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Buffy's shadow selves

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  • #16
    Dawn doesn't strike me as a reflection of Buffy.
    I thought Dawn was supposed to be what Buffy would have been had she not been the Slayer? Buffy definitely envied Dawn's relationship with Joyce. In fact, from one perspective you could say Dawn was more "at home" with Joyce and so make sense of Dawn throwing Buffy out of the house in EP (particularly since "the house" is a common metaphor/symbol for womb).

    Spike is more Angel's shadow than Buffy's.
    I think Spike being Buffy's shadow is emphasised towards the end of S7. In Touched (on the bed), his actual shadow is imprinted on her.
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    • #17
      Originally posted by HardlyThere View Post
      Buffy says a lot of things about herself that are not true. It's readily debunked. If she was "like Cordy" she wouldn't have been put off by her behavior toward Willow in the pilot. Buffy does not want to live Cordy's life. She, as she says, wants to exist in the world. In that sense, she envies all their lives. Get your picture in the yearbook. Go on a date. Go to prom. Have your favorite teacher remember your name.

      As said, Buffy's motivation isn't to be like Cordy. She wants to be recognized as having existed. Willow, Xander and Oz aren't shadow selves because Buffy put off they got their picture taken and she didn't.
      I wonder how you understand the concept of the shadow self. If Buffy had accepted Cordelia's offer to be the co-ruler of Sunnydale High, then Cordelia wouldn't have been her shadow self, she would have been her surface self.

      And as any psychoanalyst would argue, we never say anything about ourselves that isn't true ... or rather ... we never say anything about ourselves that isn't significant. If Buffy claims that she is like Cordelia, then that is a significant statement.

      The shadow self is the part of ourselves that we don't want to be. It is the part we try to supress. We may not even be aware of it. Fiction makes the idea a way too literal. Cordelia, of course, isn't Buffy's shadow self. Cordelia is a character unto herself. She isn't Buffy's anything, and the shadow self isn't a person. We can imagine a personification of our repressed desires, but we don't have another person living inside our head. And other people can show us what we ourselves could be.

      But when Cordelia attacks Buffy and her lack of married parents, Buffy does say that Cordelia has "awakened the prom queen within." Buffy used to be this person. And there is a part of her that misses being this person. But she has suppressed those desires, because she wants to be a different kind of Buffy now. She wants to be someone who isn't superficial and isn't concerned with popularity. Someone who is happy with a small number of meaningful relationships, rather than a flock of Cordettes.

      Buffy may envy Oz's carefree lifestyle, but Oz is not a vision of what Buffy desires to be. She has never dreamt about being a slacker guitarist. And she's never dreamt about being Xander, either. But she has literally been Cordelia. And while Buffy may feel more fulfilled as a person now, it is clear that her life before her awakening was ... simpler. She had less to worry about. Everyone adored her. Her parents were together. Etc.

      I believe people are complicated. We often have conflicting desires. Therefore, some has to win out over other. Think about Willow at the time of "Homecoming." She loves Oz, but she wants to be with Xander, but really she is gay. People contain multitudes. But reality and society force us to be only one person.

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      • #18
        Originally posted by ghoststar View Post
        I agree on Cordelia, Faith, and sort of Glory, although the last one is more subtle than the first two. She's not so much a parallel to who Buffy is, as she is an ironically-unpleasant god of Buffy's hobbies (fashion, kicking butt, making quips, generally combining power and frivolity).

        Dawn doesn't strike me as a reflection of Buffy. If anything, she's an inverse of Willow-- the power is inside her rather than needing to be taken, yet the other characters can't or won't teach her how to use it. Additionally, Willow is the one that Dawn identifies with and tries to emulate, despite the other characters' disapproval.

        Spike is more Angel's shadow than Buffy's. Spike was also turned into a vampire, but rather than being driven to destroy everyone he had loved, he committed monstrous acts to serve them. There are stronger parallels between Buffy and Drusilla: Both received some sort of superhuman power before they lost their humanity, both were parentally abused for their strangeness, and both became/become objects of obsession for Angel.

        Riley and Adam are kind of like siblings who grow up with an overbearing parent and deal with it in opposite ways. Riley breaks free of Maggie's control by rejecting her power (quitting the drugs, cutting out the chip); Adam breaks free by embracing and surpassing it. At the same time, Riley both exemplifies and deconstructs Xander's masculine ideal, so he is, to some extent, a mirror of Xander's wishes.

