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  • Who is Angel?

    I know, it is a well known topic in the buffyverse. But I still don't know the right answer, and I was curious what the BF people think about this.

    So the question; Who is Angel?

    Is he Liam who came back in the body after the curse?
    Is he Angelus with human emotions?
    Is Angelus Liam without the human emotions and did the emotions came back after the curse?


    I really don't know what I believe, I'm right know more for the last theory.
    Why do I think that?:

    -Angelus hated his father, just like Liam.
    -Angelus did see the world, something Liam always wanted.
    -Angelus used the same power as his father used against Liam.
    -Angel does have some of the urges Angelus and Liam had.

    Why am I not sure?:

    -The big difference in IQ and power between Angel and Angelus.
    -The Fight in Orpheus, they were seperate people.
    -Angelus lack of humanity, where Angel is maybe the most human person in the verse.


  • #2
    He's not Liam, at least not Liam entire -- Liam is dead.

    "Angel" is a name adopted by a legendary vampire named Angelus, who had a soul put in him that made him capable of feeling guilt and remorse for his crimes. The name was part of an effort to cope with that pain, by distancing himself from it, by making the "then" and "now" distinct as different "people".

    I'm a vehement opponent of an interpretation of Angel and Angelus as two completely metaphysically distinct things, because, if they are, the curse itself makes nooooo sense -- since if it's not Angelus experiencing the guilt, there is no vengeance!

    In "Lie to Me", Buffy reminds us about the essential nature of the vampire: "... 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."

    So, the straightforward answer to why Angel/Angelus shares Liam's pathos is that they were a gift with purchase on taking over his body.

    I've never let the thing in "Orpheus" bug me -- it's a dream state, and dreams are the place of visual metaphor. Angel/Angelus was depicted as separate people as a visible representation of the internal conflict that really we all have, between our unrestrained impulses and our moral sense.
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    • #3
      Ok good question, I've often wondered this myself and to be honest I'm not really sure as most of it hinges on the nature of the soul. Under 'theory 1' the soul is essentially the person. Of course the beings in the verse metaphysically speaking take on dualist slant. If the soul essentially is the 'meness' distinct the body then that is what goes when a vampire is turned. A newly awakened vampire will have the memories of it's human predecessor and even many of the same personality traits however it will lack most of the more positive traits of the preceeding human.

      Under this theory Liam went when the body is turned and a demon with his memories took it's place. When re ensoulled Liam gains control again but the demon pushes him to try and embrace the dark side.

      Under theory 2 the vampire only loses their conscience but their 'spirit' remains which houses their personality and memories etc. This supports the concept of a continued consciousness, i.e. Angel and Angelus are not seperate people but different states of mind of the same person.

      I really don't know what I believe, I'm right know more for the last theory.
      Why do I think that?:

      -Angelus hated his father, just like Liam.
      -Angelus did see the world, something Liam always wanted.
      -Angelus used the same power as his father used against Liam.
      -Angel does have some of the urges Angelus and Liam had.
      This could work under either theory as Angelus can only manifest because of Liam's personality. The demon pure and simple is like the thing we see in Pylea which is somewhat like the ubervamps in Btvs, in short they are primative. The cunning and sadism comes Liam.

      -The big difference in IQ and power between Angel and Angelus.
      There is no real difference in IQ and power between Angel and Angelus. That was Jasmine's manipulation. Angelus however is more ruthless and unrestrained. However his streak of sadism can be a weakness, it's given Buffy and Faith ample chance to survive.

      -The Fight in Orpheus, they were seperate people.
      Agree with KoC. In any case Angel wasn't even there. It was Angelus' mind. His hell is the conflict. Both parts of his psyche seek that 'purity', whether for good or evil.

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      • #4
        Good points both.

        If Angel is Angelus with a conscience; Angel is just as sadistic as Angelus. He just don't give in to his desires. Angelus loves to destroy people, to hurt them and have complete power over the mind of others. Angel must have the same love, he just can't give in. But I have not seen the desire to hurt and destroy by Angel. Maybe he can control himself, but still ... I would expect some moment where he can't control himself.

        Angel must hate himself for that. Maybe that is wat happening with Angel, he doesn't really hate himself for what he did ... but more for who he is.
        Spike doesn't blame himself either for what he did. Somewhere it's not their fault.

