Analysing the symbolism of butterflies: Vampire Knight
In Vampire Knight, Hino uses a butterfly as Yuuki’s embodiment. Being into symbolism after studying a bit of English Literature, I found myself searching for what significance a butterfly holds in Japanese culture.
From what I gathered reading a few articles online, the Japanese view butterflies as souls of the living and the dead. They are considered symbols of joy and longevity (Eternal YUME love!!). To put it simply, the butterfly has a spiritual significance to the Japanese people. Since caterpillars transform into butterflies and go through the cycle of birth, transformation, and death, many Japanese traditionally believe that the butterfly carries the souls of the dead or represent the souls of the dead. Also, many Japanese believe that following a butterfly will help unlock a mystery in life or solve a problem driving a person crazy.
Let’s break those two points down slightly…
My first point relates to butterflies carrying the soul of a deceased. This is quite interesting. In chapter 93 where Yuuki sacrifices herself in order to awaken Kaname from his slumber, she returns in the form of a butterfly (from what I gathered). I couldn’t help but relate this point to Yuuki returning to Kaname’s side in the form of a butterfly. It makes my heart melt! By this, I mean that the butterfly in the final scene with Kaname is Yuuki’s soul. And the theme that often goes with the idea of a ‘soul’ is the essence of eternity - Yuuki’s eternity with Kaname?
The next point relates to the fact how following a butterfly will help to unlock a mystery in life or solve a problem driving a person crazy. A very loose link I’m about to make here, but from my own personal interpretation of this point, I would say that with the help of Yuuki (in the form of her embodiment) she will be able to give Kaname the happiness ─and the freedom of his dark past that he deserves. I find it unlikely, for some reason, that Yuuki will just flutter away. I can just imagine that the butterfly’s presence would continue to weave in and out of Kaname’s life as long as he may live. As if she’s his guardian angel and leading him on the right path. Before Kaname threw his heart into the furnace, he had a turmoil within him for every waking hour of the day: Guilt, the want to let Yuuki 'spread her wings’ and be free, yet wanting her to remain by his side, his duty to carry on the hooded woman’s legacy and many other things. Additionally, I suppose one could say how Yuuki’s presence in Kaname’s life did relieve much of his dark thoughts. Kaname’s loneliness was cured by Yuuki’s birth for example, and following her throughout her life (e.g. watching her grow, looking after her) certainly did cure him of that ─ to some extent.
The butterfly is considered by the Japanese to be a symbol. A symbol of girls in love and a symbol of girls transforming into graceful young ladies, as well as of young womanhood in general.
Reading this sentence made Yuuki instantly appear in my mind. We can all agree that around chapter 50 onwards Hino definitely illustrates the essence of Yuuki transforming into a graceful young lady, maturing under the wing of Kaname and entering womanhood. Comparing the Yuuki that Hino introduced to us in chapter 1 and the Yuuki around chapter 60 ─ for example, she has matured in terms of not only her behavior but how she dresses. (Personally, I’d give Kaname a pat on the back, along with Ruka and Aidou for helping Yuuki to mature into a beautiful young woman). This may sound biased to some people, with me being a YUME, but Yuuki has always held special love towards Kaname that she held for no other character in the manga. It blossomed from a childhood crush to something more passionate and deep. Even after chapter 68 when Kaname and Yuuki went their separate way, the two still loved one another despite all of the confusion.
Butterflies often represent starry-eyed lovers, and often as two tragic lovers whose souls have transformed into butterflies after having committed suicide together.
Must I expand anymore? Let me repeat that beautiful sentence again for my lovely YUMES: Butterflies often represent starry-eyed lovers’. ASDFGHJKL! Doesn’t that make your heart melt? Its so adorable! This fits Kaname and Yuuki so perfectly! Now, I’m not too sure about the committing suicuide for one another part for the couple…(YET Kaname didn’t have an intention of returning to life after he threw his heart into the furnance) but I can surely link it to Yuuki giving her heart to Kaname. How she ended her life for him in order to give him another chance. *cough cough* I suppose playing devil’s advocate here, you could say when you love someone so much you’d give your life up for them and only them. Kaname also made it evident throughout the plot how he was also prepared to end his life to turn her human.
Has anyone noticed that the only moment in which 'butterflies/Yuuki’s embodiment’ appears is only when Kaname and Yuuki share a sentimental scene/ or even when the two are in a scene together?
And finally this:
Of course these aren’t all of the images where butterflies appear but it gives you an idea of what I am trying to suggest. I know that some people will completely disagree with some of my interpretations ─ or maybe even all! But that’s fine. Its an interpretation after all, and everyone has different interpretations.
I hope you enjoyed my pointless analysis. I hope everyone has a Happy Christmas and a Happy New Year. Stay safe!
(May need to re-through this again to make sure there aren’t any grammatical errors…but I feel so lazy ;w;)