4) The Transformation of Gothic Libertinism: From Romanticism, Victorianism and Post-Millennial Fiction- Chapter Three: The Twilight Saga

You try very hard to make up for something that was never your fault […] you didn’t choose this kind of life, and yet you have to work so hard to be good.[1]

As the Victorian period came to an end and the twentieth century began, Gothic literature began to undergo another transformation. With civilisation developing at a drastic rate, and the introduction of several World Wars, society needed no fictional monsters for they were dealing with very real monsters of their own. Gradually, after World War Two, fictional novels began to increase in popularity and the Gothic novel was again a prevalent genre of novel with which to discuss contemporary issues. The topic of sex still remained extremely forbidden for women and their assumed asexuality remained as prominent as ever, until the sixties, with the introduction of second-wave feminism where ‘greater sexual freedom […] began to be discussed more openly’.[2] In the 1970s and onwards, Gothic literature continued to expand and gain popularity once more, with authors such as the innovative Anne Rice and Angela Carter. In an era where women were finally beginning to achieve some sexual equality, Carter’s Gothic fairy tale collection, The Bloody Chamber (1979), was unapologetically graphic. Carter’s depictions of Gothic virgins enjoying freeing, libertine sex with werewolves and a removal from the ‘Gothic conservatism’ that had plagued the twentieth century, and other Gothicists of the era followed her example.[3] As the twenty-first century began it appeared that men and women’s Gothic libertine fiction was finally able to write freely and discuss topics that Dacre and Le Fanu were pioneering to try and discuss, whilst the genre gained room for what Catherine Spooner described as ‘comic, romantic, celebratory and gleeful’ themes.[4] Libertines were finally accepted, with the exception of a few sexual fetishes and desires that were strictly morally unacceptable, such as bestiality and paedophilia, and sexuality was finally a healthy topic for people of all genders and adult ages to enjoy and discuss.

However, Post-Millennial Gothic began to alter and embody new messages, partly initiated by the surge of popularity in Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight saga (2005-2010) and its ‘enchanting’, sexless vampires.[5] The freeing, libertine sexuality of Carter’s Gothic novels, as well as those Gothic writers from centuries before, such as Dacre and Le Fanu, were still present but largely dismissed. Replacing the overt sexualities of Victoria and Carmilla was the role of the asexual, normative Edward Cullen, with his ‘silky’ voice and ‘shimmering’ demeanour.[6] Twilight (2005) sold itself on a steamy sensuality and sexy Gothic hero, yet the characters remain ‘undergoing a kind of crisis.’[7] Edward and Bella are depicted as devoutly religious and remain desperately celibate until the very final novel in the series, and seeming to shun sexuality and libertine ideals relentlessly throughout the series. Meyer is not alone in this, as the success of her series led to countless copies, all as ‘oddly asexual’ and anti-libertine as the prior texts, such as Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy series (2007-2010) and Alyson Noel’s The Immortals series (2009-2011).[8] One of the few somewhat Gothic and libertine series to be released was Charlaine Harris’s The Southern Vampire Mysteries (2001-2013), however, Meyer’s influence can still be clearly seen in Bill’s painful attempts to act humanlike and conformative. In an era of sexual freedom and lack of emphasis upon religion, which libertines would consider idyllic and impressive, such asexual novels seem to have taken a regressive step. The Gothic libertine, as noted by Spooner, has ‘lost its power to shock [… having] an absence of meaning’ when compared to the works of Romantic and Victorian writers, alongside other modern writers who’s novels gained significantly less attention, such as Mo Hayder’s Tokyo (2004).[9]

