss and she his humble dependant.
“Give me back nine pounds, Jane; I’ve a use for it.”
“And so have I, sir,” I returned, putting my hands and my purse behind me. “I could not spare the money on any account.”
“Little niggard!” said he, “refusing me a pecuniary request! Give me five pounds, Jane.”
“Not five shillings, sir; nor five pence.”
“Just let me look at the cash.”
“No, sir; you are not to be trusted.”
Nor is she afraid to tell Rochester just what she thinks of his choice in bride, even as she struggles in his manly grip.
“you are a married man–or as good as a married man, and wed to one inferior to you–to one with whom you have no sympathy–whom I do not believe you truly love; for I have seen and heard you sneer at her. I would scorn such a union: therefore I am better than you–let me go!”
“Jane, be still; don’t struggle so, like a wild frantic bird that is rending its own plumage in its desperation.”
“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being with an independent will, which I now exert to leave you.”
Another effort set me at liberty, and I stood erect before him.
Bella, by contrast, has the backbone of a whelk or some other flaccid sea creature. Observe Bella caught in a physical struggle with her own tempestuous Byronic hero:
“Let go!” I insisted. He ignored me. I staggered sideways across the wet sidewalk until we reached the Volvo. Then he finally freed me – I stumbled against the passenger door. “You are so pushy!” I grumbled.
As he pulled out of the parking lot, I was preparing to give him the silent treatment — my face in full pout mode — but then I recognized the music playing and my curiosity got the better of my intentions.
Way to stay strong, Bella. You just let a teenage boy you hardly know whisk you out of school in the middle of the day and physically force you into his car. However, I’m sure your chosen weapons of pouting and silent treatment would have overpowered him eventually, if only that tinkly music hadn’t distracted you.
Bella spends her time cooking for her father, folding laundry, and mooning over Edward. She also spends a lot of time falling over and protesting feebly.
I tried to get up, but Edward’s cold hand pushed my shoulder down.
“Just stay put for now.”
“But it’s cold,” I complained.
Not only does Jane totally avoid the pouting routine, but she even stands up to Rochester when he starts getting disgustingly saccharine. When Rochester sings love songs at her about how he loves her eternally etc etc, she tells him off for getting too sappy.
I whetted my tongue: as he reached me, I asked with asperity, “whom he was going to marry now?”
“That was a strange question to be put by his darling Jane.”
“Indeed! I considered it a very natural and necessary one: he had talked of his future wife dying with him. What did he mean by such a pagan idea? I had no intention of dying with him–he might depend on that.”
“Oh, all he longed, all he prayed for, was that I might live with him! Death was not for such as I.”
“Indeed it was: I had as good a right to die when my time came as he had: but I should bide that time, and not be hurried away in a suttee.”
“Would I forgive him for the selfish idea, and prove my pardon by a reconciling kiss?”
“No: I would rather be excused.”
Here I heard myself apostrophised as a “hard little thing;”
Every time I hear her going on about how she has every right to die whenever she wants, I laugh. Now, let’s look in on Bella and see how her little romance is going, shall we?
“I’m here…which roughly translated means I would rather die than stay away from you.” I frowned. “I’m an idiot.”
Hey, Bella, you said it, not me.
Jane can write; proper, sentences.
There was no possibility of taking a walk that day. We had been wandering, indeed, in the leafless shrubbery an hour in the morning; but since dinner (Mrs. Reed, when there was no company, dined early) the cold winter wind had brought with it clouds so sombre, and a rain so penetrating, that further out-door exercise was now out of the question.
Now, that’s a way to start a novel. It sets the scene. The words flow easily off of the tongue. Even more importantly, it is grammatically correct. Moreover, the novel continues to use good grammar right to the very end!
Bella starts with,
I’d never given much thought to how I would die — though I’d had reason enough in the last few months — but even if I had, I would not have imagined it like this.
