Vampire Morality

Vampires have always been associated with evil.  Remember that Dracula guy?  Yeah, he was the villain of the novel titled after him.

But, somewhere along the lines, vampires became heroes and/or anti-heroes.  In Anne Rice’s Queen of the Damned, a group of vampires even save the world!  Albeit, from another vampire… who the main character was romantically linked to…

But forget about that.  How can a writer get readers to cheer for a creature that should be repulsed and hated by all?

While there are some readers who enjoy reading a story centered on a villain’s criminal pursuits, most readers want to follow the tale of someone more noble.

Hence, we have the moral vampire readers can side with.

Anne Rice does this wonderfully.  In Interview with a Vampire, Louis is our hero.  He is the fledgling vampire who is determined not to feed on human blood.  Louis is turned by Lestat, a loathsome vampire who takes joy in killing and sometimes tutoring humans.

HOWEVER…

The same Lestat is the “hero” of the other Vampire Chronicle books by Anne Rice.  We are told by Louis that Lestat is a most detestable creature and aren’t shown many redeeming qualities.  Lestat’s one good deed of ensuring his human father has a roof over his head is counterbalanced by the frequent verbal abuse Lestat gives him.

When we get Lestat’s side of the story, he claims he is a very moral person and only feeds on humans who are criminals.  But even he admits he’s not what we’d think of as a hero.  His choice not to follow what Marius tells him unleashes the villain who jeopardizes the entire world in Queen of the Damned.

As I’m doing another round of edits on Communion before sending it to an editor, I’m carefully considering the actions of my dhampir.  I present my protagonists as likable but each dhampir can CHOOSE whether or not to give into their vampiric needs.  Morally ambiguous situations arise, and the reader is left to make the judgment themselves.

My next few posts will be on some of the morally gray lines that are frequent in the vampire genre and common ways they are handled.

Check them out:

Vampire Morality:  The Need to Feed
Vampire Morality:  Alternate Victims

About B. Patterson

Avid Reader. Relentless Writer. Lover of Wisdom. Author of Communion.

Posted on July 24, 2013, in Vampire, Vampire Morality and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. We as humans have such a fascination with dark and sinister things, but we need something to root for. The lore of vampires is sexy, and dark, but comes with the possibility of using vampiric powers for “good”. Anti-heroes make for great characters. They generally seem to have greater dimension to them, and are a much truer representation of humanity. Hardly anyone is the quintessential “good guy”, and some of the most loathsome villains in history can have shadows of goodness in them. I think anti-heroes keep us guessing, and more properly walk that line of dark and light. And they’re usually much more fun to read about!

    • Thanks for your comment (and the follow). Life is rarely black and white and I enjoy the same in the books I read and the heroes I root for.

      And I totally agree anti-heroes are more fun to read about since we don’t know if their actions will be done out of good intentions or for self-serving ones. When I write a story centered around an anti-hero, I try to have even their selfish acts leads to something for the greater good.

      Thanks again for commenting. Do you have a favorite anti-hero?

      • I am enjoying reading about the craft of writing, whether it be the creation of characters, structure of plot, tone, pace…anything that will serve to improve whatever words I throw on to a page. I wouldn’t even call myself an amateur writer. Maybe a writing “tourist” is more appropriate 🙂 But I hope to nurture this craft over time to see where it takes me.

        With vampires on the brain I am going to have to say the character of Jean Claude from Laurell K. Hamilton’s “Anita Blake” series of books. Fiercely violent against his enemies, pragmatic in everything, but apparently weak when it comes to those he loves.

        Have you read anything in that series? A great paranormal universe that stays surprisingly human and touching, for the first handful of books.

      • Writing “tourist.” I like that. I’m slowly (but surely) coming to the realization that even when I think I’ve mastered a skill, say for example characterization, there’s still so much more I could do to improve.

        I read the first in the series, Guilty Pleasures. Very good and very suspenseful. There wasn’t much of Jean Claude in that book. I think the previous head vampire had him in some sort of trap.

      • Haha, yeah that’s the first one. His story arch is really good and spans several books before all his motivations and traits feel really fleshed out. But good luck with this novel you’re finishing! If you get bored enough to flip through some of my blog’s digital pages I would love any insight you have to share.

      • Yeah sure thing. I checked out your bio and noticed we’re around the same age (I’m 25). I’ll be checking out your other posts sometime soon 🙂

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