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Written by Daniela Zarate and other people who wish to remain anonymous
The novel begins with an image of the Dragomir's death that changed Lisa's and Rose's life. In the first volume of the series, death works as a catalyst for all the subsequent events as it is the reason why Rose became shadow-kissed and why Victor Dashkov plans to kidnap Lisa. Death is present in the accident where the Dragomirs died, in Victor's disease, in the Ozera's betrayal, in the constant fight against the Strigoi—where killing or being killed are the only options—and more importantly, in Rose herself, who, came back from the death and is tainted by it. Death is presented as a dark atmosphere that surrounds the characters, an atmosphere that will become more present and more claustrophobic in subsequent books in the series until it envelops all the characters. The proximity to it provokes madness, pain, recklessness, and irrationality. Death is also portrayed in a metaphorical manner as the death of the self, manifested in Ms. Karp's and Natalie's turning into Strigoi, in Lisa's crisis of identity regarding royal politics, and in Rose's and Dimitri's sacrificed love.
Light and Shadow
Light and shadow are dichotomies that affect the entire novel. Both are represented in physical aspects—the contrast between Lisa's blond locks, her charm, and grace and Rose's dark hair, impulsive behavior, shadow-kissed qualities—as well as metaphorical ones. Lisa, as a noble Moroi and only heir of her family's name is the light of the society, while Rose as a guardian lurks in the shadows protecting her. The Moroi represent light, as they are able to be in the sun and use the magic of the earth. Strigoi in contrast are a type of un-dead, which prevents them from entering holy ground, going out in the sun and using their magic. The fight between light and darkness is a constant in Moroi society, as is the internal fight in Rose and Lisa's bond, between the light of spirit and the darkness of the shadow-kissed.
There are two main formulations of duty, one as a guardian and the other as a royal Moroi. Given the narrator's first-person focalization, the guardian's duty towards their Moroi is the most emphasized. Rose demonstrates a high level of dedication to Lisa, since she sacrifices personal struggles to protect her friend. She goes to the extent of leaving the Academy with her once she realized that Lisa felt threatened. Rose proves to be remarkable in her standards for guardianship duties, which increase after Dimitri tells her that lack of seriousness could cost Lisa's life. Rose understands that Moroi are indispensable for Dhampirs, so she scolds Dhampirs who abandon their duties, either for personal benefit or for raising their children.
Lisa's duty to her name and heritage is also problematic in the novel. Lisa feels that she should take her brother's position in the family because she inherited the noble title. She feels pressure to behave a certain way and to play political games. However, her friendship with Rose, her relationship with Christian, and the realization that royals abuse their power makes her use her position to challenge established views and fight for the minorities. This will prove to be more important in later books.
Other instances of duty are Dimitri's dedication to the guardians and Victor's duty—although corrupted—towards Moroi society.
The novel shows two main aspects of forbidden love, the first between Rose and Dimitri; the second between Lisa and Christian. Rose and Dimitri feel attracted to each other from the beginning and this stems from their high sense of duty and commitment towards their charges. Their feelings increase as they support one another and as they realize that there is a deeper understanding between them that they do not share with anyone else. Despite their strong feelings, they are aware of the constrains that separate them. Rose and Dimitri cannot be together because she is a minor and he is her mentor, but more importantly because, their love would make Lisa vulnerable to attacks. This knowledge forces them to deny their feelings even to themselves. Their love becomes a constant struggle to fight temptation, which Victor Dashkov uses to his advantage as he carries out his plan to kidnap the Dragomir princess.
Lisa and Christian's love involves another type of censorship. Unlike Dimitri and Rose, they do not have age, class, and social restrictions. Nevertheless, since Lisa is the last Dragomir, she has a social and political duty to perform. Christian's dark past and subsequent alienation from society mars the Dragomir's reputation. Since their love is only forbidden as far as Lisa allows it to be, she manages to overcome those barriers and remain with Christian. Both strengthen each other based on their character and past experiences, which proves to be beneficial in the society they belong to.