Now, if you include contractions and variations in tense, that single opening sentence contains the verb “to have” five times. Two of them are right next to each other (“I had had” is grammatically correct but phonetically awkward)! I struggle with passive voice myself (an echo from writing term papers in school) but Bella takes it to a whole new level!
Meyer says she can see elements of Jane in Bella. She must mean the love of semicolons and dashes, with which both Jane and Bella pepper their text freely. However, Jane uses them correctly. Bella, on the other hand, writes as if a full stop is something to be avoided at all costs. Bella writes sentences like this:
It was just as well; the recent growth spurt had left him looking gangly and uncoordinated, he was probably no better a dancer than I was.
That’s right. Despite a multitude of ellipses, dashes, and semicolons, Bella still manages to commit a comma splice. She also commits atrocities like this:
I heard my favourite sound in the world: Edward’s quiet laugh, weak with relief.
Either Bella’s favourite sound is specifically Edward laughing weakly with relief, or she has failed again to use punctuation correctly. Bella’s fear of the full stop, however, can occasionally be overcome, usually just before a coordinating conjunction:
He was friendly and clearly admiring. But it wasn’t enough to ease my irritation.
or before a sentence fragment:
Surely it was a good way to die, in the place of someone else, someone I loved. Noble even.
Now you may wonder why I pick on Bella for this, when obviously it is Stephenie Meyer’s fault. Well, it isn’t, really. I’m sure the world is full of authors who overuse their commas and start sentences with coordinating conjunctions. I know that I am guilty of it frequently. It’s an editor’s job to catch incorrect spelling and punctuation. A high school English student would catch a sentence like this:
The thickset man shrugged away from the wall as I came warily to a stop, and walked slowly into the street.
First of all, who walked slowly into the street? Was it the thick-set man or Bella? This is the kind of poorly structured sentence which anyone with the word “Editor” in their job title should be able to spot in their sleep. Secondly, and Bella makes this mistake constantly, she uses commas before “and” when it’s followed by a non-independent clause. For the example above, there shouldn’t be a comma before “and” because “walked slowly into the street” is not an independent clause. I don’t expect Meyer to know this. Everyone makes this mistake. I bet if you trawled through this post you could probably find at least one example of me doing it (let me know when you find it!). But it’s an editor’s job to catch basic stuff like this.
The fact that the editor did NOT fix sentences like the ones above tells me one of two things: either Meyer’s editor is an uneducated idiot who would make Strunk and White roll over in their grave, or this is actually a character point. In other words, they left in the terrible sentences and punctuation because that’s how Bella writes. Since I refuse to believe that there are editors out there who are paid good money to miss obvious grammatical errors, I choose to believe the latter. So that makes it Bella’s fault, right?
I wouldn’t mind so much except that Bella spends a lot of time sighing about how easy school is and how little she pays attention (do you see that? There is no comma!).
Jane doesn’t need to remember her autonomic functions
Very few people point out this quality in Jane Eyre. I myself never gave it much thought until I ran into Bella Swan. It is remarkable that in all the times I have read Jane Eyre (and I have read it at least once a year since I was 13, although this hardly competes with Meyer’s “literally hundreds” of times) that I never noticed how easily she breathes. Jane may be freaking out with fear in the red room, or suffering shortness of breath after discovering the contents of Rochester’s attic, but she always remembers to breathe. She even says
while I breathe and think, I must love him.
This indicates to me that Jane considers her breathing to be a fairly constant and unstoppable physiological reality. Not all heroines have this quality, you know.
It wasn’t until my head started to swim that I realized I wasn’t breathing.
In a separate incident, there was this:
“I think I forgot to breathe.”
It’s not just breathing, either. Bella’s brain takes the “my heart skipped a beat” expression a little too literally.
The beeping noise accelerated wildly before his lips even touched me. But when they did, though with the most gentle of pressure, the beeping stopped altogether. He pulled back abruptly, his anxious expression turning to relief as the monitor reported the restarting of my heart.
