The protagonist Elena Gilbert is the driving force behind L. J. Smith’s bestselling series The Vampire Diaries. The books chronicle her relationships with Damon and Stefan Salvatore. Two vampires of different ages meet in Elena’s Fells Church, Virginia hometown.
Elena falls for Stefan, a good-hearted vampire trying to live a decent life despite his need to consume human blood to stay alive. But soon enough, Elena’s handsome older brother Damon shows up, wreaking havoc and even tugging at her heartstrings with his dark edge and lack of desire to be good. When Elena initially meets Stefan, she has no idea that she is the spitting image of Katherine von Swartzchild, the vampire who turned the Salvatore brothers over 500 years ago. As the story progresses, Elena is torn between the two brothers, both human and vampire, as she tries to find her place in both realms.
Spoilers for the TV series “The Vampire Diaries” lie ahead.
In the novels, how would you characterize Elena Gilbert?
The Vampire Diaries books were released in 1991 and 1992, although listeners may recognize the CW television series. Elena from the book is a little different from the movie version. She is blonde, stunningly attractive, well-liked by her peers, and not a little self-absorbed with her place in the social hierarchy.
Sometimes she shows a nasty side but always gets what she wants by being aggressive. She still misses her parents, who were killed in a car accident, but she has her Aunt Judith, who took her in, and her closest friends, Bonnie McCullough and Meredith Sulez, to help her through her grief. Matt, her ex-boyfriend and childhood friend, loves and supports Elena, but he battles with jealousy over Elena’s love interests.
In the novels, what ends up happening to Elena?
The first book in the series, The Awakening, follows Elena, the protagonist. Despite Stefan’s cold demeanor, Elena is immediately attracted to him. Despite Stefan’s best efforts, he and Elena begin dating, and things appear swimmingly until Damon arrives. Stefan tells Elena he’s a vampire and admits to her that he’s worried about going rogue. However, Elena seems unfazed by this news, and they continue their investigation.
After one of the assaults kills their history teacher, Elena and Stefan confront Damon about it in The Struggle. Despite Damon’s protests of innocence and Stefan’s public shaming, the two agree to collaborate to find the real culprit. Meanwhile, the arrival of a new instructor, Alaric Saltzman, has Damon wary. Elena becomes a target of evil as they investigate the town’s perceptions about vampires, and she is finally driven off a bridge and drowns. However, she is resurrected from the dead as a vampire.
Continuing from the events of The Struggle, The Fury reveals that Katherine von Swartzchild, Elena’s wicked double, is responsible for her murder and the ills plaguing the village. Stefan and Damon’s animosity escalates, and Katherine does even more damage to Fells Church. At the same time, Elena tries to adjust to her new vampire existence, its attendant supernatural talents, and the crushing realization that most people believe she is dead. There comes a day when the gang has to face Katherine in her tomb under the graveyard. The fight escalates quickly, and Katherine and Elena are killed in a tragic turn of events.
Dark Reunion begins with Damon and Stefan grieving Elena’s death, marking the first time she isn’t a narrator or protagonist. The brothers leave town to distance themselves from Fells Church, where they have some unpleasant memories. When Elena’s best friend Bonnie dreams about more evil to come, she calls them back to warn them.
The Original Vampire who changed Katherine, Klaus, has finally arrived, and he has sinister intentions for the whole gang. Damon and Stefan attempt to overcome Klaus, but he always seems one step ahead. When it looks like all hope has been gone, they are taken aback to learn that the only thing that can stop Klaus is an army of the dead, which Elena has called. In recognition of her part in defeating him, Elena is given a second chance at life and restored to human form.
After Dark Reunion’s happy ending, the series went on pause for ten years before coming back with two more trilogies. There are three trilogies in which Elena plays a leading role: The Return (Nightfall, Shadow Souls, and Midnight), The Hunters (Phantom, Moonsong, and Destiny Rising), and The Salvation (Unseen, Unspoken, and Unmasked). Elena often wavers between Stefan and Damon throughout the series and spin-offs, but she always ends up choosing Stefan and agreeing to remain with him forever.
In what ways does Elena on the program deviate from her book counterpart?
Nina Dobrev plays Elena in the CW adaptation, and her portrayal represents the most substantial departure from the book’s original version. Elena is attractive (but a brunette instead of blond) on the program, although she is far from the most popular student. The showrunners have said they tried to make Elena likable by making her seem more ordinary. But Elena on TV is popular with her pals, a cheerleader, and a former girlfriend of football player Matt. It has been difficult for her to adjust to this fresh loss so soon after her parents’ deaths. She’s interested in the new kid, Stefan, but she doesn’t go after him as Elena does in the novel.
Elena’s character has won over many fans even though Elena from the books and Elena from the TV series have some notable differences. One of the most intriguing vampire romances is her love triangle with Stefan and Damon.