Are Vampires Dead?

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Postby lovelysonia » Tue Jun 17, 2008 11:22 pm

Still Betting on Alice wrote:I believe they are alive since they have the ability to think, love, mature and change emotionally. I understand physically they do not match our "scientific" definition of alive, but who is to say that our definition is the end all be all?

As far as a werewolf prejudice, I think that may be a valid point. I think in this case it may also have a little bit to do with a Jacob to Edward prejudice. Let's be honest, we know Jacob isn't fond of Edward or what Edward's presence in Bella's life may truly mean in the not too distant future. It's sometimes easy to think not so nice things about people you don't truly understand.

I do not think Breaking Dawn will be a story about "two dead teens" at all. If Bella turns, *crosses fingers*, it will be the perfect love story between two immortal lovers that will never have to end!


i agree.
if the argument for vampires to be dead is that their bodies don't function as humans do, it's a weak argument
because for a vampire to love, think, etc...
there is humanity in that.
who cares if they're technically dead.
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Re: Are Vampires Dead?

Postby Kayleigh7908 » Tue Jun 17, 2008 11:57 pm

I don't think that vampires are dead. They couldn't be because they talk and feel and you need a soul to feel. Just because their hearts do not beat doesn't make them dead.
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Postby ElanorLuinmir » Wed Jun 18, 2008 12:44 am

Well the simple answer is that they are Undead.

Some might argue that their bodies are now possessed by demons and that the soul of the actual person is in Heaven. The demon is just inhabiting the body.

If we're talking about our modern literary Vampires however, I would say that they are in a state of suspension. They aren't really dead, but they aren't really alive. They can't taste food anymore, they can't make babies, does 'getting amorous' have the same effect? Are smells the same?

Stephenie gives her Vampires a lot of leeway in the fact that they can go out in the sun, but can they feel the warmth even?

I think it's kind of like how Dumbledore describes Voldemort in the first book when he's drinking the unicorn blood. A sort of half-life.

But for some people, the perks are worth the pitfalls. Lestat, Spike, Emmett...
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Postby December » Wed Jun 18, 2008 6:44 am

Pretty clearly, there isn't going to be a straight yes-or-no answer to the technical question "are vampires dead". Dictionary definitions -- or biological criteria -- don't get us very far, because the Cullens straddle the familiar distinction between dead and alive in all sorts of ways -- like viruses, as Heart Song wrote in another discussion a while ago. In a way, it's a mistake to ask the question at all. But failed questions often lead us to ask interesting new ones. As Ouisa says, "The Cullens challenge us to redefine the ordinary (and our selves)." Vampires' ambiguous status between life and death does get us to think about what it means to be alive.

Cocoa pointed out that the answer you give to the question will partly depend on why you are asking it. I'll go further and say that the question depends on why you are asking it. What exactly do we want to know when we ask "are vampires dead?" There are lots of different questions this could really be.

For what it's worth, the question I was mulling over when I posed the topic wasn't so much how we categorize vampires -- though that's an interesting question -- as what exactly it would mean for Bella to stop being human and become a vampire. Maybe the question I really wanted to ask wasn't "are vampires dead?" but "is becoming a vampire dying?" In one sense these are obviously equivalent, but the different emphasis affects how we look at the question -- which aspects of vampires' lives matter most to the answer. (So the fact that they don't have to breathe is maybe less important. The fact that they go through eternity in a kind of stasis, more or less frozen as they were at the time of changing, is more important).

So to put the question another way: Just how far does Stephenie want us to think of Bella's becoming a vampire for Edward as giving up her life for him? Not just in the way someone gives up their old life if they marry a foreigner and move to his native country. Not even in the sci-fi/fantasy sense of being changed into a different species. In the literal sense of, well, dying. Obviously, she's not dead in the way that Juliet ends up dead -- and we've been given a good look at that plot possibility in NM for contrast. Giving up her life for Edward will mean gaining a life with Edward in a much more concrete sense than Romeo and Juliet could ever hope to be reunited in some shadowy afterlife. This is not like Edward telling Bella in NM that when her natural life came to an end "I'll follow after as soon as I can." There's an obvious difference between being undead, living dead, vampire-dead (or whatever you might call it), and being REALLY dead. After all, as lots of people have pointed out, vampires must in some sense be alive, because they can be killed. And yes, they think and feel and walk and love and laugh and play baseball and generally seem to, well, have a life.

BUT....even though vampires share all this with the living, you might still look at their existence as something less than life, some kind of limbo state after life has ended. Something closer to ghosts or spirits or even zombies (since they have corporeal bodies) than just another alien life-form. There are lots of different concepts of ghosts (just like there are lots of concepts of vampires), but whatever else they are, ghosts are not really alive. Not like the living are. Because they have ceased to grow and change. Because they are cut off from a proper life among the living, even if (as in many ghost stories) they can still interact with them to some extent. Because they have left behind all the bodily processes and pleasures that situate us in the physical world: eating and drinking and sleeping and weeping, feeling fatigue and pain, aging and dying (except if their unnatural existence is brought to an end by special means). Because they have ceased to be embedded in the flow of time.

In this sense, it's not so silly to talk about BD (potentially) ending up a story about "two dead teens" (in Visitor's memorable phrase), even though they will in one sense be very much alive and together. And the effect of looking at vampires more like shades of the living is to make Bella's choice to be with Edward a much more somber one. It makes a Happy Ever After as an immortal vampire a more bittersweet ending. It makes clear the magnitude of the sacrifices Bella is willing to make for Edward -- this is not just about saying good bye to your parents and schoolfriends and the pleasure of chocolate chip cookies. And in sharpening our sense of this sacrifice, it shows us the depth of the impossible love that binds the two of them: "something so strong it could not exist in the rational world."

