Dolley Madison was more than a hostess or James Madison’s wife; she was a his political wife.
In May 1794, age age forty-three, James Madison met and fell in love with Dolley Payne Todd, a recent widow and mother of a son named John Payne Todd. They were formally introduced to one another by Aaron Burr Jr., who had been handling her legal affairs and to whom Madison requested a formal meeting with Dolley. On their first formal meeting, Dolley is said to of worn a mulberry-colored satin dress, a silk handkerchief around her neck and a tiny cap.
“The Great little Madison”, Dolley wrote to one of her friends. George and Martha Washington encouraged the courtship. Around August, James proposed and she accepted. It is highly possible that Dolley and James met before 1794; in 1789, since she was visiting her uncle, a congressman, in Philadelphia, which Madison was a member of. On September 15th, the two were married at a small stone plantation house, belonging to one of Washington’s nephews.
James added a wing to Montpelier (his plantation home) for himself and his new family–Dolley, her son, and her younger sister, Anna–with a separate door and separate kitchen. Madison valued his new status as head of the household. Becoming Mrs. Madison severed Dolley’s connections with her Quaker heritage, who in December of 1794 disowned her for marrying outside of the faith. Madison gained from his marriage an expansion of his personality. He stayed the same but Dolley completed him as a public figure. She knew all of her husband’s enemies were and kept a running tally of their disasters and defeats.
When Dolley got a tumor in her thigh and agreed to see a physician, her husband pulled off from his work so that he could join her at the physician. “Dread of separation”. Dolley to James: “getting well as fast as I can, for I have the reward in view of then seeing my beloved.” When in illness, they would spend day and night by one another’s side, tending to each other. Mr. Madison treated her son, John Payne very well–never striking him and afraid to instill punishment on him. Dolley and James Madison never had children together but Madison covered all of John Payne’s debts and prison release costs.
His strengths were his wife. Since Thomas Jefferson was a widower at the time of his presidency, Dolley became Jefferson’s hostess. Jefferson regularly would take Dolley to dinner (even angering one of the husband because Jefferson did not take the guests wife to the table and instead took Madison).
While President of the United States, Dolley took complete control of all social events at the white house, everyone flocking to meet her and they referred to her husband as “a shriveled little John apple”. When James Madison was forced to evacuate Washington D.C. and he sent a slave back to D.C. to tell Dolley to, “clear out!” of the white house. She and a few slaves packed up some valuables and got out right as the British were down the street. Each Madison spent that night of the evacuation at a plantation on different Virginian side, neither knowing where the other was. Later, they reunited at a tavern overlooking the stream.
In their retirement, Dolley ran the show at Montpelier. On rainy days, James walked back and forth on the porch for his exercise, sometimes even racing Dolley, who, one guest reported could run very well for her age. Because his fingers were swollen, she used to lend hers and played her music box for him as they sat by the fire. Dolley Madison survived her husband by thirteen years and inherited Montpelier. She sold a few of his slaves to neighbors and relatives; in 1844, she finally sold the remainder of the estate.
Dolley Madison became somewhat of a monument. She attended the laying of the cornerstone of the Washington monument, alone with Elizabeth Hamilton. The presence of the two old ladies on the reviewing stand represented a posthumous fusion, in honor and forgetfulness, of their husbands, friends, then enemies and of the man they both served.
This is part of my ongoing Buffy Project, where I write notes/meta for every episode in an attempt to better understand the characters and themes of the show. You can find the full list here. Gifs are not mine.
I always fly through the last two episodes of season three. The battle scene is one of my favorites and I always get excited to re watch it. But first, Part 1. Side note: why do season finales always get so recap-y? I always feel like I’m mostly just noting events down for later in the end.
I enjoyed the realistic vibe in the air as everyone prepares to graduate Sunnydale High. Cordelia dislikes the color they chose for gowns (of course) and everyone is discussing the big day. Despite years of torment Harmony is suddenly nice to Willow, who feels affectionate in return. Willow says she even misses gym. I detested high school but even now get that nostalgic vibe. Like Buffy, my SO doesn’t get it.
