The Humanity of Vampires

Recently when I was cruising Amazon, I stumbled across an indie ebook about a war between humans and vampires (sorry, forgot the title). One of the reviewers praised the book not only for its writing and storytelling, but because it portrayed vampires as they should be: bloodsucking monsters with no humanity, and who view humans as nothing more than Big Macs.

While the reviewer has a right to his or her opinion, I must reveal one that is vastly different. Though I view Twilight as an abomination of literature along with its so-called vampires, I would have a very serious problem with a story that not only had a vampire as a main character, but if said vampire possessed not a shred of humanity. Depth is the lifeblood of any main character in any story, and 99 times out of 100, a character’s true depth is linked to some form of humanity.

A perfect example would be the psychopathic Alex from A Clockwork Orange. Rape and murder were nothing more than games to him, but he possessed a deep fondness and respect for Beethoven’s music. While he was being tortured into linking pain with Beethoven’s music, he screamed that Beethoven never hurt anyone. He just wrote music. And much as I hated him, I regretted that the conditioning succeeded. Evil psychopath or not, his love of Beethoven’s music was the one thing that kept him linked to the human world.

Keep a note that Alex’s humanity did not make him any less evil, it gave him depth. Giving humanity to your vampires does not at all mean that you have to make them any less bad-ass or evil. In fact, a perfect example of a vampire villain who’s humanity adds to their evilness is Klaus from The Vampire Diaries. He loves to kill and torture anyone who crosses him, especially those who prevented him from breaking the hybrid curse placed on him. However, the whole point of breaking the curse was so that he could make more hybrids and thus not be alone. His fear of loneliness, his humanity, feeds his hatred and his desire to kill and torture.

But what if humanity makes a vampire less evil? Will that diminish their status as a villain? Again, humanity does not have to be related to compassion. The Master from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” viewed his progeny Darla as a daughter and respected her decision to go off on her own with Angelus. He became distraught after her death proclaiming she was his favorite, and almost lost the will to continue his plan to free himself. Eventually, he snapped out of it and proceeded to cause mayhem and death until his demise at Buffy’s hands, but you get my meaning. His affection and respect for Darla did nothing to change his views regarding innocent humans.

So fellow story-tellers, never be afraid to add humanity to your vampires. If you are, then you’ll have little more than a caricature on your hands that your readers won’t really care about. If you’re wondering if you should include “humane” vampires, don’t be afraid to do that either. Eli from Let the Right One In longed for love and companionship, but she still wasn’t adverse to killing innocent people to survive. And Stefan from The Vampire Diaries spent decades as a remorseless ripper before he found his humanity again. So long as you don’t make your vampires like certain sparkly pussies who will remain unnamed, you’re on the right track.

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8 responses to “The Humanity of Vampires

  1. *chuckles* I’ve tried creating villains with humanity before. They always end up with the good guys sometime later. I have no control over it at all.

  2. I definitely agree that vampires have to have some humanity in them if they are going to be hanging out with main characters or the author wants to make readers understand the vampire villain. I strongly dislike writers who reasoning for someone being evil is just that they were meant to be.

    I like my vampires to be ruthless and without humanity in movies like 30 Days of Night because it’s supposed to be entertaining. But if they are going to be the main character then they need to have humanity because it gives them depth. Like you said, it doesn’t excuse evil actions but it makes them real and somewhat more connective.

  3. Nice post. I don’t necessarily keep up with popular culture. But realistically, vampires, if they existed today or are told from today’s perspective, should be very human. Vampire protein, blood, should be purchased at the local 7-11. Science has come a long way since Bram first told the story. The need for blood element would be covered by today’s science, and the story left to be is one about vampires integrating in society. I can see a whole vampire rights movement happening. Vampires wouldn’t be the villain, we would be.

  4. Interesting post. My vampires always have super-intense emotions which is what makes them erratic and sometimes behave in extreme ways. I suppose that is their humanity. I’m not sure I like the term itself as a description, but your article makes sense. Thanks for sharing.

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