The Last Spike: Jungian Individuation In Buffy The Vampire Slayer

Watcher Junior Volume II: Issue 1, July 2006

by Donna Lowe
Brandon University, Canada

[1] The seminal psychologist Carl Jung, in his writings on the archetypes of the collective unconscious, stated "in the chambers of the [human] heart dwell the wicked blood-spirits, swift anger and sensual weakness." (Jung 20) Anger, wickedness, blood-spirits? These traits sound more monstrous than human, but perhaps this statement is less surprising than it first appears. After all, horror as a genre is hugely popular with the entertainment-viewing public, and the fame of various celluloid monsters - all man-made both in conception and in execution - make it reasonable to assume that the actions and characters of these creatures must reveal something about their creators, and by extension all of humanity. Despite the fact that Jung outlined the different aspects of the human psyche and the human journey toward an ultimate goal of what he termed individuation, it seems possible to apply these terms and processes to creatures that would normally seem more monster than man, thereby revealing a remarkable and even archetypal "humanity."

[2] In creating the multi-faceted characters of his so-called "Whedonverse"- an opus that includes the movie and television show Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spin-off series Angel - writer/director/wunderkind Joss Whedon sought deliberately to break down society's stereotypes of villains and heroes, and in the process offered his viewers some of the most complex and interesting personalities on the small screen to date. Under Whedon's pen Buffy, the petite blond from Sunnydale, CA with the airhead moniker, is the 'Chosen One' who saves the world from the forces of Hell - at least seven times; Willow, the bookish best friend, is the world's most powerful witch who is at one point the cause of the annual apocalypse; Xander, the nerdy sidekick, provides moral and emotional support to his friends and nurtures them in a manner typically reserved for a female character - and so on. Whedon, a student of gender studies in his college years, has stated that "the element of surprise...[and] genre-busting is very much at the heart of both the movie and the series." (Whedon 2002) and accordingly Whedon's TV creations abound with multi-faceted and atypical human characters, both male and female.

[3] It is the Whedonverse monsters, however, which quite often provide even more intriguing subjects for analysis. Most of them are of course expendable, providing little more than reason and opportunity for good fight scenes, but curiously Whedon chooses to develop the story arcs of certain members of the 'abject breed' just as thoroughly as he does their human counterparts. The werewolf Oz, the half-demon Anya and the vampires Angel and Spike all interact with the other characters of the 'Buffyverse' and are involved and portrayed in public and private crises just as much as are the humans. Their respective prominence and development in the TV series as a whole is varied, but the choice to portray these so-called monsters as legitimate and upright members of the Sunnydale society is a significant one.

[4] Further, the notion that one of these formerly shunned citizens could, in the last season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, be charged with the ultimate sacrifice (his newly-ensouled existence to save the world) is a ground-breaking one, not only from a genre-busting television writer's point of view, but also from the perspective of the mythological. When the vampire Spike becomes infused with power and light from a magic amulet and stands alone on the Hellmouth, knowing that his death is imminent but ready to "see how it ends" (Chosen 7022), we feel not abjection but admiration for the actions of this formerly evil monster. In the final episode of the series this now-noble creature, displaying a profound example of Jung's vision of "dreaming the myth onward." (Jung 160), has completed a journey from the once-abject/Other/monstrous to the "modern dress" of the hero, ready to sacrifice his eternal life for a bunch of humans.

[5] But how did he get to this point? How did a vicious vampire who, at his first appearance in Season 2 of the series, had already disposed of a couple of vampire Slayers and was itching for a Buffy-notch on his kill belt, transform into the averter of the apocalypse? A brief analysis of Spike's character trajectory through the seven seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer shows a radical transformation of his nature, and one that corresponds remarkably to the Jungian process of individuation.

[6] One of Carl Jung's most valuable contributions to the ongoing study of psychology was his work on the concept of the unconscious. Jung's work connected all psychological development to ancient mythologies, and he developed the idea that the human psyche contains two levels of unconsciousness - the personal and the collective. Jung thought that every person, in order to achieve his/her fullest potential, must plumb the depths of these levels and process whatever universal darknesses may be found there, after which he may return to the so-called "light of day" a truly enlightened individual.