I don’t know if anybody puts a sentence together better than Charlotte Bronte. I used to love writing essays on her novels because my own writing got better just from the recent exposure.
That said, contemporary critics often pointed out that Jane’s conversations with Rochester are ludicrous – Bronte was a brilliant writer but her dialogue is simply preposterous. It’s true – but it also doesn’t matter. If Jane and Rochester started talking like actual human beings, they wouldn’t be Jane and Rochester anymore.
Really? I love their dialogue. I always found it charmingly informal when they’re snipping at each other. Unless you mean when he asks her enigmatic questions from his easy chair.
I will admit that I have never read Jane Eyre (yes, I’m very ashamed!). However, it IS on the list of books I would like to read when I have the ability to do so again (for fun, that is…).
Twilight has never and WILL never be on said list. Even though people have hyped up the hype surrounding this series, I have had no interest in reading it. I have LOVED the way you’ve picked this book apart and have relished every single moment of it whilst remember to breathe. 😛
I consider Twilight to be just another popular piece of drivel that has polluted the bookshelves of stores across the planet. It became popular because self-absorbed teenage girls have loved getting lost in their pages. Honestly, I shouldn’t be complaining about that part because at least they’re reading and not texting or doing drugs or having sex, but what passes for literature these days certainly doesn’t measure up to the likes of Bronte or her peers.
It’s true. Reading is reading, and it’s good that teenage girls have found something they like to read. If only it didn’t set such a terrible example, but I guess it could have been worse. It could have been “LOL. Edward r hot.”
Holy Interruptus Batman said:
Bravo! Bravo! Great post! Unlike both you and Meyer I only read Jane Eyre once when I was 11, so I remember hardly anything about it, though enough to scoff at the thought of comparing Bella to Jane. When you compare the two piece of literature, “Bella’s” writing is so abysmal, whereas ludicrous or not, Bronte writes so fluidly and charmingly, it’s hard not to love! Anyway I AM going to reread Jane Eyre right now, I have to catch up with you and Meyer!
But can you read it HUNDREDS OF TIMES?
I haven’t re-read Jane Eyre in years, either. I do remember liking it very much but, as Bea pointed out, writing feminist treatises disguised as witty repartee really has gone out of fashion.
However – brilliant post. I don’t know how you find the time to write English Lit papers these days, but I’m glad you do.
And I LOVE how you ended it by pointing out that Bella is so dim she needs to be reminded to breathe. AWESOMESAUCE.
Hahaha, I’ve been working on this post for over a week. My biggest problem was that it DID keep turning into an English Lit paper. I’d look it over and realize that I was beginning to witter on about the protagonist’s agency, and psychic growth, and I’d think “NO ONE WANTS TO READ THIS” and delete big swaths of it. I don’t want to tell you how late in the night I had to stay up (going back once an hour to re-nurse Babby to sleep) to finally finish it, because then you’d know how big a nerd I really am.
This is possibly the best blog post I’ve ever read- seriously- and my favorite part of it was “Way to stay strong, Bella. You just let a teenage boy you hardly know whisk you out of school in the middle of the day and physically force you into his car. However, I’m sure your chosen weapons of pouting and silent treatment would have overpowered him eventually, if only that tinkly music hadn’t distracted you.”
hahahaha- so true! Jane would totally kick Bella’s ass! And she’d do it with a complete sentence instead of a fragment!
Damn straight she would!
The Spanxster said:
Brilliant. I don’t think anybody could have said it better!!
I read Jane Eyre at least once a year – I tend to re-read my favourite classics at the beginning of the year. Right now I’m down to the last few pages of Catcher in the Rye and next in line is Pride and Prejudice, after which follows Bronte.
