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Egoism in Buffy

Chosen Enemy

Losing my soul
Aug 11, 2010
Every person has some degree of egoism. There's no reason why a Slayer wouldn't have some, even a lot. And why wouldn't she? She saves the world, a lot. If anyone deserves to have some egoism, it's the Slayer. But egoism can lead to a fall. It even failed Buffy a few times.

Buffy got used to the power she had, as a Slayer. She enjoyed the advantages that come with it. People fall in line, interested in her opinion, want her to stand at the front in a war. She has access to dimensions (not literally) others can't visit. She's seen things people never see. And as much as she says that she wants to be normal, she knows that she's on top of the humanity chain. She knows she's stronger than regular humans. Not that it was her choice. Can't help thinking if the fact that she was chosen, made her a little arrogant. It's in human nature to think you're on top if you were chosen. And after all, Buffy is human. She still has human qualities.

With every victory Buffy scores, she faces the knowledge that she is a good fighter, a good person. And the fact that she's a human being, who saves other human beings, makes it even greater. She might even enjoy the fact that most of the people she saves don't know that she has super powers. From a female perspective, it's easy to feel proud that a petite girl kicks ass. It's empowering. Buffy must be enjoying thinking what other people think of her when they see her saving their lives. In "The Gift", Buffy saves a guy from a vampire who's about to eat him for dinner and maybe even for a dessert. "But you're just a girl", he says to her after she saves him. Buffy smiles at that line. "That's what I keep saying", she replies, kind of to herself. By that reply, she feels pride. She feels her Slayer essence as the chosen one. Her power. She's on top. That boy would have been dead if it wasn't for her. That thought is in Buffy's head when she saves lives, and especially when she saves the world. She has prevented the world from ending so many times, and she must be the best Slayer ever. She knows that.

But it's sometimes tiring. Being the one who people always trust. It's a lot of pressure. It's a burden. And that lead her to bad decisions. Like in "Empty Places" (season 7). She was so used to being the leader, the one with the power, the one who always knows best, that she led young girls to their death. She was so sure that she's right, always. Although she does use other people's knowledge at times. Like Willow's computer and witchcraft skills. Like Giles' knowledge and wisdom, etc. But I can't help thinking that even though she knew her friends had knowledge and power to offer, she thought she knew best. It's the ego that she got used to. And that led her to make some poor decisions. It even led to death.

As it turns out, a nice shy girl can let her egoism grow, if she's given powers. Buffy has her Slayer superpowers, but Willow has blossomed so much in the witchcraft world, that she can't help but using it as her power. On the outside, it might be hard to understand that Willow's egoism is greater that it seems. It comes to mind when we understand that Willow uses magic even when it's not needed, when things can be achieved without "special effects". She has the ability, she has the power inside her. And she uses it.

Willow has started out as a cute girl who's afraid to talk to boys. And as her powers grew, so did her confident. Confidence leads to arrogance. Willow doesn't seem like an arrogant person. And she might be a sweet girl on the outside, but she must have some degree of egoism inside her. She believes she can do anything. With her powers that she worked hard to get. Once a person works hard for something and achieves it, the egoism grows, even unwillingly, even unseen. So Willow's egoism is silent. It comes in unseen. Even sweet little girls are arrogant, the minute they're given a certain power.

A one who's ego is so fragile, is Spike. His ego had many ups and downs through his life and his unlife. William had no confidence, almost at all. He knew how bad his poems were. Yet, he didn't care. He did what he loved. But he must have had some degree of egoism if he admitted to Cecily that he loved her. He said to her that they're different. They're not like the others. Better. But she saw him as someone who's beneath her, not worthy. "You're beneath me". That line followed William and Spike for his entire life like a glue that sticks to him. It broke him. It shattered his ego completely. What comes after that, is the pretending. With Angelus, with his lackeys, even with Drusilla and Buffy. He pretended to be that confident vampire who fears nothing. He wasn't afraid of the Slayers, the ones who were chosen to kill him. He was scared that his ego would break again, break him. He just let Angel take Dru away from him, as if he didn't have a backbone. He got over Dru, and then, after falling in love with Buffy, she kicked him in the chin again, literally.

Spike has received so much fire for his ego. And as a sensitive guy, it hurt him, time after time. He wasn't the pure evil creature he claimed to be. His ego was more important to him rather than his real personality. He faked the ego, but inside he was a broken man. He cared what people (other vampires) thought of him. Without the ego, they might have not follow him. They wouldn't be terrified by the vampire who killed two Slayers.

It took time till his ego grew again, and so is his confidence. Once he received back what he wanted, what was shuddered before"¦ Love, care, things that everybody needs and wants, his confidence grew. He craved for that feeling ever since he was just William, the shy eye glassed guy that wrote poetry. We see it on "Angel", in the last episode. He went on a stage in front of an audience, and read his poems. The poems he didn't dare to share again since what Cecily told him. That's the period of time when he was finally back to his first egoism state. The audience cheered. He was accepted again. He was the person he craved to be.

Another person who needed their egoism was Cordelia. Was Cordelia's ego real? Or was it pretended like Spike's?

In the high school times, she seemed so confident and shiny. But deep inside, she was scared. Scared that the most important thing in her life, the one she worked hard to gain "“ her popularity "“ would be suddenly taken away. She was the queen. And the fact that she was the queen, not only grew her ego, but also made her scared every day that she'd lose that crown. She worked so hard to keep that title, she wanted that confidence that the other students gave her, that she didn't even have spare time to worry about being a good person. That's not what she cared about, being a good person. Her ego was much more important because that means she's popular. If she wasn't that popular, she wouldn't have that big of ego. She didn't take it for granted. She needed the ego so she could feel better, covering for the fact that she wasn't a very nice person (in high school). Take that popularity away, you take her entire ego away. She's the kind of person who needs to know she's "loved" by many people, so she could feel better about herself. Even though that love for her wasn't real. It was all fake, yet it was enough to grow that ego that she had on her.

Those are some examples for egoism in Buffy. Everybody has it. Some need it, and for some it's what fails them. But no one can escape it. Even the shy little girls. Evil the most sensitive guys. It's not always a bad thing. But it could destroy you if you're not careful.
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Aug 13, 2010
Raleigh, NC
I'll be honest, when I saw the title, I was hoping this article would be about psychological and moral egoism rather than egoism in general... But this article was very good and well said. Your understanding of the characters and their egos at different points in the show is quite good. Honestly, it's interesting to think about the characters and their egos and how it affected the show and their actions. Well done.
Chosen Enemy
Chosen Enemy
thanks! :)

Tyger tyger

Betty Louise Plotnick
Feb 20, 2012
Every one keeps using ego as a static term for Freud it is a balance between id and super-ego a conscience if you will. while at other times used as the metaphysical processes of developing a concept of self. You seem to be building yourself a Cartesian paradox toss in lack of soul and you have Descartes' zombie which seems to be Buffy's veiw "You're a thing, you cant love." Now if we reject Spinoza and consider Descartes error we are left with Damasio's hierarchy of consciousness (private me vs public me) this solves the emotion/reason dichotomy nicely. Both Spike and Buffy through repeat rejection have neccesitated somatic markers (gut feelings) dictating their further seperation of self (Spike/William, Slayer/Buffy). In turn resulting in cyclical over and under acknowledging the warring rational and emotional selves. Hence exaggerated public self and self loathing private.
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