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So all of the chatting I've been doing with Audreygrace had gotten me to thinking. Mostly about the psychology of our core characters and how they work with and compare to one another. I am particularly captured by Regina in comparison to Gold. They are so similar yet so different. And so I wanted to type up a little something about it. I'll be using bits and chunks of the aforementioned comments.
One way in which I found Regina and Gold to be very similar is how they both started off as good people and then slowly became corrupt out of desperateness. They were both put in very trying situations and both seemed to be predestined for darkness due in part to their parents.
Regina, however, at least had a little bit of childhood. Gold's life was pretty much difficult from the start. A lot of abandonment, the kind Regina never really felt. First he was screwed over by his father and then he became a father and had his wife leave him and his child almost taken. It was then when he finally got desperate enough to go dark. Regina on the other hand was pretty much okay until her teen years. As seen in 'Sisters' she was kind of a lonely child but she still seemed to be doing alright.
This leads to the next comparison I'd like to draw; they both became corrupt. But they did so quite differently as well. Gold was so desperate to save Bae he was easily coaxed by the Dark One into becoming a Dark One. And it happened pretty quick over the span of one episode. Whereas Regina's corruption seemed to have it's core in one episode (the Stable Boy) but span over a few episodes and into season 2. Gold's darkness came directly from one event that was dire enough to push him over the edge. Regina had one event that was nearly dire enough but she had hope to cling onto so she didn't fall into the dark yet. It took what I like to call a 'mass manipulation' by Gold, Jeff, and Whale (and Cora as well) to get her to finally succumb. Until they finally crushed her hope completely she was fighting the dark kicking and screaming.
Which leads me to another point. Regina's darkness was very premeditated. She was molded into an evil woman by two sets of very careful hands (Cora and Gold's)--four if you count Whale and Jeff. Whereas Gold was kind of a random victim. The previous dark one was looking for a victim...a desperate soul. And this desperate soul could have been anyone. It just so happened to be Gold.
With this in mind, every good villain needs a motive or two. And these two have some. Evidently both Regina and Gold's motivations are centered around saving/losing a loved one. Gold wanted to stop being seen as a coward and from there desired nothing more than to save his son. And from those initial motives he became the Dark One. After which, his Dark One status ended up costing him his son. And therefore he became once again motivated by saving Bae. All of the evils he did in Storybrooke were to get to Bae. All of his manipulating of Regina was to get back to Bae. However his motivations weren't all love driven. He wanted revenge. On Hook for stealing his wife. And on the general population for treating him like absolute crap.
Similarly Regina was vengeance driven as well. But her vengeance was driven completely by the loss of love. Every evil deed she ever she ever seemed to do was directly to avenge Daniel or was collateral damage on her quest to avenge Daniel. All Regina really wanted was love, she didn't want the power she was coaxed into craving, she didn't want money. She wanted love. Regina was a lonely child and an even lonelier adult. The only love she really got was from her father, if even, seeing how afraid he was of Cora. All of this seemed to pave the way to her going dark and an eventual fall into an addiction to magic.
This is another area in which the two can be compared. They both have an addiction to magic. I've seen a few people compare it to a drug/alcohol addiction. And I agree with them; I think that the magic and darkness are drug-like for the both Gina and Gold. Hell, we've seen Regina go get counseling to try to overcome it. To follow that metaphor one key difference is that Gold has been an addict for much longer and really doesn't want to end his habit. Gold started way earlier; like a baby who was born addicted. He was pretty much predisposed to the darkness and magic reliance.
Gina on the other hand was clean for a while but then got into it to cope with and/or solve her problems. Much like how she tried to be resistant to the dark, she tried to resist falling prey to magic, especially dark magic. And for that, Regina really seemed to hate her addiction and desperately wanted to be free of it.
What's worse for Regina, as Audreygrace pointed out, is that her addiction was positively reinforced; her mother praised her for it and she got her way more when she fed into her addiction. But deep down she knew it was wrong and wanted to curb it. Whereas Gold seemed to enjoy his addiction allowing him to get his way.
I would say both have become dependent on magic at various degrees though Regina is faring better and still trying to have that drink every now and then whereas Gold isn't really trying at all anymore. I mean Regina was talking to Archie for a while and gave overcoming her addiction her all. She had her huge relapse but is pretty much clean now, only using magic when she needs to use it. Basically, following the metaphor again, she learned to drink responsibly. Sometimes she does it for leisure but she doesn't over-indulge. But Gold, while I do think he gave it a good try for both Belle and Bae seemed to get discouraged and/or frightened and stopped trying. I feel like he has it in him to overcome his addiction but doesn't have the motivation/drive to do so. The motivation that Henry provided Regina with.
Finally, the two of them also have redemption arcs in common. Both of these two tried to better themselves for the people they loved. Gold gave it a go for both Bae and Belle and Regina gave it a go for Henry and continued to stay on track for Robin and probably Emma and Snow as well. Of course, as we saw, Gold's redemption is still up in the air right now. I kind of think that this is why Gold is so keen on telling Regina that she can't change or that she's weak because she changed.
So why is it that Regina's arc went well despite it's road-blocks and Gold's is still extremely rocky?