        There is no real difference in IQ and power between Angel and Angelus. That was Jasmine's manipulation. Angelus however is more ruthless and unrestrained. However his streak of sadism can be a weakness, it's given Buffy and Faith ample chance to survive.
        I'm still not really there, I know it was Jasmine manipulation in season 4. But;
        Angelus was the one who understood that the Beast was a soldier, not the thinker. Something Angel didn't find out. And the information wasn't that different. Angelus only knew that the Beast wasn't a genius.
        Wesley is also warning for Angelus,
        "He's smarter than I am,"
        And I'm sorry, but Angel isn't really that bright in his own series.

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        • #5
          here's a post that explains that liam/angel/angelus quite a bit: https://www.buffyforums.net/showthread.php?t=1473

          angel is liam with angelus' memories and that separate being whispering in his head constantly. they are two beings sharing the same brain. and angel is extremely intelligent--being that he was often raised up to the intelligence level of giles and wesley. let's just start with the amount of factoids, historical asides and languages he knows... not to mention his photographic memory.

          it is proved in early btvs season 1 that the master refers to demon souls--meaning a soul is simply a being, not a conscience. it is also proven in season 4 ats that angel and angelus are separate people. in season 5 ats, angel and spike refer to each other as really being liam and william. when spike gets his soul, he does not cry about the sins of spike--he cries about things he did wrong as WILLIAM (getting a caning by his headmaster for dropping his slate in the water). same with angelus and liam. when angelus gets liam stuffed back in, liam doesn't remember any of the things he did as angelus. he only remembers liam at first. this is because they are liam and william now. angelus and spike are only there talking to them. the difference is that angelus is a stronger vampire with severely different opinions than liam/angel.

          angelus' weakness is that he talks people to death and always goes for the pain instead of the kill--which has gotten him in trouble many times. angel has less of that weakness than angelus. angel has the strength that he has the minds of both liam and angelus. angelus doesn't have that other side. angel is a lot smarter than angelus. the only reason that angel couldn't get into angelus' memories of the beast was that it was mystically blocked from the angel/liam part of him to know.

          and yes, both angel and angelus are smarter than wesley in many ways. angel in particular. wesley outmatched angelus. he might have a more difficult time outmatching angel--angel is more volatile. angelus is very easy to see what he's going to go for (the worst possible thing he could do). angelus is a lot more predictable than angel. wesley never figured out anything about the black thorn and thought angel was evil. angel tricked wesley. wesley tricked angelus.
          Last edited by NileQT87; 18-11-07, 01:58 AM.

          "If there is no great glorious end to all this, if nothing we do matters, then all that matters is what we do."
          "Nothing in the world is the way it ought to be. It's harsh and cruel. But that's why there's us. Champions."

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          • #6
            I still reject outright the idea that Angel is this completely distinct entity from Angelus. To me, the memory thing was just Jasmine blocked Angel's memories until they pulled the soul out.

            The difference in his apparent intelligence with or without his soul is based on *how* he thinks -- Angel is essentially a trusting sort of boob a lot of the times. Angelus looks for the angles and shadows in every space. I do think Angel would have been able to catch on to the whole Beastmaster bit -- Angel didn't actually *interact* with the thing when he had his soul, though.
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            • #7
              angel just didn't know who the beast was because he was blocked from remembering. it was ANGEL, not angelus who put the pieces together, however. yes, jasmine let out the "my sweet" while angelus was in control... but it was angel who figured it out/revealed it.

              liam/angel and angelus are distinct and separate entities. angelus was created from a template based on the memories, thoughts and personality of liam and PERVERTED it into something evil. that's how all vampires are created. some become stronger or weaker than others based on the human personality of the person they take over, but it is not the same person--it is the thing that killed them.

              the series has always been consistent. it was only a handful of not-so-expert characters who didn't understand the exact nature, despite it being spelled out numerous times.

              liam/william blame themselves not for doing the actions of angelus/spike, but remembering doing them and being the template for which the demon created themselves. angelus and spike killed liam and william, but they share minds--they aren't the same being, but share those memories.

              as illyria and wesley spoke about--all that we are is based on our memories. that is why illyria started morphing into fred, somewhat. illyria is certainly a completely unrelated being that killed fred, but it starts becoming her because it is infected by fred's memories.

              i think joss whedon might be a big fan of blade runner.
              Last edited by NileQT87; 18-11-07, 02:16 AM.

