We’ve all seen the hot dangerous Vampire story line wherein the girl falls for a guy who just happens to have fangs and might literally want to nibble on her neck. However, in steps Damon Salvatore from The Vampire Diaries. He’s got anger issues and plays by nobody’s rules but his own while maintaining a strong feminist approach. And cue his erratic teenage girl personality.
Damon Salvatore comes from a long line of Vampires who have been turning humans into the night walkers for centuries. However, Damon was born as a human in the 1800’s just before the start of the Civil War. In such he has several mannerisms and personality traits that dictate his origins on a historical timeline.
Barry’s dictation on Feminism reads as, ” Feminists pointed out, for example, that in nineteenth-century fiction very few women work for a living, unless they are driven to it by dire necessity. Instead, the focus of interest is on the heroine’s choice of marriage partner, which will decide her ultimate social position and exclusively determine her happiness and fulfillment in life, or her lack of these.” (Barry)
Damon, in all of his vampire glory and bad-assery, exploits his lack of need to work for a living through his careless spending and his immortality. Even then, Damon expresses his dated feminine qualities through his ultimate mission to care for the female protagonist, Elena Gilbert, and fall in love with her. It’s through her doing that he’s either drowning his self pity in expensive alcohol or using as many innuendos as possible when he’s with her. He would literally give up his own life, and risk everyone else’s around him just to save her. It’s their relationship, whether healthy or deadly, that puts him in a position where he feels secure or just downright enraged and beaten down. You can see his first confession of his love to Elena here, from Season 2 Episode 8. All in all, Damon is a perfect example of a gender bended heroine in which Barry writes about. His relationship is all that he has in this world of drinking blood and a couple thousand sunsets and would do everything and anything to keep this girl alive (and human).
Damon’s other strongly aligning feminine quality within feminism is his penis envy. And I know what you’re thinking, but it’s not actually penis envy. “Thus, the argument runs, the notion of penis envy need not be taken as simply concerning the male physical organ itself (whatever might have been Freud’s intentions), but as concerning that organ as an emblem of social power and the advantages which go with it” (Barry).
The penis envy in this situation is the one in which Damon needs the social and romantic power that allows him to control other people and be with Elena. Stefan, Damon’s younger brother, already has all of this. And so, Stefan is at the root of Damon’s envy. (Talk about family issues) However, Damon allows his femininity to shine through with the thought process that his envy for control over his friends and his love for Elena isn’t the whole picture. Damon has penis envy because he is a heroine interest. It’s because of his alliance with feminist ideologies and qualities that make him the protagonist who has to fight to be the desired and respected character. Had the same scenario and position been put on any other characters, it would have argued for the same challenges and issues to be solved and overcome.
” In the reading discussed in the next section, Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar use the idea of ‘social castration’, which amounts to the same thing, for this term signifies women’s lack of social power, this lack being represented, by means of the word ‘castration’, as a male possession, though not as in any sense a male attribute.” (Barry) The penis envy goes on in depth to explain how as females, the lack of male genitalia, whether literal or metaphorical through other representations, applies to female figures who are cast away from the front conversation simply because of gender. Damon is ‘castrated’ with his reversed gendered possession by Elena in which up until Season 4, he’s simply cast aside as ‘Stefan’s older brother’.
Overall, Damon proves that though, yeah, he’s a dude with fangs, he represents the heroine feminist critique in multiple ways. His brother, being the root of his issues, does a great job in drawing it out and then highlighting. Great work boys.