Insanity is portrayed in three characters: Lisa, Ms. Karp, and St. Vladimir. Fear towards irrationality is subtle until Rose makes connections between her friend and the other two characters. Lisa resembles Ms. Karp because of the ability to heal and her depression; she resembles St. Vladimir because of the bond between Moroi and Dhampir. As Rose investigates the matter, she realizes that there is a connection between healing and madness, thus becoming uneasy towards her friend's use of magic. Throughout the end, it is revealed that a fifth element exists, spirit, which is the one Lisa, Karp and Vladimir specialized in. Because spirit drives its force from the self, its prolonged use causes darkness inside the user's mind, thus leading to insanity. Spirit leaks the life out of the user and pours it into the one he heals. As the individual loses control, he becomes susceptible to the terrors of the mind, which can take different manifestations, such as Lisa's cutting, Vladimir's depression, and Ms. Karp's turn to Strigoi.
The main theme in Vampire Academy is friendship. Rose and Lisa share a deep connection since their childhood, which has made them inseparable. They have experienced happiness, pain and loss together and they have always supported each other. Their friendship became more intimate after the accident where Lisa's family died. Lisa managed to bring Rose back from the dead, thus creating a mental and emotional bond between them that allows Rose to read and feel Lisa's thoughts and experiences. Throughout the novel, many instances that emphasize the friendship between the girls are narrated; however, it sometimes seems as though Rose does more for Lisa—until book 5 and 6 where the friendship is more balanced. This is because most of the times, Rose leaves aside her own struggles to protect her friend's mental stability. In Vampire Academy, Rose shows her friendship by feeding Lisa in times of need, protecting her from royals and from Mia, confessing Lisa's secret to help her, and finally, saving her from Victor Dashkov. Lisa also protects Rose from the royals and from Mia, uses her position to raise awareness towards dhampirs, and uses spirit to heal her. The novel emphasizes that both girls sacrifice themselves for the sake of each other and that, no matter how many hardships life presents to them, they endure them together, strengthening each other.
Nobility and Social Class
The Moroi society is defined by social classes that correspond to races, going from the lowest class (human feeders and Dhampir “blood whores”), the working class (Dhampirs), the middle class (Moroi), and the aristocratic class (royal Moroi and the queen). The hierarchical system designates a specific role to each class, thus reinforcing traditional values and social positions. However, the traditional values of the Moroi society lead to social discomfort, as Dhampirs are forced to give up their lives protecting Moroi, they are forced to abandon children or not have them altogether. The common Moroi are looked down by the royals and not treated as equals, which endangers their protection. Dhampir women that decided to raise their children are insulted and alienated. The struggle between classes leads to outbursts of discomfort, corruption, social games, and breaking of rules. Traditional values also prevent Moroi from actively contributing to the destruction of Strigoi, which leads them to turn out of fear. In the first novel, the politics behind the social system is portrayed inside the Academy; yet, during the Queen's visit it is established that such behavior is not exclusive to teenagers but to most of the royal Moroi.
Power and Corruption
The social discomfort also questions the games of power and the corruption of one's soul in the search of it. The most striking example is the existence of the Strigoi, who began as Moroi seeking immortality. The corruption of power is also present in the royal Moroi, who believe that they are better than their inferiors and thus must enjoy more privileges and abuse the lower strata. Dhampir women are one of their main targets, but the abuse can also be seen in the manner in which many royals treat their guardians and the common Moroi. Power corruption is also the cause of Victor Dashkov's betrayal, as he plans to kill Lisa in order to save his own life and become king. As in the case with Victor Dashkov, it becomes evident that many Moroi and even dhampirs decide to torture and attack their own races, instead of facing the common evil, the Strigoi.
Loss of Innocence
The first novel emphasizes the gossip, drama, and social games of high school life to provide a contrast with the real, life-and-death situations that students will face outside the safety of the borders, and which Rose and Lisa have already experienced. The first novel is the beginning of a coming of age, as the characters face the problems that arrive with adulthood. Here, the emphasis is on the notion of duty and the awareness of the dangers that lurk outside with the Strigoi and also inside the Moroi society itself. The loss of innocence is represented by the dead animals that Lisa finds, which, as sacrificial figures have been deprived of their existence to further dark schemes. The cold-blooded murder of those animals shows that the corruption of the soul is not only for the Strigoi but also for the Dhampirs and the Moroi, thus changing the fear from the external to the fear within, also established in Lisa's loss of sanity. As both Lisa and Rose experience love, death, and heartbreak, they lose the innocence that had remained from their childhood and immerse themselves into the unknown.
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