Angel was a character that made it through an amazing 8 seasons (i.e. longer than any single show) of the Whedonverse (Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel), and the dualism of his personality was always something that both fascinated and puzzled me. It seemed to change over time, starting off with it being basically that Angel just himself turned evil, and later Angelus morphed into a sort of separate character who was just trapped passively in Angel's body most of the time.

I must say I prefer the original concept, of Angel basically being a bad drunk who turned into a wholly unpleasant person without his sobriety/soul, and was wondering what people thought was the reasons for the change. Was it just that the Angel/Angelus concept didn't really change, but that the other characters chose to see them as separate entities in order to forgive Angel for what he did, or was it something that the show creators did unwittingly, perhaps so that we as viewers would forgive him more easily?

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I think the other characters saw Angel and Angelus as two separate entities, Angel wasn't wholly responsible for Angelus' actions because Angel had a soul. A soul meant he was good, and having one meant he could be forgiven for any of Angelus' heinous acts because it wasn't Angel that did those things. For me personally, I wasn't compelled to forgive Angel. I don't buy into Angel and Angelus being two different vampires and the rule that a 'soul' is the only thing keeping a creature from being evil or having a soul makes one good has often puzzled me. We were clearly shown contradicting situations and characters across both shows. Many episode baddies were just regular humans, with souls. Angel locked Darla and Drusilla in a room full of employees from Wolfram and Hart, knowing the humans would be slaughtered. Angel tried to kill Wes after he took Connor. The Nerd Troika was a group of souled humans. Willow, a souled human, killed another human with attempts to take out many more. On the other end, the soulless Spike teamed up with his enemy to save the world against Angelus. Later he let Glory torture him rather than give up Dawn as the Key, among numerous other good things he did all before seeking out his soul. Anya was never shown to have gained a soul, she never showed remorse for any of the things she did as a demon, but she still fought on the side of good(and she was given the same free pass that Angel got regarding forgiveness for what Anyanka did, despite Anya not being souled). Those are just the big ones, there are plenty of other examples throughout both shows that could be used to question the blurry lines of Angel(us), good vs. evil, and what it really means to have a soul. Personally, I don't see Angel as being different than Angelus, the soul just acts as kind of a choke-chain to keep his most sadistic impulses in check. Angel's soul is kind of like Spike's chip. If he acts on those impulses then he'll feel a shock, in Angel's case his guilty conscience. He's still evil though, the whole reason Darla chose Liam is because she could see the potential for evil within him.

On a semi-related note, I wonder if the viewer was supposed to have seen some kind of correlation between Ben/Glory and Angel(us). Ben and Angel are both fully aware of what their counterparts are capable of, neither has any control at all when their other half comes to the forefront, both are trying to do good to atone for the evils committed by those counterparts, and both are also shown to have the ability to be as bad as their other half. Ben and Glory are very obviously two completely separate entities, but more than once I've found it interesting how the Angel(us) situation so closely paralleled. I've also often wondered why neither one committed suicide, they each knew there would be another time when they weren't in control and it could have easily been prevented had they been dead. In Angel's case, he could have done it in the years between being cursed and meeting Buffy because he certainly wasn't doing anything for the greater good unless feeding on rats counts.
I think Angel might agree with you, simply because he himself never seemed to get over the guilt of Angelus' actions, and kept trying to make amends, futile though that may be. After all, although we may go a little easier on someone who commits a crime when drunk or stoned, we do still hold them responsible for their actions even in those states. The soul is just Angelus' sobriety.
I do, however, also think that the curse was explicitly designed to make him feel extra guilty, and prevent him from ever reaching that elusive point of perfect happiness. The differences in the method of ensoulment (curse as punishment vs. sought-after reward) would go a long way towards explaining the different reactions and ways of coping with the souls of Angel and Spike. Angel was supposed to suffer, forever, while Spike's soul came without the guilt baggage.

As for killing himself, that would make more sense in the post-BtVS-season-2-time, as I don't think Angel ever realized before that that he even could lose his soul again. Was this ever made clear to him by the gypsies? I may have just missed it, but I certainly got the impression he never knew until it happened.

As for Ben, that one is trickier. I am not sure he was quite as aware of what Glory was doing, as he didn't even get to see it the way Angel and Angelus were back seat drivers in the bodies while the other was driving, whereas Ben and Glory only heard from others what their counterpart had done. I suspect Ben had also been dominant more in the past, with only the occasional occurrence of Glory, but it is hard to say. I also wonder if she had been in his body ever since being exiled, and that his reward for it was thus effectively (part-time) immortality or if she switched into other bodies when the previous one died? He probably felt he had a right to live is life, and that what she did was not really his fault or problem, and therfore didn't kill himself.




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