Though it’s highly hypocritical of me (I tend to make my own rules when it comes to grammer/syntax/structure/etc. and I don’t have the excuse of ignorance. I know better – but I will defend myself by explaining that I believe in writer’s having their own ‘voice’.), I agree with you on every point regarding Bella’s ‘writing’. What also really bothered me was Meyer’s (Bella’s??) excessive use of short sentences. When used properly short sentences can have a huge impact and communicate an idea/premise/etc. with a powerful punch. Not in Twilight, though. (heh)
“Always human and weak, the only thing I’d ever been able to do was keep going. Endure. Survive. It had been enough up to this point. It would have to be enough today. I would endure this until help came. I knew Edward would be doing everything he could. He would not give up. Neither would I.”
OK so cheesiness aside, the overload of short sentences was akin to a ram battering my brain. It’s too much. I can’t handle it and I’m dying. Please make it stop. Please. Please. Please.
I’m ashamed to admit that I haven’t read Catcher in The Rye. It’s on my to-do list, but I don’t think we own a copy. PH’s parents are both American, and so he was raised on a surfeit of American Lit. My father was raised in rural Nova Scotia, so he likes to read pot boilers, and my mother was raised by a father who was born in England, so she’s a huge Anglophile and she raised me on British Lit. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Great Expectations, and the complete works of James Herriot, Gerald Durrell, and John Wyndham were spoon fed to me from childhood, but books like Catcher in the Rye, Gone With the Wind, Catch-22 and Moby Dickwere never read to me. I think the only American book she ever read to me was To Kill a Mockingbird when I was 10.
When PH and I started going out, he had a big list of American books that I needed to read (he recently discovered that I have never read any Steinbeck, and nearly passed out), which I’m still working on. I had a big list of British literature that he needed to read (he loves James Herriot but finds Pride and Prejudice about as interesting as Sex and the City, even the version with zombies)
An excellent post! Couldn’t agree with you more.
The over-use of “literally” drives me nuts. If Stephanie Meyer is an author, surely she should know the difference between “literally” and “figuratively”. Of course she hasn’t read JE hundreds of times, because then she wouldn’t have had much time for anything else, like raising kids and writing books about girls with no personality who enjoys falling in love with psychopaths.
In defense of the use of “literally” over “figuratively” is called a hyperbole, and it is something that has been used by great authors for a very long time. I don’t say this because I think Meyer is a good author by any means, however it drives me bonkers when people take a hyperbole literally. As a writer shouldn’t you know the difference between a literal meaning and a hyperbole?
The definition of hyperbole is “exaggerated statements or claims not meant to be taken literally”. Thus, literally is the opposite of hyperbole, so how can it also BE hyperbole?
Just because Dickens and Twain occasionally made the mistake doesn’t mean it is less of a mistake. If I become a famous author some day (*snort*), I wouldn’t want people saying “It’s okay to spell “the” “teh” – Carol did it in one of her books!”
It’s like running a red light – everyone has done it occasionally (hopefully by accident) but that doesn’t make it ok.
The Oxford Dictionary also grudgingly notes:
“In its standard use literally means ‘in a literal sense, as opposed to a non-literal or exaggerated sense’, as for example in I told him I never wanted to see him again, but I didn’t expect him to take it literally. In recent years an extended use of literally (and also literal) has become very common, where literally (or literal) is used deliberately in non-literal contexts, for added effect, as in they bought the car and literally ran it into the ground. This use can lead to unintentional humorous effects (we were literally killing ourselves laughing) and is not acceptable in formal contexts, though it is widespread.”
I prefer authors like Terry Pratchett, who wouldn’t be caught dead making that mistake!
It isn’t an “occasional mistake” it is exactly what the definition says it is, “an exaggerated statement or claim not meant to be taken literally.” just because the word is used in the definition as the opposite, does not mean it cannot be used in a hyperbole. When someone says “I am literally dying from shock!” we all are aware that they don’t mean it literally. They mean it as an exaggeration to convey strong feelings. The English language is CONSTANTLY changing! If people didn’t change the rules, then we would still be speaking Old English. Contractions wouldn’t exist in formal papers. English is malleable, and beautiful, it is an art medium that should be experimented with. Especially creative literature, which changes with every generation’s idiosyncrasies. The use of literally as a hyperbole is just another way the English language is changing. Fighting it and grumbling about it won’t change anything.
