of the most controversial questions raised by the character of Angel is
precisely what is the relationship between his human soul and the demon within
him after the former was restored to his vampiric body in Borsa in 1898.
This is my analysis of the question.
Creation of a Vampire
think that in order to understand the relationship between soul and demon within
Angel you have to start with the question of what exactly happens when a human
is turned into a vampire. The
obvious place to begin is with Angel’s description of the process in
you become a vampire the demon takes your body, but it
first question therefore is what we mean by “soul”?
One theory holds that “soul” in this sense simply means conscience or
a sense of remorse. If that view is
correct then there is only ever one person involved with a vampire.
Angel and Angelus are essentially the same person; it is simply one has a
moral sense and the other doesn’t. That
then would be the end of this as an issue. Textually Angel’s statement is
capable of bearing that interpretation.
However the other evidence seems to be pretty conclusively against this
view. First of all it would equate
the “demon” in a vampire with an ordinary human consciousness, only without
its moral sense. This is flatly
contradicted by what Giles said, also in “Angel” -
vampire isn't a person at all. It
may have the movements, the, the memories, even the personality of the person
that it took over, but i-it's still a demon at the core, there is no halfway.”
statement is in turn supported by the comment he also made to Xander about his
friend Jesse in “the Harvest” -
is dead! You have to remember that when you see him,
again remember what Buffy said to Ford the vampire wannabe in “Lie to Me”
I've got a news flash for you, brainstrust: that's not how it works. You die,
and a demon sets up shop in your old house, and it walks, and it talks, and it
remembers your life, but it's not you”.
perhaps the best textual evidence on this point comes from Becoming I and II when we see the two occasions on which Angel's soul is
restored. On both occasions there
was clearly no immediate memory in Angel of the time during which his soul was
absent from the body. Indeed there
was clear disorientation. Neither
of these are what you would expect if all that had happened was the burdening of
the demon in the body of Angel with a sense of right and wrong.
Both are precisely what you would expect when a consciousness which was
absent from the body returns to it.
I will just mention one other factor. The
differences between Angel's behavior as an ensouled vampire and that as a
soulless one are too marked to be accounted for by the simple imposition of a
conscience. That would not give him
a hatred for and desire to kill other vampires.
It would not give him a desire positively to help humans.
Above all it would not turn a monster whose principal enjoyment was in
torturing and destroying women and who regarded true love as a violation of
himself into someone who entertained a very human emotion of love for Buffy.
of this is pretty consistent with the general Judeo-Christian (and indeed older)
view of a human soul not simply as a moral sense but as a consciousness having
an existence that is entirely separate from the body and representing the true
person. We may therefore also
assume that the demon plays the same role in the vampiric body that the soul
plays in the human one. It is the
consciousness, with the power to rule and guide the body.
The fact that it is capable of acting on the basis of rational choice
rather than mere animal instinct is shown by, for example, Spike's alliance of
convenience with Buffy in "Becoming 2".
therefore, we accept that the demon inside Angel, immediately before his soul
was restored in 1898, and the human soul that was restored were each different
conscious entities, then how did they relate to one another after restoration?
though a little detour which I think is important.
It seems clear that, after the restoration of his human soul, there has
been some merging or sharing of personality traits as between Angel and Angelus.
In the course of BUFFY we saw Angel's occasional habit of following Buffy
unseen by her. His motives in doing
so were of the best and it would be very unfair to refer to him as
"stalking" her but undoubtedly this does seem to me to be a reflection
of an aspect of Angelus' habits and, therefore, of his personality; feeling more
comfortable when he is control of a situation.
Then you have the cold-blooded assassination of Russell in "City
of...", complete with the smirk to show how much Angel enjoyed the sense of
power it gave him. And most starkly
of all the admission in "Somnambulist" that he enjoyed the feeling the
killing dreams gave him. And it may
even go beyond this. We know Angel
is solitary and reflective (okay if you insist brooding), enjoying spending his
time alone rather than in the company of other people.
The beginning and end of "Lonely Hearts" and the beginning of
"Bachelor Party" make this look more like a personal preference than
merely a conscious choice to avoid temptation.
There is an interesting reflection of this habit in the following
exchange between Spike and the faux Angelus in "School Hard":
I haven't seen you in the killing fields for an age.
I'm not much for company.
No, you never were.”
is evidently a very different attitude to the one Liam had.
He seemed…gregarious, to a fault (literally).
is actually one very important piece of textual support for this in
"Innocence" where Uncle Enyos says:
curse. Angel is meant to suffer, not to live as human. One moment of true
happiness, of contentment, one moment where the soul that we restored no longer
plagues his thoughts, and that soul is taken from him.”
implies that the feelings of guilt entertained by the human soul are fully
shared by the demon.
of these seem to indicate that, to an extent at least, the ensouled Angel
continually feels the pull of the personality established by the vampire before
its soul was returned to it. Indeed
it may be that he feels entirely comfortable with some of the aspects of the
vampire personality (like the solitariness) for reasons entirely of his own. Neverthless, I think that you have to distinguish between
concepts such as “soul” or “demon” on the one hand and personality on
the other. This follows first of
all from what Giles himself said about a demon inheriting the personality of the
person it killed. That in itself
implies that personality is distinct from either soul or demon but may perhaps
be seen as an expression of the relationship between the soul/demon and the
body, particularly with regard to the latter's physical appetites either as a
human or a demon.
aside from this there is an obvious distinction between an individual's
consciousness and his personality. My
ever reliable encyclopedia has a number if of interesting things to say about
is the characteristic way in which a particular individual thinks, feels, and
behaves. It embraces a person's moods, attitudes, and opinions and is most
clearly expressed in interactions with other people. Personality is those
behavioral characteristics, both inherent and acquired, that distinguishes each
individual and is observable in the individual's relations to the society around
him or her. Personality manifests itself in traits such as sociability,
impulsiveness, meticulousness, truthfulness, and deceit.
