Thursday, June 3, 2010

Let Us Die Young or Let Us Live Forever

Yup, I'm quoting the Jay-Z song here.

In today's post, I would like to discuss the idea of character immortality in books and what it is about it that draws readers in. Vampires, Werewolves, Immortals, Angels... just to name a few ;).

There has been a surge in these types of characters recently, but they have existed in stories forever. Many fantasy novels involve at least one type of immortal character, if not more. They are usually young and beautiful, frozen that way, both doomed and destined to roam the world for all eternity. But what makes them so appealing?

Is it that they never get older? They are literally "forever young", and considering the human quest to unlock that elusive fountain of youth, perhaps this is what draws us to them. They don't need to die young to be immortalized or obtain perpetual youth. People will never remember them as old, aged or wrinkly. They get to live forever, never age, never get sick, experience all life has to offer, to do it all with no regrets--because they always have that second, third, fourth chance to make it right. But do they?

Not always.

Perhaps it's the tortured soul that we sympathize with. The lost wanderer who is all alone with no one to turn to because he/she eventually loses the people and things they love, while they themselves continue to merely exist, but not really live anymore.

What do you think? Are your characters immortal and if so, why did you choose to make them that way (of course, depending on the genre you are writing)? And if not, what is your opinion of the appeal of these characters?


Bec said...

Hey WritingNut thanks for following me :) I think there is that sexual element that lures people into immortality. Just like you see with vampire fiction; eternal love, or is it just that all vampires are made to sound so darn sexy and enticing, lol. And that these creatures of immortally are also forbidden makes them even more appealing.

Samantha Bennett said...

Cool post! I don't have any immortals in my story, but they definitely carry that romanticized allure in literature. My favorites are probably the elfs from Lord of the Rings. Ah, Rivendell.

Thanks for the follow!

WritingNut said...

Bec - I completely agree. There is something about the fact that these immortals are forbidden that makes them so alluring. Basic human instinct - we always want that which we can't have, and the harder it is to possess it, the more we want it.

Samantha - you are correct, they are very romanticized. I must admit though, I have not read Lord of the Rings as yet (nor have I seen the movies - I know, gasp!) I've been waiting for the right moment to read the books first! I have read The Hobbit however, and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Thank you both for stopping by!

Nishant said...

My favorites are probably the elfs from Lord of the Rings.
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Jemi Fraser said...

I don't immortals in this one - it's a Steampunk novel based in Victorian London.

I don't immortals at all - and if I ever write pure fantasy I just may include one :)

WritingNut said...

Nishant - I have got to read those books! They are on my list for this year.

Jemi - That sounds very interesting. I love any type of book set in the Victorian era!

Anonymous said...

Very nice post.

I do have immortal characters in my novel to go along with the plot, but not all of them are beautiful to look at. And I suppose the appeal of these kinds of characters would be our fascination with life and death, and what it would be like to live forever. Immortality has its pros and cons. ; ]

WritingNut said...

Amanda - I love that they're not beautiful! Definitely breaking the norm. And you're right - there is the good and the bad. Perhaps it's exactly because of our fascination with it that everyone is searching for some form of immortality.