[7] Fortunately Jung provided a road map for this journey, and even indicated the landmarks that may be encountered along the way. The collective unconscious by definition contains elements that are common to all people, and Jung indicates that these archetypal rudiments (personifications of which may be revealed in dreams, fantasies, television shows about vampires, etc.) must be encountered and conquered in a specific order for individuation to occur. Essentially, one's conscious and unconscious mind seems to be layered like a psychic onion, with the removal of each layer causing more tears until the centre is exposed. The 'Self' is the pure heart lurking under the complex layers of persona, ego, shadow, anima/animus, and it is to this enlightened state that the seeker of Jungian individuation aspires.

[8] The first stop on Jung's trail is the persona. This is the word he gives to the 'mask,' the face we present to the public as we go about the mundanities of our daily lives. It is not who we really are, but it provides us with a structure by which we may function acceptably within our society. As Jung himself writes, the persona is "a functional complex that comes into existence for reasons of adaptation [to the outside world]...the persona is nothing real: it is a compromise between an individual and society as to what a man should appear to be." (Jung, quoted in Smith, 68-69) The persona masks aspects of the psyche that appear somewhat less favourable, and creates a more socially acceptable version of them - similar to the way an artificial behaviour modification chip implanted in the brain of a vicious vampire might prevent him from harming innocent humans.

[9] In Season Four of Buffy, Spike encounters a covert army project known as The Initiative, whose purpose is to capture demonic creatures (of which there are seemingly no shortage in Sunnydale) and perform various torturous experiments on them in the name of science, national defense, etc. Spike is captured by the Initiative's army drones, renamed Hostile 17, and subjected to an operation that leaves him unable to physically harm any human without inflicting extreme pain upon himself in the process; if he does raise a hand (or fang) to an innocent, the chip implanted in his head "kicks in" and causes him instant and violent headaches. He is still able to fight and kill demons without activating the chip, however, and so he fulfills his innate desire for violence by assisting Buffy and her friends with their slaying duties, acting like a righteous human while still apparently remaining one of their targets at heart. Throughout most of the final three seasons of the show Spike endures life with this artificial conscience - this persona of the socially acceptable good guy/demon hunter - in place.

[10] It may be argued that using Spike's chip as the symbol of his persona violates Jung's theories because this behaviour reform was inflicted upon him without his conscious choice, but various insights into the character of this atypical vampire reveal that even before the Initiative performed its operation to "neuter" him, Spike retained elements of his pre-monstrous humanity. Immediately after his vampiric conversion he expresses a perverse compassion towards his sickly mother by turning her into a vampire as well in order to ease her physical suffering, and in the early seasons of the show he maintained a distinctly non-monstrous love affair with his sire, Drusilla, a match that "demonstrate[ed] a kind of selfless love...manifested in his steadfast willingness to put Drusilla's needs ahead of his own." (Sakal 245) In fact, even other demons recognize the supra-vampiric nature of Spike and his paramour; the villain The Judge in the Season Two episode 'Surprise' indicates that they "stink of humanity." (Surprise 2013) because of their shared affection and jealousy. Therefore, it seems apparent that the chip-as-persona, although it functions on one level as an artificially-inflicted disguise that covers his suitably evil vampire nature, also provides a convenient scapegoat for Spike's inherently humanistic leanings, still apparent after his transformation to officially-evil status. Chipped Spike is harmless to humans not only because his admittedly numerous violent tendencies are curbed by a tangible check, but also because that same restraint provides him with a mask behind which he can develop the humanity still lying dormant within him. As Gregory Sakal states:
although...Spike is "wired" for destructive, murderous behaviour, he is capable of strong emotional commitment that goes beyond the simple fulfillment of his immediate needs...he appears capable of making moral choices for a greater good that go beyond any immediate benefit to himself. - Sakal, 247
[11] Although Spike blames the chip-persona for any aspects of humanity that he may display, it is not "steel and wires and silicon." (Seeing Red 6019) that is causing him to feel real emotion. Even before the chip was inserted, Spike could be found drinking hot chocolate and chatting in the kitchen with Buffy's mother Joyce, seething with jealousy over perceived slights, and crying like a baby over his lost love Drusilla (Lover's Walk 3008) - all undeniably human emotions, proving that they still existed within him despite his soul-less vampire state. David Fury, a senior producer of the Buffy TV series, confirms this idea of Spike's inherent humanity on his DVD commentary track to the Season Seven episode 'Lies My Parents Told Me:' "Spike is an anomaly in the vampire world. He has some facet of his soul even if it was removed when he became a vampire. He has more humanity as a vampire than most vampires do." (Lies My Parents Told Me 7017)

