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100 sci fi women #49: Cordelia Chase

I just heard Joss Whedon on the radio referring to the cancellation of Firefly, as the worst thing that had happened in his career. We feel that pain Joss. And so I am inspired to choose another Whedon woman for the list – but not from Firefly, as we only just had Kaylee.

And so, to…

Cordelia Chase Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel

Cordelia does not seem like an obvious choice for this list. When we first meet her she is vacuous and self centred and really doesn’t care about anyone or anything much other than herself and her social status. But the great thing about a character like Cordelia is that, when you start from a low base, and when you have a lot of series over which to do it, you can grow and change and learn and become someone quite different. And Cordelia certainly does that. Cordelia gets chased and stabbed and possessed and gives birth to a demon spawn and is impoverished and gets visions which slowly kill her becomes an angel and, well, you name it, she endures it. Cordelia may be self centred, but she isn’t really vacuous – even from the beginning she could sometimes be more insightful and practical, and more sarcastic, than the others. She is willing to fight when it is necessary and, as time goes by, she becomes stronger and more capable, and less self centred. Cordelia understands how the social world works, what the forces are at play, and has a keen insight into human nature, which she usually utilises to increase her popularity and status. She also has fewer false allusions about people – she understands how the world of utilitarian friendships operate. But she is a person of deep emotion as we see in her reaction to Xander’s betrayal of her. Working with Angel in Los Angeles Cordelia grows further. She develops close relationships with her colleagues, the ghost who lives in her apartment and the Grossalug to whom she has been promised. In fact, the scenes of Dennis the ghost’s sorrow about Cordelia are remarkably touching. When Cordelia gains the ability to have visions and to help people, she embraces it and is unwilling to give it up, despite the pain and suffering it ultimately causes her. What makes Cordelia an exceptional woman is her change and growth, and of course her fabulous sense of fashion.

Cordelia: “Why is it always virgin women who have to do the sacrificing?”

Wesley: “For purity, I suppose.”

Cordelia: “This has nothing to do with purity. This is all about dominance, buddy. I can bet if someone ordered a male body part for a religious ceremony, the world would be atheist like that.”


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