I was posting on another discussion about what souls are since it was mentioned the difference between Angel and Spike and how the souls were placed in them. My question is really what is a soul? I always thought that a soul was a motivational tool that caused a person to try to be better in hopes to have a better afterlife. Buffy and Angel shows, seemed to think it was more of a conscience. I have been struggling since I started watching that show with what they seemed to really believe a soul was. They repeated over and over again despite Spike's behavior that he had no ability to love and be good because he had no soul. Isn't a soul something that carries on after you die and brings you to either heaven or hell? If that's the case, how does having a soul or not having a soul determine really how good you are? Spike was good because he fell in love with someone who was good. His actions were determined by whether or not Buffy would approve and it would make her life better. This is his motivation and I think that even with a soul, he didn't seek heaven or hell but instead sought to make Buffy's life better. This is also why I don't like to think of Angel Season 5 as being canon for Spike because he wasn't being himself. He was instead guilt driven into being someone who went against what I thought was his reason for his actions.

Angel on the other hand was all about redemption. He seemed to work towards heaven or some better afterlife which in his eyes was to be human again. If the soul really makes you be good, how was it possible that rapists and murderers exist and even if you forget that for a moment, how was it possible for Angel to feel no remorse when he closed the door on the lawyers or when he turned away leaving someone to deal with their own fate.

I guess I just don't understand really how the show was using the word soul and who we as the audience was supposed to view Spike. I personally loved Spike with or without a soul because I loved what he stood for: The good guy that always finished last. He spent his whole time that we viewed him and even in the flashbacks motivated by the desire to be loved and to care for those he loved. He fought for those he loved, doing whatever was in his power to make sure they were happy and healthy. It started with bringing Dru to Sunnydale to preform the ritual, and continued through helping the Scoobies and saving their lives, helping GIles when he was a demon and had no where else to turn, and saving Buffy time and time again as well as Dawn just because he cared. I saw his actions as selfless and remarkable. After the soul, Spike was haunted and tormented. Part of that I'm sure was the First but another part of that just served to tell him he wasn't good enough for anything even life. If a soul is meant to tell you right and wrong, why would it make you feel so guilty for your past and make you want to dust yourself? Wouldn't it somehow make you feel good about the good you were doing and make you feel bad when you messed up rather than just make you dwell in the past and feel defeated?

Angel I struggled with because his actions seemed more self motivated. He longed for shanshu and wanted to be human and everything he did was about that. It started with protecting Buffy to earn humanity, to running an evil law firm again to earn humanity. He was willing to risk his friends and what I would continue family with the hopes of getting his humanity. I loved Angel but for a different reason, I loved in the show Angel, what others brought out in him. Cordy brought out a child like innocence and determination in him. She also brought out strength. I fell in love with them together the moment he had rescued her leaping down holding her in his arms and I fell even more in love and was determined to watch the show to the end when he had hurt Cordy and he bought her that new outfit and she bounced up and down immediately forgiving him and he was so excited he bounced along with her. At that moment, I fell in love with the Angel show and Angel all over again. But if the soul was really what was supposed to be motivating Angel, they messed up because I think the constant hand of others guiding him to help the helpless, to save the day, to protect others, and reminding him of what his purpose was, was what made Angel good not some soul that was shoved up into him. His soul didn't seem to tell him what was right and wrong, only served to give him guilt and grieve which he eventually was able to ignore.

So I guess my question if anyone reads this is, what do you think a soul is?

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Comment by Trina the Vampire Slayer on May 23, 2009 at 11:12pm
I'll make it short, my belief is that your soul and spirit are the same thing. They give you a conscience. And that's what Joss Whedon's whole thing was about, being a Demon "no soul no conscience." So you didn't care or feel remorse about being evil. But remember one thing this is a TV show and the writers use there creative license in regards to what having a soul means and how it affects situations. If you want real information about what your soul is, I suggest you read the bible whether you believe in God or not. The stories in there a better than most soap opera's! Betrayal, incest, murder you name it.
Comment by cil domney on May 15, 2009 at 5:39pm
It was not so much that the having of a soul was the vital point - it was the crazy, hypocritical, dogmatic, narrow minded, self-serving, and ultimately unjust application, definition and understanding that Giles, Buffy and their inner circle of friends ascribed to "A Soul." Their insistence that this having of a "soul" was the line of demarcation between "having the intellectual and spiritual capacity for" being able to understand and even exist within the accepted "human social structures." Obviously having a soul does not a Good Human Make - thus this entire storyline theories of the possession of a soul as the vital force or foundation for the capacity for Good is utterly bogus.

What was one of the greatest flaws of the series is how completely the characters were invested and defined by the "must have soul" dogma, especially their prime hero/heroine role model of Buffy in combination with their great vamp character of Spike. Buffy's dogma and cruel treatment of Spike, especially post chip, could never be reconciled with the actions of the characters. Buffy could be just a horrible and cruel and vindictive as any human or demon and Spike could be just as devoted and motivated and filled with love as any human. The Having A Soul Made No Difference between the prime two characters, just as it does not make any difference in Real Life.

What does make some logical connection from my perspective is that this theme of A Buffyverse Soul relates more to the metaphor of the potential for all humans to find their inner strengths and their individual "God within" - to find and live out our lives as best we can working to make this a better place and life experience for ourselves and for our world. This to me is the grand metaphor and role that Spike ultimately plays in the series.

In the end, it was Spike and not only Buffy, the original Hero Model, that fulfills the essential metaphor, IMO, of finding the hero within and trying to live and fight to make himself a better man. This journey of discovery is what having a soul in The Buffyverse finally means - it is not a religious concept soul, but a spiritual and intellectual concept for our own personal development and life that it describes.

Spike goes from being a primal form of uncontrolled and violent existence, his demon self, into an integrated and controlled being that has free will to make a choice to be a positive force or a destructive force. Both forces are there and part of all humans, the demon dark self and the control force - having a soul is the Free Will and Choice to not let the demon darkness rule of lives.

I don't think of soul in a Judeo/Christian sense but more as the universal force - the matter and forces of the universe are not defined by human social and culture traditions or by the concepts of Good and Evil - God is the construct of humans, not of the universe.
Comment by Joy D on May 4, 2009 at 1:23am
To me, the soul is the essence of a person. We are all souls first, and people, second. A soul is what makes anyone or anything alive. It is what gives us our personalities and uniqueness. Once the soul departs, the body is dead. It is just elements. Every living thing in the universe has a soul. Yes, that means plants as well as animals. Every species has a different type of soul, but we all have souls.

From my point of view, in the Buffy universe, every demon has a soul just as every person has one. A vampire demon IS a soul. Therefore, the humans’ belief that demons didn’t have souls was 1) ignorant and wrong, and 2) bigoted against demon souls. The humans are hypocritical throughout that whole storyline, in my opinion. The whole “soul = good, no soul = evil” premise is flawed.

I also believe that when humans are turned in the Buffy verse, a demon that is “like” or a “soul mate” to the human will take over the body. (see my WIP, “The Better to Bite You With” in Live Journal.) Yes, the demon is a predator, a blood drinker, and is “evil”. But basic personality traits are had in common. Witness William the Bloody being a romantic before and afterwards; Harmony being a ditz before and after; and Liam being a jerk before and after turning. I’m not convinced that Angel was cursed with Liam’s soul – because he was so different as Angel than as Angelus. Unless Liam felt great remorse and changed a lot over the years, I doubt he was the same soul.

I don’t believe that it was the having or not having of a soul that motivated Spike and Angel, but their basic personality traits, what was important to them; namely, what kind of soul they had – whether it was a vampire or a human one.

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