I recently read Stephenie Meyer's vampire trilogy, Twilight, Eclipse, and New Moon –“the story of 17-year-old Bella Swan who moves to the small town of Forks, Washington to live with her father, and becomes drawn to Edward, a pale, mysterious classmate who seems determined to push her away. But neither can deny the attraction that pulls them together…even when Edward confides that he and his family are vampires.”
To say I read these books is an understatement, inhaled or devoured are more accurate.
After picking up Twilight in the Cincinnati airport around 6pm on a Saturday, I began reading immediately, proceeded to read until 3am, and had finished all three books by the following Saturday. My friends that read the books also read them quickly. I couldn't help but use the descriptor “intoxicating”, with the realization that the archetype of Western romantic love (girl and boy meet, their attraction is inescapable, their love immutable) continues to be a story that we love and live by.
Apart from not being able to drink deeply enough from these books, which is only marginally relevant to ‘dare to dream', the fact that, in the third book, Bella importunes, even begs, Edward to make love to her, is.
I know this appears to be a non-sequitur, but stay with me.
First of all, you may be thinking, “Whitney, this is not unusual, men and women who are in love (and not in love) have sex before they are married all the time. It's a societal norm in the Western world.”
And I would answer, yes, that is true, but not if you are a Mormon as I am — and as is Stephenie Meyer. Mormons believe that a physically intimate relationship is so sacred that we wait until we are married, no matter how strong the attraction. (By the way, it is difficult; hormones are hormones regardless of race or religion).
So here's the ‘dare to dream' point.
When I started reading Meyer's books, I knew she had gone to BYU, as had I, and is Mormon, as am I. Because I could identify with her on multiple levels, I was eager to learn from her about daring and dreaming.
So — to get to her third book, New Moon, and read that Bella wanted to break with a belief that Mormons generally hold dear, rocked my world.
Alternately angry, but mostly sad, I have found myself repeatedly wondering:
1) While we are daring and dreaming — For our dream to be embraced by a wide audience, do we have to part with cherished values?
2) Once we achieve our dream — Because Bella's fervent plea didn't take place until the third book, long after Meyer's first two books were NY Times bestsellers, is it possible that once we achieve our dream, more and more influence becomes so irresistible that we can't help but grab onto the ring, and fail our Galadriel test?
I don't know Stephenie Meyer; I purposely excluded her name from the blog title because I didn't want the focus to be her, but rather our having a discussion about what I think is a crucial question:
As we dream AND once we are achieving our dream(s), is it inevitable that we are corrupted by the power that we want or have? If corruption IS avoidable, how? In other words, how do we avoid going to Rachel's dark side, and pass our Galadriel test?
What are your thoughts?
Do you see this differently?
Can you think of women who have achieved a dream without sacrificing their ‘who they are' along the way?
What about women who, having achieved their dream, and already wield considerable influence, continue to pass the Galadriel test?
For those of you that want to explore further the psychology of love, Robert A. Johnson wrote a marvelous book titled We, Understanding the Psychology of Romantic Love that looks at the myths our society has about love, using the story of Tristan and Iseult, and then looks at what love can be. I read this book several years ago, and can't recommend it highly enough.