              "If there is no great glorious end to all this, if nothing we do matters, then all that matters is what we do."
              "Nothing in the world is the way it ought to be. It's harsh and cruel. But that's why there's us. Champions."

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              • #8
                Actually, that's a good point. I, and much of the fanbase, give Angelus credit for figuring out that there was a beastmaster, but all that proves is that he has a brain. I didn't think much of "Players" as an episode, but it is a rather positive referendum on the fact that Angel does pay his bills (or did) as a private detective. You always know he's thinking when he has the Sketchbook of Profound Thought out.
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                • #9
                  I'll stick to my original thought. The main issue of working things out is more to do with emotions. The whole point of a lot of Season four: Cordy/Connor etc was to serve as a distraction. They needed Angelus because it would serve as a distraction to the team and Angelus would have his own evil agenda. Angel was distracted by Connor but he wouldn't be distracted forever. Angelus doesn't have the same emotional distractions and so he can be more focused in his thinking.

                  I actually think Angel figured out the cordy connection pretty much straight away but the main point of Players was simply making sure because he didn't want to believe it, again, emotion.

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                  • #10
                    You've got a good point, also. One of my favorite character moments for Angel on his show was the wordless expression of (anger? disappointment? betrayal?) when he was stonily staring down Cordy at the end of "Players".
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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by KingofCretins View Post
                      He's not Liam, at least not Liam entire -- Liam is dead.

                      "Angel" is a name adopted by a legendary vampire named Angelus, who had a soul put in him that made him capable of feeling guilt and remorse for his crimes. The name was part of an effort to cope with that pain, by distancing himself from it, by making the "then" and "now" distinct as different "people".

                      I'm a vehement opponent of an interpretation of Angel and Angelus as two completely metaphysically distinct things, because, if they are, the curse itself makes nooooo sense -- since if it's not Angelus experiencing the guilt, there is no vengeance!
                      I think the problem is that Angelus, crushed with so much guilt for a hundred years, is able to immediately cast the weight of that off as soon as the soul goes. Wouldn't there be a residual burden on Angelus, knowing that he felt the way he did and knowing that it was he who did good? The problem is that Buffy and Angel didn't really adopt humanism in demons until later: in season 2 of Buffy it is soul = good, no soul = evil. That is not conducive to how demons and some vampires later act. Harmony with a soul honestly wouldn't be shockingly different personality-wise than Harmony without a soul. Why then is Angel such a saint (a dark, mentally unstable saint, but a saint nonetheless) and Angelus more evil than the Devil?

                      In Angel season 4 it's even more difficult. The writers separate Angel and Angelus even more... they refer to each other as separate identities, which I suppose is something that real schizophrenics do within their brains, but they are too divided into their two characters. Looking at how Angelus acts, I do not see how Angel can be Angelus-with-a-soul, because even with a soul those personalities are so incompatibly different. And to be honest -- I don't see Angel-the-soul as the revival of the human morality either... because what similarity is really seen between the Angel persona and the human, Liam?

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                      • #12
                        liam and angel have a lot in common. you just have to think about it. liam was a lot more than a drunk womanizer. he was a young man trapped in a town he didn't want to be with a father he saw as a hypocrite--who wanted him to join the family linen merchant business. liam tells darla that he "always wanted to see the world, but..."

                        and what does angelus do? he travels the world, learns just about every language known to man, collects art, reads, learns... this is all part of liam, along with the need to dominate his father and others. angel tells buffy in "halloween" that he didn't like the girls he grew up around--"simpering morons". interestingly, who did liam go to? whores. one of which was darla. instead of the good girls, he went to the bad girls. getting back at his father or his disillusionment with his surroundings (or both). and of course, he realizes that what he is missing is good people who believe in humanity. somehow, it was liam, not angelus, who grew disillusioned with humanity. angelus only built off these feelings.

