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10 March 2010 @ 01:57 pm
Meta: July 4th Should Be St. Anya Day  
Title: July 4th Should Be St. Anya Day
Author: xlivvielockex
Rating: PG
Word Count: 965
A/N: Just a little meta piece on Anya, her role as a metaphor, with heavy emphasis on her role in The Wish. Thank you to damnskippytoo for the beta and helping me organize these thinking thoughts.

There is a reason that there are countless meta, essays, and even classes devoted to Buffy The Vampire Slayer. It is rich with metaphors and literary allusions. And, perhaps, the most obvious character-used-as-metaphor is Anya, the "Patron Saint of women scorned" as she is described in several sources. In fact, Anya embodies not just one metaphor, but at least three that I can think of.

As a demon (presumably from Hell), she is the personification of the adage "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned." We are first introduced to her during The Wish. The casual viewer might just see her as another one of the rich girls of Sunnydale, fitting seamlessly in with the Cordettes. But things are rarely as they seem in the Buffyverse, as any longtime viewer knows.

She quickly befriends Cordelia when Anya doesn’t chime in with the rest of the school in insulting her. Cordelia has been burned, her reputation ruined. As if her relationship with one of the school’s “losers” wasn’t enough, he cheated on her with another one of those “losers”. Not to mention that discovering this infidelity indirectly led to Cordelia being impaled.

And it is this that draws Anya to Cordelia, which is the entire basis for her line of work. Cordelia is the woman scorned. Giles, in his incantation to summon her, is quite clear in that he is calling “in the name of all women scorned.”

Could it be any clearer? Anya is not a mere wish granter, a genie in a bottle; she is a creature who lives two twisted rules but rules that are hers. These rules allow Anya some semblance of order, perhaps of even a higher purpose. Having parameters to enact her special brand of “justice” seems to allow her to be guiltless when she becomes a human. She is doing something that needs to be done, to give voice and power to a group that is sometimes powerless, women who have been wronged.

Even in modern society, infidelity by men is not only accepted, it rarely affects the man at all. Case in point, South Carolina Govenor, Mark Sanford, who cheated on his wife with a woman in Brazil and yet still keeps his political office and all the perks. It was his wife who filed for divorce. Jenny Sanford would have been the perfect person to grant a wish for because clearly, she deserves something for being hurt in such a way. This is why Anya follows her rules so strictly, because so rarely do these women get a voice or retribution.

The first rule that Anya has is that her brand of vengeance, of wish granting, is to be used against men, not for them. After being summoned by Giles, she asks him if he has any idea of what she did to the last man who used that spell to summon her. In Dopplegangland, in her pleading to D’Hoffryn, she reminds him that she has brought ruin to unfaithful men.

This leads to her second rule: she only grants wishes to women who have been cheated on. She has the ability to feel when a woman is ready for vengeance, almost like a psychic connection to all the pain that infidelity can cause. She hears the cries for vengeance. Her appearance on the Hellmouth isn’t a coincidence. She is there because of the pain of Cordelia Chase and no other reason.

The viewer finds out in Older and Far Away that she isn’t the only vengeance demon that specializes. Halfrek, another vengeance demon she has known since the 19th century, grants wishes of children who are neglected and wronged by their parents or guardians. Anya attributes this to “daddy issues.” The viewer finds out sometime after The Wish, that Anya herself was a scorned woman. And in turning her cheating lover into a troll, she was recruited to become a vengeance demon.

This would appear to be another of Whedon's metaphors based on the old adage: "If you keep making that face, it'll stick." In other words, you become on the inside what you portray on the outside. And in the case of vengeance demons, you must have lived the pain of your specialty in order to exact the proper vengeance. It takes Anya being wronged yet again by being left at the altar in Hell’s Bells for her to return to her former line of work.

Lastly, Anya is the physical representation of the saying “be careful what you wish for.” She was the allusion to The Monkey’s Paw long before Dawn in Forever. She is the Faustian deal, the proverbial deal with the devil. The wishes made by the women seem innocuous at first but end up ultimately being unsavory. Anya’s real power lies in being able to interpret the wish, to twist it, to form the most gruesome outcomes. She is a living, breathing The Secret, as women put their wishes to the universe and she is all too happy to answer them.

Despite being the physical embodiment of these ideas, Anya is an attractive character to female viewers, not just because she represents the angry part of any woman who has been wronged, but also because she is a woman leading a life of purpose born from personal tragedy. How many brokenhearted women have called out, wishing to the universe that man who hurt them would hurt back just as deeply? She doles out vengeance, not justice, by her own rules and while it might not be fair, sometimes, it is what seems right to many women who have been cheated on. And because of her history, she does so with an empathy and passion that most people would admire and strive to achieve were it not – you know – killing people.