As watchers of The Originals I think we all love the members of the original family. We’ve spent many hours watching them. Seeing their history, their pain, their pleasure, their tears and their smiles. But I hope most of us realise that, while we enjoy watching them, if we knew them in real life, if we were not able to look into their lives this way but simply saw their acts on the nightly news we would think they were absolutely horrible people. Psychopathic monsters.
Of course, we also know that the originals themselves don’t see themselves it that way. But why is that? Well, let’s take a look at how the individual originals may rationalise away their acts.
Let’s start with self-proclaimed good guy: Finn. When we first meet Finn in season 3 of The Vampire Diaries he seems fairly nice for an original vampire. In fact he’s so moral that he’s willing to sacrifice his own life in order to stop vampires from continuing to kill and prey on humans. But in season 2 of The Originals another part of the veil is lifted. We see that same dedication to morality, but we also see that his morality is extremely black and white. You’re either evil and deserve to be destroyed or you’re good and you deserve to be protected.
So for Finn any acts like the murder of a sibling would be pretty easy to explain to himself. He’s not murdering a sibling at all, he’s destroying an evil demon that could harm others. His black and white perspective on his own actions blinds him to the nuances and immorality of them. So it’s not hard for him to rationalise his immoral actions, because he doesn’t even believe he does them.
Klaus is a completely different story. Of all of the originals, Klaus is perhaps the most aware that he is a monster. While he often resorts to self-justification, claiming that punishing those who do him wrong is only right and the slightest wrong he sees as deserving of harsh punishment, this is more reserved for his siblings and friends than anyone else.
When it comes to the rest of the world I dare say his outlook on things is much simpler: He believes the world is an awful, horrible place where people destroy each other. A place full of people who are only out for their own selfish desires and willing to hurt anyone and everyone to get them. In short, he believes that nearly every single person in the world is like him. He doesn’t feel bad about acting the way he does, because why should he? He’s only doing what everyone else is doing, except he doesn’t deny it. So with Klaus it’s his view on the world around him, how he sees other people, that makes him not see himself as any worse than them comparatively. He’s a monster but in a world of monsters.
And speaking of Klaus’ immoral deeds over the centuries, let’s talk Elijah. Elijah clearly has some awareness of the monster he is, moreso than Finn but less so than Klaus. Yet Elijah sees much of what he does as necessary evil. What he does is to uphold greater values of family and loyalty (and of course guilt and shame, but he probably wouldn’t say that himself). In his mind he does bad things but only for good reasons. And despite everything he holds unto a code of honour.
This code of honour is another way in which he can do what he does without seeing himself as evil. It’s a sort of crutch. A way to say “Look, I may do bad things sometimes but I still strongly believe in morality, moreso than most, because I hold to this very specific code.” This is, of course, no more than an excuse. Because while he does hold to this code, he uses in such a way that essentially subverts it. Such as when he keeps his promise to Rose to let her live, but kills Trevor because he said “I’ll pardon YOU.” But of course, while he kept his literal word he knew just as well as Rose did that he wasn’t going to actually keep his word.
Finally, of course there’s the red door. The worst of his acts, the ones that he cannot justify in any of the above ways, he simply chooses to forget exist. And, of course, if they don’t exist they can’t make him feel guilty or bad about himself.
It’s no surprise that Elijah would act this way, nor Finn, nor Klaus either because the prototype for all of them is their father: Mikael.
Like Finn he believes he’s a crusader for justice. He’s seeking to rid the world of the horror he created (more than likely in reality nothing but self-hatred). That it’s his responsibility to rid the world of a harmful demon, Klaus. Of course in reality it’s his own personal hatred of Klaus that drives him to that and not any sort of moral impulse. But that’s not something he would be likely to admit to himself.
Unlike Finn though, he’s more flexible because, like Elijah, some of the horrible things he does, like trying to kill Elena, he believes he does for the greater good. And that, of course, justifies it sufficiently to him. After all, what are a few human lives if you can rid the world of demons that harm people forever? What he chooses to ignore is that often times his victims didn’t need to die to accomplish his goals at all, it was just the more practical way of doing things.
Finally, like Klaus he believes he’s a punisher. People who have wronged him, who have betrayed him, deserve to die.
And now we come to the end of the article, because as sad as it may be I do not feel like Kol and Rebekah’s morality has been sufficiently explored to allow an overview of how they justify what they do. Though someday, I hope I’ll be able to do that too. Because I certainly intend to keep watching and characters doing horrible things on The Originals, well that’s part of the fun.
- Mother & Monster – Esther’s Immorality
- More than a Destroyer – A Reimagining of Mikael’s Big Scene in “Alive & Kicking”
- You Do Not Talk to Abominations – Elijah’s Dilemma
Copyright: The images used in this article are screenshots taken from the episodes of the show. We are allowed to use them under section 107 of the US Copyright Act of 1976. The Originals belongs to the CW and Alloy Entertainment.