The authors who experiment are the ones who gain validity in the history books. I would rather be one who took chances on something modern and real to my time, than be someone who conforms to a standard that will be invalid in a few years. The word “teh” may very well become a word if you use it, look at Shakespeare! Just because it looks stupid now, doesn’t mean it IS stupid.
“With his customary wisdom and wit, Vonnegut put forth 8 basics of what he calls Creative Writing 101: *
1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
4. Every sentence must do one of two things—reveal character or advance the action.
5. Start as close to the end as possible.
6. Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them—in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.
The greatest American short story writer of my generation was Flannery O’Connor (1925-1964). She broke practically every one of my rules but the first. Great writers tend to do that.”
Basing someone’s writing on the rules they do or do not break destroys the art of writing. If it speaks to one person in the world, than you have done something right, regardless of the silly “rules”.
I agree with you in general, bt not in the case of the word “literally” the entire point of literally is to distinguish between exaggeration and a literal claim. What if, one day, someone literally did blow up? How could we convey that if the words to demonstrate the difference between figurative blowing up and literal blowing up no longer function in those contexts? Yes, I accept that people do it, but I consider it a colloquialism, and no more correct than, say, “I ain’t Doug nothing.” we know what the person means, but it is still not correct formal English. Yes, language evolves, but grammar rules exist to prevent confusion. Using literally figuratively definitely causes confusion and should therefore be avoided.
The problem with Meyer is that, with this and many other words/constructions/turns of phrase, it’s not that she’s deliberately breaking rules or twisting things for effect, it’s that she’s using things poorly.
Using literally in this way might occasionally be a stylistic thing, but from someone who makes the kind of errors Meyer makes at the frequency with which she makes them, sorry, nope, that’s just basic misunderstanding of what she actually said.
This is a woman who writes sentences that literally (couldn’t help myself…) don’t make sense.
More worryingly, this woman got said book published by an actual publishing house, and they didn’t pin her down and force her to have, oh, I don’t know, a plot that starts a little earlier than two thirds of the way through the book, or sentences that say what they mean, or characters who aren’t painfully two dimensional ciphers.
For Meyer to compare Twilight to Jane Eyre – a book, I freely admit, I have mixed feelings about, but which has plot, nuance, realistic characters, and good writing – is like comparing Punch to the Sisteine Chapel, except of course that Punch does at least have wit and satire on its side. I’m embarrassed for Meyer that she can make that comparison and apparently think it has validity. Uuuuuuugh! She has a degree in English and she can’t see that?
TL;DR: Stephen King was right.
I wholeheartedly agree with you. Meyer is a terrible author, I wasn’t trying to say anything otherwise. I am simply rebutting the complaint about the use word “literally”. That is the only part that I have a problem with with the entire piece, otherwise I agree with everything.
Complaining about the use of the word literally as an exaggeration is a huge pet peeve with me.
Oh Lordy, I meant to write “the use of the word literally” but I forgot. WHERE’S MY EDITOR?!
Sarah Warren said:
To be honest, misuse of the word literally is a pet peeve of mine, except when it’s being done knowingly and for effect. Taking Meyer’s general command of English into account, I can’t find it in myself to give her the benefit of the doubt. So I’m gonna have to agree to disagree with you on that one.
Well done! I especially love the pink text to emphasize the silliness of Bella. I read Twilight and found it nearly impossible to get through due to the constant fawning over Edward- yawn!
I recall Bella referring to Jane Austen as being a 18th century author. I will be nit-picky and disagree, considering her books were published in the early 19th (even though some were written in the late late 18th). You would think Meyers who, like her claims about Jane Eyre and has professed her expertise in Austen wouldn’t have made that error. Seems like someone who supposedly focused on Austen in college would also be nit-picky about that sort of thing. But I digress…
Brava for the intelligent comparison!
