Virtue and Vampire Slaying: Using Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Teach Chivalry
After weeks of working with vampire literature and poetry, wrap up your unit on the “undead” with a visit to Sunnydale, CA, home of everyone’s favorite vampire hunter. Buffy Summers, the teenage girl who revived the vampire culture long before Bella Swan, is a fiercely independent teen, who longs to just “fit in”, “be popular”, and enjoy the sunshine of Cali. However, her deep seeded secret is that she is “the Slayer”, and as such needs to protect the world from vampires, demons and other monsters.
Can this young heroine be considered a modern knight? Do her qualities mirror the age old code of Chivalry? It is interesting to watch how closely this modern television show reflects qualities of a hero that are as old as “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” or legends of Camelot and King Arthur’s famous knights.
Use the downloadable power point to review each ideal or quality of chivalry valued by the knights. Then, watch the Season one, Episode one of Joss Wheton’s award winning show. It can be found on Netflix to watch instantly. The similarities will jump out to you and your students almost as quickly as the vampires jump out of the woodwork in the episode. This is a perfect way to utilize media studies as a compare and contrast technique.
Have students compose a character study of Buff, as seen through the seven knightly virtues. The essay should describe what she has done during the course of the story that demonstrates how she upholds these virtues. The student essay should go on to describe the sacrifices Buffy has to make to remain true to the code of Chivalry and how these virtues at times create conflict in her life. This is a perfect concluding lesson to a unit of vampire study and a great way to introduce your students to a much beloved TV series as well.