In complete juxtaposition to Carmilla’s role of transforming the human into the monstrous libertine, Meyer’s supposedly libertine vampire uses Bella to try to transform himself into a conforming anti-libertine. The Cullens evoke complete celibacy, despite their main characteristic being their ‘resembl[ing] Armani model[s]’.[10] They are normative, plain humans and only a few verbal reminders by the characters that they are not so are the only cues to suggest that they are anything even slightly libertine and Gothic. Bella notes casually and frequently how she always feels ‘utterly safe’ in Edward’s presence, whilst he unconvincingly tells her he is ‘more dangerous to [her] than [he] is to anyone else.’[11] The body, once a centre of sexual enlightenment and libertine ecstasy, for many twenty-first century vampires is now a ‘ghoulish’ prison, in which a libertine is locked away and repressed.[12] The Cullens in Twilight are libertine in appearance only, and it is only the readers own pre-conceived notions of vampiric libertinism that grants the Cullens any characteristics of the rebellious libertine, as readers compare Edward to Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Le Fanu’s Carmilla. Once deconstructed, Catherine Spooner notes, the Cullens are essentially sexless and ‘de-fanged’, remaining as religious and normative as Henriquez and Lilla in Dacre’s novel, or the men in Le Fanu’s Carmilla (1871).[13] The sexlessness of the vampire is emphasised even further, fuelling Meyer’s Mormon beliefs, in how Meyer renders them infertile, something which causes Rosalie in particular to be envious of Bella and her frail humanity when she ‘yearns for a little baby’.[14] Rosalie, alongside all of the vampires, view their libertine bodies as a curse, a ‘wrong choice’, unlike Carmilla who sees her transformation as freeing and liberating.[15] In other novels, such as Stoker’s Dracula (1897), if the vampire is inherently celibate, consequently that only renders them increasingly more libertine, as their overtly sexual appetites are acted upon solely for pleasure, rather than the proper, Christian role of sex as being solely a reproductive act. Here in Meyer’s novel, ‘the contemporary vampire […] is a very different figure altogether’, the celibate vampire simply not engaging in sex, or avoiding it as much as is actively possible.[16] The Cullens conform to the proper religious dictates of sexual conduct in ‘denying [their] thirst for the last, well, too many years’.[17] Meyer’s message in her saga is for people to ultimately conform and repress distasteful desires, a strange proposal in a society that is now meant to be so libertine and accepting of all varieties of beliefs. Most, if not all, sexual scenes within the novel remain overtly negative and ‘menacing’.[18] Rosalie becomes a vampire after being gang-raped by a group of men, as her fiancé ‘ripped [her] jacket from [her] shoulders […] popping the brass buttons off’.[19] This scene is notably subtle, making little to no allusion of sexual intercourse, remarking only upon how Rosalie was ‘left in the street [… presumably] dead’, a scene Dacre would undoubtedly have gone into extensive detail upon to shock contemporary readers.[20] Meyer’s overly religious messages seemingly suggest that Rosalie, as a fallen woman who engages in sex before marriage, must now be punished for this traumatic but ultimately sinful transgression, becoming the repressive celibate vampire. Meyer’s vampires are the ultimate opposite to the Gothic libertine; with sex as a confining act rather than an expression of freedom and happiness. They are ‘sick and tired […] emptily replete’, struggling to find any meaning to their immortal lives.[21]

Additionally, the few vampires in Twilight who do enjoy sex and take pleasure in the libertine philosophy, such as James, Victoria and the Volturi, are instantly and unfairly characterised as evil and ‘total[ly] savage’.[22] Libertinism states accurately that sex is a natural desire that almost all humans feel and the libertine vampires in the saga who are merely acting upon their natural instincts are instead shunned and told to ‘govern […] with [their] minds’.[23] The Cullens suffer from genophobia, any desire to them, be it excessive or tame, being innately negative rather than being ‘the driving force of all human action’, as De Sade, and later, Sigmund Freud, acknowledged it to be.[24] In Dacre’s Zofloya; or, the Moor (1806) and Le Fanu’s Carmilla, whilst they note that excessive sexual desire can be sinful, and so self-control is crucial, they remain sympathetic and recognise that humans are flawed and cannot control all our desires. In contrast, Meyer’s unrealistically rigid ‘passionless’ vampires expect total perfection and repression in every aspect of the human and vampire lifestyle.[25] Their answer to libertine vampires is to destroy these ‘wild’ and ‘sadistic’ libertines violently.[26] The Volturi cannot be punished the same as how the Cullens punish James or Victoria, as they are the oldest vampires of their kind and serve as the vampiric royal family. The Volturi can live their libertine lifestyles without fear of repercussions on the Cullens’s part, at least until the events of Breaking Dawn (2008), where the series’ ultimate confrontation is the repressing of the Volturi’s libertinisms. The Volturi’s excessive libertine desires are made overtly clear in New Moon (2006), when the family gorges upon a horde of humans;

