Cullen, Edward

Cullen, Edward

(pop culture)

Edward Cullen, whose full name is Edward Anthony Masen Cullen, is Stephenie Meyer‘s vampire hero throughout her four Twilight book series as well as the unpublished and unfinished manuscript, Midnight Sun. Edward is described as lanky, six foot two inches, and boyish looking with bronze untidy hair and green eyes that turned gold/black when he became a vampire. Meyer describes Edward as a “beautiful boy” with a “dazzling face,” “flawless lips,” and “perfectly ultra white teeth” and compares him to the mythical Greek god Adonis. On Meyer’s website, she said that Charlotte Brontë’s Mr. Rochester (Jane Eyre) and Jane Austen’s Mr. Ferrars (Sense and Sensibility) were the characters that led her to the name Edward.

Before he became a vampire, Edward was the biological son of Elizabeth and Edward Masen, a successful lawyer. Edward was born on June 20, 1901, and grew up in a moderately wealthy family in Chicago; by 1918, his fairly happy life vanished when the influenza epidemic claimed the lives of both his parents. Edward became stricken as well, but his attending physician, Dr. Carlisle Cullen, saved his life by changing him into a vampire. Edward subsequently became the “adopted son” of Carlisle and Esme Cullen and the brother to Alice and Emmett Cullen as well as Rosalie and Jasper Hale. Edward has been to medical school twice (though he never practiced medicine), and he collects cars as a hobby and enjoys a wide range of music.

Edward is often described as very charming and polite. In fact, he retains some of the same mannerisms and outdated speech from his previous life in the early twentieth century. As a vampire, he possesses superhuman speed, agility, and strength and is not able to sleep. His skin, according to Meyer, is “satin smooth, cool as stone” and sparkles like small diamonds when exposed to sunlight. Edward’s vampire family renounces human blood on moral grounds and instead feeds off animals. Edward initially rebelled against this lifestyle, so from 1927 to 1931, he left Carlisle and Esme and limited his hunting of humans to those who were truly evil. His special ability to read other people’s minds helped him to avoid killing innocent people for food. But after awhile, the taking of human lives—whether evil or innocent—weighed heavily upon Edward’s conscience, and he returned to Esme and Carlisle and resumed their lifestyle.

Edward and his family first moved to Forks, Washington, in 1936. They travelled around frequently until they returned to Forks in 2003, and two years later Edward met Isabella Swan or “Bella,” a human female only 17 years old. Emotionally, Edward was stagnant or fossilized until Bella came into his life. He fell in love for the first time and was both attracted to Bella yet wanted to kill her. He fought this impulse every moment he was with Bella and became obsessed with her. Yet, Edward was very protective of Bella and put her safety and welfare before anything else. Although their vampire/human relationship had many obstacles, he married Bella on August 12, 2006, and fathered a half human, half vampire daughter through her.

As Edward’s character develops through the Twilight series, he experiences many new emotions around Bella. He breaks off the relationship with her because he fears she is not safe around his vampire family and goes through a very dark, reclusive period. He even contemplates suicide. Once Edward and Bella reunite, he asks her to marry him. As his relationship with Bella deepens, he learns to control his thirst for her blood and is able (although somewhat reluctantly) to make love to her on their honeymoon. He also forms an uneasy alliance with Jacob Black, a Quileute Indian who has the ability to transform into a werewolf and whose ancestors were once enemies of the Cullens and other vampire families. In the movie Twilight and its forthcoming sequels, Edward Cullen is played by British actor Robert Pattinson.


Gresh, Lois H. The Twilight Companion: The Unauthorized Guide to the Series. St. Martin’s Griffin: New York, 2008. 242 pp.
Meyer, Stephenie. Twilight. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2005. 498 pp.
———. Twilight: The Story Behind Twilight. Posted at Accessed on April 6, 2010.
Twilight News Updates. Cullen, Edward. October 3, 2006. Posted by Accessed on April 6, 2010.