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Willow's View of Buffy & Xander

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  • Willow's View of Buffy & Xander

    We know that Willow loves Buffy and Xander (mostly) but she really does look down on them. In Conversations With Dead People Buffy is said to have a superiority complex wrapped up in an inferiority complex and I think the same could be said about Willow, who so often comments on the academic stupidity of her friends. By Season 6 she is so superior that she feels confident enough to criticise Giles, the real academic.

    So has Willow got a superiority complex? And/or an inferiority complex? Does she look down on her friends for their lack of academic knowledge? Is that an issue or completely forgivable?

  • #2
    That line in CWDP is gibberish. It's one or the other.

    I don't think Willow's dream itself suggests she has one. It just shows that she has some cynical views of her friends. And to some degree, she's right if not at that moment then later on. She sees Buffy as a bit fake and it's somewhat true. Xander does objectify those around him.

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    • #3
      Willow champions her friends academically. She's supportive of Buffy and Xander numerous times throughout the series and dedicates her free time to tutoring them ("Welcome to the Hellmouth" "The Pack" "Schoolhard" "Becoming" "Bad Girls" etc). In both "Lovers Walk" and "Wild at Heart" she's genuinely ecstatic for Buffy's academic achievements. In "Real Me" and "Out of My Mind" she expresses delight that Buffy has become such a dedicated student. There is one line in the entire series where Willow makes a disparaging comment about Buffy's intelligence ("Chosen") and even then it's debatable how much she meant it and how much she was doubting Buffy's intelligence because Buffy had unwavering faith in her. I'm struggling to think of any other occasion where Willow makes any comments whatsoever accusing either Buffy or Xander of academic stupidity. In episodes like "Becoming" Willow flat out rejects that Buffy is stupid and scolds her for being so hard on herself ("You're not stupid, ok! You've just had a lot on your mind. Now you can learn this real easy, ok? But if you're just going to give up then don't waste me time!")

      Willow does know that she's more academically gifted than Buffy and Xander but that's no secret between any of them. There's no reason it shouldn't be said by Buffy, Xander or Willow either. It's just the truth. Humbleness is overrated and, frankly, kind of obnoxious when it's plainly obvious Willow excels in the academic field and it'd be annoying for anyone, especially her, to pretend otherwise. But Willow doesn't look down on them because of it. Willow herself doesn't seem to rate it so highly as something worth boasting about seeing as how she felt worthless and minuscule in high school and was attracted to magic because academically-gifted Willow was "just some girl" in her eyes. In "The Freshman" she's initially so excited by college because she felt that the high school environment discouraged learning but by "Doomed" she felt like she was back in tenth grade again when Percy and his girlfriend called her a "nerd." Willow's academic prowess didn't win her any favours growing up and she knew it. In episodes like "Dopplegangland" it's even used against her to feel small and disrespected and in episodes like "Go Fish" she witnesses first hand how athleticism was favoured above academia in the hierarchy.
      Last edited by vampmogs; 04-11-19, 11:17 AM.
      "The earth is doomed!" - Banner by Nina

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      • #4
        I think Willow believes most people could do as well as her, if they only did the work. She expresses that many times, such as in "Becoming" with Buffy. And Willow is very willing to help anyone willing to accept it. In addition to Xander and Buffy, she tutors Percy and Dawn, and she teaches the science class.

        I guess you could argue that she brought Buffy to the sociology class in "Life Serial," just to show off, though I am not sure. The only time she implies that Buffy is stupid is in "Earshot," where Buffy hears Willow think to herself that she is surprised Buffy read and understood the reading. In Willow's defence, she probably knows Buffy's academic capabilities pretty well, so if she is finding this hard to believe, she probably has reason to.

        I don't think the comment in "Chosen" counts. What Willow is saying here is that Buffy is fool-hardy for putting her faith in Willow. Willow herself has a history of being a risk taker. That's not quite the same as being stupid.

        Willow definitely has a inferiority complex. This is most clearly expressed in "Restless" and in the super-Willow conversation in "Wrecked." Because Willow feels so inferior, she overcompensates by excelling at school and by teaching herself witchcraft. Buffy has everything Willow wants. She is confident, attractive, she has a boyfriend before Willow, she has a mother who loves her, etc. Willow spends the series trying to play catch-up. It rarely bothers Buffy much that she doesn't always get straight As, and she is actually a fairly good student.

        In 6, Willow seeks Giles's approval in the kitchen, which suggests that she still looks up to him. But he attacks her, forcing her into defensive mode. I think Giles made a big mistake her. He made it harder for Tara to reach through to Willow later.
        Last edited by Willow from Buffy; 04-11-19, 11:42 AM.