        Not sure about the First Evil and Buffy. It takes her form and experiences loneliness, but it can take the form of anyone who's died, and just being lonely isn't particular to either of them. I do think that Buffy's meant to be one corner in a destiny triangle with the First Slayer and the Potentials; unfortunately, none of her S7 reflections works well enough to inspire further thought on my part.
        I think I drove myself into a corner by using the term "shadow self"; I hadn't realised it was that specific a term, and probably should've used parallels, but oh well.
        Spike definitely does mirror and contrast Angel in a lot of ways, but that doesn't mean he doesn't fulfill that role with Buffy as well. There's a strong emphasis in episodes like Fool for Love and pretty much all of S6 on Spike as Buffy's symbolical darker side and connection with/attraction to her slayerness and to a lesser extent, death. Conversely, Dawn is her human side, her connection to life. Again, this is something that is entirely symbolic, that informs us on aspects of Buffy's personality and hidden desires. It doesn't mean that the duality within Buffy (and each character) is that clear cut, nor does it mean that Spike, Dawn or the other "shadow selves" aren't character in their own rights, because they very much are.
        What a challenge, honesty
        What a struggle to learn to speak
        Who would've thought that pretending was easier

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        • #19
          I thought Dawn was supposed to be what Buffy would have been had she not been the Slayer? Buffy definitely envied Dawn's relationship with Joyce. In fact, from one perspective you could say Dawn was more "at home" with Joyce and so make sense of Dawn throwing Buffy out of the house in EP (particularly since "the house" is a common metaphor/symbol for womb).
          That's how I always saw Dawn, especially in S6. That's one of the many reasons she couldn't be a baby, she had to be a normal teenage girl, even if she was hunted by a god. I do think in S6 Dawn was the part of Buffy that needed to be re-integrated into Buffy so that Buffy could thrive. I'm not sure that's the same as a 'shadow self'.

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          • #20
            Originally posted by Willow from Buffy View Post
            I wonder how you understand the concept of the shadow self. If Buffy had accepted Cordelia's offer to be the co-ruler of Sunnydale High, then Cordelia wouldn't have been her shadow self, she would have been her surface self.

            And as any psychoanalyst would argue, we never say anything about ourselves that isn't true ... or rather ... we never say anything about ourselves that isn't significant. If Buffy claims that she is like Cordelia, then that is a significant statement.

            The shadow self is the part of ourselves that we don't want to be. It is the part we try to supress. We may not even be aware of it. Fiction makes the idea a way too literal. Cordelia, of course, isn't Buffy's shadow self. Cordelia is a character unto herself. She isn't Buffy's anything, and the shadow self isn't a person. We can imagine a personification of our repressed desires, but we don't have another person living inside our head. And other people can show us what we ourselves could be.

            But when Cordelia attacks Buffy and her lack of married parents, Buffy does say that Cordelia has "awakened the prom queen within." Buffy used to be this person. And there is a part of her that misses being this person. But she has suppressed those desires, because she wants to be a different kind of Buffy now. She wants to be someone who isn't superficial and isn't concerned with popularity. Someone who is happy with a small number of meaningful relationships, rather than a flock of Cordettes.

            Buffy may envy Oz's carefree lifestyle, but Oz is not a vision of what Buffy desires to be. She has never dreamt about being a slacker guitarist. And she's never dreamt about being Xander, either. But she has literally been Cordelia. And while Buffy may feel more fulfilled as a person now, it is clear that her life before her awakening was ... simpler. She had less to worry about. Everyone adored her. Her parents were together. Etc.

            I believe people are complicated. We often have conflicting desires. Therefore, some has to win out over other. Think about Willow at the time of "Homecoming." She loves Oz, but she wants to be with Xander, but really she is gay. People contain multitudes. But reality and society force us to be only one person.
            You say all this and then ignore Buffy's statement is far less about being like Cordy so much as a resistance to impermanence, a subtle undertone of S3. Two girls who are prom queens are not the same. Two popular girls are not the same. Buffy has never been "literally Cordelia" any more than she was Ampata. I am not sure how having a common want factors into that. Xander wants to be popular and have decent parenting. So does Willow.

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            • #21
              Originally posted by HardlyThere View Post
              You say all this and then ignore Buffy's statement is far less about being like Cordy so much as a resistance to impermanence, a subtle undertone of S3. Two girls who are prom queens are not the same. Two popular girls are not the same. Buffy has never been "literally Cordelia" any more than she was Ampata. I am not sure how having a common want factors into that. Xander wants to be popular and have decent parenting. So does Willow.
              I never said that Buffy has literally been Cordelia. I said the opposite. When we say that Cordelia is Buffy's shadow self it is a figure of speech.

              Most often, a shadow self isn't your old self. The shadow self is a version of yourself that you often couldn't imagine yourself being. It is desires that you are trying to supress. Buffy is able to admit to herself that she both used to be like Cordelia and still sometimes wishes she could be like her. She even claims to have been worse than Cordelia.

              Of course, Buffy seeing Cordelia as living this blessed life shows that she has no idea about ... and partly refuses to acknowledge ... Cordelia's actual circumstances.

              Resistance to impermanence is hardly a subtle undertone. It is probably the most central theme of the season. But whether or not Buffy's desire to outdo Cordelia at her own game is triggered by the impending graduation doesn't really matter. It is Cordelia that Buffy wants to dethrone. She could have started a new 90s alternative rock band and tried to steal the gig from the Dingos. But she doesn't.

