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Dawn and Ben

buffy1990

"Every now and then, people surprise you."
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As I was rewatching S5 this time around, I kept noticing the parallels/similarities between Dawn and Ben.

They both existed in human form for some sort of purpose revolving around Glory. Dawn for the sake of being protected from Glory, and Ben as her human prison.

Both of them being killed would impact Glory. Dawn being killed would close the portal to send Glory home, and Ben being killed would kill Glory.

They were both innocent in their situations, but Dawn reacted with grief and sorrow for the pain she was causing others, and was willing to sacrifice herself in the end, while Ben eventually caved to the promise of leading a full life and chose to harm others in an attempt to live.

I could be making all this up, but just random thoughts :p
 

thrasherpix

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I'm not entirely certain it's a fair comparison. In addition to Dawn having her personality implanted into her, Ben was obviously taking on some of Glory's personality just as Glory was taking on some of Ben's as the barrier between them came down, and that was when Ben was willing to sell everyone out, which is to say Ben was a lot more Glory than normal at that point.

Though Ben did call down the Queller and implied he'd done similar things in the past, which sounded like Ben under his own control. But he seemed like a decent guy for the most part (not a saint, but who is?), until Glory and Ben started to actually merge together personality wise (and able to switch back and forth with more memories of each other) rather than just take turns existing.

Still, I wonder what he thought as Giles was killing him...Ben was tempted (apparently) to kill Dawn earlier to prevent Dawn from being used as the Key and said, "I just know that sometimes terrible things happen to good people. It shouldn't, but it does. And it's nobody's fault...that's just the way life is." I actually hope he remembered that and took some mild comfort in them, though I'll understand if he didn't. And even if Glory had won and Glory kept her word to him, he'd have probably wished he'd die rather than live in Hell. Would someone who was a medical doctor because he wanted to help people have been able to live with what he had done?

While I do think Ben HAD to die, I don't think he DESERVED to die.
 

Meliza

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No, not seeing things the parallel is plainly there. Another parallel to note is between Dawn and Buffy. Dawn has it within her to destroy the universe. Buffy has struggled all season with the destructive force the Slayer within her represents. Buffy's decision to runaway is tied to the seasons theme of growing up, as every season is.

When Buffy enters a catatonic state over the guilt of wanting to relinquish her responsibility for the world, it appears she is crumbling under the pressure of being the Slayer while protecting Dawn and for a moment, gives credence to Spike's claim that every Slayer ultimately crumbles under that undisclosed desire to end that responsibility, dying is one way to do that of course. Willow's dialogue with Buffy forcing her to confront her sense of guilt over Glory taking Dawn undermines Spike's death wish theory, whether he was right or wrong about the other Slayers he killed, he is wrong about Buffy.

At no point does Buffy ever say she wants to die, what she says is that she wants an end to the responsibility of taking care of Dawn.
“I just wanted it over; If Glory wins ... then Dawn dies. And I would grieve. People would feel sorry for me. But it would be over. And I imagined what a relief it would be.”

In fact her words suggest the opposite, namely, that after Dawn has died she would still be alive to grieve and to know that people felt sorry for her.

Buffy interpreted her desire to end her responsibility as failing Dawn but when Willow tells her to get over her guilt, Buffy does. She’s not going to give up, she’s going to keep fighting.

Compare this to Ben, who struggles against Glory but can’t see a way to protect both Dawn and himself so he eventually gives in to Glory. It's plot but it's metaphor too, when Ben gives up the fight and returns Dawn back to Glory, we know that he’s no hero.

The point of the season in metaphor, is that Buffy needs to find a way to incorporate preserve her childlike innocence as part of her adult persona as she grows up. Buffy gives us the answer to the question we have been asking since Dawn first appeared: who or what is Dawn? “She’s me. … Dawn ... is a part of me. The only part that I --”. Ben is Glory, Glory is Ben, Dawn is Buffy; Buffy is Dawn.

Dawn represents how Buffy see's her vulnerable human half and Glory represents how Buffy sees her slayer half, her fears of what adulthood might entail, fears which come from out of her mind, perhaps why the episode of that title immediately precedes Glory’s first appearance.

The net effect of this is that Glory is Buffy too. Glory and Dawn are the two halves of Buffy. One side is how she sees herself, the other is her fear of what becoming an adult might make her. Slayer Buffy needs to avoid becoming a hard, ruthless killer, in metaphor, all adults need to preserve their inner child in order to avoid becoming hard and unfeeling as adults and Buffy does this by preserving her inner child, her human half.

Ben represents the typical adult but the wrong path to take, refusing to sacrifice himself for anything, not for Dawn and not for the world. Ultimately Ben represents a selfish form of adulthood, one that is willingly sacrifice others for its own benefit.

Episodes through out the season drop clues to the split personality theme, appearing for example in "The Replacement" as Xander is literally split in two, creating a competent, mature half and the other, a childish, inept half. One immature, the other mature, both were Xander.