Faith is sent on a mission to kill an innocent professor. She doesn’t even care to ask why “the boss” wants him dead. The Mayor picks her out a flowery, girly dress for Ascension Day which just so looks like something he would want his women in. Faith expresses doubts it’s her.
The Mayor: “Not you”. Let me tell you something. Nobody knows what you are. Not even you, little miss seen-it-all. The Ascension isn’t just my day, it’s yours too. Your day to blossom, to show the world what a powerful girl you are. I think of what you’ve done, what I know you will do…No father could be prouder.
Faith: I hope I don’t let you down.
The Mayor: Impossible. Come on. Change back into your street clothes and I’ll buy you an icee.
This relationship is just so weird. He gives her all this fatherly approval and affection she so deeply craves no matter if he’s asking her to murder everyone in the next sentence. She doesn’t comprehend what a good father is so anyone will do. I think the fact that he never wanted her sexually was a huge reason she trusted him so quickly, though.
Faith settles down in front of Wendy’s with a box of chicken nuggets and watches out the window as cars enter and exit the parking lot. She’s not sure where she’s going next, or if it even matters. Maybe in a westward direction.
“Can you spare some change?”
Faith looks up at the voice, ready to tell whomever it is to piss off (does it look like she has change to spare?) until she meets the girl’s eyes.
She’s around Faith’s age, and she looks… tired. She’s running, too. Faith can tell.
“Nope.” It’s a second-long internal debate, but some part of her that’s still capable of feeling empathy twists her arm into offering the girl her food. Herfood. She holds out the box of nuggets. “You want one?”
pertinent details are that Buffy, Faith and Amy are already in a relationship
and living and slaying on the Cleveland Hellmouth, about two years after the
end of BtVS, at this point.
on your left!” Amy closed her eyes and conjured up a ball of fire, pulling on
her own reserves. Snapping her eyes back open, Amy flung the ball at the
vampire that had been trying to flank Faith, catching him in the side.
a shriek of pain, the vampire staggered back, trying to beat at the flames that
rapidly spread over his torso. Within seconds, amidst more screaming, the
vampire collapsed into a pile of dust and ash. Amy took a step back, suddenly
Too much, too fast. It passed in a few seconds, and
between them, Buffy and Faith were just finishing off the last of the rest of
the vampires that had attacked them, so there was no risk, but there could have
But there wasn’t. Amy took a breath and watched as
Buffy jumped backwards onto a tombstone, kicking a vampire in the chest as he
went. The vampire went flying backward and his chest collided with the branches
of a tree, one punching into him and right through his heart.
final kill lacked the style points of Buffy’s, but it was just as dust when she
drove her stake into the damn things heart. Straightening up, Faith looked over
at Buffy, making an expression mock-disgust. “You just did that to show off.”
worked, didn’t it?” Buffy countered innocently.
on luck,” Amy pointed out with a small laugh. “You had no way of knowing if a
branch would actually go through his heart.” She stepped forward, standing next
to her girlfriends.
Written for Day 5 of Buffyverse femslash week – Minor Pairings. Though Faimy isn’t a minor pairing for me.
This is not actually smutty, but it does involve several mentions of Faith and Amy’s various kinks and their sex lives.
Characters: Faith Lehane, Amy Madison Pairing: Faith x Amy
This takes place sometime in an AU season 5 – Faith never went evil, Amy never became a rat, they two of them have been in an established relationship for about a year now, and were friends for a year before that, give or take.
Faith didn’t usually wake up before Amy.
But, as she blinked against the sunlight coming in through the window into the little apartment the Council paid for, that she all but shared with Amy (Technically Amy had a dorm room over at UC Sunnydale, but she barely slept in it), Faith realized that Amy was still asleep.
I guess last night really wore her out.
If someone had told her, before she’d started having sex with the witch, that Amy Madison, little miss tightly wound herself, would be as adventurous as she’d been turning out to be…
Well, I suppose I really wouldn’t have been all that surprised, really.