Such traits are assumed to be more or less stable over time and across
situations. Traits refer not to single instances of a behavior, such as lying,
but to persistent although not unvarying behavior that, according to some,
implies a disposition to respond in a particular, identifiable way.”
person may, therefore, want chocolate, love
someone or feel guilty about something. These
are expressed in thought that the consciousness experiences, sometimes very
powerfully but are not something over which it has control.
These thoughts, it seems to me, are different to that part of the human
being which represents his self awareness and his will.
That part of the individual also involves an ability to make those
choices - the will, if you like. And
for an individual with a soul this must also involve an awareness of what we
might loosely call the moral dimension; the very notion of the difference
between right and wrong. So, while
we may be disposed by our personality to certain types of behavior in the final
analysis it is the conscious will which governs our actions.
That is, after all, the whole point about responsibility.
Unless we accept that humans are, at the core, rational beings with the
ultimate power to choose whether or not to indulge our appetites and instincts
then any wrong we commit must be attributed to factors outside our control.
They would simply be down to the way we were made.
We could not be punished for them because punishment in such
circumstances would be an arbitrary and, therefore, unjust act.
Equally deterrence would be meaningless.
Relationship between Consciousness and Personality
all of this I conclude, therefore, that this consciousness whether of demon or
human soul is not the same as the personality traits exhibited by either.
It follows that I see no contradiction between the idea that Angel has a
consciousness entirely separate from that of the demon and the idea that the
personality which informs the judgments of the consciousness is affected by the
personality of the demon, in
particular all his destructive impulses.
would go further. I see no
objection in principle to Angel’s human consciousness being aware of the
demon's conscious thoughts - the expressions if you like of its individual
self-awareness and will. But it
seems to me that there has to be some fundamental expression of Angel's
self-awareness and will that remains unique and distinct.
It can share in aspects of the demon but must at the most basic level
remain different. It is not so much
that demon and soul remain separable but that they have a particular quality
that means that they can never be truly one.
It is that part of Angel/Liam which is his true self rather than merely
an appetite or similar aspect.
for all the reasons that I have already given, even if we accept that there has
been some sort of merging or sharing of “personality
traits” between Angel and Angelus I would not equate this with the merging of
the human soul and the demon. Given that the essence of the soul (and of the demon for that
matter) is its individual consciousness, and especially its self-awareness, to
me such a merger would necessarily involve the creation of an entirely new type
of consciousness that was neither demon nor soul. Having mixed the two of them together you get something else.
You can no longer point to the individual components. Part of the difficulty with this proposition is that it
is far from obvious to me how, once “mixed together” like this human soul
and demon can be disentangled so as to allow for the loss of the human soul.
the philosophical and theological implications of this suggestion are profound.
In essence the person carrying out the curse would be responsible for the
creation of an entirely new consciousness and in the process so changing the
existing soul that it was no longer recognizable or identifiable as what it was. The words “playing God” come irresistibly to mind when
considering this possibility. I
have considerable difficulty in accepting the Gypsies or anyone else has such a
power, going as it does beyond matters of mere life and death.
is far simpler and more believable to identify what happened to Angel in Borsa
1898 with other examples in the Buffyverse of two conscious entities co-existing
in a human body IGYUMS is one such case with the Ethros demon possessing Ryan.
Perhaps even more pointedly in IOHEFY the two departed souls of Grace and
James return and possess Angel and
Buffy respectively. Clearly these
souls were in control of the bodies but there is no suggestion that there was
any “merging” between them and the soul or demon who inhabited those bodies.
Indeed from the point of view of the story that would have made no sense
own personal preference, therefore, is to adopt something similar as the default
position in the absence of compelling textual evidence to the contrary. The such
one piece of evidence that you can point to us is the fact that Angel refers to
the actions of the demon in the first person.
I do no, however, think this is inconsistent with my view.
Angel would not view the demon’s murders as some sort of video show.
He would have personal memories of them.
Worst of all he would remember the pleasure of the kills gave the demon
as his own pleasure. He could
hardly help identifying with the demon’s actions.
the text, particularly that relating to the curse, seems to be in favour of the
view I have expressed.
seems to me that concept and mechanism of "restoration"
here described are really only compatible with the view that Angel's soul is
being returned to his body intact and in its original state. “Restoration”
means putting something back to the place from which it was removed.
You cannot restore a conscience to a demon that never had it in the first
place. And if the process you are
talking about is intended to in some way “mix” human soul and demon together
you are not restoring a soul at all. You
are not returning what is lost. You
are creating something new.
consider what happened when the soul was taken away.
Uncle Enyos described it in the following terms in “Innocence”:
The curse. Angel is meant to suffer, not to live as human. One moment of true
happiness, of contentment, one moment where the soul that we restored no longer
plagues his thoughts, and that soul is taken from him.”
are two interesting things about this. First
of all the reference to the soul the gypsies restored plaguing Angelus’
itself strongly suggests that demon and soul retain separate identities.
And this is reinforced by the statement that the soul will “be taken
from him” again suggesting that it remains something separate that can be
removed from the body.
I would just like to mention one or two other corroborative details (to add
verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative).
The episode "Dark
Ages" seems to proceed on the basis that, after the original restoration,
the active demon still remained inside him. As Angel himself put it:
“I've had a demon inside me for a
is treating the demon as separate from his own individual consciousness.
the other side of the coin, in "Innocence" when the demon taunts Buffy
in the school corridor, he says "your boyfriend's dead". This is again treating the human soul as an entirely
different sentient being from the demon, only this time from the demon's point
and rewritten on Sunday September 17th 2000