Sookie Stackhouse: A Tale of Three Suitors

December 8, 2009 by  

Sookie StackhouseIn prepping for a possible story last week, I was reading a recent article on vampires in which a college professor, Dr. Thomas Greene of Northern Essex Community College was commenting on the vampire myth in popular culture. He said “Look at True Blood. Take out the vampires, and it’s Jane Eyre.”

Now I love speculating and looking for hidden meanings, and so reading that article got me thinking about literary comparisons for my favorite show.

I remember reading Jane Eyre during my Master’s program, and that plotline doesn’t fit with True Blood‘s story nearly as well, I feel, as do the books of Jane Austen. I’ve spent the better part of a week thinking through all the potential comparisons one could make, and I’ve narrowed the choices down to three which I believe are the most applicable to Sookie‘s life–Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion, and Emma.


normal_EricNorthman__001_HBOI feel that the most compelling comparison to Jane Austen’s work is that of Pride and Prejudice. The roles of her suitors are easy to identify, to my mind, though I know Bill fans are not going to be happy with what I’m going to say.

I truly believe that we will find out Bill Compton is the Wickham who charms her. Lizzie is convinced at the beginning that Wickham is the good guy, but later she realizes that she has been deceived and that the whole basis for their relationship is a lie. We already have hints in the show that Bill‘s motives for coming to Bon Temps and for getting to know Sookie are not what they have seemed, and those who have read the novels know that if the show follows the books, then Bill fans are going to need to brace themselves for some ugly truths to be revealed in the coming seasons.

In Pride and Prejudice, Wickham also tells Lizzie lies about his rival Mr. Darcy, convincing her that Darcy is proud, arrogant, rude, unfeeling, heartless, and jealous. I see definite parallels here again. Bill has convinced Sookie of exactly those things about his rival, Eric Northman. And just as Lizzie comes to see that all of those assumptions were wrong, we’re already getting hints that Eric does not necessarily fit the villain image we’ve been handed from the beginning. There is goodness, kindness, and deep feeling in him, and his pride and arrogance, like Darcy’s, are perhaps instead simply an awareness of his own true superiority over others. He keeps his emotions very private, just as Darcy does, and he hides his true altruistic motives, just as Darcy does. We see this most clearly in the relationship between Eric and Godric, but Eric is beginning to show those characteristics to Sookie as well, and we can see her confusion as she tries to reconcile the picture she’s been given of Eric as a liar and a bully and the actions he took to save her from the Fellowship of the Sun as well as the depth of his feelings for Godric. That inner turmoil is only going to get more conflicting for Sookie in the seasons to come.

Turning to the Sookie Stackhouse novels, I see even more shades of Pride and Prejudice, as Eric does things for Sookie unasked without expecting anything in return (replacing her gravel driveway, buying her a new coat, replacing her broken door and cell phone), just as Darcy does for Lizzie. Eric is also always there in Sookie‘s hour of need, just as Darcy is. And in the last novel, when he does not come to save her and she lashes out at him for not being there, he tells her that she will understand why later. This scene reminded me very much of when Lizzie tells Darcy that her sister has run away with Wickham and Darcy leaves immediately, giving Lizzie the impression that he has abandoned her because of her family’s shame. However, just as we later find that Darcy has been orchestrating a rescue behind the scenes, I truly believe that in Book 10, we will discover that Eric was not there to rescue Sookie because he was doing something much more significant for her safety.

By the end of Pride and Prejudice, Lizzie and Wickham are able to make peace and become friends, but she will never truly trust him again. I believe that this is what Sookie and Bill will come to by the end of the series as well. In Book 9, Sookie is able to look at him and see the man she had loved, but I don’t believe that they will be lovers again.


billHowever, while the Pride and Prejudice plotline seems to me the most likely way for Sookie‘s story to play out, I could be wrong. It is also possible that Sookie‘s story follows Austen’s Persuasion instead, in which case, there is a total reversal of all that I have said.

In Persuasion, the main character, Anne, is convinced by others to turn down the marriage proposal of Wentworth, a man she truly loves. She then comes to regret that decision, but she cannot reconcile with him. She is presented with an alternative suitor, William Elliot, who is charming and humorous and who has a wicked past which he hides from her and those lies eventually come out, ruining their chances for romance.

At the end of Season 2, Sookie still has not given Bill an answer to his proposal. Will she be convinced over the course of Season 3 to turn him down? If so, is Eric the charismatic suitor who charms her socks off, but later is revealed as a lying and manipulative snake?

With this scenario, Bill fans can take heart, because in the end, Anne and Wentworth come together at last, finally telling one another how they truly feel and determined never to be parted again.


Sam MerlotteFinally, I have one other possible Jane Austen novel which leaves our heroine with none of the above. In the novel Emma, the main character is presented with several suitors, but in the end she realizes that the man she truly loves is Mr. Knightly, the man who has been her friend and confident all along, a man she thought of as a part of her family. Emma does not realize her love for Knightly until she thinks that she is going to lose him to another woman.

Given this plotline, there is only one man in Sookie‘s life who could fit Knightly’s shoes–her boss, Sam Merlotte. We already know that Sam loves Sookie. Sookie relies on him, she trusts him, she confides in him, and he is always there to help her when she needs him most. He was even willing to risk his life for her, twice.  Could it be that Sam turns out to be the love of Sookie‘s life after all?

Whichever potential storyline you favor, I also know that both Charlaine Harris and Alan Ball love twists and surprises. Like True Blood fans everywhere, I cannot wait to see how the story unfolds. Rather than labeling myself Team Bill or Team Eric (or even the dark horse Team Sam), I instead am Team Sookie. Just as I root for Jane Austen’s heroines to win the day, I am rooting for Sookie, whatever man she chooses.

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SOURCE: The Eagle-Tribune and the works of Jane Austen

(Photo credit: HBO Inc.)