Analysis: What’s Up With the Epigraph?
Epigraphs are like little appetizers to the great main dish of a story. They illuminate important aspects of the story, and they get us headed in the right direction.
But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil,
thou shalt not eat of it:
for in the day that thou eatest thereof
thou shalt surely die.
Although Meyer never mentions religion in the novel, her epigraph alludes to one of the most famous Biblical couples, Adam and Eve. In Genesis 2, God gives Adam and Eve the warning that makes up the epigraph. In Genesis 3, however, a serpent tempts them to eat the fruit (traditionally represented as an apple) of the tree. Do they "surely die"? Well, not immediately, but God does kick them out of the Garden of Eden. (Read Genesis 3 here.) This story is commonly known as the "Fall of Man."
So how does this relate to Twilight, you ask? Well, we have a guy and a girl, and there’s definitely some tempting happening. In the normal scheme of things, Bella is Edward's prey – his natural instincts tell him to hunt and kill her. Yet they are in love.
Now, here’s where it gets interesting. Eve and Adam had a choice to eat the apple, right? Bella takes a good amount of time pondering whether she should pursue her keen interest in Edward. Pretty much all of Chapter Seven, she considers the possible ramifications of allowing Edward into her life. And then in Chapter 11, when Bella knows for sure that Edward is a vampire, she plays with an apple in the lunchroom when she’s talking to Edward. It's almost like she hasn't quite decided whether or not to take a bite. Imagery alert! Apple = temptation. (For more on this topic, check out what we have to say about the apple in "Symbols, Imagery, Allegory.") In the end, Bella makes her decision, telling Edward, "I would rather die than stay away from you" (13.126).
Edward isn’t by any means innocent through all of this – had he not reached out to Bella, she would have simply admired him from afar, just like all the other girls at Forks High do. Edward admits he had to make a choice as well, and although he tried to stay away, he couldn’t resist Bella.
Both Bella and Edward fall into temptation, so...will they “surely die”? Edward’s immortal, so no worries there. But if Bella dies, who knows what might happen to him. As for Bella, she could die, since being around the Cullens brings its share of danger – she is, after all, their natural primary food source. Edward's fears for Bella's safety are also validated when the evil vampire James does try to kill her, simply because of Edward's attachment to her. By the end of the book, Bella is also ready to die (to her human life) so she can become a vampire, in order to be with Edward forever. Now that she's fallen to temptation, it seems just a matter of time before she “surely dies.” So, do you think she will she die completely, or will she become a vampire?