Books

All 349 “Murmurs” in the Twilight Saga, Charted and Ranked

A movie still from Twilight featuring Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart overlaid over a picture of a book page.
“This is too many murmurs,” we murmured to ourselves. Photo illustration by Natalie Matthews-Ramo/Slate. Photo by Summit Entertainment.

About three things Twilight readers are absolutely positive. First, Edward is a vampire. Second, Bella’s only personality trait is wanting to be a vampire. And third, author Stephenie Meyer is unconditionally and irrevocably in love with the word murmur. Every conversation in the saga seems to be taking place below 40 decibels: There are hopeful murmurs and bleak murmurs, warm murmurs and tense murmurs, low murmurs and … well, even lower murmurs.

As a (reluctant) Twilight expert, one of the many things I was looking forward to when Midnight Sun was released in August was seeing whether Meyer had gotten over her reliance on murmur and would finally allow her characters to have conversations at a normal speaking volume. She has not. In fact, over the course of Midnight Sun, characters murmured to each other no fewer than 67 times.

That got me wondering: Just how many times does the word murmur appear over the course of the five Twilight books—and what exactly does all that murmuring amount to? I tallied, charted, and carefully analyzed every one of the 349 “murmurs” that appear in the Twilight series. Below are the results.

Which Book Is the Murmur-iest?

My theory when I began compiling all these murmurs into a truly massive Excel spreadsheet was as follows: Since murmuring seems to be the primary register that vampires speak in, the book with the least vampires, New Moon, would have the least murmurs. As you can see, the lack of murmurs in New Moon and the excess in Breaking Dawn—which has the most vampires per capita by far—bear that theory out.

A horizontal bar chart shows that Twilight has 46 murmurs, New Moon has 30 murmurs, Eclipse has 95 murmurs, Breaking Dawn has 111 murmurs, and Midnight Sun has 67 murmurs.
Natalie Matthews-Ramo

Who Is Doing the Murmuring?

It’s not always a person murmuring (sometimes it’s, like, “the ground”), but no one should be surprised that Edward is the murmur king. Edward murmurs smugly, quietly, casually, almost silently, and even musically. Despite the fact that he isn’t present for about 75 percent of New Moon, he still manages to have the most murmurs per character in that book—even when it’s only in Bella’s imagination. Characters with fewer than eight murmurs are not included.

A graph showing that Edward murmurs the most, followed by Bella, Alice, Jacob, Rosalie, and finally the hallucination of Edward.
Chart by Natalie Matthews-Ramo/Slate. Photo by Summit Entertainment.

Are Murmurs Contagious?

Often the recipient of a murmur is a particular part of Bella’s body: Bella will say that Edward murmured something “against my wrist” or “against my skin.” This supports one of my theories, which is that murmurs are contagious, as Bella begins murmuring more and more as she is exposed to Edward’s chronic murmuring. Close contact with a murmurer may be one of the ways the condition is spread.

A pie chart showing that Bella's ear accounts for 64 percent of things murmured into, her hair 27 percent, and the darkness 9 percent of the time
Chart by Natalie Matthews-Ramo/Slate. Photo by Summit Entertainment.

Murmurs, Ranked

It was a herculean task to narrow down the 349 murmurs that appear in the series to the best and worst, especially when the distinctions between the two categories are dubious at best, but I did it. Here are my highly scientific picks.

Worst Murmurs

349. “ ‘Alice!’ ‘Alice!’ other voices murmured around me.” (Breaking Dawn)
You cannot murmur an exclamation point; it goes against the very spirit of the murmur.

348. “Deeply under, she did not so much as murmur.” (Midnight Sun)
No longer content to tell us when characters are murmuring, Meyer is now talking about murmurs even when there is no one murmuring.

347. “’Where indeed,’ I murmured around another bite of pizza.” (Twilight)
Murmuring with one’s mouth full is rude.

346. “ ‘I told you so,’ the perfect voice murmured, crystal clear.” (New Moon)
Even when Bella is hallucinating, Edward won’t stop murmuring.

345. “ ‘Mmm,’ I murmured vaguely, and turned back to the sink.” (Eclipse)
Characters murmur some variation of “hmm” no fewer than 10 times over the course of the series, a waste of murmurs.

Best Murmurs

5. “ ‘Go to sleep, Jacob,’ Edward murmured. ‘You’re starting to get on my nerves.’ ”(Eclipse)
Murmuring this to your romantic rival instead of just saying it is a total power move.

4. “ ‘Bella,’ he murmured, his voice warm and velvet. ‘Would you please stop trying to take your clothes off?’ ” (Eclipse)
Almost the entire no-sex-until-marriage conversation takes place in murmurs, but this is undoubtedly the best line.

3. “ ‘Death, that hath sucked the honey of thy breath, hath had no power yet upon thy beauty,’ he murmured, and I recognized the line spoken by Romeo in the tomb.” (New Moon)
A heavy-handed allusion to star-crossed lovers and a murmur? Iconic.

2. “ ‘And so the lion fell in love with the lamb … ’ he murmured. I looked away, hiding my eyes as I thrilled to the word.” (Twilight)
This murmur is so melodramatic that it almost took first place. However, that honor belongs to …

1. “It’s twilight,” Edward murmured […] (Twilight)
Self-explanatory.