[12] These examples provide evidence that Spike's chip allows him a safe platform upon which to practice his humanity, facets of which appear to be still in evidence following his conversion to monsterdom. So then, who exactly is this Spike character? Brutal killer, compassionate lover or both? Well...yes. On the horizon are the next two signposts on the Jungian path to enlightenment: the ego and the shadow - which, if you happen to be a vampire, are inextricably linked.

[13] Jung defines the ego as the seat of conscious functioning, and calls it the "organ of awareness." (Smith 67) - the 'I' that arranges all of our confused thoughts, feelings, fantasies, etc. into a rational structure that has coherence and logic. Separate from the persona (the face we present to the world), the ego is the person we really think we are: when the snakeskin of persona has been shed, the ego defines ourselves to ourselves. The shadow, on the other hand, is the part of ourselves just below the level of our consciousness; it is the part that we instinctively feel as our dark side, which we know is there but are too hesitant to look at clearly. In a sense, for most humans the ego and shadow are opposite sides of the same coin, with the ego side up. We know the shadow is on the "tails" side but we would rather keep that face down - and take our chances that it will stay that way.

[14] Not so for the mythological vampire among us. In the case of a human-turned-monster such as Spike, the concept of conscious "ego-identity" is two-fold, encapsulating both the pre- and post-monster state, ie. both the ego and shadow in equal awareness. It is as if this same figurative "psyche-coin" were balanced on its edge, with both sides visible and therefore equally exposed and problematic.

[15] Of course, in a television show about humans who become vampires the shadow symbology is probably obvious, but in addition to the admittedly existent vampire-as-dark-side-of-the-human metaphor, it is possible to turn Jung's theory of the shadow "on its ear" by focusing on the vampire as subject, which further begs the question of the vampire's ego-image of himself. Of course Spike, our vampire-du-jour, sees himself as a pretty cool monster: a ruthless, bloody killer who got his nickname by torturing his victims with railroad spikes. He is over one hundred years old, and in a century or more of vampiredom he has left a lot of carnage in his wake, including (as he is proud to relate) the bodies of two previous Slayers. In light of this history, his ego-image as overtly Abject/Other is firmly intact, but Jung would be pleased to know that this evil ideal is just the tip of Spike's psychic iceberg.

[16] In his initial appearances in the Buffy universe he is undeniably a tough customer, but evidence is provided throughout the series that Spike is not as ruthless a demon as he desires to appear. Various foiled schemes involving demon egg-trafficking (As You Were 6015) and unpaid poker debts (Tabula Rasa 6008) reveal that even as a monster Spike is a little unsuccessful - even hapless - and as we have already seen, he still retains some of his human-like characteristics. In point of fact, his actual pre-vampire past was certainly nothing to brag to the other demons about. Human Spike, despite the fact that he tells Buffy he has "always been bad," (Fool for Love 5007) was known as William the Bloody not because of heinous acts he committed but because he was a mama's boy who wrote bloody awful poetry and couldn't get a girlfriend. It would be a little embarrassing for a die-hard killer to admit that in his past incarnation he was practically scared of his own shadow, and accordingly vampire Spike attempts to downplay his "William side" as much as possible, in favour of being known as the much more impressive double Slayer-slayer.

