Freudian Friday: Eric Northman

Looks innocent -- will actually rip out your spine. Image via

Ah, Eric Northman, True Blood‘s big hunk of man-candy. While I’m partial to Alcide, I can admit that Eric is the more interesting character. He’s sexy, funny, dangerous, wounded… what’s not for a Mary Sue like Sookie to love?

Okay, that was mean. I’m not a huge fan of Sookie, but we’re not going to talk about her. In fact, we probably should’ve talked about her about four weeks ago when we were still talking about the ladies of urban fantasy, but I forgot her. She is, if you ask me, eminently forgettable.

But we’re talking about men now for Daddy Issues (Mommy Issues?) in Urban Fantasy, and Eric is a prime candidate.

First, a warning: this blog post is only about the Eric of the HBO series True Blood: I’ve read only a few of Charlaine Harris’s Southern Vampire Mysteries, so I can’t talk in an educated way about the books.

So, what do we know about Eric’s background and upbringing? Eric was a viking in his youth, and we learn that Eric desperately wants revenge against vampire king Russell, who, 1000 years ago, killed Eric’s entire family and took his father’s crown to add to a collection of victim’s prized possessions.

We also know that Eric deeply loved his Maker, an ancient (and also cute—this show is sick with attractive men) vampire who is old enough to have grown weary of his hatred of humans and the resentment he feels toward the world. Godric ultimately “meets the sun,” and Eric offers to join him, saying he cannot live without his Maker. Godric’s death makes Eric weep tears of blood—literally, ew—and Sookie sees the softer side of the bad-boy.

We also know that occasionally Eric will sacrifice himself to do the right thing. He’s also loyal to and protective of his own progeny, Pam, up until the point where she isn’t willing to die for the woman Eric loves.

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But what do these things tell us? We really don’t know too much about Eric’s background, so we have to look at his actions during the show to speculate why he does what he does. We learn that he loves Sookie, and he will do anything to protect her, whether she likes it or not.

We learn that (in his mind) he is more faithful than Bill (Sookie’s first choice lover), waiting for Sookie while she’s lost in Faerie and buying her house to keep it for her.  It’s sweet, in a way, that he trusts she will return to him, and he tries to protect her even when she’s not around to benefit from it.

On the other hand, can you say stalker? He forces Sookie into intimate situations, and gives her no choice but to feel grudgingly grateful. He’s loyal, yes, but loyalty isn’t always about grand gestures (joint suicide, house buying, etc.)—sometimes it’s about giving your loved ones the support that they need, and Eric’s idea of support seems to be killing the people who upset you.

Eric is incapable of small gestures, though, which could be a reaction to his inability and perceived failure to save his family. Plus, Godric chose to die and leave Eric behind. Perhaps Eric takes Sookie’s free-will away because free-will would allow her to walk away from him.

Ironically, it’s when his will is taken from him that Sookie really falls for him. When he falls prey to a witch’s spell and forgets who he is, he becomes a good man, even an innocent, who relies on Sookie’s help and protection to keep him from destruction.

That may say more about Sookie than it does about Eric, but it also tells us that the boyish, mischievous, loyal Eric is his true nature—the callousness, the cruelty, and the rage all come from his conditioning. And 1000 years as a vampire is likely to give anyone a few issues.

So, what’s the bottom line for Eric? Combination hero/martyr/murderer complex? Rage issues? Will he spend his whole existence trying to make up for the losses he couldn’t control?

What do you think, readers? What are Eric’s motivations? What actions of his deserve analysis that I didn’t get to in this blog post? You want to hear me talk about Sookie, Bill, and the rest of the gang? Let me know!

And now, because you made it all the way to end of a long blog post, it’s time for a gratuitous shirtless picture of Alexander Skarsgård:

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