                        it was stated from the beginning that a vampire is a demon who kills the human. that the demon takes the memories, feelings, personality, etc... of the person it takes over (the human is a template). that explains why the human's shortcomings or strengths become the demon's. why vampires like harmony aren't much different from the human. there was simply only so much that harmony was as a person that the demon could use and nothing extreme to pervert. most vampires are likely like harmony. their personas just don't have enough extreme emotions to create anything but a fairly average joe vamp who thinks with their stomachs. in fact, this proves that liam was intelligent and complex. as were whore-darla and william.

                        it seems that newborn vampire demons have no personalities of their own. they are just mindless feeders. they are not inherently good or evil. they are just self-serving and care only of their own existence. the human personalities are used as a template to create their identities... but because they are doing things to survive that the humans would probably disagree with, they inevitably pervert that persona.

                        angelus' extreme of not being interested in the physical, but the psychological... that is a product of who liam was and his inner war with those he saw as authorities. angelus also clearly had a hatred for religious authority and purity--both came from liam. but in the end, through angel, it appears that he desires that purity and he wants to be forgiven. all those behaviors of angelus came from liam--and those same things that define angel came from liam, but strengthened by angelus' perversion of them.

                        liam was a very troubled young man with domination issues--that's what made angelus--angel is a product of liam seeing what was made of who he was and being ashamed of it. and because he didn't have anyone to learn from, he had to figure out exactly what he was on his own.

                        another episode that shows liam and angelus as separate beings is "the dark age"... you see the three faces of liam, angelus and eyghon fighting for control of one body.

                        the things that probably fogs it up the most are that angel remembers the actions of angelus as if they were his own, but a part of him knows that liam is separate from angelus. the other thing is that even though he is a dead human, he has a body that is only kept existing by the demon sharing it with him--in order to survive he has to keep that demon alive--angel and angelus hate each other but angel depends on angelus. and of course, holtz's focusing on the same hands, same face as the demon... this was ultimately giles' emotional knee-jerk reaction as well (the inability to separate illusion from reality). of course, when discussing blame with angel, you are, in fact, discussing two beings in one--liam can't exist without angelus, but angelus can exist without liam (except as a template). in liam/angel's early ensouled hatred of what he was, he probably had just as much trouble with the fact that angelus in his body had done all those things.
                        Last edited by NileQT87; 19-11-07, 12:51 PM.

                        "If there is no great glorious end to all this, if nothing we do matters, then all that matters is what we do."
                        "Nothing in the world is the way it ought to be. It's harsh and cruel. But that's why there's us. Champions."

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                        • #13
                          I agree with Nile. IMO the vampire is just a demon, a blank canvas, in which is painted with the personality of whom ever is sired.

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                          • #14
                            In any respect the nature of Angel seems unique to him. Every human seems to react to vampirism differently and in turn are affected both inwardly and outwardly by different factors. Angelus was different and indeed psychologically affected by what his alter ego went through and felt.

                            It seems that human-to-vampire-to-soulled-vampires experience everything as continued consciousness. I'd say that Angel's condition seems to be psychologically different from some others rather than metaphysically different. So basically Angel has a dissociative identity disorder(not schizoprenia, that's something different), or a split personality as a way of coping the with extreme stress or loss. It can also manifest as a result of lack of nuturing at an early developmental stage. Liam's search for purity was marred by his contempt for what represented. His ambivalent feelings towards his father and religion (as Nile stated) manifested into an even more fragmented persona.

                            Of course none of this really proves if they are seperate or the same. The 'personas' are more different than say Spike's but this seems more to do with who Liam was or indeed is.

                            I have to agree with KoC that the concept of a soul as the person's consciousness seems a little odd. If the gyspies have an accurate understanding of the soul and really dualists to that effect, then they know and understand Liam didn't do anything to them. Under Fred's theory in Season for it doesn't make any sense because Angelus wouldn't even be suffering but we can definitely say that she must have been wrong because everyone else who's commented on Angelus' consciousness contradicts that.