[17] It would appear, then, that Spike's human and vampire sides (conversely, his ego/shadow and shadow/ego, depending on one's perspective) seem to co-exist in a tenuous balance. In the later seasons of the show, however, Spike flexes his emotional muscles more and more, protecting and defending the humans he has befriended and developing real affection and even love towards them - decidedly atypical behaviour for someone who fancies himself an embodiment of evil and a distinct threat to humanity. Although the personality of William the dandy and even effete English gentleman may be seen to function as the shadow side of this killer vampire, as Spike follows Jung's recipe for individuation by delving further into his own psyche more aspects of William may be seen to poke through the chip-influenced vampire persona, offering the opportunity for an integration and reconciliation of monster and man.

[18] Now that a few layers of Spike psyche have been probed and the dormant humanity within revealed, our anti-hero is ready to face the most difficult stage in the individuation process: the anima. To define this elusive aspect of the unconscious, Jung himself states:
In the unconscious of every man there is hidden a feminine personality...a man therefore has in him a feminine side, an unconscious feminine figure - a fact of which he is generally unaware. I...have called this figure the "anima," and its counterpart in a woman the "animus." - Jung, 284
Jung's recommendation for enlightenment was that seekers of individuation acknowledge this inner femininity or masculinity, examine it and ultimately embrace it, internalizing its qualities and incorporating them into a new complete whole. First the opposing elements must be directly experienced in the unconscious and then actively interpreted, with the subsequent understanding producing the perfect balance.

[19] Once again it may seem obvious where one would find examples of feminine/masculine archetypes in any discussion of a vampire named Spike on a television show titled Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and there are indeed ample indications to support the Jungian idea that Buffy functions as a symbol/personification of Spike's anima. Spike and Buffy begin their relationship as archenemies, but over the course of six seasons (from Spike's first appearance in Season Two to the last episode six years later) dramatic changes occur between them that not only make for interesting soap opera-style television, but also create very Jungian contra-sexual interactions.

[20] Jung indicates that the subject's first encounter with the anima/animus figure is often in a dream, for it is at these points of sleep, meditation, etc. that the psyche is most receptive to input from the subconscious (Jung 48) True to form, this device is employed in the Buffyverse to give Spike the first inkling of his anima. In the Season Five episode entitled 'Out of My Mind' (5004) Spike wakes up in a panic after a semi-erotic dream about Buffy - the first indication to anyone (both character and viewing audience) that he has positive feelings of any kind for her. Unbeknownst to his conscious mind at this point, he has encountered his anima, and this initial dream image "awakens" him to Buffy's importance in and to his life.

[21] What follows is also typical of the Jungian process. Curtis Smith writes in Jung's Quest for Wholeness that direct experience of the unconscious may occur by "releasing unconscious processes and letting them come into the conscious mind in the form of fantasies" (Smith 74), and accordingly we see subsequent to this dream appearance a decidedly human-seeming Spike acting out various fantasies involving images of Buffy: vampire/slayer role-playing games with his current girlfriend, mannequins dressed to resemble Buffy, even a custom-ordered "Buffybot" sex-toy that is programmed to worship him. Gradually, however, Spike graduates from interactions with these artificial representations of his anima to fumbling attempts at meaningful dialogue with the personification of his inner femininity. The desire for communication and connection with even an idealized image of the human Buffy moves Spike along to the 'active interpretation' phase of his anima encounter.

[22] Initially Buffy rebuffs Spike's advances, but despite her initial rejection he persists in trying to impress her, desperate to win her respect and affection because it is crucial to his own development. Buffy's position as a warrior and leader as well as her successful social network and emotional connection to her friends and family contribute to Spike's elevated image of her, and he looks to this model to provide him with everything that he as a frustrated loner vampire is lacking in his life. As Sakal comments, "Buffy has become...a feminine ideal to be worshipped but of whose affections he is not completely worthy...it is this love that moves him along the path to redemption." (Sakal 248) When Buffy returns via Willow-spell from the dead and claws herself out of the grave, Spike feels an even closer identification with her since he has committed this same act himself, and ironically it is this other-worldly connection that brings them literally together on the solid earth of Sunnydale.

