Character Study: Damon Salvatore

Name: Damon Salvatore

Book/Film/TV Show: I confess, I’ve never read the books, so my knowledge of Damon is limited strictly to the TV show, which I have been informed is nothing like the book.

Personality: Abrasive, rude, sarcastic, obnoxious, womanising but secretly hiding a tormented side. He is loyal – he’d fight tooth and nail for the people he cares about (though he sometimes takes some persuading) and does it with a charming smile.

Why They’re A Great Character: Damon may have all the Antihero staples in his make-up, but the reason things become cliche is because they work – and if you work it well enough it can be brilliant. Damon is a perfect example of this.

I find the bad boy something of a fascination. It’s that balance between being horrible, but still desirable that makes them so interesting. In real life, I’d run a mile from someone like Damon. The mood swings and the danger really don’t appeal when the threat is real, but in literature and television, I really can’t get enough of them.

I think it’s the thought that you could be the one to save them from themselves that appeals. In real life you wouldn’t chance it, but in fiction you imagine yourself to be the strong, desirable woman who is enough to win the devotion of the previously unattainable bad boy. The fact that he’s played by absolute hottie, Ian Somerhalder, also helps, of course.

The snarky, verging on rude humour is also appealing. And I mean rude in the impolite sense, not the ‘strictly 15+’ sense. Perhaps this is a symptom of my own personality, but I love a character who has the balls to say what everyone else is thinking, who stuffs social etiquette in favour of cutting truths.

Bad boys speak to that little part of us that wants to rebel, to ditch the various faces we present to the world and to just do and say what we want. But most people don’t also want to be a complete idiot, so the Bad boy has to have a softer, more gentle side. A redeeming feature. Because to liking someone who’s completely obnoxious would make me feel a little obnoxious myself…

Getting that balance of bad and vulnerable right is hard. Too much bad and the character becomes plain unlikeable. A completely soppy back story makes them unlikeable in other ways, or worse – unbelievable. What I liked in particular about Damon’s story is the way he pretends not to care, but then it turns out that he was initially the one who resented vampirism, and wanted to hold on to his humanity. It’s a completely believable story that over the decades he gradually got worn down until he decided not to care anymore – or at least to pretend not to, because we all know that underneath the surface, cuddly Damon is just waiting to be found.

Preferably by me, so we can live happily ever after.

(Just kidding, Boyfriend.)

(It’s okay, because he knows I totally think he looks like Ian Somerhalder.)


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