With the Netflix adaptation of the Konami video game series Castlevania having concluded with its fourth season, I thought it was a good time to reflect on one of the show’s driving forces. No, it’s not the violence or the gore, or even the criticism of religious extremism, it’s, surprisingly, love.
The story’s prime antagonist Dracula deviates from his Bram Stoker origins as well as his historical inspiration in that he is not motivated solely by a lust for blood or power or Islamophobia, but rather by love. This dark, violent show starts with a meet-cute of all things between Dracula and Lisa, a human woman who is his future wife and the mother of Alucard, one of the three main characters. She impresses him with her bravery and ambition and he agrees to teach her all he knows so she can help people.
Twenty years later, Lisa is burned at the stake as a witch and it is Dracula’s love for her, and the loss of his love, that drives him to vengeance against the people of the village of Gresit. It should also be noted that when he found out what had happened to his wife, he admitted he had been away traveling the world because Lisa had wanted him to “walk as a mortal man.” Lisa’s love had a way of humanizing Dracula, he himself noted that before he had met her he enjoyed fighting and killing humans. His grief for that loss leads him to his misanthropy, as well as his suicidal ideation.
Dracula’s grief turns to anger, and he brutally attacks his son Alucard in both the first episode and during their fight in episode seven of season two, appropriately titled, “For Love.” During their fight, Dracula never uses his claws against his son, the one weapon that would ensure an end to the fight and Alucard’s death.
Alucard confronts Dracula about his father’s desire to die because of his grief and when the fight leads to Alucard’s childhood bedroom, Dracula has something of an epiphany. He realizes Alucard is the product of Dracula and Lisa’s love, lamenting, “Your greatest gift to me… and I’m killing him.” This realization is enough to snap Dracula out of his rage and allow Alucard to kill him.
Alucard’s own motivations are also rooted in love more than in duty. When Trevor asks him after their fight in episode four of season one why Alucard wants to help them stop Dracula and save the world, he answers, “Cause it’s what my mother would have wanted…And we are all, in the end, slaves to our families’ wishes.” He acts out of a desire to honor his mother’s wishes because of his love for her.
Trevor himself is a character that has experienced immense loss through the death of his family, and as a result, he starts the series a broken, jaded man. It isn’t until he meets the speaker magician Sypha and Alucard that his attitude sees a change. This change becomes most evident in season three after Trevor and Sypha’s romantic relationship has been established. He himself notes that he’s “spent [his] entire adult life being hated by everybody [he’s] ever met. And [he was] fine with that… And then what? A pretty girl holds [his] hand and takes [him] to bed and all of a sudden…” The Judge finishes his train of thought with, “all of a sudden your world changes and you don’t know what to think about it.”
Because of his love for Sypha, Trevor finds himself enjoying life more and being more inclined to actively try to help people. Sypha and Trevor’s relationship is a stark contrast to the one between Hector, one of Dracula’s human generals and a Devil Forgemaster, and Lenore, one of the Council of Sisters, the vampire antagonists of season three. Sypha and Lenore’s relationships with Trevor and Hector respectively serve as counterparts to each other. Sypha can be seen as the more proactive and even dominant one in her relationship with Trevor but she actually respects him while Lenore’s dominance of Hector is condescending and coercive. The primary factor that distinguishes their relationships is the genuine love between Sypha and Trevor, something absent with Hector and Lenore.
The members of the Council of Sisters – consisting of Carmilla, Striga, Morana, and Lenore – are also shown to love each other deeply. Despite being a team of vampires with plans to rule over and enslave humanity, they are humanized by their sisterly love for each other. This love initially allows them to work together more efficiently than Dracula’s war council of season two. However, it does also contribute to the downfall of the Council of Sisters when their love for Carmilla keeps them from pulling the plug on her plan even when it proves to be unfeasible and costly.
The romantic love between Striga and Morana took a central focus in season four. They are both introduced as powerful vampires helping Carmilla in her quest to conquer humanity. While they are a couple, they are both strong individual characters as well, each serving a different function in extending and managing the empire that Carmilla wants to create. Morana operates as the strategist of the group while Striga acts as the warrior, and their differences work to complement one another and balance each other out.
Anyways, shoutout to the massively powerful vampire lesbian couple that Netflix's Castlevania just hit us with. pic.twitter.com/5BHP3M3ZDl
— Ultima | #вʟм (@UltimaShadowX) March 5, 2020
Their love ultimately leads the two to abandon Carmilla’s plans to wage war against humanity as they realize that victory would keep them perpetually fighting against humans, leaving no time for each other. The two opt to leave Styria at the end of season four after Carmilla is killed rather than stay to avenge her because they only want to be together. It is because of this love and devotion for each other that the two are the only ones of the Styrian Council to survive, thankfully avoiding the Bury Your Gays trope as well. For these two, love is ultimately what saves their lives.
Love is also what unites Trevor, Sypha, and Alucard as a family. They start off reluctantly working together with the common goal of killing Dracula to save humanity. Throughout the time they spend together, the trio’s friendship develops to the point where they would clearly die for one another.
By the end, after everything that they have been through, the trio has all found their place within a community together. Trevor and Alucard both started the series off alone and grieving, while Sypha herself felt isolated after having to leave her family to take on Dracula. Their love for each other keeps them fighting throughout the show, brings them together, and ultimately paves the way for the ending and happiness they earned.
The show starts with – and ends with – acts of love, be it the love between Dracula and Lisa, Alucard and his friends, or Striga and Morana. It’s a heartwarming acceptance of the power that love holds over all of us, and the fact that love truly can change the world.
Keep up with entertainment news and trends and follow our brand-new Pop Culture Instagram account.
Get The Tempest in your inbox. Read more exclusives like this in our weekly newsletter!