[23] Spike's primal need to connect with his anima image prompts him to initiate an obsessive and masochistic sexual relationship with Buffy in Season Six of the series. Because his vampire nature is still very much in evidence and his individuation still in progress, he equates any physical connection with the violence and passion common to his monster side, and consequently assumes that the best way to address his anima is to aggressively confront it. Still a product of darkness, Spike desires initially to drag Buffy down to his depths - by insinuating that she "belongs in the shadows" with him (Dead Things 6013) - instead of allowing Buffy's archetypal goodness to bring him to the proverbial light. This again provides proof that Spike is subscribing to a perversely idealized anima-image of Buffy as one who 'belongs' to his darkness, rather than allowing the actual human Buffy to positively influence his life. At this point he is an example of Jung's 'sick king,' whose "queen, or anima figure (i.e. Buffy), later becomes the source of [his] renewal." (Smith, 112), but only when he accepts that she is no longer his adversary.

[24] It is not until his attempted rape of Buffy in the Season Six episode 'Seeing Red' (6019) that Spike realizes this forceful approach to anima-integration will not help him achieve his individuation. This moment is the nadir of Spike's so-called human side: although soul-less, his human leanings have always prompted him to subscribe to the somewhat flimsy moral code of 'not hurting Buffy' [Resnick, 62), and it is not until he does inflict unwanted physical pain and psychic trauma upon her that he truly realizes what a monster he can be. This episode also allows Spike to see Buffy as more than an idealized anima-object and/or an adversary: although she may possess qualities that he admires and desires to complete himself, in this instance she is also just a frightened young woman who he has the power to hurt deeply. She has been knocked 'off the pedestal' upon which Spike had placed her, and paradoxically her vulnerability is what allows Spike to address his own shortcomings, and reveals the way he may 'come to terms' with his anima. This example of brutal human behaviour and Buffy's human response forces Spike to realize that the only way to successfully deal with his anima is not with violence against it (ie. as a vampire would), but through introspection, self-analysis and subsequent trial. He is now ready to confront the shadow side of his William-self, and his shock at the evil he finds there prompts him to take the extreme steps necessary to remove all traces of it from his psyche.

[25] This kind of conflict between the ego and anima is common in the Jungian process. Smith writes that the relationship between the two causes "a variety of psychological and relationship problems." (Smith 74), and Marie-Louise von Franz, in her book Shadow and Evil in Fairy Tales, reinforces this idea by stating that "getting entangled with the anima/animus figure is general in men and women - getting into a regular tangle and not being able to snap out of it." (von Franz 238)

[26] At this point Spike is in a regular tangle, alright. The extent of his confusion is evident in the dichotomous and yet rhetorical questions he asks himself after his retreat from the rape scene. Back to his home crypt he stumbles in mental and moral anguish, alternately asking himself "what have I done?" (indicating his human horror at the pain he has caused Buffy) and "why didn't I do it?" (signifying a monster's consternation at its own restraint). Interaction with his anima has prevented Spike from finding satisfaction in his previous monster state, but he still does not possess enough elements of humanity to live completely as a man. At this point, von Franz would recommend that a radical change occur:
One has to switch the situation somehow...one can sometimes break the catastrophe by making a switch in the outer situation, making the person suddenly change...then you can prevent a destructive emotion. - von Franz, 239
Spike acknowledges this need for extreme transformation, underlining his friend Clem's sympathetic statement "Things change" with an emphatic "They do...if you make them." (Seeing Red 6019), and immediately following this exchange Spike packs a bag and heads out on the journey (both physical and spiritual) that will ultimately reward him with the missing piece in his psychic puzzle: his soul.

[27] The awareness of The Self is the ultimate goal of individuation. Although there are many other archetypes present in the Jungian process, it is the self that lies at the heart of the subconscious, and it is defined by Jungian scholars as "the archetype of unity and wholeness of the entire psychic system...[the Self] serves to unify the entire personality - both conscious and unconscious - into a coherent whole." (Smith 68) The Self, then, is the aspect of the personality that regulates and balances all other elements, and it is not possible to attain this level until all other facets (persona, ego, shadow, anima/animus) have been addressed and processed.