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              • #22
                Originally posted by Willow from Buffy View Post

                Buffy may envy Oz's carefree lifestyle, but Oz is not a vision of what Buffy desires to be. She has never dreamt about being a slacker guitarist. And she's never dreamt about being Xander, either. But she has literally been Cordelia. And while Buffy may feel more fulfilled as a person now, it is clear that her life before her awakening was ... simpler. She had less to worry about. Everyone adored her. Her parents were together. Etc.
                You quite literally said she was literally Cordelia.

                It's not a figure of speech. A circle is not a square because one chooses to ignore how they are different. A shadow self is, quite exactly, a near exact copy reflected darker. There is even less distinction between the two than a mirroring. When the differences between the characters start to outweigh the similarities, it's time to abandon the idea.

                Resistance to impermanence is hardly a subtle undertone. It is probably the most central theme of the season. But whether or not Buffy's desire to outdo Cordelia at her own game is triggered by the impending graduation doesn't really matter. It is Cordelia that Buffy wants to dethrone.
                I said it was subtle so as not to come of as insulting. So you acknowledge that you are completely ignoring what her motivation actually was just to set up the premise for the analysis. Buffy doesn't want to dethrone Cordy. She wants to be homecoming queen. Cordy is just in the way of that goal, as were all the other names up on the whiteboard including the girl they both lost to. They were not "shadows", either. The election was just one thing in a whole host of events that fed into her mindset, from the yearbook, to her teacher to Hope dumping her.

                As seasons and series of shows go on, these differences become more evident. Not just in Buffy but most shows. I suspect that is why these reviewers like POTN who have their meta cap on too tight lose interest as series progress. All the overthought analysis get shot down because they were too busy ignoring the forest by focusing on a couple knots in a few trees.

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                • #23
                  Originally posted by HardlyThere View Post
                  You quite literally said she was literally Cordelia.
                  Ah, I phrased that poorly. My point was, a shadow self isn't normally someone that a person has been. It's not a person at all. But because Buffy sees herself as having been very similar to Cordelia, Cordelia comes to symbolize that person she no longer wants to be, even if Cordelia isn't really that person ... or anything like that person.

                  Originally posted by HardlyThere View Post
                  A shadow self is, quite exactly, a near exact copy reflected darker.
                  The shadow self is our unwanted fears and desires projected onto other people. They are not a darker copy of ourselves. They would usually be parts of ourself we don't recognize.

                  Originally posted by HardlyThere View Post
                  So you acknowledge that you are completely ignoring what her motivation actually was just to set up the premise for the analysis. Buffy doesn't want to dethrone Cordy. She wants to be homecoming queen. Cordy is just in the way of that goal, as were all the other names up on the whiteboard including the girl they both lost to. They were not "shadows", either. The election was just one thing in a whole host of events that fed into her mindset, from the yearbook, to her teacher to Hope dumping her.
                  The knowledge that high school is ending is only part of what sets off her crisis. It feeds Buffy's anxiety. But that sets Buffy off is Cordelia's insults and the whole thing is about defeating Cordelia.

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                  • #24
                    "In Jungian psychology, the "shadow", "Id", or "shadow aspect/archetype" may refer to (1) an unconscious aspect of the personality which the conscious ego does not identify in itself, or (2) the entirety of the unconscious, i.e., everything of which a person is not fully conscious. In short, the shadow is the unknown side.

                    Because one tends to reject or remain ignorant of the least desirable aspects of one's personality, the shadow is largely negative. There are, however, positive aspects that may also remain hidden in one's shadow (especially in people with low self-esteem, anxieties, and false beliefs).

                    Contrary to a Freudian definition of shadow, the Jungian shadow can include everything outside the light of consciousness and may be positive or negative. "Everyone carries a shadow," Jung wrote, "and the less it is embodied in the individual's conscious life, the blacker and denser it is." It may be (in part) one's link to more primitive animal instincts, which are superseded during early childhood by the conscious mind.

                    Carl Jung stated the shadow to be the unknown dark side of the personality. According to Jung, the shadow, in being instinctive and irrational, is prone to psychological projection, in which a perceived personal inferiority is recognized as a perceived moral deficiency in someone else. Jung writes that if these projections remain hidden, "The projection-making factor (the Shadow archetype) then has a free hand and can realize its object—if it has one—or bring about some other situation characteristic of its power." These projections insulate and harm individuals by acting as a constantly thickening veil of illusion between the ego and the real world.

                    From one perspective, "the shadow...is roughly equivalent to the whole of the Freudian unconscious"; and Jung himself asserted that "the result of the Freudian method of elucidation is a minute elaboration of man's shadow-side unexampled in any previous age". Wikipedia

                    Whedon's a Film Studies graduate and, by his own admission, was more interested in film theory than practice. It's highly unlikely he did film theory without a working knowledge of Freud. He's also a fan of Joseph Campbell. This is Campbell explaining Jung. There's a number of academic essays on Buffy and The Shadow.

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                    • #25
                      I'm a bit puzzled at the idea that Buffy was incredibly Cordelia-esque being controversial. Isn't that what the flashback in Becoming and most of S1 was about ?
                      What a challenge, honesty
                      What a struggle to learn to speak
                      Who would've thought that pretending was easier

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