Beauty and the beautiful Beast Stephenie Meyer's Twilight saga and the quest for a transgressive female desire

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This paper interprets Stephenie Meyer's Twilight saga as a contemporary rewriting of the 'Beauty and the Beast' fairy tale in which the heroine, Bella Swan, quests for a sexual subjectivity and agency not readily available to her in mainstream heterosexual culture. Using work on the 'missing discourse' of female desire, it is noted that a normative understanding of heterosexuality still allocates the ownership of desire along gender lines, where young men can claim sexual agency as an integral part of their identity, whereas young women are pressured to disavow their own desire if they are to be accepted as 'good girls'. In this context Twilight articulates a fantasy of claiming a carnality and sexual subjectivity for its heroine through her association with a supernatural 'beast'*Edward Cullen, a vampire. Twilight is positioned as one title in a growing publishing sub-category of Young Adult supernatural romance in which young female characters claim a sexuality that transgresses heterosexual norms by forming erotic ties with human creature hybrids. It is argued that, despite its conservative features, Twilight is an attempt to inscribe this 'missing discourse' of female desire through a reclaiming of the beast's sexuality for its heroine.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-55
Number of pages15
JournalAustralian Feminist Studies
Issue number67
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2011
Externally publishedYes

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