[28] When Spike leaves Sunnydale for the heart of Africa - significantly, a journey to the East, a direction highly symbolic in the Jungian theory (Frobenius quoted in Segal, 150) - he is on the cusp of attaining his Self. First he must endure trials and tortures at the hand of the demon that has the power to restore his soul, offering Spike one last good look at his monstrosity before leaving it behind, but it is his love for Buffy and his awareness of her importance in his life that spur him onwards. Having proven himself worthy of enduring the worst the demon world has to offer, he is rewarded with a soul - a symbol of the Jungian Self-archetype.

[29] Spike's ordeal has not left him without scars, however. Jung writes of the Self as being the union and balance of pairs of opposites (Jung quoted in Smith 111), and indicates that it is often traumatic for the ego to give up its position as the ruler of the domain of consciousness. The ego does not like to share, essentially, and as Smith writes,
previous to...the activation of the unconscious, the ego assumed itself to be the sole ruler of the psyche, whereas now it realizes this is not the case...this is a period of utter chaos, conflict and darkness (Smith 112)
[30] What this means to Spike's conversion is that he is not quite 'out of the woods' yet. Although he has glimpsed his potential as a complete and whole being, the trauma of his 're-ensoulment' has left him weakened and still vulnerable to whatever demon-shadow (and/or ego assertion) is still left within. Spike's "demon nature and his human nature are so incompatibly extreme that trying to incorporate them into one persona makes him mentally unstable at first." (Resnick 62), and against his wishes (and indeed even his awareness) he is used as a murderous pawn by the Season Seven's "Big Bad" figure, the disembodied First Evil.

[31] Part of Spike's psychic trauma at this point involves still unresolved issues with other females in his life. Jung's studies included the concept of the Dual Mother, which accounted for the origin and development of the hero and stated that he quite often has two mothers:
The dual-mother motif suggests the idea of a dual birth. One of the mothers is the real, human mother, the other is the symbolical mother; in other words, she is distinguished as being divine, supernatural, or in some way extra- ordinary...He who stems from two mothers is the hero: the first birth makes him a mortal man, the second an immortal half-god (Jung quoted in Segal 155-156)
Spike's human and vampiric origins definitely conform to this dual-mother motif, and thereby strengthen the hypothesis of him as Jungian hero. Due to her occasional clairvoyance and slightly crazed demeanour Drusilla, Spike's otherworldly sire, may be considered 'extra-ordinary' in more ways than one, but her status as vampire allows her to fulfil the role of symbolical, supernatural mother: by effectively ending his human life, she turns Spike into the "immortal half-god" that the hero definition requires. Spike doted on his original human mother, and in turn she nurtured him and encouraged his pathetic poetics - at least while she was still human. After her conversion to vampire-dom, however, she does not share her son's inherent humanistic leanings. Spike displays the first inkling of his still-evident humanity by turning his mother into a vampire in an attempt to end her sickly human existence and bring her some measure of comfort, but in more typical callous vampire fashion she responds by belittling him, his poetry and his excessive love for her. Then in a perverse twist of this familial love, she attempts to seduce her son, horrifying Spike to such an extent that he is driven to kill her moments after granting her eternal life.

[32] This turn of events adversely affects Spike for years, and it is because of this weakness that he is able to be programmed by the Pavlovian trigger that makes him susceptible to the whims of the First Evil. Spike's showdown with Principal Robin Wood (who has his own maternal issues to work out) brings everything that Spike has repressed about his mother to the fore, and allows him to resolve this remaining psychic demon standing in the way of his wholeness. In his own words:
I'll tell you a story about a mother and son. See, like you, I loved my mother. So much so I turned her into a vampire... so we could be together forever. She Said some nasty bits to me after I did that. Been weighing on me for quite some time. But you helped me figure something out. You see, unlike you, I had a mother who loved me back (Lies My Parents Told Me 7017)
[33] When Spike realizes that his actual human mother did actually humanly love him, he is able to incorporate that love into his ever-burgeoning self-image, and this insight combined with Buffy's belief in his potential for wholeness (read, the anima balancing out the other opposing forces) places him close to the end of the road to redemption. As a tangent to the matter of Spike's mother, it is revealed in the DVD commentary to the episode "Lies My Parents Told Me" that Caroline Lagerfelt, the actress who played Spike's mother, was actually chosen due to her potential resemblance to a middle-aged Buffy, and that her stage name Anne is also Buffy's middle name (Lies My Parents Told Me 7017) - underlining the interconnectedness and symbolic importance of these two female figures (Slayer/Mother) in Spike's life and development.