I feel like this happened for various reasons mostly centered around Regina having a stronger drive (that is to say Henry (the main factor in her redemption) isn't dead as Bae is. And that Gold has a lot more fear and a lot more to lose. I also believe that his enjoyment of the dark plays a huge role.
Gold truly did seem to want to be-rid of his darker self but really seemed to struggle in a way that Regina did not. And I can see him taking his own inability to accomplish what Regina did out on her. Granted I'll give him leeway in that he does have the more tricky situation--as mentioned, he was seduced by the darkness from the start whereas Regina ambivalent about it and forced into it kicking and screaming. Eventually Gold learned to love and take pride in his power and darkness whereas Regina seemed to hate every minute of it and eventually felt horrible. I think even while she was doing a lot of her dark deeds there was a cloud of guilt there because it wasn't natural, evil wasn't in her nature.
With this in mind, I'd like to address the nature of these characters. Though Gold wasn't born evil by any means--in fact he was a very kind and humble man in the beginning. However once he got the dagger, the dark became innate. Because of his Dark One status Gold is naturally inclined to do evil. Regina is not. In fact, I feel like Gina has always been more naturally good and her darkness was for a long while really unnatural for her. Of course once she got used to it, it became more natural. But she never literally had darkness inside her like Gold did.
Similarly, Gold's darkness seems to be more internal while Regina's comes from more external factors. This was another point that came up in my discussion with Audrey. Gold has gone through and is still going through a pretty vicious cycle. Though I think Regina had a bit of a cycle with her redemption as well. This is where the internal vs external comes into play; Regina felt hated by the general public so she hated them more and in turn they hated her with more intensity. Regina tried to make things right but was met with harsh judgment so she relapsed because she felt like it was hopeless and she'd be hated no matter what she did, so she may as well be evil.
Whereas Gold has that darkness in him like a curse, constantly whispering to him, urging him to do bad things.
It is for that, that I feel like his situation is more tricky. That and he has many more demons to conquer. For example Regina never abandoned Henry as Gold did with Bae. And the damage she did to her relationship with Henry, Regina was able to mend with loads of work. Gold never truly got that closure. This is kind of why I don't really understand how some people still insist that Gina is more evil and darker than Gold. I'm wanting to call bias there. Due in part to these discussions with Audrey I find myself liking Gold a lot more again. However that doesn't keep me from thinking that he is far more evil than Gina, I mean she's redeemed and he isn't yet. But that's fine; I feel like some people automatically think calling a character like Gold or Gina evil is always a negative. It's not! Evil characters are cool lol. Evil Regina, good Regina, she's still amazing. Likewise with Gold.
One more reason I think Gold is struggling so much to escape his darkness is that he isn't willing to take the risk. Regina dove in head-first and put everything on the line. She knew it could have ended extremely awful for her and yet she did it anyhow. Henry was worth that for her. I feel like Gold is still afraid; he doesn't like to make gambles unless he has seen all the cards first. And redemption is a game in which he barely even knows his own deck, much less the decks of the other players. And so he is afraid to give it a go because he can (and for a good while, like Regina) and probably will lose. Gold has to put in work and emotional pain as Regina did, to be redeemed.
I feel as though the reason for this stems from insecurities. Like he doesn't think he can do it. There's something else holding him back and it definitely comes from within. He needs to rid himself of whatever that is and realize that [/b]he doesn't need to have it all to be happy.[/b] Because this is another thing holding him back. He thinks he needs to have it all to be happy. But he does not. Regina used to think she needed and could have it all (hell she even said something like "yes I can have everything" in reference to Henry and her revenge). Once she let that go she had a much easier time.
Referring back to him taking his own setbacks out on Regina, because he is upset that he can't have it all. He gets mad at the fact that she has something he doesn't yet have. Similarly to how Regina (still) has to learn to cope with her past, I think it would do Gold good to learn to cope with not being able to always get everything he desires all the time. That's just impossible. And it would seem that the harder he tries to have everything the harder he falls. The same happened with Regina when she tried to keep both Henry and her curse. The fact that Regina is so like him is probably salt in the wound to the man.
Going back to the insecurity, I'd also like to pose that his magic and darkness is like Emma's jacket; it offers him some mental protection. He's afraid to take down those walls in the same way Emma was afraid to open herself up to a new love life. As mentioned in my conversations with Audrey, each character seems to have his or her own insecurities and his or her own walls. Like Regina hid behind her anger and that held her back just as much as Gold's attachment to magic. Furthermore each has a different way of coping with those walls and tearing them down.
Which is why I think part of Gold's problem is the fact that he associates himself too closely with Regina while knowing full well that they are not the same. Yeah, they are very similar in some regards, in a lot of regards really. They have the same problem but the root of the problems are so different and were crafted so differently. So much so that the comparison is damaging for both of them. Regina seems to acknowledge this; she repeatedly tells Gold that she isn't him when he starts talking about his experience with redemption and how since he 'can't change' neither can she. In fact I think she did so in the finale when she told him that she's not him and that she didn't want his psychoanalysis. Basically they are similar but different all the same time. They have a lot in common but they have so many differences. This is why it is so detrimental for both of them to compare themselves as they have been doing. Gold needs to realize that what worked for Regina probably won't work for him because her personality and history is so different than his own. And Regina needs to realize that she can't keep letting him (and even her own doubts) get to her because she has come so far.
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