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Vampires and Redemption

“Well, I wouldn’t marry anyone who was really wicked, but I think I’d like it if he could be wicked and wouldn’t.” –Anne Shirley

In the past three weeks I’ve had four different friends tell me that I need to watch The Vampire Diaries. To preface—when the show first aired I had no desire to ever watch it. Thanks to Twilight, the market had been saturated with vampire stories. Suffice to say the Edward Cullen glimmer had faded for me. But when four of my close friends (whose opinions I trust) tell me that something is worth seeing then I’ll give it a try. So I did. I started season one this weekend and finished in four days. My friends were right. The show is addicting and the writers are masterful at unveiling a story/plot piece-by-piece.

The show follows three main characters: Elena (a human girl) and vampire brothers Stefan and Damon. Stefan exemplifies all that is good—he’s a vampire who fights his hunger for human blood by surviving off of animals. His does this willingly knowing that his lifestyle choice makes him weaker (in physical strength and abilities) than the other vampires. He spends his time saving humans, protecting the town, teaching new vamps to live above their hunger, and trying to reform his never-do-well brother. An all-around class act.

Then we have Damon, the other brother. Damon is rash. Damon feeds off of humans and often uses them mercilessly to do his bidding. Damon seemingly doesn’t care who he hurts along the way. He is powerful, and because of this he’s capable of both the blackest sort of evil and the best sort of good.

Know what? I’m cheering for Damon.

I know I’m not supposed to. I know I should be drawn to Stefan. His goodness is nice in a warm-snuggly-puppy way. But it’s not Stefan’s story that makes me jump to my feet or burst out clapping. No, that only happens when I see a chip in Damon’s armor, and when I see him change for the good.

It’s Damon’s possibility for redemption that tugs at my heart. Why? Well, I feel for Damon. In my own Christian walk, I am Damon. At one point I wasn’t a Christian, then God saved me, but the story doesn’t stop there. I still mess-up big time, and sometimes when I’m trying to do right it ends up being all wrong.

Rochester from Jane Eyre has always been my favorite hero in literature. When we meet him in the story he has spent most of his life walking down the wrong path. His life wasn’t easy to begin with—he’d known heart-ache—but then his wrong choices multiply his anguish. By human standards Rochester deserves to be miserable and unhappy for the rest of his life. For crying out loud, the man has his insane wife locked up in the attic of his own home!

But then, how different are we, really? Doesn’t each of us have sins, mistakes, and past wrongs locked away for no one to see? We hope that by keeping up a carefree facade no one will find out about our terrible little secrets or failings.

Throughout the whole of Jane Eyre, I yearn for Rochester’s redemption. I want him happy. I want his past sins forgiven. I want him healed. See, if he can be redeemed then there’s hope for all of us.

There is a reason we’re drawn to the antihero in fiction. We watch to see the most important thing on earth—the transformation of a life. The Bible is clear that God has placed a longing for eternity—for redemption—into the hearts of men. Who knew it would take vampires to remind me?

So now it’s your turn. Are you drawn to the less-than-squeaky-clean heroes in fiction? Why or why not?

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About Jess Keller

I'm an author, speaker and chocolate eater who's chasing hard after my dreams.

8 responses »

  1. Jess, I agree with you on Damon and I have only watched a few episodes of season 1. I have always been drawn the bad one because I have the hope they can change. I love that you are watching that show and now I want to keep watching when I was going to put it on the shelf.

    Reply
  2. Personally, although it was an interesting idea when it was first introduced, I’m opposed to the soul-searching and redemption-seeking vampires. I prefer the thoroughly sinister and irredeemable creatures like Dracula.

    Reply
    • Thanks for your thoughts! I enjoy Bram Stoker’s Dracula, what an excellent book. You’re right, in that story Dracula is completely depraved. Without a doubt, he’s one hard-core antagonist. In this post I wasn’t trying to endorse vampire stories or the CW television show, this had to do with anit-heroes in fiction and why we feel a pull to them. Damon is just one example that got me thinking. Dracula doesn’t factor in because he could never be considered an antihero. In Dracula you’d have van Helsing or Jonathan Harker to choose from as heroes, both fit the bill in their own ways.

      Reply
  3. I’ll have to give the show a try on your strong recommendation Jess!

    Reply
  4. Edward Rochester IS the best hero in classic literature. Jane Eyre is masterfully written, and I spend entirely too much time on it. 🙂

    Thanks for writing this. It’s very thought-provoking, and you’re right about our identifying with the need for redemption. I do cheer for those characters. I’m currently reading Nightshade by Ronie Kendig. Max Jacobs–a former Navy SEAL who suffers from PTSD–has lost his wife because he can’t get a handle on his rage. He’s seen and done too many unspeakable things to live with himself. With every page turn, I’m cheering for him more. He can be redeemed. He can be compassionate and tender while he’s protecting. He can look toward the future. And he can LOVE. That possiblity has me hooked. DEEP.

    I watched the Vampire Diaries for a while, based on someone’s raving recommendation, and there were many things I loved–many of the same things you mentioned. But when I consistenly have to hit pause for fear of my children seeing a witch perform an incantation or turn away to look in my husband’s eyes while the characters show so much skin both of us are uncomfortable, I have to ask if it’s worth it. To me, it wasn’t.

    But I still feel proud of Damon when I hear he did something truly good. 🙂

    Reply
    • So right Bethany – something hooks us to a redemption story (Jane Eyre is my all time favorite).

      And I hear you on TVD stuff, this post wasn’t meant to be an endorsement as much as a lead-in to why I was thinking about anti-heroes. I have to admit, I enjoy the show, but I wouldn’t heartily endorse it for all viewers.

      Reply

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