Thicker Than Water: Drusilla's View of Family
If you're going to live forever, you need a hobby, or better yet, an obsession. This is the case with all of the fully developed vampires in the Jossverse. Each one has at least one driving force that leads him or her through eternity. For the Master, it was an overwhelming desire to bring back the old days and get rid of humanity. Darla was driven by a lust for luxury: the view, the silks and satins, the best of everything. Angelus was obsessed with power more than anything else, over his victims and over the other vampires in his group. These are all fairly normal drives for vampires, as all of them are basically corrupt goals. However, the other two main vampires have very different obsessions. Spike's is love, something that has the possibility to be destructive at its worst, but is certainly an unusual desire for a creature of violence. Drusilla's, however, may possibly be even more unique. Throughout her unlife, the single most important thing to her has always been family, and understanding this about the character is an important key to writing her.
Although we've been shown only a few very short snippets of Drusilla's human life, one thing has been made very clear to the audience: Drusilla loved her human family. They were obviously imperfect people since we do hear Dru tell the person she believes to be the parish priest, but who is in fact Angelus, that her mother considers her gift of the Sight to be an affront to God, but it seems Drusilla blames herself far more than her mother. What we know of Dru's family is actually taken mostly from the scene in "What's My Line 2" when she tortures Angel. She mentions her mother, her uncle, and someone she refers to as "little Anne" who seems to be either a very young sister or perhaps a niece. One of the things that is highly significant about this scene is her memory. Even at the best of times, Drusilla isn't very lucid and easily confuses details, but here she recalls her human family almost 140 years later with remarkable clarity. She remembers her mother's singing voice and a very complete list of their favorite foods. There is no question that she is angry over their deaths even now, and it's interesting that of all the things she could bring up to torture Angel, all the things she could accuse him of, including her own death and his abandonment of her, she never once mentions herself. Her fury is for her loved ones and what he did to them.
The question remains of what exactly Angelus did do to Dru's family. She says that he "ripped their throats out," but whether this was one by one over the course of weeks or whether it was in one mass slaughter is unclear. Both options are open to fanfic writers. What is important to remember though is that Drusilla is the only survivor of her entire family at a time when families were very large and perhaps more closely-knit than the majority of families today. Sadly, there are many cases similar to Drusilla's throughout history, and the result for the survivor is often a great deal of guilt even if the person had no possible way to save the others or was not in the least way responsible for their deaths. Since it was actually Drusilla's Sight that drew Angelus to her family and prompted their murders, she could very easily view herself as guilty of their deaths. She's a textbook case for possible survivor guilt.
Granted, Dru as a vampire has no problem with killing, but there are several things that suggest that she holds the murder of her family in a much different and more human light than her own later murders. Note the very large difference here between her and Penn or Angelus, both of whom specifically targeted their families, though of course Drusilla as a vampire would not have had the opportunity to kill her family as they were all already dead. However, it is telling that her insanity is continued as a vampire. It's not too hard to see Drusilla's mental illness as a kind of post-traumatic stress disorder. Simply put, she saw too much and her brain shut down or created fantasy worlds in order for her to protect herself. The question is why she would retain this need for buffering herself from the outside world if she no longer found violence to be unbearable. There are three possible answers. The first is that her mind was so badly damaged that there was no going back. The second is that she is actually faking her mental illness and has in fact been perfectly sane since her turning. The third is that some vestige of her remembers her human family with love and still cannot bear what happened to them. It's the last option that seems to ring the truest, though the first two are also viable choices.
It is also interesting that Drusilla's turning only sharpened her connection to family. Deprived of her actual human kin, she makes Darla and Angelus into a literal surrogate family, calling them Grandmummy and Daddy. There is something deeply pathetic in this, while also being twisted. Darla is certainly not motherly in any way towards Drusilla, and often seems barely tolerant of her. Angelus, while perhaps enjoying the jealousy that would come from Darla due to Dru's presense or maybe even liking her as a trophy of his greatest cruelty, never actually shows any love for her. Even in Sunnydale, it seems the main purpose of their relationship for him is to torment Spike and nothing more. It's quite arguable that Angelus is incapable of love in any form. Dru, on the other hand, seems like a strangely warped version of the dutiful Victorian daughter. There is never any reason given to suggest that her affection for Darla and Angelus is anything other than completely genuine.
This leads into the rather tricky situation of the sexuality of the vampire family. It's obvious that Drusilla is sexually involved with Angelus, and there are certainly subtextual undercurrents of a possible physical relationship with Darla as well. How does this fit into Dru's strange play vision of them as a family? It's possible that Drusilla actually sees Angelus as more of a husband figure in some senses. It was not uncommon for married couples in the Victorian era to give each other the endearments of "Father" and "Mother," but this answer is rather simplistic. Whatever exactly he is to her, he is powerful and has total control over her, so perhaps this is an echo of the relationship that Victorian daughters had with their fathers, namely complete, total obedience to the point of having no self.