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        • #5
          Of course Willow has solid reasons to feel confidence in her academic abilities but I don't think she is confident about herself and performance anxiety and fears of failure are a consistent factor that both plagues her but also drives her to try to succeed. In that sense you could say she has things to feel superior about but also feels inferior in other ways. But I don't think she looks down on others for lesser academic performance and agree that she consistently tries to help others and boost them rather than taking a superior stance. Perhaps her worry about wearing purple in The Body can be seen to actually be telling of the fear she has of even looking like she thinks she is better than others, her natural default is to want to support. Really other than when she is angry she leans more to self-doubt than dominance, despite having confidence in her brain power. She does readily take leadership roles on and off from S1 and succeeds, but I don't think she actually strives for attaining positions of power in and of themselves so much as her focus being the wish to see the results of whatever project/goal she is helping to reach for be achieved.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Stoney View Post
            Really other than when she is angry she leans more to self-doubt than dominance, despite having confidence in her brain power. She does readily take leadership roles on and off from S1 and succeeds, but I don't think she actually strives for attaining positions of power in and of themselves so much as her focus being the wish to see the results of whatever project/goal she is helping to reach for be achieved.
            This is so true. Every time Willow takes charge of the group, her goal is to save Buffy and reinstate her as the leader. "Weight of the World" and "Bargaining" are prime examples.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Willow from Buffy View Post
              Buffy has everything Willow wants. She is confident, attractive, she has a boyfriend before Willow, she has a mother who loves her, etc. Willow spends the series trying to play catch-up. It rarely bothers Buffy much that she doesn't always get straight As, and she is actually a fairly good student.
              Agreed.

              What I actually find so refreshing about Willow is that in spite of the fact that Buffy already has so much of what Willow wants, when Buffy does well academically Willow is genuinely happy for her. It'd be very easy for Willow to grow jealous and protective of her academic standing because it's the one thing she has over Buffy. And yet, rather than horde that knowledge for herself, Willow helps tutor and encourage Buffy throughout high school. She's genuinely over the moon for Buffy when she excels in her SAT's ("1340! Buffy you kicked ass!") and in "Wild at Heart" she's sincerely ecstatic that Buffy did better than her in Walsh's class ("This is good. This is very good! You did better than me this is so unfair! Omg, Buffy, you made me jealous of you academically!" *squeals and hugs*). In "Out of My Mind" she jokes that Buffy is starting to challenge her as "the smarty pants in the family" but, again, is totally sincere when she excitedly reveals that she dreamt of her and Buffy having a debate about a college lecture "forever."

              Willow could have tried to keep Buffy down and could have grown insecure about Buffy encroaching on her academic status in the group, but instead she's super supportive. It's lovely

              Originally posted by Stoney View Post
              She does readily take leadership roles on and off from S1 and succeeds, but I don't think she actually strives for attaining positions of power in and of themselves so much as her focus being the wish to see the results of whatever project/goal she is helping to reach for be achieved.
              Definitely. I mean, she has that brief moment where she's excited at the prospect of being able to dole out detentions and make the class run laps ("Passion") but overall she loves teaching because she gets to help others. Her passion definitely seems to lie in inspiring or aiding others to achieve their own goals rather than domineering over them with power or authority. She relinquishes that authority at any opportunity and she never abuses her position to get her own back at the likes of Gage or Percy who walk all over others, including her, but is instead interested in fostering Percy's academic growth and ensuring that she grades the swim team fairly.
              Last edited by vampmogs; 04-11-19, 11:55 AM.
              "The earth is doomed!" - Banner by Nina

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              • #8
                To second (and third) what others have said,
                when Willow exerts authority in S2, she often also
                withdraws from it: when she loses her temper at
                Giles and Angel in Reptile Boy, saying things
                that are absolutely correct, she ends with "Now I
                don't feel better—and we have to help Buffy."

                Other incidents (The Dark Age, etc.) don't end
                with exactly the same statements, but Willow's
                affect is similar—only then, the call of the
                moment forces her to focus on the task at hand:
                "Now we've done the research..."—and later in the
                episode, when Buffy and Xander praise her brilliance,
                she does withdraw from full credit for it.

                Her concentration in all these incidents is not
                dominance or showing her power but helping
                others, especially Buffy, and she is reluctant
                to emphasize her own intelligence, any
                seeming superiority on her part....


                Last edited by StateOfSiege97; 04-11-19, 12:21 PM.

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                • #9
                  Not that I'd agree she does have one, but the whole idea that she's supportive of her friends doesn't conflict with having one.

                  If someone wanted to, they could look at the mind-read in Earshot as a more true assessment of her view of Buffy's intelligence. But honestly, I think it's only Jane and her random funny OOC/world-breaking lines than any statement on Willow.

                  I'd say it's in the eye of the beholder. To some people confidence and self esteem = superiority complex.

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