Spike vs. Eric Northman
© Buzzy Multimedia
Being a Vampirologist it is part of my job to keep at least half an eye a quarter of the way open and focused on what new fictional vampire books, movies and TV shows are out there. Well, my job just got a whole lot easier now that Eric Northman is primed to take a larger role in the HBO series “True Blood.”
Back in the Golden Age of television, when “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” was on the air, there was Spike, and life was good. The original Big Bad, Spike was the “it” vampire as far as I was concerned. He was immortal, so it stood to reason that he had achieved some level of sexual prowess and ability. Here was a bad boy, a punk rocking rebel who lived by his own rules. Spike saw what he wanted and took it. No regrets, never looking back, he strode forward big as life. A wolfish smile, a glint of evil in his eye, and a body that begged to be explored, clad in jeans and leather. He smoked; he drank and drove a classic car. Behold every mother’s worst nightmare manifest. And then, he was also my Blondie Bear, a poet at heart, wanting to love and be loved. A wounded soul in need of comfort and nurturing; his wild heart only tamed by the love of a woman. It didn’t matter that she never loved him back, he was content for whatever bit of attention that he could steal or that she would give him, even when all she had to offer was her hate and scorn.
Wow. I lost track. Am I talking about BtVS‘ Spike, or True Blood’s Eric Northman.
Doesn’t matter really, they are the same character.
Whoah, whoah, whoah there, now wait a minute, calm down and finish reading the blog. My saying that Spike and Eric Northman are the same character is NOT a bad thing. It is not a disrespectful thing. I suspect that Joss Whedon and Charlaine Harris both would admit to you that their respective vampires are perfect working examples of an archetype called “the bad boy.” It OK to admit to using archetypes in your work, in fact, people prefer the archetype, our brains are hardwired that way. Making use of the universal constancy is a good thing.
Now, I’ve already covered archetypes ad nauseam in a blog I did about the characters in Jim Butcher’s Dresden-verse, and you can read it elsewhere on Buzzy Mag. What I said about those archetypical characters goes for all archetypal characters because, well, they are archetypes.
Granted, the back stories of Spike and Eric are very different, but that doesn’t matter when dealing with archetypal characters. It is important however so that readers (or TV viewers as the case may be) can tell them apart and so that authors do not get sued. How the bad Boy got to where he is not nearly as important as the fact that he arrived. Eric, it would seem, was always a bit of a rounder with a talent for death being the very thing that lured Godric to him in the first place. Whereas mamma-boy William became the vampire Spike once Drusilla had her way with him.
There is a wonderful book called 45 Master Characters, it’s a must have read if you are or want to be an author. It was written by Victoria Lynn Schmidt and when you realize that you need this book in your personal library, (click on this link here to buy it.) Written in 2003 it uses reference and examples that us mortals get and can relate to. At the end of each section Schmidt breaks it down, listing characters from modern day, popular TV shows, books and movies that everyone has heard of and can relate to.
According to Schmidt if you read the names “Luke Skywalker – Dorothy – Xena – Captain Ahab” an instantaneous and clear image of whom and what these characters are comes to mind. We know them. Either we love and want to be like them or hate and want to destroy them. Each one of them has good qualities that we admire and want to emulate, but their darker traits make them complex, human, and interesting. They are iconic, the very embodiment of the universal archetype. I would recommend to Ms. Schmidt that in the next edition of her book that she include Spike or Eric Northman in the Artist Abuser chapter of her book, but not both (unless she just needs to really drive a point home) because they are one and the same.
Spike and Eric, rebels and bad boys that they may be, are labeled as the Artist/Abuser in Schmidt’s own breakdown of the Jungian archetypes. This is the guy who makes decisions based on emotion. Raging one moment, calm the next. He is unpredictable yet intriguing. The Artist/Abuser is clever and too smart for his own good. As soon as you think you know him, he lets slip a mystery about himself. He has trouble trusting others. Helping him through one emotional crisis only leads the way towards opening the door to his next one. He is an overabundant and enthusiastic giver as well as an eternal taker. His intensity and driving passion is what calls women to him. It is also a significant part in what oftentimes drives them away. Just because he loves you doesn’t mean he won’t kill you. Accidents happen, as do events premeditated. There is within him a drive to be a “somebody”. He fears being inferior to those around and under him and so goes that much further over the lines of the rules of convention to prove otherwise both to himself and those around him. Though he fears what he is capable of doing, often he will do it anyway. He is motivated by survival. Handling extremes is easier for him than taking care of the small stuff.
Who am I talking about here anyway – Classic Spike or New hotness Eric? (Maybe I’m prattling on about Dean Winchester.) I could be, but it doesn’t matter. They are Him, the one and same, the Artist/Abuser, the Bad Boy, the Rebel, the Punk Rock Vampire, the Viking from the North.
QtR – Theresa Bane, vampirologist and lover of archetypes
© Buzzy Multimedia