A large crowd was coming through the little door, filling the smaller stone chamber. […] the rest of them, maybe forty or more, filed in after the couple. Some studied the setting like tourists. A few even snapped pictures. Others looked confused, as if the story that had led them to this room was not making sense anymore. […] Edward set a pace that had me running to keep up, but we still couldn’t get through the ornate door at the end of the hallway before the screaming started.[27]

As the ‘exceptional[ly] beautiful’ Heidi guides these ‘confused’ and ‘panicked’ humans into their den of debauchery, the scene overtly draws similarities to an immoral adult luring children away into a den of danger with the lure of candy and sweets.[28] The Volturi here are immediately set up as being drastically different to the Cullens, who Chiho Nakagawa notes, show no ‘deviancy from decency’.[29] The humans here embody the Sadean female victim, innocent and powerless when faced with a room of powerful, Gothic libertines. The Volturi are unique in that they live a luxurious, libertine lifestyle, where they ‘give [them]selves over to [their] senses’, but are not subject to punishment by the Cullens.[30] Aro is even bold enough to tell Edward that his not eating Bella is ‘such a waste!’[31] The Volturi also show a marked resemblance to Lewis’ Ambrosio in The Monk (1796), shrouded in religious imagery and Meyer comparing them to priests. Yet hidden under this religious hypocrisy is a deeply sinful, gluttonous nature. The tourists and attractive young human women they keep locked up underground, as both victims and receptionists, connote deeply unnerving sexually predatory undertones, as the vampires prey on them both vampiric and sexual manner. Meyer’s allusions of the Volturi to religious priests also echoes De Sade’s own contempt for priests in Juliette (1797);

‘Who are they who daily debauch our wives and children? The priests […] who are most sullied with crimes and infamies? The priests.’[32]

Similarities can also be made to the monks in De Sade’s Justine; or, the Misfortunes of Virtue (1791), who imprison the eponymous protagonist, alongside various women, underground and force them to engage in heinous sexual acts, eating faeces as a ‘disgusting homage’ and sodomising one another ‘shamefully’.[33] The Gothic libertine scenes in Twilight, however, vary very strongly from those of the Romantic period and the Victorian era. Romantic writers such as Dacre and Lewis use bloody, overt pornographic sex scenes to reflect their libertine messages, and Victorian writers such as Le Fanu utilise somewhat subtle metaphors and insinuations to suggest Carmilla’s laviscious, libertine ways. In contrast, Meyer’s Post-Millennial vampires are hardly ever suggested to be sexual and alternatively ‘make an argument for abstemious love’, Edward never acting upon his desires for Bella.[34] The libertines in the novel are still only merely suggested to be sinful and ‘chaotic’ and the reader must interpret such scenes independently to discover even slight libertine notions.[35]

The vampires from the Amazonian coven briefly discussed in Eclipse (2007) are also subject to the same scrutiny, something completely unnecessary and cruel, as the Cullens approach them to assist in a fight against an army of newborn vampires. Whilst the Amazonians kindly agree to help the Cullens with this favour, Bella, who is now completely conditioned to believe in the same normative repression as is characteristic of Meyer’s vampires, comments rudely on how ‘less civilised’ and ‘feline’ these vampires are.[36] As vampires, they should not be subscribing to human norms; Dracula and Carmilla only prescribe to such norms in order to get close to their victims and feed. Vampires, in essence, constitute a ‘destructive force that challenges cohesion [and] order’, yet Meyer’s vampires cannot even express normative sexual desires.[37] Bella appears extremely uncomfortable when faced with the apparent homosexuality the Amazonian vampires exhibit between themselves, especially between Zafrina and Senna. Meyer uncomfortably describes how ‘Senna and Zafrina were more like two limbs of one organism’, this alien and abstract depiction rendering both women abject and degenerative.[38] The Cullens seem noticeably sickened by this lesbian behaviour, something which should not be considered unacceptable in the twenty-first century where homosexuality has been legalised. Le Fanu’s portrayal of a lesbian relationship between a libertine and her converting partner, written over one hundred years prior, back when homosexuality was notoriously illegal, grants a more comfortable depiction of such a relationship than Meyer’s alien, unnerving interpretation of a now completely normative relationship.

