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Character analysis

Slayorette

Townie
Joined
Apr 16, 2020
Messages
1
Age
19
Willow is by far my favorite character, and also the one I believe in possession of the best arc. Let me explain why by analyzing her character.
First, I will dispel some conceptions others hold that I disagree with. First, Willow does not change from nerdy Willow to wicca Willow; the personality is the same. Secondly, Willow is not a good person cursed with a bad storyline in S6 or corrupted by magic (I've heard both) but a very damaged and unreliable individual. While the sweet Willow version annoys me, there is another that irritates me more. This is the selfish, arrogant Willow, who is manipulative and almost sociopathic. This interpretation claims that Dark Willow is the real Willow. I strongly disagree with this interpretation. Willw is not ambitious, per se, nor is she selfish in the usual sense of the word.
Willow is obviously an individual lacking in self-esteem. However, from the very beginning she cares little for rules, as demonstrated by her hacking career. Relationships both empower her and allow her to act independently, that is, dependence is a source of strength for her, as hinted by her relationship with the computer demon in S1. She ignores school rules and becomes both more arrogant and more independent immediately after entering a relationship. This leads to what I see as Willow's core trait; she has no confidence in herself, and can only exist comfortably within the confines of dependent relationships. However, she also believes herself to be undeserving of love, and so does not trust that her loved ones genuinely care for her. Her dependence on loved ones and lack of faith in them is the source of much of her key character traits. Her eagerness to assist her friends and to prove herself is caused by her desperation to show her friends she is worth their time. Her selfishness as demonstrated especially in S6 is not separate from her usual selflessness; they have the same cause, for she rarely hurts her friends unless she believes they will leave her. Thus, to preserve her sense of self she manipulates them, as she does to Tara in S6. However, this behavior does not reflect a desire for power so much as a desperate urge to preserve the self at any cost. Willow's best and worst traits are both caused by this aspect of her character. Willow is essentially an unwilling nihilist.
Her character arc in S6 can be clumsy, but it is perfect for her development. Magic in S6 is NOT a drug; more essentially, what it represents to Willow is a drug. Magic is a source of power, which Willow does to some extent crave; however this is not her primary motive. It is regularly demonstrated that Willow does not enjoy leading the group, suggesting that she does not desire the role of one who holds power. Rather, magic is a power that gives Willow value, both to the Scooby gang and to herself, for magic, like hacking, was Willow's method of rebellion. Thus magic is Willow's source of self, thus explaining her behavior in S6, as without magic she is essentially empty.
Willow is special to me because I share some of her most essential raid traits; I have hurt friends in my desparate attempts to keep them close, and I have spent most of my life trying to prove my value, generally academically. I understand Willow, both that she is a well-inherite intentioned person and an individual one can't entirely trust, because those most severely damaged cause the most damage to others.
This thread is the beginning of a more in depth analysis, but as it is 1:00, I haven't the energy to complete it now. However, I will continue to examine Willow's character and what informs her development throughout the show.
 

Ethan Reigns

Scooby
Joined
Oct 14, 2012
Messages
7,171
Location
Canada
Sineya
In Gingerbread, Willow and her mother show the complete lack of connection between them. Willow is not a person to her mother, she is a subject of abnormal psychology straight out of the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, the official compendium of psychological disorders). Since her mother is a psychologist, she regards Willow as a patient, not a daughter. Their relationship is completely devoid of anything that could be remotely considered "love". Even though Gingerbread shows how parents act under the effect of a spell, it also shows that the spell operates in predictable ways that accentuate the characteristics they have in normal life.

We talk about "nice guy syndrome" when Xander is rebuffed by Buffy but we don't recognize the exact same thing about Willow's unrequited love for Zander. Does anyone ever mention "nice girl syndrome"? Does Willow have any claim on Xander? What's good for the goose is good for the gander. (The last two sentences might show up in a Buffy rap song.)

We see in Nightmares and Restless that she has dreams of not being prepared and not knowing her lines in a stage play. This represents her feeling that she still has a lot to learn but she is not currently ready and not worthy of getting what she wants. Specifically in Restless, Willow is worried because the play is about to start and Tara says it has already started. We see this conversation that shows what Willow really thinks:

TARA: (offscreen) Everyone's starting to wonder about you. The real you. If they find out, they'll punish you, I ... I can't help you with that.
WILLOW: Well, what should I ... what's after me? Is it something I-I was supposed to do? W-was I supposed to-

You can have all kinds of fun attaching interpretations to dreams, but there are some unavoidable conclusions - Willow does not think people are on her side and fears that people really do not like her.
 

Athene

Scooby
Joined
Apr 8, 2017
Messages
2,527
Age
20
Sineya
Yeah it sort of says a lot that both of Willow's romantic partners were very chilled and stabilising people, apart from Kennedy but I see a huge personality change in s7 Willow so by then maybe she doesn't need that dependency as much.
 

garfan

Townie
Joined
Feb 6, 2020
Messages
32
Age
41
I personally think that while Willow has a problem with being in charge of others she also really dislikes others controlling her. Her line to Buffy "Of the two of us which one is the boss of me" is very important to her character.

I think part of her doing stuff like hacking and learning magic she wasn't supposed to is basically an insatiable curiousity. And since no one teaches it, she has to find it out herself which is the only reason it's rebellion. If she had more willing teachers it wouldn't be.

I also think she likes to put things in boxes, to label them. That's why she lost a lot of interest in science as she got more into magic. She was a witch, her thing was magic. That's why I think it's valid to call her bi even though she labelled herself a lesbian
 

garfan

Townie
Joined
Feb 6, 2020
Messages
32
Age
41
We see in Nightmares and Restless that she has dreams of not being prepared and not knowing her lines in a stage play. This represents her feeling that she still has a lot to learn but she is not currently ready and not worthy of getting what she wants. Specifically in Restless, Willow is worried because the play is about to start and Tara says it has already started. We see this conversation that shows what Willow really thinks:


You can have all kinds of fun attaching interpretations to dreams, but there are some unavoidable conclusions - Willow does not think people are on her side and fears that people really do not like her.
and also that she has to play a role with people I think
 
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