Aside from the mature/childish contrast, it hinted throughout using key phrases associated with Dawn. When the two Xanders confronted each other in front of Anya, Xander told his twin “You don’t belong here.” That’s what the crazy man told Dawn in Real Me. Or there’s this: “Immature Xander [to Willow]: “I get in trouble and Buffy saves me.” That’s what Buffy does with Dawn.

In "I Was Made To Love You" Buffy says that “I've had it with super-strong little women who aren't me.” That obviously refers to Glory as well as April, both of whom resemble Buffy in this and other respects. In "Family" Buffy tells Giles that Glory “was kinda like Cordelia”, expecting us to remember that Cordelia was Buffy’s shadow self, what she could have been like if she wasn't the slayer: “Well, I, I don't wanna say shallow, but let's say a certain person … we'll just call her Spordelia, looked like a classical philosopher next to me.”

In "Real Me" The first meaningful words we hear Dawn say is this in voice over “Nobody knows who I am. Not the real me. It's like, nobody cares enough to find out. I mean, does anyone ever ask *me* what I want to do with my life?” The whole episode isn’t about Dawn at all, it’s about how Buffy’s human half sees the world. It's Buffy talking about herself.

Here is a list Dawn’s attributes: She keeps a diary. She loves Willow, she loves Xander, she loves her mother. She thinks Giles might not like her because he’s so old, she finds Buffy’s training boring, and she resents the fact that Buffy is always telling her what to do even if, in some sense, she idolizes her sister. She likes Tara, she’s not so sure about Anya. Interestingly, she expresses no opinion about Riley. She feels isolated at times, and she gets to be the child of the family in a way that Buffy wishes she could.

Buffy kept a diary when she was younger, Giles called Buffy to her destiny and pushed her ever since, he tends to have little patience for her less adult moments (“I'm serious, Buffy, there's going to be far less time for the sort of flighty, frivolous-….” Real Me); Buffy has a mixed relationship with Anya (see, Superstar or Buffy v. Dracula); Riley is pretty self-explanatory at this point; Buffy’s sense of isolation is well-established;

The episode opens with GILES VOICEOVER: You are the center. And within you, there is the core of your being ... of what you are.” Buffy’s search is interrupted when Dawn interferes, knocking over the crystals and demanding to leave. Dawn is, in part at least, Buffy’s true self, the core of what she is. The point is that Buffy needs to overcome the belief that her human/child side is a hindrance to becoming an adult.

"Real Me" also set up "The Gift" in the plot outline. The basic story of Real Me was that Dawn was kidnapped and tied up by an evil blonde woman with super powers who threatened to kill her. In substance, that was Glory’s plan too. Both whined to Dawn while she was a captive and Harmony promised Spike that Buffy would “be dead by sunrise”.

Spike’s promise to defend Dawn “till the end of the world” has to be understood in the context of the metaphor. Dawn is Buffy’s human half; Spike has now pledged to defend Buffy’s human self. He’s no longer only in love with "the Slayer" but devoted to the whole of Buffy. It’s interesting, too, that Buffy commends her better half to Spike’s care. Spike had told her in Fool For Love that he would slip in and have himself one good day. Buffy got “that final gasp, that look of peace” and it turned out to be the worst day of his life.

In "Dracula" Dracula told her that her power was rooted in darkness and Buffy recognized her fear that being the slayer was making her hard; she needed to understand it better. What she needed, it turned out, was to be able to maintain a connection – a link; “the Key is the link” – to her humanity. Which is introduced at the very end of the episode in the form of Dawn.

The Knights represent the patriarchal structure and utilitarianism, a form of ethics we've seen brought up many times over with Giles making that argument about Dawn, Wesley making it in "Choices" over Willow and the Mayors Box and Faith, with instead of a death wish or perhaps in addition to it, using it as one way of evading responsibility.

The Knights represent a faction which desires to "sever" the link, to stop Buffy from becoming a integrated whole adult, because if Buffy or any woman becomes an authentic adult, that threatens the traditional patriarchy by forcing the world to view a actualized woman as a equal.
 
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buffy1990

"Every now and then, people surprise you."
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I'm not entirely certain it's a fair comparison. In addition to Dawn having her personality implanted into her, Ben was obviously taking on some of Glory's personality just as Glory was taking on some of Ben's as the barrier between them came down, and that was when Ben was willing to sell everyone out, which is to say Ben was a lot more Glory than normal at that point.

Though Ben did call down the Queller and implied he'd done similar things in the past, which sounded like Ben under his own control. But he seemed like a decent guy for the most part (not a saint, but who is?), until Glory and Ben started to actually merge together personality wise (and able to switch back and forth with more memories of each other) rather than just take turns existing.

Still, I wonder what he thought as Giles was killing him...Ben was tempted (apparently) to kill Dawn earlier to prevent Dawn from being used as the Key and said, "I just know that sometimes terrible things happen to good people. It shouldn't, but it does. And it's nobody's fault...that's just the way life is." I actually hope he remembered that and took some mild comfort in them, though I'll understand if he didn't. And even if Glory had won and Glory kept her word to him, he'd have probably wished he'd die rather than live in Hell. Would someone who was a medical doctor because he wanted to help people have been able to live with what he had done?