Aside from the Volturi, one of the most libertine villains of the series is James, a chilling libertine who wants to steal Bella away from the civilised Edward. James’s behaviour is remarkably similar to Carmilla’s behaviour towards Laura. As the first villain in the Twilight series, James is the original vampire who causes Bella to become ‘stunned with fear’, as his growling becomes ‘the single most menacing thing [she] had ever heard’.[39] James’ method of seduction involves blackmailing Bella and trapping her in a room of mirrors, filming her sufferings in an overtly pornographic and Sadeian nature;

He took a step back and touched a palm-sized digital video camera. A small red light indicated that it was already running. He adjusted it a few times, widened the frame. I stared at him in horror.

‘I’m sorry, but I just don’t think he’ll be able to resist hunting me after he watches this. And I wouldn’t want him to miss anything.’ […] He lifted a lock of my hair and sniffed at it delicately. Then he gently patted the strand back into place, and I felt his cool fingertips against my throat.[40]

The repetitive focus on James’ ‘fingertips’ and ‘palm’ touching both Bella and the camera is sensual and suggestive, serving as a substitute for the more obvious phallic limb what Dacre would instead have James revealing and utilising in this pornographic scene.[41] The mirror room overtly draws similarities to Carter’s eponymous short story ‘The Bloody Chamber’, recounting the tale of a very Sadeian marquis and his virginal victim. In a room full of mirrors the sodomised protagonist is unable to escape the vision of her rape at the hands of her new husband. Meyer’s use of the mirror room makes the scene of Bella’s torture implicitly pornographic, despite the lack of overt sexual action taking place, as James states his eagerness to create a ‘visually dramatic’ scene for his ‘little film’.[42] The mirrors make the sexuality of Bella’s torture uncharacteristically upfront and aggressive, also echoing De Sade’s La Philosophie dans le Boudoir (1795), where Madame de Saint-Ange leads the virginal Eugénie into a mirror room, to ‘infinitely multiply those same pleasures […] everything must be seen.’[43] However, in twentieth-century Gothic tradition, these allusions to Romantic, explicit libertinism must be necessarily censored. As a vampire, James elicits no reflection in the room of mirrors, leaving Bella alone in this pornographic scene, filmed by a sole camera. Again, the Gothic libertine of the twenty-first century is desexualised and eradicated. Karen Backstein notes that James’s ‘sexual attraction [is] implied, not acted upon’ and, swiftly after, violently destroyed by the anti-libertine Cullens.[44] The threat of the Gothic libertine must be brutally eradicated, as the modern day vampire is now a symbol of religious purity and celibacy.

The humans in Meyer’s series are similarly asexual, Bella possessing little other than an intense fear when confronted with her own sexuality. Bella’s sexuality is depicted as a drastic juxtaposition to Dacre’s Victoria, who portrays herself as a nymphomaniac, and Le Fanu’s Laura who somewhat represses her desires, but still retains a consciousness of her libertine tendencies. The twentieth century has arguably more casual attitudes regarding sexual intercourse, despite the terrifying AIDS epidemic of the 1980s which still strongly denounced sexual intercourse, than when compared to the eighteenth century. Despite this, however, Bella and Edward both display ‘unhealthy sexual attitudes’ and do not engage in intercourse until the final novel of the series when they are already married, a choice which is completely acceptable, yet still seems strict and unnecessarily severe.[45] An absolute ‘eradication of deviancy’ is all that is displayed prior to this scene, in relation to any form of sexuality.[46] Indeed, both characters seem to take a pompous pride in their asexuality, stating neither of them will ever ‘surrender’ to such sinful desires.[47] Back in Le Fanu’s Victorian era sex outside of marriage was already beginning to be discussed by philosophers such as George Drysdale in his 1886 text The Elements of Social Science, so it is strange that Meyer so emphatically pushes the somewhat-outdated concept of celibacy until marriage, despite her own Mormon beliefs. Bella describes herself as completely ‘inexperienced’ sexually before meeting Edward, a somewhat rare trait for a seventeen year old young woman in the twenty-first century.[48] Nancy Cott notes that Bella very much embodies the Victorian ideals as pressed upon society by the Evangelicals, in which ‘women who embodied God’s grace were more spiritual, hence less susceptible to carnal passions’ and therefore embodying the ideal form of ‘subordination’, traits which are in complete opposition to libertine philosophy.[49] Whilst Sadeian libertinism undoubtedly complicates and associates libertinism with misogyny and female subjugation, libertinism also argues for the liberation of women to also become sexual deviants, alongside male subjects. This particularly highlights the regression of the Gothic libertine as the homosexual relationships displayed in Carmilla, alongside the interracial relationship depicted in Zofloya; or, the Moor, are both deemed unacceptable to Meyer’s twenty-first century vampires who should be the most libertine and free individuals in the Gothic canon, who instead ‘express their sexuality through a languishing abstinence.’[50]

