‘The Vampire Diaries’, originally a book by L.J Smith, was translated to television by the CW Television Network in 2009. As the title goes, it is dominated by the supernatural. Vampires to be exact. The story is set in the fictional town called ,“Mystic Falls”, in Virginia. Elena Gilbert is the show’s protagonist who is torn between the supernatural and humanity. Elena is a strong, caring person but as time progresses, she can be seen as manipulative. This essay will focus on season one and two of The Vampire Diaries and will analyse how Elena Gilbert’s character has developed and progressed. When we are first introduced to Elena, she is writing in her diary; “Dear Diary, Today will be different. It has to be. I will smile and it will be believable. My smile will say, ‘I’m fine thank you. Yes I feel much better’. I will no longer be the sad little girl who lost her parents. I will start fresh, be someone new. That’s the only way I will make it through.”
She is facing yet another school year but due to tragedy, Elena and her younger brother, Jeremy, face it without their parents who were both killed in a car accident. Although Elena puts on a brave face to her peers, shortly afterwards, she sits in Mystic Falls cemetery, next to her parents headstone to write once again in her diary. Elena’s world however is changed forever by Stefan Salvatore, a mysterious yet alluring new student at her high school. He arrives the first day of school and becomes acquainted with Elena. Over the next few episodes, romance blossoms between them. However, the romance is cut short with the revelation that Stefan and his brother, Damon Salvatore, are both vampires. Elena’s mind jumps to conclusions about the murders and the “bodies drained of blood” since their return to the town. She becomes hostile towards them and distances herself. However, when her younger brother, Jeremy witnesses Stefan kill his vampire girlfriend Vicki(as she is out of control), Elena is forced to lie to Jeremy to protect him from the world she has found herself entwined. Elena requests that Damon takes Jeremy’s memories away by compulsion.
It is here, that although Elena is lying to Jeremy about Vicki, who “Had to leave town and was not coming back”, she did it out of love for her brother. Similarly with her guardian, Aunt Jenna, she keeps her in the dark in regards to the supernatural element in Mystic Falls. Elena’s character development is seen here. She was a very open and honest person but now is keeping dangerous secrets from people she loves. As the series continues, the Salvatore brothers regain Elena’s trust. Stefan and Elena rekindle their romance and Elena bonds with Damon. Damon Salvatore harbours romantic feelings for her as a result of her resemblance to her ancestor, Katherine Pierce. Elena knows this and sometimes manipulates him to avoid conflict, for example, In season one, episode thirteen, Elena lies to Damon about trusting Stefan. Elena knows Stefan does not plan to help Damon free Katherine from the tomb but when Damon asks can he trust him, she confirms he can. Elena, although she feels spring boarded into the supernatural world, at times she has felt helpless
when characters die at the hands of vampires. But in season one, episode twelve, Elena fights her stalker back by stabbing him with pencils etc. She is brave in comparison to other female characters in T.V.D who have shrieked in corners and screamed. She may not survive, but no matter what still fights back. It is in season two where her character really transforms. In the first episode, It is hard not to find admiration for Elena, who is dealing with her doppelganger ancestor creating havoc by impersonating her. Katherine Pierce comes back to Mystic Falls, creating mayhem. She almost kills John Gilbert, she succeeds in killing Elena’s best friend Caroline Forbes – who turns into a vampire, she threatens Bonnie, breaks Damon’s heart and tries to win Stefan back.
A lot to contend with but Elena manages to stay strong throughout and put her trust in everyone no matter Katherine’s advances or actions. However, when Katherine compels Elena’s aunt Jenna to stab herself, Elena is forced to break up with Stefan. She tells Damon, Katherine won. In episode 7, the Lockwood annual masquerade party takes place. Stefan and Damon have had enough of Katherine’s games and decide to kill her. Unknown to Elena, the gang plan to put an end to her. Elena finds out and runs to the party to stop them. It is a complex view of Elena’s character as her reason to stop them is so no one gets hurt. But Jeremy tells her “It’s not about her anymore” and that Katherine has crossed all of them.
However, later on, Katherine Pierce reveals that she is not her worst enemy and that the original vampire Klaus is coming for her as she is the key to breaking the curse. Elena realises Katherine came back to Mystic Falls to hand over the main components for breaking Klaus’ curse. He needs the doppelganger –Elena; a witch – Bonnie; a werewolf – Tyler and a vampire – Caroline. Elena is disgusted that Katherine was just going to hand them over. Elena feels she is to blame, crying to Stefan “It’s all because of me”. As the series goes on, Elena’s care for her own life detoriates. She has accepted she is destined to die but refuses to let her friends die. We see Elena break the protective shell the Salvatore brothers have built around her. She goes to search for Klaus to make a deal. But Damon ends up bringing her back to Mystic Falls. It is not long before Klaus comes looking for her. Bonnie believes she can kill Klaus but knows it will kill her as she would be using all of her energy. Elena refuses to let her best friend die but when Klaus arrives, there is very little Elena can do.
In the episode entitled, “The last day”, Elena reveals something to her boyfriend Stefan. A question that has gone unanswered throughout the series. Her future with vampire, Stefan. “I’m seventeen years old, how am I supposed to know any of this yet? I know that I love you, Stefan. I know that. But my future, our lives together? Those were things I was supposed to deal with as they came along. I’m supposed to grow up, decide if I wanna have kids and start a family. Grow old. I was supposed to have a lifetime of those choices, and now, it’s all gone” “I don’t want be a vampire, Stefan. I never wanted to be one.” In the last episode, Elena survives the sacrifice conducted by Klaus but faces the loss of her aunt Jenna and John Gilbert. Furthermore, Elena loses Stefan to Klaus. Stefan makes a deal with Klaus. He will be his “comrade” if Klaus gives Damon the cure for a werewolf bite. Elena is left heartbroken. Although she survives, she loses people she lived for.
In conclusion, Elena is a character which I admire. She is strong, loving and stubborn. Although occasionally displaying selfish and manipulative traits, it links to her love for people in her life. It is also refreshing to see a female protagonist in a vampire series wanting desperately to keep her humanity, instead of flinging it away at the drop of a hat to prevent ageing like Bella Swan in Twilight.
* The Vampire Diaries – DVD Season 1 and 2
[ 1 ]. Elena Gilbert – The Vampire Diaries- 2009, Season 1, Episode 1 – The CW [ 2 ]. Elena Gilbert – The Vampire Diaries – 2009 – Season 1, Episode 5 – The CW [ 3 ]. Elena Gilbert – The Vampire Diaries – 2009 – Season 1- Episode 7 – The CW [ 4 ]. Jeremy Gilbert – The Vampire Diaries – Season 2 episode 7 – The CW [ 5 ]. Elena Gilbert – The Vampire Diaries – Season 2 episode 20 – The CW