                            Under theory 2 the Curse seems to make the most sense. Liam's 'essence' is always there, but without his conscience and with a bloodlusty demon(think of Pylean vamp), he becomes Angelus and then with his conscience back he remembers everything he has done and is cursed to care. Making viscious demon care is the simply perfect and makes the most sense. Angel's disassociation is a coping mechanism but he falls apart at the seems as cannot trully seperate himself from what he did, not even as Angelus can, not fully, which why it affects him (although differently without his soul). The memories and experience shape both personas, neither are static(answering the whole "why isn't Angel like Liam question". Nile talked about people wanting to believe that Angel and Angelus are the same person, however should we simply take the WC words as law? They would have an interest in opposite view of seperating the demon with the person. Imagine a Watcher telling a Slayer: "That vampire who used to be your friend, well she's still kind of your friend but a little different now. Ok kill her!"

                            Darla presented another element and that's the memory theory. Memories are part of what makes a person, it's part of their identity. So for the sheer fact of their shared memories and elements of personality, feelings etc, Angel is Angelus who was Liam which is why Angel under either theory would assume responsibility. A part of him did do all those things. We have to be careful though because this becomes a little airy fairy, we have to define the soul clearly and consistently, consciousness or conscience?

                            Outside the show of course, we know the answer because Joss cared more about the storyand the metaphor the an accurate consistent display of the metaphysical. So in a real way Angel and Angelus were seperate or the same when they needed to be. Certainly thematically, Spike and soulled Spike are the same and Angel and Angelus are the same as he seeks redemption for the things he did. Thematically it makes his identification with Faith make more sense although under both theories it isn't entirely the same. Also Angel and Angelus can represent the struggle in all of us and maybe the confusion of who is who is who, is part of dilemma that faces the human in terms of morality, identity and personal responsibility.

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                            • #15
                              I'm impressed with the answers here. There are really good points here for more than one theory.

                              Originally posted by kana View Post
                              I'd say that Angel's condition seems to be psychologically different from some others rather than metaphysically different. So basically Angel has a dissociative identity disorder(not schizoprenia, that's something different), or a split personality as a way of coping the with extreme stress or loss. It can also manifest as a result of lack of nuturing at an early developmental stage. Liam's search for purity was marred by his contempt for what represented. His ambivalent feelings towards his father and religion (as Nile stated) manifested into an even more fragmented persona.
                              I also think that Angel has an identity disorder. Angelus is a sadist and (I think) a sociopath and a narcist. Angel isn't narcistic or sociopathic and there are no signs that Angel is a sadist. But Angel and Angelus share the same brains, so there must be a split personality or something like that. Otherwise Angel should have the same disorders I guess.
                              Angel is also referring to Angelus as 'him' or as himself. I'm curious what he really thinks. We know that Spike and Darla don't have 2 different personalities, soulless them is the same identity as souled them. Angel should be Angelus but I think the difference between them is not normal. Like I said, Angelus has disorders/habits/desires Angel doesn't have. Spike doesn't have that, neither does souled Darla.
                              But I'm not really familiar with psychology, so I don't know if my thoughts make sense.

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                              • #16
                                i think liam sees angelus and is so ashamed of what elements of himself became what that he was actually morphed himself into a different person--angel. working on things he never worked on as liam, because the extremes were never present then to scare him out of certain behaviors or to look at them properly.

                                with spike and darla, neither of them ever saw the actions of their demon as all that bad. neither were completely ashamed. they more or less saw their vampirism as a way out of premature death or a life they didn't like. william doesn't blame himself for who spike became--he blames angelus. liam blames himself a bit.

                                also remember that with the gypsies, he was cursed and pretty much left on his own. told he wasn't human or vampire... that he was nothing. he pretty much had to figure out what the heck was going on with who or what he was all on his own. spike had 100 years of angel's figuring it out to build upon.

                                as for the gypsies... jenny even says it wasn't fair. for gypsies, it wasn't about doing it honorably--vengeance is a living thing.

                                what is angelus' worst nightmare? a good guy controlling the body again that won't let him do all the things he wants to do. angelus inside of angel is reduced to a whisper in angel's mind with needs and wants. and then when angel starts drinking pig's blood, he's not even getting what he wants for his needs. the gypsies' flaw was that they were also torturing liam... but that wasn't their concern. they only cared that angelus was suffering (and he does when liam/angel is in control).

                                it is very possible that the gypsies also blamed the human template for creating an extraordinary monster (which makes liam partially responsible indirectly). another reason the gypsies might have no problem with hurting liam. it also explains why they don't want liam/angel to ever be happy. they want him suffering and reflecting forever on what he created in angelus.