Whilst Meyer’s novel focusses on the sexual chemistry between Bella and Edward their relationship is anything but sexual. Edward’s ‘courteous gentlemanly fashion’ and genophobic nature ensures that they remain virginal for as long as is possible.[51] The steamiest scenes of the novel involve the couple staring at one another without touching for hours, an activity Edward calls ‘masochistic’; a word connoting drastically different connotations when compared to Sadeian Romanticist form of masochism.[52] Whilst the sexuality conveyed in Meyer’s so-called libertines is arguably all mental, rather than physical, this still cannot be classed as libertine, as libertines in essence do not contain their desires to the mental, always acting them out physically in the name of moral freedom. Meyer completely eradicates the need for any libertine sexuality to ever take place, making something as simple as the couple kissing eliciting a ‘orgasmic reaction’ in her heroine, completely eradicating the need for sexual intercourse.[53] Through this hyperbolising, Meyer removes any necessity for sex, focussing instead on lengthy descriptions of the couple ‘trac[ing] patterns across [each other’s] skin […] raising goosebumps’ and hands sliding ‘down the sides of [Bella’s] neck [where they] stopped.’[54] Any real sexual threats that are aimed at Bella are instantly violent and negative, reinforcing Meyer’s Mormon beliefs that sexuality is inherently evil, a Victorian, outdated and anti-libertine and anti-Gothic message. In Eclipse, when Bella and Edward have now been in a committed relationship for several years, the couple still remain highly asexual, Bella declaring she must remain celibate, as it is her ‘responsibility […] I’m following all the rules, Edward.’[55] This partnership is completely devoid of any taint of libertinism, the mere presence of rules to the seasoned libertine meaning their absolute and inevitable breaking. Whilst Meyer makes a celibate, wholesome couple in order to portray the positives of remaining pure and virginal, this inevitably only leads to drawbacks and problems. When Bella finally gets ready to be wedded to Edward, her apparent true love, she enters into a ‘full scale panic attack’ at the mere thought of consummating her marriage.[56] This is perhaps Meyer’s most anti-libertine scene, as she portrays sex with your loving partner as dangerous and evil, which she then escalates into ‘repellent’ with the depiction of Bella’s damaged body post-coitus;[57]

‘There was stiffness, and a lot of soreness too, it was true, but mostly there was the odd sensation that my bones had all become unhinged at the joints, and I had changed halfway into the consistency of a jellyfish. It was not an unpleasant feeling. […] large purplish bruises were beginning to blossom across the pale skin of my arm.’[58]

Even when the couple finally have sex it is barely discussed, kept purposely vague and unromantic in depiction, with extended descriptions of how it felt like ‘the day after lifting weights.’[59] The morning after Bella is described as bruised and ‘sore’, but there is no mention of her groin being swollen.[60] Instead, her pain is all over her legs, chest and arms, her ‘stiffness’ reminiscent of a violent beating rather that the passion of intercourse between two lovers.[61] After taking one look at his bruised partner Edward denounces all sexual activity in order to save her from the pain of further damage, calling himself a ‘monster’ for even considering engaging in such activities.[62] This seems more of an excuse on Edward’s part to avoid the pair having further intercourse, both partners hating sex and having ‘no preference’ towards the act.[63] Their one sexual experience managed to grant them a child, so from a religious perspective the couple no longer need sex again, as Bella becomes a de-sexed vampire, completely in opposition to Victorian vampires, such as Carmilla and Dracula. Carol Seigel notes that Meyer completely ‘demoniz[es] sexual practices [suggesting that…] all that really matters to god in this series is whether or not one has premarital sex’, an outdated and strict concept.[64]

