“Into every generation, a slayer is born: one girl in all the world, a chosen one.
She alone will wield the strength and skill to fight the vampires, demons, and the forces of darkness; to stop the spread of their evil, and the swell of their number. She is the Slayer.” Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a coming-of-age-story where Buffy Summers, a teenage girl, longs for normalcy. She is “the chosen one”. As Buffy is faced with various incarnations of evil, she is forced to give up aspects of her adolescence to save the world. (Doomed 4.
11) In BtVS, we see Buffy struggle as she tries to keep her life in order. She must be a student, a daughter, and the slayer, all while dealing with obstacles of love. True monstrosity in BtVS is represented in the physical manifestations of bad vampires and other monsters, as well as, the moral principles of being “The Slayer”.
In popular culture, the classic vampire tale has transformed to fit the needs and changing cultural desires of the public. As vampires remained a popular topic, TV and literature began changing our expectations and breaking the rules of vampire mythological canon. The vampire as a monster is now usually written as a romantic hero. In BtVS, vampires, in general, remain dangerous villains except for Angel. The portrayal of Angel as a vampire/hero, and his relationship with Buffy, the “Slayer” is representative of how the monstrosity of vampires has been mitigated to align with popular culture ideals. Historically vampires are depicted as undead immortal beings who are fortified by the blood of the living. According to lore, vampires are vicious and conniving beasts.
They are identified by their inability to cast a reflection or enter your home without an invitation. Vampires usually are unable to survive in daylight and are repelled by garlic, holy water, and crucifixes. These characteristics are all true for the vampires in BtVS, although they are thought of more as demons. In BtVS, when a vampire “turns” a human, that person loses their soul and a demon takes over their body.
To become a vampire, “They have to suck your blood, you have to suck their blood. It’s like a whole big sucking thing”. (Buffy, Welcome to the Hellmouth) explain quote. In Season 1 episode 7 “Angel” Buffy contemplates if a vampire could ever be a good person, it is stated that “A vampire isn’t a person at all. It may have the movements, the memories, even the personality of the person it took over, but it’s still a demon at its core” (Angel 1.7) How then, if a vampire isn’t a person, and so cannot be a good person, does the vampire as a romantic hero come to be? “The transformation of the vampire into a hero lover was a primary element in the overall permeation of the vampire myth into the culture of late-twentieth-century America” (Melton 208).
In the show, Angel is Buffy’s main paramour. What makes Angel so interesting and attractive to Buffy, and the audience is his story of self-control and redemption. In the characters backstory, Angel was once one of the most vicious and sadistic vampires in history. After a conflict with a Romani clan, he was cursed and his soul was reinstated. As a term in the curse, if Anel ever experiences any moment of true happiness he will lose his soul once again.
In Season 1 episode 1 “Welcome to the Hellmouth” Angel seemingly stalks Buffy, appearing when he has information about grave danger or vampires and gives Buffy a silver crucifix to wear as a necklace for protection. His dark and broody attitude attracts Buffy, and sensual tension begins to build. In Season 1 episode 7 “Angel”, after thwarting evil vampires, Angel and Buffy share a passionate kiss, and Angel reveals his fangs and demon face.”What makes Angel stand apart from other vampires is that he has a soul, or more specifically, that because he has a soul he has no desire to harm people (More precisely, since plenty of persons with souls do desire to harm others, perhaps the correct thing to say is that because Angel has a “good” soul he has no desire to harm people). It follows then, that Buffy slays vampires not because they are soulless or because they are vampires, but because they harm human beings.” (Greene 271) Although Angel has been ensouled, he remains a vampire and has shunned himself from all other vampires and vampire life in order to repent.
He needs human blood to sustain himself but refuses to feed on humans. A brief glimpse into his room in season 1 shows us that he lives in an apartment above ground, which contrasts the other, evil vampires, who hide from the daylight below ground in the sewer systems. In Angel’s apartment is a refrigerator with bags of blood he must’ve acquired from a blood bank. Up until this point, Angel has presented himself as human.
He has never tried to hurt Buffy or her friends. He has always given her advice, and even originally introduced himself as “a friend”. (Welcome to the Hellmouth 1.1). After Angel and Buffy kiss, Angel decides that it’s safer for her to keep his distance, and he does not trust himself to be around her. “A vampire in love with the Slayer.
It’s rather poetic…in a maudlin sort of way.” (Out of Mind, Out of Sight 1.11) With the addition of the reformed vampire to BtVS, monstrosity has been included in other elements of fantasy to compensate for the less-brutal vampire lover trope. Angela Tenga and Elizabeth Zimmerman point out in the article Vampire Gentlemen and Zombie Beasts that “Many vampires have developed a conscience that has led them to eschew human blood, and this reformed vampire needs a counterpart who will look and feed like a monster.
The zombie meets this need, voicing anxieties that many contemporary vampire narratives silence.” (Tenga 76) However, in BtVS, this need is met by the introduction of various other monsters; bad vampires, zombies, witches, demons, and other supernatural beings. The concept of Buffy Summers, as “the Slayer” is that she has the ability to fight all monsters, not just vampires.Arguably, Buffy has to reconcile with the monstrosity that is rooted in the moral implications of being the slayer, herself. “The Slayer, who fights the forces of darkness, is, like the vampires, a liminal character, on the edge between light and dark. To fight for the light, she must move through the darkness” (wilcox 83) As “the Slayer”, Buffy’s role is to protect humanity from evil.