Faith knew she wasn’t exactly well-educated and she didn’t much care to correct that, but once in awhile, she got curious about things or, for lack of anything else to do, would read a news magazine or whatever. And given how much of a control freak – at least in terms of her own life – Amy could be, Faith could get why her girlfriend wanted to…
Surrender that control, in bed.
And Faith was more than happy to accept it.
Slowly, Faith shifted in bed a little, careful not to disturb Amy as she slept on in Faith’s arms, her back pressed up against Faith. She looked so peaceful and calm like this – all that poetic shit. Idly, Faith wondered how she looked to Amy when she was still asleep.
Part of Faith still couldn’t believe that she had won out as well as she had, with Amy. People in her life – before she’d come to Sunnydale… well, they didn’t stick around. Her mom had almost never bene there, and in her mom’s endless series of what in retrospect Faith realized had been pimps and dealers as much as or more than boyfriends , none had lasted long.
Her various foster parents had all sent her away within months, if not faster, and…
Amy Madison, as all of my followers must know by now, is a character I’m hugely enthusiastic about - I firmly believe she deserved more screen, she deserves more love in the fandom, et cetera, et cetera.
What I’’d like to talk about here, though, is something I’ve alluded to a few times when talking about Amy, and that is the way that Amy Madison serves as a Dark Mirror to Willow’s Storyline, and a Distant Echo of Faith’s.
Now, what the hell does that mean?
Before I can go into that, I need to talk about the Buffyverse phenomenon of what I call ‘Reflective Trinities’.
What I mean is this - we’re all familiar with the way that Kendra and Faith kind of represent opposite poles for Buffy’s storyline. This has been discussed many times in the fandom - Kendra is all duty, order, rules, restraint. Faith is all passion, desire, instinct, fury. Both end up in bad ends because of their unitary approach to Slaying - Faith’s passion and fury goes dark, and Kendra’s obedient and orderly nature makes her easy prey for Drusilla’s hypnotism.
Buffy is successful because she manages to walk a line between the two extremes, is the implicit narrative of this Reflective Trinity.
One that I haven’t seen any real discussion of, however, is the Reflective Trinity of Willow, Tara and Amy - one that is (to me) so self-evident, I’m sure I’m not the first person to make this point, even if I haven’t seen someone do it.
Willow, being the main character of the three, is at the heart of this Trinity - She’s a witch. Tara represents light magic, selflessness, balanced existence, and restraint on using magic. She’s always trying to get Willow to really respect magic, and not use too much of it, and she’s an incredibly selfless woman.
Amy, on the other hand, when you look at her whole character arc, represents dark magic, selishness, selfish use of magic, unrestrained application of power. What happens when you use magic you can’t control - and then keep using it anyway. Amy uses magic for her own gain, for sheer sake of it. She clearly knew of Rack even before she turned herself into a rat, which means she was probably taking hits of his ‘drug’ for some time before then. Amy didn’t have to turn out this way, but it is the way she went (and I may talk about this more some other time, though it is addressed in my fanfics The Spellbook and The Spellbook: Another Path)
So Willow has the two poles as well. Xander and Giles have Trinities of their own, though they’re slightly less well defined and established than Buffy’s and Willow’s.
Amy, as a character, uses magic. But from the start, she’s using it for her own ends, and using magic she can’t control - she’s messing with minds to get out of homework, she’s turning other people into rats, turning herself into a rat with no way back, and she’s doing all this before Willow can even levitate a pencil. She’s taking the path of quick and easy power, of overindulgence in magic. She introduces Willow to Rack, then tries to get Willow to relapse when she makes an effort to recover from magic, born out of resentment and a desire for revenge on Willow.
Even after she recovers from her addiction to Rack’s magic after his death, after Rock Bottom, Amy remains a petty, vindictive and kind of malevolent woman. She filled with resentment and envy towards Willow, and acts on it. Whether or not she meant for her little hex on Willow to go as far as it did, she used it without any regard for the consequenes.