Religion also serves as a crucial method by which Meyer attempts to moralise her vampires, however, it instead serves as a symbol for how libertines become repressed and suicidal under the tyrannical reign of an oppressive religion. Becoming a vampire in twenty-first century Gothic literature symbolises becoming unhappy and being ‘tired of pretending to be something [they are] not’, which is frequently demonstrated by the Cullens.[65] Spooner describes the Cullens as ‘anti-Gothic’, as their family symbolises order and stability, rather than chaos and immorality, as was formerly characteristic of the Gothic libertine.[66] In a society so free of constraints, Meyer shifts the Gothic genre into a form of ‘religious intoxication’, which emphasises the importance of order in a chaotic society.[67] In Zofloya; or, the Moor and Carmilla, the sins of the libertine render them evil, however, the authors still create sympathy for these characters. For Meyer, she creates self-admittedly ‘abnormal’ libertines who strive to be good, however, her sympathy is lacking, as she still reinforces that the instant they stop conforming, like the Volturi or James, then they will immediately be punished with death.[68] These messages prove to be reinforced throughout much of twentieth century Gothic literature; The Vampire Diaries (1991-2014) similarly portraying the libertine Damon as an evil villain until he changes his ways, whilst his vegetarian brother, Stephen, is the hero of the novel. Even in Harris’ sexualised The Southern Vampire Mysteries, when Bill the vampire loses control and goes on a murderous spree he is also subject to harsh punishments and even stricter regulations. The Cullens unlike these other vampires, almost never drop their repressed facades of normality, making it clear that it is no longer a façade; the Cullens are completely and irreversibly repressed. Whilst vampires, such as Dracula, change shape and retain fluidity, the Cullens are concrete and unchanging, hence Meyer’s frequent allusions to them as ‘perfect statue[s], carved in […] stone, smooth like marble’.[69]

In reviewing the Cullen family, Carlisle appears the most repressed of the seven vampires. As a doctor who has complete control over his bloodlust, he can commit angelic acts in saving humans in his hospital. His unhappiness, however, is abundantly clear throughout the series as Edward describes Carlisle’s many suicide attempts throughout the centuries of his painful, repressive life and the ‘depression… that accompanies a conscience’.[70] The contrast between these oppressed vampires and their true, libertine natures is emphasised even further in Eclipse with the introduction of the new-born vampires, who Bella discovers are completely libertine, and described as ‘volatile, wild and almost impossible to control’.[71] Meyer’s vampires who actually embody the Gothic libertine, akin to Carmilla and Dracula, Meyer chooses to portray as childish new-borns who are unacceptable and must be killed or completely brainwashed in order to conform with society, in what Joseph Crawford describes as violently ‘pro-Mormon propaganda’.[72] Meyer’s Mormon beliefs are particularly impressed on her conformative vampires when Edward describes his adoptive father and his human life as a religious preacher in his father’s church, completely subverting the idea of the vampire as a ‘servant of the Devil’;[73]

I stopped dead at the end of the hall, staring incredulously at the ornament hanging on the wall above my head. […]

‘You can laugh’ [Edward] said, ‘it is sort of ironic.’

I didn’t laugh. My hand raised automatically, one finger extended as if to touch the large wooden cross, its dark patina contrasting with the lighter tone of the wall.

