I thought I’d take a break from proofreading my book, and answer this super important question you may have googled: Do vampires have souls?
It depends on whose vampires you are talking about.
The original vamps were basically dead people who walked around and got into all sorts of trouble. Blood drinking was only a part of it. They returned to sleep in their coffins though how they managed to get in and out is a mystery. In any case people who believe in souls, believe that the soul leaves the body at death, and vampires generally “die” before they wake up vamp; therefore, vampires have no souls.
Where do the souls go? Great question!
Certainly, Bram Stoker didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about the souls of vampires when he wrote Dracula. Dracula is a monster. There’s no conflict in his nature. He is an evil that must be destroyed. The heart of the story, what makes it a “classic” is the diverse group that gathers to fight against the darkness. Earlier vamps like Carmilla and Lord Ruthven (the Original V) were also duplicitous evildoers who fed off the living. Dracula’s Daughter, per the 1936 film wanted to do better, but ultimately, the girl couldn’t help herself. Evil was her nature. Soulless.
At some point things changed, or we at least began to feel more sympathy for the devil. In the gothic television series, Dark Shadows, souls weren’t discussed much, but Barnabas was a sympathetic figure because he suffered. He’d been cursed, and felt truly damned. He hated what he was, not enough to destroy himself by going out into the sunlight, but he talked a good game.
Anne Rice’s vamps were smart and sexy and fully alive. She may have been the first to give us their side of the story. Some, like Lestat embraced what they were. Louis chose to avoid feeding off of humans, and was kind of a bore. They could make choices. Soulless? Or evolved-super-beings? It was the start of a new conversation.
Let’s pause for a brief view of the Buffyverse. In the Buffyverse, vamps – with two exceptions – most definitely lack souls. In fact the Buffyverse one-ups things. There are demon dimensions, and vampires while they may look and sound like the people they used to be, are not those people. They are dead bodies possessed by demons. All this demon/soul talk is interesting for a series in which a character says “the jury’s out” when asked about God. It’s unclear on Buffy exactly how “soul” is being defined. Is it the spark of the divine within all of us? Or simply the ability to feel badly about what one does? Once given a soul, Angel stops feeding on humans and broods a lot. Yet, plenty of humans are killers. Are they soulless? Is a “soul” the same thing as a conscience? Are all vampires sociopaths? It would seem so.
But we live in a post-Buffy world.
In shows like True Blood and the books the series is based on, there are good vampires and bad ones. Vampires in that world don’t have to kill to survive. In addition to the synthetic “true blood” they could also get by glamouring people, feeding off of them, and then allowing them to live with no memory of being some vamp’s happy meal. Of course feeding without going all the way takes self-control and is still parasitic. Killing is easier — the default. But in this world, there are plenty of humans who enjoy having their blood sucked. Plus, True Blood introduced the idea that vampire blood is a pretty yummy treat for humans — the ultimate high, so humans and vamps can be mutual parasites. Isn’t that the nature of many relationships? Do they have souls? It seems only the religious nutters think they don’t.
I’ve never read Twilight or seen the films, but I’m pretty sure those sparkly vamps have souls. In fact, I think most vampires who go to high school are soulful, but if you think about it, does that make sense? Being perpetually seventeen when you are in reality MUCH older and hanging out with teenaged girls is kind of creepy.
Recently, I’ve started watching The Vampire Diaries. Souls aren’t explicitly mentioned much. The haters in Mythic Falls believe vamps are soulless creatures. They take the Buffyverse view of things. Given how much carnage the vampires are responsible for – all of them, even the nice ones – this is not an irrational prejudice. While the “s” word doesn’t get used a lot, there is talk of “humanity” which vamps can “switch on,” “switch off,” or even “lose” altogether. So unlike most of us it seems they can choose to be sociopaths, which makes their lives infinitely easier because then they don’t have to worry about whom they hurt. Wow! They get that AND immortality and eternal youth and beauty, plus daylight immunity rings? Kind of a deal.
This Sunday night, FX premieres The Strain. I’ve read The Night Eternal trilogy. I’ll keep it spoiler free here. I loved the first book. That gave us a new approach to vamps — vampirism as a public health menace. Most of the vamps, were almost zombie-like and controlled by the master. Soulless? Yup. Not romantic and lovable either, something of a return to the “old” or “olde” vampyre stories, before they became all romantic and could pass for human. We were back to monsters, but seemed to be free of the “supernatural.” There was no hodgepodge that included ghosts, werewolves, fairies, etc. The problem was that as it progressed, the series became dumb and dumber culminating in an ending so stupid I almost slammed my Kindle against the wall. Still I’ll probably watch the series.
Where does that leave my post-modern vampire erotica/thriller/romance novel, Blood Diva? As in the Buffyverse, the jury is out on the God thing. But it’s out on “souls” as well. Certainly, the vamps are not evil automatons, but they do very bad things and they don’t brood. It’s their nature to kill, to hunt, to destroy. They may develop rules, rituals and rationalizations around what they do. In this, they may not be that different from another shorter-lived species.
(Blood Diva will be available to “professional readers” on Net Galley within the next three weeks. Follow on twitter or like on facebook if you want to stay in the loop. Meantime, you can read an excerpt here.)