Stephenie dedicates Eclipse "to my children, Gabe, Seth, and Eli, for letting me experience the kind of love that people freely die for."

Does this tell us anything about how we're meant to understand Bella's choice?
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Postby SparklingDiamond » Wed Jun 18, 2008 7:41 am

Stephenie dedicates Eclipse "to my children, Gabe, Seth, and Eli, for letting me experience the kind of love that people freely die for."

Does this tell us anything about how we're meant to understand Bella's choice?

This quote certainly puts things into perspective.

Bella is definitely giving up life as she knows it for Edward. In doing this, she is blindly sacrificing what she has yet to experience.

In a way, we all do this when we choose to get married. We are giving up the unknown for another unknown that we feel will be the best choice. The difference between us and Bella is that we still get to have our cake and eat it too, for the most part. We still get to keep our humanity in the process and live the way we want to live.

Now, living for Bella, means that she must ascribe to a serious set of new rules and obligations. For the immediate future, her human relationships can remain the same. But soon, sooner than she may realize, she must truly become dead to the world. When her it becomes obvious that her physical body is frozen in time, the weight of her new life will slowly begin to sink in. So, is she dead in that her body and sould are no longer living? No. But, she is dead in the sense that she will be dead to the world, her friends, her family, and the gifts of humanity, known and unknown, that she's trading in for eternity with Edward.[/b]
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Are Vampires dead?

Postby dsolo » Wed Jun 18, 2008 9:39 am

I would just like to say that the commentary on this post is really thought provoking. One thought I had is the traditional description of vampires is the undead (not the forever alive, but definitely not dead). I agree that they are frozen at the time of their transformation, but they are capable of mental changes (otherwise Carlisle would have red eyes). Since they are described as living stone, that would probably be why changes are permanent with them. Once something is set in stone, it's going to be around for a long time (look at the ruins of ancient Rome, Greece and Egypt). I kind of agree with the posters that feel like they're dead humans, living vampires. It's more like changed humans, living vampires. They still retain human emotions, kind of like the werewolves are still human, even when covered with fur. Also, even though I'm Team Edward, I really like Jacob and I love the little posts at the end of Team Jacob Megan's posts, but I do think Real Men Sparkle.
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Postby Paris_Falls » Wed Jun 18, 2008 9:40 am

Maybe it would be worth it to start thinking of Bella's human life as a different kind of living in comparison with Edwards life.

In my opinion, vampires have always been neither living or dead. They're in a sense, frozen in a single moment. The way Stephenie refers to the Cullen's as "living stone" reminds me of this over and over again while I read her books. Edwards life is simply different from Bella's, but I wouldn't call it being dead, per se.

If we were to think of the vampires as just another species, as Edward once explained to Bella, then certainly he is living, just in a different way. Just because he doesn't necessarily have to breathe in order to do so...

The way I see it is this: when "living" is referenced in romance, usually you hear something along the lines of: "I live for you" or Edwards famous, "You are my life now". The life becomes an affirmation of a love shared between two individuals. Becoming a vampire is simply trading one life for another in my mind.
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Re: Are Vampires dead?

Postby meganj924 » Wed Jun 18, 2008 11:41 am

dsolo wrote:I would just like to say that the commentary on this post is really thought provoking. One thought I had is the traditional description of vampires is the undead (not the forever alive, but definitely not dead). I agree that they are frozen at the time of their transformation, but they are capable of mental changes (otherwise Carlisle would have red eyes). Since they are described as living stone, that would probably be why changes are permanent with them. Once something is set in stone, it's going to be around for a long time (look at the ruins of ancient Rome, Greece and Egypt). I kind of agree with the posters that feel like they're dead humans, living vampires. It's more like changed humans, living vampires. They still retain human emotions, kind of like the werewolves are still human, even when covered with fur. Also, even though I'm Team Edward, I really like Jacob and I love the little posts at the end of Team Jacob Megan's posts, but I do think Real Men Sparkle.


Haha why thank :). I like them too!



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Postby mandustries » Wed Jun 18, 2008 12:26 pm

Paris_Falls wrote:Maybe it would be worth it to start thinking of Bella's human life as a different kind of living in comparison with Edwards life.

In my opinion, vampires have always been neither living or dead. They're in a sense, frozen in a single moment. The way Stephenie refers to the Cullen's as "living stone" reminds me of this over and over again while I read her books. Edwards life is simply different from Bella's, but I wouldn't call it being dead, per se.

If we were to think of the vampires as just another species, as Edward once explained to Bella, then certainly he is living, just in a different way. Just because he doesn't necessarily have to breathe in order to do so...

The way I see it is this: when "living" is referenced in romance, usually you hear something along the lines of: "I live for you" or Edwards famous, "You are my life now". The life becomes an affirmation of a love shared between two individuals. Becoming a vampire is simply trading one life for another in my mind.


I like the idea you brought up, Paris_Falls, of living stone. Stone, in reality, isn't alive, as it doesn't breathe, eat, sleep, procreate, etc., much like vampires. But stone can be eroded, changed, by water, wind and life in general. The Cullens are stone, not only are they hard of body, but they are stationary (in time). They can be "eroded" by the people they come in contact with and the decisions that they make, but they continue, they abide. They are changed, but they still remain the same ...
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Postby redheadedbella » Wed Jun 18, 2008 2:02 pm

I really like thinking of the Cullens a living stone as you people above have said. While i don't know who actually said it-isn't it a pretty common thing to here "I think therefore i am." so wouldn't it be fair to say the Cullens are and thus they must be living???They are just immortal not dead and so they age different-as in they don't at all-i firmly believe that the Cullens are living though
Me...curse Bella to be with Jacob...of course not...*runs and hides*
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