Amy is, then, a Dark Mirror to Willow. She is what Willow could have been like if she’d started magic too early, and trained herself, unlike having some tutelage. She’s what Willow could have been like without someone like Tara to hold her in check, both in actuality and in spirit. She’s what Willow could have become without friends to help her when she hit Rock Bottom. She’s what Willow could have become if she’d decided she liked the neighborhood at Rock Bottom. She is Willow There But For the Grace of God - and Willow is her, There But For The Grace of God. The two characters are same basic start - witch - taking divergent paths. Willow made some bad choices, but for whatever reason, Amy made all the bad ones.
We don’t know why - there’s so much of her growth that we don’t see, we don’t get just why she’s so hateful and resentful and angry at Willow. We don’t know why she picked up magic or why she started using it so selfishly from the word go. We didn’t see it happen, we just see the result of it. But Amy’s storyline is deliberately, I think, a mirror held up to Willow’s.
With Faith, Amy represents a Distant Echo. Both characters indulge and revel in their powers, and even when they’re using them constructively (such as Slaying vamps for Faith, Amy helping Willow cast a protective spell at the start of ‘Gingerbread’), you get the impression - and in Faith’s case, know, that it’s more about the thrill of their abilities, not the fact that they’re being used for good ends.
Both Amy and Faith get into trouble thanks to their indulgence in their abilities. Both go dark in the aftermath. Both are fueled by intense resentment of their counterpart in their Relective Trinity. (For some discussion of that, including relavent dialogue, see here: (X) Both have to crawl their way up from Rock Bottom.
But there’s a reason that Amy’s storyline is only an Echo, and not something more similar. When Faith hits Rock Bottom, she decides to try and committ suicide by Cop, taking the job to kill Angel, trying to get him angry by shooting him, hitting Cordelia, torturing Wesley, etc, because she wants him to kill her. When she begs him to kill her, she’s at the bottom-est Rock Bottom you’ve ever seen. But Angel is there. Instead of killing her, he helps her. As she says, he’s effectively her sponsor. He helps her up, helps her carry herself away from Rock Bottom and helps start her path to redemption.
Amy never gets that. She hit Rock Bottom sometime between her last appearance in Season 6 and her appearance in Season 7. She even says as much: “
Because you know that’s the crazy thing about hitting rock bottom, you get to relive all the crappy things you did.” She claims she had help from the others in the Wicca circle, but if she did, she didn’t have very good help - because she really didn’t have anyone there to help her.
So she’s not recovered. She’s no long an addict, it seems, she’s no longer an overdosing witch. But she’s come back from Rock Bottom even more angry and resentful than ever. Willow went full dark, tried to destroy the world, killed a man by ripping his skin off and she’s embraced by her friends. Amy does nothing anywhere near as bad, but there’s no one there. No dad, no friends, no anything. Combined with the resentment about Willow’s power, and the whole thing goes overboard for her. She lets that hate and resentment fuel her descent into the dark.
If there hadn’t been an Angel there, is Amy what Faith could have been? Or is she just the Distant Echo? She reaches the same point Faith was at - but with no one there to help her… She’s another one of those what could have been - but the what could have been is what Amy could have been. She could have been the magical equivalent of Faith. Instead, she’s just an echo, a sort of plaintive possibility. Amy’s storyline is an echo of Faith’s, a deliberate almost.
Amy’s character arc is a story of almosts, could’ve beens and what ifs. She exists to hold a mirror up to the story of Willow, and to remind us of Faith’s journey, and how hard it was. How others can falter on that road to redemption, when weight down by resentment, self-loathing, jealousy, hate. Maybe not 100% deliberately, on the part of the writers, but to a degree, it was deliberate, I think.
These parallells to Faith and to Willow are only half of the reason why I love Amy Madison so much and find her fascinating. I hope I’ve helped you appreciate the complexity of the character, who despite only having eight episodes (one of which she was in for all of three seconds), manages to have a very deep story arc. And at some point, I hope to explore the other half of why Amy is so very awesome here on my blog.
If you have any questions about Amy or this Meta, or clarification on some of the ideas discussed herein, or just want to share your own views on Amy, please, please feel free to come into my Askbox. It’s always open, and especially for things related to Amy.