Gender and the Vampire Gothic, Part Two

The Vampire Diaries, as well as Twilight, also embraces this ontology of Madonna/whore, slut and good/girl. Elena, of the Vampire Diaries, embodies the classic good girl, while Caroline embodies the typical slut. Blonde and pretty, Caroline flirts with everything that moves, desperate for love and attention. When she first meets Stefan Salvatore, she instantly approaches him, boldly asking him personal questions, taking the upper hand in the relationship. This sexual forwardness is met with considerable derision from virtually all the characters in the show, including the main female characters, Bonnie and Elena, who attempt to avoid her. In contrast to Caroline, Elena is dark haired and sweet, not the kind of girl who calls attention to herself sexually. She relies on Stefan to make the first moves in their relationship, from their first date to all of their subsequent interactions. Elena’s unwillingness to take the sexual initiative mark her as a good girl, who allows herself to be the pursued rather than pursuer. Unlike Caroline, she does not seek attention through shallow, flirtatious means; but exhibits an emotional freshness and honesty, a refusal to rely on artificial means to attract men.
This polarization of sexually aggressive and shallow, and emotionally profound and demure, marks the distinction between both girls. Cinematically, the show reinforces this dynamic through its staging of the Caroline/ Elena flirtation scenes. Whenever Caroline flirts with Stefan, she blathers on about idiotic topics, while he looks on, uninterested. Clearly, the viewers are supposed to infer that Caroline’s conversation is lacking, and that they have no emotional connection. However, whenever Stefan and Elena bump into one another, they end up talking about “profound topics” such as the death of her parents, and Edward clearly seems taken by Elena’s unwitting grace, the way that, unlike Caroline, she does not present a shallow facade to the world.
All of the so-called bad girl characters besides Caroline either wind up dead or vampires. The main female character of the vampire universe, who both Damon and Elena once loved, is a two dimensional, completely unmitigated bitch. She enjoys taking life from others, leads along both Stefan and Damon, and drugs and tricks Stefan into loving her. Though she has not yet been punished within the confines of the series, she lacks any of the good or softening qualities her romantic male counterparts possess. Both Katherine and Damon (her male doppelganger) do horrible things to people over the course of the story: but while Damon’s evil is allowed and excused under the auspices of “I was doing it all for love,” Katherine is crafted as a one note, unsympathetic villain for exhibiting the same behavior. At one point in the narrative, Damon literally rips the heart out of a woman: but is excused for it by virtue of being tortured, while Katherine revels in her murders and is ultimately condemned for it.
The treatment of another minor character in the series of the Vampire Diaries remain equally egregious. Vicki, the so-called slutty bad girl of the series, receives harsh treatment at the hands of the writers of the Vampire Diaries. Vicki, in a haze of drunken glee one day, is murdered by Damon Salvatore, one of the main male protagonists of the vampire series. Her eventual transformation into vampire is marked by her total descent into debauchery and cruelty: she is eventually staked by Elena, the protagonist’s boyfriend, for attempting to murder Elena, the good girl heroine of the story. That the slutty bad girl should be killed in an attack on the good girl has deeply disturbing implications for the story.