In the episode “Intervention” (S5 ep.18), when going on a spiritual quest about her nature as a slayer, Buffy is told, by the guide under the form of the first Slayer, that ‘Death is her Gift’. Buffy, a 20th century young woman is confused by the declaration, as are the viewers unless they have read the Silmarilliion, in which the Elves refer to human mortality as the Gift of Illuvatar, a gift they greatly envy.
Writing decades apart, Tolkien and Whedon may not have the same use of the word “gift” as their background and inspirations are quite different (though some of their vision of death and after-death have the same sources or at least some common forms).
Does the cohabitation of mortal humans with immortal beings shed the same light on the concept of Death as a gift in the novel and in the TV show?
In Buffy as in Middle-earth, mortals and immortals have to share the same world, and their mingling through romance, feud or hardship is the root of reflections on love, aging, decaying and loss; not only characters have to deal with their own mortality, they also witness the passing of others, sometimes by their own hands.
However, if Buffy’s job is to kill the immortal and murderous vampires, Men in Middle-earth have a completely different relation to the Elves.
Death being such a vast subject, it would be interesting to compare how the two creators have used their art as a source of spiritual and religious reflection about the meaning of mortality and the constant desire to escape death.
"Death as a Gift in J.R.R Tolkien's Work and Buffy the Vampire Slayer,"
Journal of Tolkien Research: Vol. 10
, Article 7.
Available at: https://scholar.valpo.edu/journaloftolkienresearch/vol10/iss1/7