‘[…Carlisle] carved this himself. It hung on the wall above the pulpit in the vicarage where he preached.’[74]

Again, the anti-libertine messages of Twilight are emphasised as the Cullen’s announce their devout Christianity, creating the paradoxical religious vampires what completely juxtapose Carmilla and ‘neuter the Gothic potential for subversion’.[75] Bella is astounded to discover the Cullen house is to be full of ‘crosses’ and religious references, yet Edward’s only motion is to carelessly dismiss it as slightly ‘ironic’.[76] Twilight is indeed flooded with religious imagery, the infamous book cover design of the white hands holding the red apple of Eden, laden with forbidden knowledge of the sexual libertine, representing what Bella is to Edward. The Cullens are also depicted and described repeatedly as angelic, not demonic like their Romantic or Victorian counterparts who are satanic allies of hell ‘mad with thirst’.[77]

Edward openly states he ‘doesn’t want to be a monster’ and this theme of humanising the vampire is emphasised repeatedly throughout Meyer’s series.[78] The Cullens seem completely devoted to the religious repression that they have been forced to conform to, transforming them into the essence of anti-libertinism. Their unusually forced asexuality also transforms them into complete juxtapositions of Le Fanu’s Carmilla and Dacre’s Victoria. Whilst Meyer’s twenty-first century characters have no rigid sexual morals to rebel against, unlike Le Fanu and Dacre’s characters, Meyer seems to revert her characters back into Romantic heroes and heroines, who commit no ills under the fear of a resentful God. Any libertine, or even normative sexual morals, are suggested to be deeply sinful within the Twilight series, and the complete de-fanging of Edward Cullen and his family proves that the Gothic vampire of the twenty-first century is anything but libertine. Despite the pre-teen vampire novels of the twenty-first century only being a small facet of the modern Gothic genre, they have succeeded in transforming our contemporary associations of Gothic libertinism, from ones of unforgiving courageousness to those of oppressive tyranny.


Part Three | Part Five

[1] Stephenie, Meyer, New Moon (London: Atom, 2007), p. 35.

[2] Laura, Schwartz, ‘Freethought and Free Love? Marriage, Birth Control and Sexual Morality’ in Infidel Feminism: Secularism, Religion and Women’s Emancipation, England 1830-1914 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2013), p. 179.

[3] Kelly, Budruweit, ‘Twilight’s Heteronormative Reversal of the Monstrous: Utopia and the Gothic Design’, Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts, 27:2: (2016), 270.

[4]Catherine, Spooner, Post-Millenial Gothic: Comedy, Romance and the Rise of Happy Gothic (London: Bloomsbury, 2017), p. iv.

[5] Stephenie, Meyer, Twilight (London: Atom, 2005), p. 37.

[6] Meyer, Twilight, pp. 199, 229.

[7] Spooner, Post-Millenial Gothic, p vi.

[8] Catherine, Spooner, ‘Gothic Charm School; or, How Vampires Learned to Sparkle’ in Open Graves, Open Minds: Representations of Vampires and the Undead from the Enlightenment to the Present Day (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2013), p. 149.

[9] Spooner, Post-Millenial Gothic, p. vii.

[10] Karen, Backstein, ‘(Un)Safe Sex: Romancing the Vampire’, Cinéaste, 35:1: (2009), 38.

[11] Meyer, Twilight, pp. 141, 233.

[12] Meyer, New Moon, p. 462.

[13] Chiho, Nakagawa, ‘Safe Sex with Defanged Vampires: New Vampire Heroes in Twilight and the Southern Vampire Mysteries’, Journal of Popular Romance Studies, 2:1: (2011), 29.

[14] Stephenie, Meyer, Eclipse (London: Atom, 2008), p. 93.

[15] Meyer, Eclipse, p. 97.

[16] Backstein, ‘(Un)Safe Sex’, p. 38.

[17] Meyer, Twilight, p. 236.

[18] Meyer, New Moon, p. 453.

[19] Meyer, Eclipse, p. 95.

[20] Meyer, Eclipse, p. 95.

[21] Fred, Botting, ‘Chapter Forty-Two: Post-Millenial Monsters’ in The Gothic World, ed. by Glennis, Byron and Dale, Townshend (London: Routledge, 2013), p. 501.

[22] Meyer, Twilight, p. 255.

[23] Meyer, Twilight, p. 197.

[24] John, Phillips, ‘Introduction’ in Justine; or, the Misfortunes of Virtue (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), p. xxiii.