This also ties into her torture of Angel. Drusilla would never have lifted a finger against Angelus because of his role as father/husband/god to her. Angel, however, was far enough removed from Angelus that she could safely express her outrage over what he had done to her family. In her damaged mind, Angelus is family, and she won't attack family, not even for family.
This brings us to Spike. Though Drusilla refers to herself as Darla's "mummy" after resiring her, she never takes that title with William. Spike once refers to himself as "Daddy" in the episode "Halloween," but this is never repeated, at least not until season seven when the First as Drusilla refers to him as Daddy repeatedly… and in a way that feels entirely out of character to the point where this may have been what Spike grasped in order to convince himself that this was not Dru.
At least partly, this can be explained because until season five of Buffy, both Drusilla and Spike were assumed to be sired by Angelus, with Spike actually being older than Drusilla. Not until "Fool for Love" is the audience told that William, soon to be called Spike, was sired by Drusilla. Hence, there was no reason to read a mother/son relationship into Drusilla and Spike's situation because one simply did not yet exist. In addition, if Drusilla was recreating her own family through Darla and Angelus, there would be no reason to "replace" a son as she had never had one. He is perhaps the one relationship that is not directly familial for her.
This may explain why Drusilla does break her rule concerning not harming family when it comes to Spike's attacking Angelus during the Acathla ceremony. While none of Dru's blows aimed at Spike appear to be an attempt at killing him, she's perfectly capable of knocking him around to save Angelus, though Spike's eventual triumph over her via sleeper hold is odd to say the least. Much has been made of the apparent cannon misstep of having a creature that does not breathe rendered unconscious through lack of air. Regardless, it is easy to guess that one of the major reasons for Drusilla's distance from Spike following Sunnydale was due as much to his attempted killing of Angelus as his pact with the Slayer.
This finally leads us to the only four remaining persons who may be considered part of Drusilla's family, and we have never seen her interact with either of them. One is Penn, apparently the first vampire Angelus sired, predating Drusilla by several decades. It is completely possible the two never even met, but if they had, there is a chance she would view him as an older brother. On the other hand, she may have harbored jealousy towards him, another relationship common among siblings. Do note, however, that Penn would not directly correspond to a human family member Drusilla had lost since (so far as we know) she had sisters but no brother.
The second is Lawson, the vampire sired by Angel when he still had a soul. This former American sailor seems to have inherited some strange fragment of Angel's souled state, though not enough to keep a demon at bay. He seems to be unhappy with his lot as a vampire but still bound to behave as one. Drusilla might have pitied this cast-off childe of Angel, or then again she may have disliked him strongly because of the faint taint of a soul he possessed. It's even possible she would see in him what Angel could be if he allowed his demon-side to take over while he still had his soul, which Dru might see either as a positive or a negative.
The third is the Master. We are told that Darla went to his court repeatedly over the years, so it can be fairly safely assumed that Drusilla was probably at least introduced to him. Here there may be a conflict, for while Darla and Angelus were favorites of the Master, Angelus openly disliked him. The question is whether Drusilla would have viewed this as good-natured family bickering or decided to staunchly stand beside her beloved Daddy in disliking him. In either case, it is relatively certain that the Master would have at least found her amusing, and she may have had some degree of affection for Great-Grandfather, a title the Master might well have liked.
The fourth remaining family member who has had no visible interaction with Drusilla is perhaps the most complicated of all the relationships, and that is Connor. On the one hand, they have a tremendous amount in common since both have lost families, both have strained relationships with Angel, and both were raised in strict religious settings. Additionally, Angel has at some point broken off all contact with both of them. For these reasons, in addition to Connor being the offspring of Darla and Angel, Drusilla might very well be highly protective and even affectionate towards him.
On the other hand, Connor's birth also killed Darla, who Dru had sired herself. He'd repeatedly tried to kill Angel as well, something that Drusilla frowns on (note again, none of Drusilla's attacks on Angel have ever had his death as their goal; in fact, she very well may have saved his life at some risk to her own during "What's My Line 2" by calling to Spike and stopping her healing ritual before Angel died). Connor is also human, a "problem" Drusilla would perhaps want to fix. The only factor that I believe would have little to no effect on her acceptance of Connor is his complete loathing for all vampires. Drusilla's ability to love what she considers to be her family has no bounds: not torture, not betrayal, not insult, not even attempts on her own life.
And perhaps that is at the crux of the conundrum that is Drusilla. Purely evil, she is also capable of a fierce, protective, fanatical love for those she considers to be her family, whether her own biological family or the vampires in her bloodline. In this way, just as Darla had snippets of humanity in her from her residual love for Angel, and Spike is made more human through his ability to love romantically, Drusilla retains vestiges of the innocent girl she was once through her continued capacity for essentially selfless love of her family. It has been and most likely always will be her perpetual obsession.