                                angel is far from a purely good person and he knows it. it wasn't angelus who fed on buffy, fired his crew, smothered wesley, tortured linwood, killed drogyn or ordered the death of lindsey. that was all angel. like liam, he is a morally gray character who still must always dominate (interesting aspect when they made wesley the boss over him)--but both desire purity and forgiveness. they are a continuation of the same being. they are, in fact, very similar because they are the same.

                                you even get angel referring to himself occasionally as liam--liam's shock at the cost of things often makes for humor (he even refers to the cost of ale and a wench--a very liam-like reference). he is often accused of being old-fashioned when it comes to dealing with women and money. spike actually refers to himself more openly as william--especially in his ensouled state--where half the time he identifies more with william than spike--he only starts acting as spike again when buffy tells him she needs him as a weapon ("get it done"). there's a scene in season 5 ats where angel and spike refer to each other as liam and william. they see themselves as wearing the guises of different personae to everybody, but they know who they are.

                                and there's also the fact that his whole character is an allegory of a recovering alcoholic with his inner demons urging him to relapse. making liam and angel exactly the same person before and after the addiction.
                                Last edited by NileQT87; 20-11-07, 12:46 AM.

                                "If there is no great glorious end to all this, if nothing we do matters, then all that matters is what we do."
                                "Nothing in the world is the way it ought to be. It's harsh and cruel. But that's why there's us. Champions."

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                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by NileQT87 View Post

                                  as for the gypsies... jenny even says it wasn't fair. for gypsies, it wasn't about doing it honorably--vengeance is a living thing.
                                  Although Jenny was referring to the situation in a Utilitarian way. She was making a case for Angel more because of the people he can save and the good he can do. Jenny's thinking about people's lives, including Buffy, Enyos is simply wants vengeance.

                                  it is very possible that the gypsies also blamed the human template for creating an extraordinary monster (which makes liam partially responsible indirectly). another reason the gypsies might have no problem with hurting liam. it also explains why they don't want liam/angel to ever be happy. they want him suffering and reflecting forever on what he created in angelus.
                                  From the strict dualist perspective (if the Gypsies understand their metaphysics,) then they know that Liam isn't the one who killed the girl. When they talk to 'him' they seem to be talking and responding to Liam (as the soul). If they understand well enough to perform the spell then they should understand that they are at least seperate entities. It's possible they don't care but understand this would be the same as torturing Willow for what vampire Willow did. Although she is created in Willow's template, she didn't do those things whereas the gypsies seem to believe Angel or the Liamsoul, did do it. This works more elegantly under the soul as conscience theory. In that model, Liam did do those things but he was 'different then'.

                                  angel is far from a purely good person and he knows it. it wasn't angelus who fed on buffy, fired his crew, smothered wesley, tortured linwood, killed drogyn or ordered the death of lindsey. that was all angel. like liam, he is a morally gray character who still must always dominate (interesting aspect when they made wesley the boss over him)--but both desire purity and forgiveness. they are a continuation of the same being. they are, in fact, very similar because they are the same.
                                  I've never had an issue with the personas being similar but more tried to find out if they were metaphysically seperate or whether that was a WC myth to get Slayers to kill vamps more easily. Experienced vamps such as Darla and Spike don't seem to share the same view and the Master appeared to talk of a continued entity.

                                  you even get angel referring to himself occasionally as liam--liam's shock at the cost of things often makes for humor (he even refers to the cost of ale and a wench--a very liam-like reference). he is often accused of being old-fashioned when it comes to dealing with women and money. spike actually refers to himself more openly as william--especially in his ensouled state--where half the time he identifies more with william than spike--he only starts acting as spike again when buffy tells him she needs him as a weapon ("get it done"). there's a scene in season 5 ats where angel and spike refer to each other as liam and william. they see themselves as wearing the guises of different personae to everybody, but they know who they are.

                                  and there's also the fact that his whole character is an allegory of a recovering alcoholic with his inner demons urging him to relapse. making liam and angel exactly the same person before and after the addiction
                                  Agreed, and in terms of identity it seems that demon talked about is more like the thing we see in Pylea. That was most likely the thing that fought Eyghon. The cunning Angelus wasn't one for the animalistic brawls.

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