Buffy and Faith Binary Opposition

Joss Whedon used a structuralism format using binary opposition to create conflict between two slayers in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The storylines of Buffy and Faith are completely opposite from each other. In Buffy’s life she has her mother and her sister (in later seasons), her friends that help her fight vampires, and her watcher. Faith doesn’t have any family or friends around her. She watched her watcher die. How both girls view power is very different Faith believes that she is above human laws while Buffy believes that slayers should follow human laws. Buffy’s power comes from the obligation of her duty of being a slayer. She wants to use her power to help people. Faith gets her power from anger and she wants to prove that she is worth something.

This reflects Levi-Strause’s binary opposition because each characteristic that Buffy has Faith has the complete opposite of.  The character Faith was created to challenge Buffy’s belief of power. The way Joss Whedon did that was to make a character that reflected all of what Buffy was not.


2 thoughts on “Buffy and Faith Binary Opposition

  1. Interesting. One of the key traits of structuralism is to look at the relationships among parts, and how they shift between stories. It’s about reversals and transformations. Can we see this in the Buffy series? Anyone want to take this on?

    • kaleek says:

      You can see several transformation in the student/teacher and parent/child dynamics. Giles goes from being a mere school official, to becoming her Watcher (who shows some degree of concern for her), to taking on more of a father role in her life. For Buffy, she’s forced to take on that same role – that of the parent – in Dawn’s life after their mother dies. Even after the death, Buffy struggles to accept her new, family responsibilities. For a while, she turns to Giles to solve her problems relating to slaying and her family.

      There are also reversals and transformations between Buffy and Faith. Neither one is strictly the “good” or the “bad” character through the entire run. Buffy goes through phases when she questions her duties as a slayer and whether her friends are truly behind her. She begins to see that the Big Bad or the current evil aren’t always so obvious. Her job becomes less black and white and as a result she do her relationships with her friends. The group dynamics often shift between the scoobies as a united group…to Buffy and the scoobies…to Buffy against the scoobies (whether real or imagined on the part of each side).

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