[34] Now that Spike has addressed, confronted and reconciled the outstanding female factors in his life, he is approaching true individuation. A moving montage from the episode 'Touched' (7020) drives home this new unity between Slayer and vampire, and indicates clearly the new 'man' that Spike has become. Amidst footage of various lovemaking couples, Buffy and Spike merely lie gazing into each others' eyes. Quite removed from their earlier obsessive sexuality, neither partner at this point feels the need to clutch desperately for the other. They are aware of mutual support, respect and love, in a position of equilibrium that "achieves a tender eroticism, devoid of any violence." (Pearl 46) Because of this support from his feminine counterpart, Spike is able to reinforce his newly applied Self and prove he is able to exist autonomously as a balanced and complete individual and not a monster.

[35] Another symbol of Spike's newly-integrated feminine side presents itself through his wardrobe. A significant element in Spike's visual image throughout his tenure on Buffy is his long black leather coat. In flashback sequences, the viewer discovers that it was first stolen from the dead body of Robin Wood's mother, a former Slayer, and wearing it seems to imbue Spike with some measure of self-confidence and invincibility. In Season Seven, when he returns from his African 'soul-seeking' sojourn, we do not see the coat and no mention is made of it until Episode Fifteen of the last season, when Buffy's implication that his fighting skills are slipping makes him decide that it is in fact the "something he needs" to make his warrior wardrobe complete (Get it Done 7015) By donning the Slayer's coat, he assimilates and embraces the feminine power it symbolizes, thereby cementing the importance of the anima in this new version of his psyche.

[36] Once Spike has received his soul, suffered the consequences of this true 'self-awareness,' and has truly integrated the anima archetype into his psyche - and accordingly is on the threshold of true individuation - it is significant that his internal behaviour modification chip (what we have established as his persona) begins to malfunction and is eventually removed. Because he has now achieved a soul/Self and does therefore not need to rely on a constructed image to justify his behaviour, he no longer needs the chip to function as his persona. Smith acknowledges this breakdown of the persona as part of the Jungian individuation process: "And finally, when the tension and struggle can no longer be maintained, the persona succumbs to the pressure of the unconscious and collapses completely." (Smith 72) Spike, with the help of his anima-image Buffy, is now able to balance both the monster and the man within on his own terms, without any artificial assistance.

[37] So what is left for the truly individuated vampire/man to do, after all these trials and tribulations? Why, save the world of course, and luckily for Spike it needs to be saved and the only one who can do it is a vampire with a soul. How convenient - not only as a fitting end to his character's development, but also as the culmination of this particular journey towards completeness. Jung believed that the hero archetype was yet another expression of the collective unconscious that was ordered and adapted through mythology (Segal 16), and this particular example of popular mythology affords much opportunity for heroic expression. Now that Spike has a soul, he may receive and use a magic amulet that is reserved only for those of his unique hybrid breed, and the resulting combination of soul plus amulet allows for a powerful ray of sunlight to channel through Spike's body, striking and destroying an advancing horde of uber-vampires - thus averting the apocalypse for the last time, at least in Sunnydale. Spike's life is sacrificed in the process and he is martyred by the very flames that defeat his enemies, but as his individuation is now complete he is not afraid to die and stands ready to meet his fate, even striking a Christ-pose as he faces imminent immolation.

[38] That Joss Whedon was able to create and maintain a long-term fictional world where humans and demons interact was and is significant, but the fact that his "evil" characters develop, change and grow in extents equal to their human counterparts is remarkable. Nothing is simply black or white in the "Whedonverse," and it is perhaps this fact more than any other that has inspired so much scholarly interest in his works. A brief analysis of even one character reveals the richness and depth of the mythical material present, and even from a Jungian perspective alone there is much more that may be said about Spike the vampire-turned-hero. However, even an overview may provide an insight into the current state and nature of mythology in our culture, and show how even traditional concepts of good and evil, hero and villain, light and shadow may be reinterpreted in our fragmented postmodern age.