While I do think Ben HAD to die, I don't think he DESERVED to die.
I wondered too what he was thinking when Giles killed him. It was one of those moments where you could tell he had time to process that these were his last moments. And I agree, some of Ben's actions stem from Glory and their barrier breaking down, but I do wonder what his personality was like prior to when we see him on the show. Like you said, he does imply that he has "cleaned up her mess" before, which makes me wonder if he really would have been able to live with himself if he had gone through will allowing Dawn to die. He didn't seem to feel all that badly with the Queller, but maybe he felt trapped because of Glory's actions.

I will say that as I was watching S5, I was extremely confused by Ben's decision to go help Giles at the abandoned station. I'm glad he did, for Giles's sake (ironic that Giles was saved by the man he later kills), but I kept thinking "dude, you know you're going to transform into Glory and lead her straight to Dawn." I don't know, his motives are hard to pinpoint, in my opinion.
 
Ayko
Ayko
As the date approached for the ceremony Glory's influence over the two gained in strength.

Meliza

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Ben and Dawn both exist in their current form as a result of magic and both are innocent of how they came to be but yet we are to make note of the stark contrast of his failure in comparison to Dawn’s willingness to sacrifice herself.

It's a very interesting moral dilemma, I don't think any one has the right to demand another be a hero or sacrifice themselves for the benefit of others. Ben did not ask to share his life form with his insane "sister" anymore then Dawn did with being the key.

A interesting comparison is the one between Giles and Ben.

Ben is willing to sacrifice another to benefit himself and obviously, Giles is willing to sacrifice the both of them.

"Buffy: You have a choice. You don't have a good choice, but you have a choice."

Death is one way for a slayer escape from the burden of responsibility and the utilitarian principle as espoused by Faith is another way.

Faith took to the belief that "A slayer really is just a killer" she was acting in bad faith by selfishly and disingenuously using utilitarianism as a excuse for not taking responsibility for her choices.

Similarly to Faith, The Knights are acting in bad conscience, representing the sin of despair, they put themselves in a position of believing a false directive from their God, between Dawn and the world (Xander’s insane troll logic choice between Anya and Willow) as a religious order "because God says so" they deny people free will and free choice in a third option, the knights by being so dogmatic have lost faith in themselves, if not in a deity.

When Buffy was faced with the choice between Dawn and the world in The Gift she was not willing to kill her innocent charge – where as Giles has sent out an innocent (Buffy) every night for 5 years to risk her death to protect the world, Giles has come to accept that as part of his role.

And killing Dawn turned out to be unnecessary, which is pretty devastating rebuke to Giles’s argument.

We know that Dawn represents Buffy, taking a look at her attributes her flaws are Buffy's flaws, her strengths are Buffy's strengths.

Dawn also represents the future as her name metaphorically suggests. It’s no accident that the events on the tower occur as day breaks, as April said in IWMTLY: “it’s always darkest before [the dawn].” Daybreak, dawn, has always been the poetic image for the promise of a new day, a new future. Dawn’s life seems a lot more valuable than the lives of those who wish to hack her to pieces in order to save their own. Dawn represents the future and what hollow future would be worth saving in a world that demands Buffy kill her own sister.

Angel: "We live as though the world where as it should be, to show it what it could be"
 
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Ayko

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As I was rewatching S5 this time around, I kept noticing the parallels/similarities between Dawn and Ben.

They both existed in human form for some sort of purpose revolving around Glory. Dawn for the sake of being protected from Glory, and Ben as her human prison.

Both of them being killed would impact Glory. Dawn being killed would close the portal to send Glory home, and Ben being killed would kill Glory.

They were both innocent in their situations, but Dawn reacted with grief and sorrow for the pain she was causing others, and was willing to sacrifice herself in the end, while Ben eventually caved to the promise of leading a full life and chose to harm others in an attempt to live.

I could be making all this up, but just random thoughts :p
I actually think your on to something here. It is not that far fetched to see connections between Dawn & Glory such as timing of first appearance in the series, The Monks & The Knights Of Byzantium, both ladies are 'very old from a time before written word', both are coneected to a powerful past they do not remember in physical form, and more (such as both are very attractive).
In any case, I think their pasts are connected and the story just didn't get expanded upon as perhaps was planned (before the change from WB to UPN) or something.
SLAYER: Buffy Is Back
 

Octavia

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Sineya
They were both innocent in their situations, but Dawn reacted with grief and sorrow for the pain she was causing others, and was willing to sacrifice herself in the end, while Ben eventually caved to the promise of leading a full life and chose to harm others in an attempt to live.
I like this but hadn't really put it together like that before - good words :D

Dawn accepted that she was never meant to exist and made peace with non existence, where as Ben felt he had the right to live. Man verses innocent girl child... who has the most rights? That could open a whole new can of worms!
 
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