Bella/Meyers probably thinks 1813 = 18th century. Not sure why she hasn’t noticed that 2011 =/= 20th century.
She probably also thinks that Austen was a Victorian writer, when actually she was Regency era.
Oh yes I can see where that can be confusing
This post is amazing! I had to remind myself to breathe when reading it. Literally.
You. Are. My. Hero. (Forgive the poor grammar.)
Hilarious and enjoyable post! I’ve frequently re-read Jane Eyre (but not hundreds of times) and I adore it and I’ve never bothered with Twilight and after this brilliant compare-and-contrast there’s really no need to.
This post is hilarious! Couldn’t agree with you more, Jane Eyre could beat Bella Swan every day.
I loved this post! You really made my day. I’m a longtime lover of Eyre and while I understand the faddy reasons behind Twilight’s popularity, the poor quality of Meyer’s writing makes my skin crawl.
BUT I have one constructive critisism of your sentence/punctuation section. Regarding your point:
For the example above, there shouldn’t be a comma before “and” because “walked slowly into the street” is not an independent clause.
When it comes to copyediting you first decide whether a text uses “Closed” or “Open” punctuation. Closed punctuation will include all possible commas (such as serial commas, etc); you must simply remain consistent through the text. I believe Twilight is pretty consistently closed punctuation, thus the endless commas!
jane eyre movies said:
The Jane Eyre 2006 DVD is my favorite adaptation. Ruth Wilson and Toby Stephens was spectacular in that version. It would be hard topping that but I’m looking forward to watching the 2011 film nonetheless. 🙂
I haven’t seen that one!
I am totally breaking Nerd Code for commenting on an old post, but this was fabulous!!! (Hope it’s OK that I used 3 exclamation points.)
I’m glad you enjoyed it! (And Terry Pratchett said that the use of multiple exclamation marks is the sign of a deranged mind, but I think geekiness reverses that)
Brilliant! Absolutely brilliant. I must admit that I did read the Twilight series (well, not in their entirety), but was instantly bothered by Bella’s lack of backbone, her manipulative behaviour, her selfishness, her dependency on men, the exagerated grieving after he leaves her (she’s 18 and should get over a guy in about three weeks!), and — oh just about everything else. SMeyer described her as an “instantly likable character” with her “endearing” clumsiness, but I say that she is one the least likable protagonists I’ve ever encountered in my literary adventures. I completely agree with you that Jane Eyre, or any of Austen’s characters, are far superior to Bella who constantly whines that she won’t be Edward’s equal until and unless she becomes a vampire. Spare me!!!
I can’t understand why Meyer thinks Bella is a likeable character. She’s SUCH a bad person!
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26 letters said:
Thank you for the laughs, the insight, and the sheer entertainment value of your Twilight vs Actual Decent Writing posts… wonderful stuff, and so very true.
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This was fantastic. I have another request, though. Could you analyse the differences and similarities between Bella and the unnamed narrator of ‘Rebecca’ much like how you have done it in this post with Jane Eyre? I always feel that Bella was Meyer’s version of the protagonist of Daphne du Maurier’s most famous novel, but no one has yet brought it up as a proper comparison, unlike Jane Eyre. I’m sure you have noticed how ‘Rebecca’ is the perfect example of using first-person to its advantages, and the protagonist there have a lot of apparent similarities with Bella, what with both being plain-looking, having a Byronic hero for a lover and husband, both being young and innocent. But while Daphne’s protagonist was truly ‘innocent’ and ‘good’, Bella comes off as…*aherrm*
Anyway, thanks again for the wonderful read !
Hmm, what an interesting suggestion! Maybe I will some day!
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Ashley Zhang said:
I don’t know Meyer compared Bella to Jane before but I actually did it myself (maybe it’s because the name Edward) and I wish I haven’t because it made I find Bella trashier than one other character can ever be. (I love Jane Eyre)