[25] Nancy F., Cott, ‘Passionlessness: An Interpretation of Victorian Sexual Ideology, 1790-1850’, Signs, 4:2: (1978), 220.

[26] Meyer, Twilight, pp. 329, 405.

[27] Meyer, New Moon, p. 463-4.

[28] Meyer, New Moon, pp. 462, 463.

[29] Nakagawa, ‘Safe Sex with Defanged Vampires’, p. 29.

[30] Meyer, Twilight, p. 197.

[31] Meyer, New Moon, p. 471.

[32] Marquis, De Sade, Justine; or, the Misfortunes of Virtue (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), p. 393.

[33] De Sade, Justine, pp. 108, 111.

[34] Backstein, ‘(Un)Safe Sex’, p. 40

[35] Meyer, Twilight, p. 403.

[36] Meyer, Eclipse, pp. 612, 613.

[37] Catherine, Spooner, ‘Gothic Charm School’ in Open Graves, Open Minds, p. 148.

[38] Meyer, Eclipse, p. 613.

[39] Meyer, Twilight, pp. 332, 331.

[40] Meyer, Twilight, p. 390-1.

[41] Meyer, Twilight, p. 390.

[42] Meyer, Twilight, p. 390.

[43] Marquis, De Sade, Justine, La Philosophie dans le Boudoir and Other Writings (New York: Grove Press, 1994), p. 203.

[44] Backstein, ‘(Un)Safe Sex’, p. 40.

[45] Joseph, Crawford, ‘The Twilight Controversy’ in The Twilight of the Gothic: Vampire Fiction and the Rise of the Paranormal Romance (Wales: University of Wales Press, 2014), p. 183.

[46] Christopher, Herbert, ‘Vampire Religion’, Representations, 79:1: (2002), 114.

[47] Meyer, Twilight, p. 434.

[48] Meyer, Twilight, p. 10.

[49] Cott, ‘Passionlessness’, p 220.

[50] Carol, Seigel, ‘Chapter Seventeen: The Twilight of Sexual Liberation: Undead Abstinence Ideology’, Counterpoints, 392:1: (2011), 273.

[51] Meyer, Twilight, p. 101.

[52] Meyer, Twilight, p. 240.

[53] Backstein, ‘(Un)Safe Sex’, p. 40.

[54] Meyer, Twilight, pp. 241, 217.

[55] Meyer, Eclipse, p. 620.

[56] Stephenie, Meyer, Breaking Dawn (London: Atom, 2010), p. 83.

[57] Joseph, Crawford, ‘The Twilight Controversy’ in The Twilight of the Gothic, p. 205.

[58] Meyer, Breaking Dawn, p. 98.

[59] Meyer, Breaking Dawn, p. 99.

[60] Meyer, Breaking Dawn, p. 98.

[61] Meyer, Breaking Dawn, p. 98.

[62] Meyer, Breaking Dawn, p. 99.

[63] Meyer, Breaking Dawn, p. 97.

[64] Seigel, ‘Chapter Seventeen’, p. 270.

[65] Meyer, New Moon, p. 70.

[66] Catherine, Spooner, ‘Gothic Charm School’ in Open Graves, Open Minds, p. 149.

[67] Herbert, ‘Vampire Religion’, p. 117.

[68] Meyer, New Moon, p 428.

[69] Meyer, Twilight, p. 228.

[70] Meyer, Twilight, p. 299.

[71] Meyer, Eclipse, p 257.

[72] Joseph, Crawford, ‘The Twilight Controversy’ in The Twilight of the Gothic, p. 183.

[73] Dorothy, Ivey, ‘The Vampire Myth and Christianity’, Master of Liberal Studies Theses, 16:1: (2010), 13.

[74] Meyer, Twilight, p. 288.

[75] Budruweit, ‘Twilight’s Heteronormative Reversal of the Monstrous’, p. 270.

[76] Meyer, Twilight, p. 288.

[77] Meyer, Twilight, p. 393.

[78] Meyer, Twilight, p. 186.

2 thoughts on “4) The Transformation of Gothic Libertinism: From Romanticism, Victorianism and Post-Millennial Fiction- Chapter Three: The Twilight Saga”

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 )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google 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 )

Connecting to %s