Works Cited

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 7. Dir. Joss Whedon. Perf. Sarah Michelle Gellar, Alyson Hannigan, Nicholas Brendon, James Marsters. 2002. DVD. 20th Century Fox, 2003.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 5. Dir. Joss Whedon. Perf. Sarah Michelle Gellar, Alyson Hannigan, Nicholas Brendon, James Marsters. 2000. DVD. 20th Century Fox, 2003.

DeKnight, Steven S. "Dead Things." Transcript for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 13. 2001. Accessed April 7, 2005. http://www.buffy-vs-angel.com/buffy_tran_113.shtml

DeKnight, Steven S. "Seeing Red." Transcript for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 19. 2002. Accessed April 7, 2005. http://www.buffy-vs-angel.com/buffy_tran_119.shtml

Fury, David and Drew Goddard. "Lies My Parents Told Me." Transcript for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 7, Episode 17. 2003. Accessed July 1, 2005. http://www.buffy-vs-angel.com/buffy_tran_139.shtml

"Jung, Carl Gustav (1875-1961) and Psychoanalysis." Voidspace. Accessed April 7, 2005. http://www.voidspace.org.uk/psychology/jung_intro2.shtml

Jung, Carl G. The Collected Works of C. G. Jung. Volume 9, Part 1. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1959.

McManus, Barbara F. "Anima/Animus: The Archetype of Contrasexuality." The Feminine Archetype in Myth and Art. 1999. Accessed April 7, 2005. http://www.cnr.edu/home/bmcmanus/anima.html

Noxon, Marti. "Surprise." Transcript for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 2, Episode 13. 1998. Accessed April 7, 2005. http://www.buffy-vs-angel.com/buffy_tran_25.shtml

Pearl, Michael S. "'All That We Become:' Renegotiating Vampire Performative Masculinity in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel." Diss. U of Florida, 2004.

Pettifor, Eric. "Process of Individuation." Carl Gustav Jung: Individuation. 1995. Accessed April 7, 2005. http://www.wynja.com/personality/jungarchf.html

Resnick, Laura. "The Good, the Bad, and the Ambivalent." Glenn Yeffeth, ed. Seven Seasons of Buffy: Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Discuss their Favorite Television Show. Dallas, TX: Benbella Books, 2003.

Segal, Robert A., ed. Jung on Mythology. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1998.

Smith, Curtis D. Jung's Quest for Wholeness: A Religious and Historical Perspective. New York: State University of New York Press, 1990.

Sakal, Gregory J. "No Big Win: Themes of Sacrifice, Salvation and Redemption." James B. South, ed. Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Philosophy: Fear and Trembling in Sunnydale. La Salle, Ill: Open Court Publishing, 2003.

von Franz, Marie-Louise. Shadow and Evil in Fairy Tales. 2nd ed. Boston: Shambala Publications, Inc. 1995.

Whedon, Joss. "Original Concept for Buffy." The Buffy Trivia Guide. 2004. Accessed April 7th, 2005. http://www.restlessbtvs.com/trivia/original-concept-for-buffy/

© Donna Lowe 2006
(PrePub)ISSN 1555-7863

Editor: David Kociemba

Site maintained by: Kristen Romanelli
Published with the support of The Whedon Studies Association and Slayage
All material contained within this site is copyrighted by the identified author.
If no author is identified in relation to content, that content is © Watcher Junior, 2014.

Watcher Junior is a subsidiary of Slayage Online.

We believe images, including images altered by an artist to create a derivative artwork, and song lyrics may appear in Watcher Junior under fair use under U.S. copyright law. Such images, quotations, music and lyrics are fair use because:

  1. They are lower in resolution and quality than the original.
  2. They do not limit the copyright owners' distribution rights.
  3. They are being used in the context of academic analysis in a manner that contributes meaningfully to our culture.
  4. They represent only a tiny fraction of the whole artwork.
  5. They are hosted by our servers, and The Whedon Studies Association is a nonprofit organization.
Site designed using PHP, HTML, FLASH 8 and CSS.