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All Mirth and No Matter

Existential Vampires

Existential Vampires

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I think it is pretty clear that vampires have always been a symbol of our darker natures, but in Buffyverse the metaphor goes a step further to make points about Joss' world view of human nature.
When Willow meets her vampire self, she says "That's me as a vampire? I'm so evil, and skanky... and I think I'm kinda gay." Buffy assures her that who someone is as a vampire has nothing to do with who you are as a person.  Angel is about to say something and stops himself.  It is hard to know if he didn't want to out Willow or point out that she could totally cheat on Oz, flay a guy, and try to destroy the world, or if he just doesn't want to let Buffy know what a jerk he was before he even got turned.
Angel was self involved as a human, and while he never directly hurt anyone, it was clear that he didn't care if he did.  Darla could see he had potential to embrace his darker nature and make a good ally, even though he was directionless as a human.
When he met Drucilla, he wanted her, and her ablity to see visions of the future, on his side.  He knew someone who was pure and kind could never make a good vampire.  He destroyed her mind, but also the communitiy that loved her for her purity. This was the only way for her to fully embrace her darker nature.
With her mind broken, she could kill without remorse, but she also did not have the intuitive sense to determine which human subjects would make the best vampires.
William was much Like Dru before Angel.  He was kind to a fault, and cared far too much for others to take a life. At first.  When he becomes a vampire, his new family has a different set of norms and values.  One of his first vampire act was one of selflessness that nearly gets him killed.  Even without a human soul, his brain's muscle memory remembers what it is like to care.
He goes along with this new life, plays the big bad, until he is. Killing 2 Slayers is a pretty big deal. He runs from who he was and builds his reputation on being the opposite of William.
Slowly, he becomes seperated from his vampire family.  Dru leaves him. A chip keeps him from hurting humans. He fights for good, because he is used to fighting.  For a while, he tries to convince everyone that he hates the Scoobies, but fighting with them changes him.  He turns down the blood of a girl Dru kills for him. He selflessly protects Buffy's sister.  His new community, that he is only barely accepted into, has some sway on his thinking, but in the end the choice is his. Spike wanted to be the hero, the knight in shining armor.  He could have asked to have the chip out, rather than to get his soul back.  Part of this change could be that he has gone back to the heart of who spike is, but also comes back to his choices and how those choices affect him.
Because Angelus was selfish as a human, and evil as a vampire, it is strange to think these principles would carry over to his personality when he became Angel. Before he got his soul back, he never thought about anyone else, or about how those choices could affect him. When his soul returned, he had plenty of time to think about everything he had done his whole life. Instead of doing something about it, he wanders the street.  It is not until he meets Whistler, that he starts making amends, and creating new habits.
Originally vampires may have symbolized our fears of our darker nature or of losing control, but Joss gives them more complexity; on his world this exchange can go both ways. Vampires are often a mixture of who they once were, who they want to be, the community they choose and what their choices are.  Vampires may be the darker part of us, but even they can redeem themselves. Human characters may decide to destroy the world. Vampires may save it.
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