Aziraphale is, in and of himself, a fairly large, complicated subject to tackle. He should have his own shrine, really. (*ahem*) Anyway, this page represents my attempt to analyze the character of Aziraphale, aided and abetted by the commentary of others. To navigate this page, you can go ahead and use the links below.
The Apples and Oranges section has moved to a seperate page, here.
I apologize for the length of this page, but to write any less would be to do Aziraphale a disservice.
Many people, meeting Aziraphale for the first time, formed three impressions: that he was English, that he was intelligent, and that he was gayer than a tree full of monkeys on nitrous oxide. Two of these were wrong; Heaven is not in England, whatever certain poets may have thought, and angels are sexless unless they really want to make an effort. But he was intelligent. And it was an angelic intelligence which, while not being particularly higher than human intelligence, is much broader and has the advantage of having thousands of years of practice.
Aziraphale, formerly the angel who guarded the eastern gate of Eden, has been on Earth just as long as Crowley has, and has been acting more in the capacity of Crowley's friend and companion than as an enemy. This is due mostly to the fact that the two of them reached a special arrangement regarding their respective duties (see below), and heck, "you grew accustomed to the only other face that had been around more or less consistently for six millenia" (page 31).
Aziraphale is astoundingly stereotypically British in his appearance and mannerisms, from his dialouge filled with expressions like "Jolly good" to his penchant for tea to his talent for droll understatement. He's always polite, and never swears (well, at least not until well into the novel), and the text points out more than once that Aziraphale's hands are always "exquisitely manicured." He's a bit too prim and proper at times, and as such tends to miss out on or be confused by Crowley's constant use of slang and sarcasm in his speech.
Speaking of the angel's hands... Quite damningly, Aziraphale is never once given any sort of physical description in the course of the novel. His clothing is described more than once, as are his hands, which are beautifully manicured, and noted on page 87 to be "plump." But that's all we get. Interestingly enough, this might have been a deliberate choice by the authors to reflect Aziraphale's own obsessions with his hands and, to a lesser extent, his clothing, possibly to the exclusion of caring about the rest of his appearance. Frustratingly, Aziraphale's age of appearance isn't ever even described! Personally, I always imagined Aziraphale as an older gentleman, something along the lines of Anthony Stewart Head. Although a lot of fanfic and fanart that I've come across assumes him to be a young man, about the same age as Crowley. Likewise, you can derive whatever you want from the quote on page 147, which states that most people assume that Aziraphale is British and gay. This means that Aziraphale's surface appearance fulfills the essentializing stereotypes associated with those categories. He is probably fair-skinned and light-haired, well-dressed, and handsome.
Aziraphale drives Crowley absolutely batty with his stubborn insistence on always doing the Right Thing. When Crowley runs down a certain bicyclist with his Bentley, Aziraphale not only miracles the girl and her bike back to health, but insists that Crowley give her a ride back home, despite the fact that Crowley knows he and Aziraphale have more important things to do. "One does not," Aziraphale tells Crowley, "pass by on the other side." He also cajoles Crowley into undoing all of the evil that he does during the Tadfield Manor paintgun incident. Aziraphale's natural sense of moral obligation even restrains him when Crowley isn't involved. For instance, he refuses to up and join the armed forces of Heaven right before the Apocalypse so that he can stay behind for a few minutes and "clear up a few business matters," even though since Armageddon is about to occur it's a completely futile and pointless exercise. However, Aziraphale insists that "as a reputable businessman" he should do the right thing (page 220).
Aziraphale has also been investigated by tax authorities no less than five times, since his accounts and filings are so scrupulously accurate that they thought "he was getting away with murder" (page 147).
Aziraphale collects books, and owns a used and rare book shop in Soho, which he really only uses as an excuse to house his collection. Incidentally, his book shop is also located right next to a porn shop, but anywhoo... Aziraphale specializes in Wilde first editions, Infamous Bibles (Bibles with typesetting errors), and books of prophecy. Most of his books of prophecy are first editions, signed by the authors themselves, which include the likes of Nostradamus, etc. He also owns the original handwritten copy of the Revelation of St. John.
Aziraphale's greatest flaw (if you don't count his tendency towards anal-retentive courteousness) is that, like Crowley, he has grown fond of the human world and its material delights, not to mention fond of the fascinating and incomprehensible human creatures that inhabit it. Crowley knows this, of course, and regularly tempts Aziraphale with lists of worldy delights that will vanish forever if Heaven wins the final battle and takes over the world. Aziraphale is just horrified at the prospect of spending an eternity with no better movies to watch other than The Sound of Music.
One other interesting thing to note about Aziraphale - he displays an impressive array of supernatural powers in the course of the novel, perhaps even moreso than Crowley does. Aziraphale can perform miracles, possess human hosts, and make people dissappear with a snap of his fingers. But then again, Aziraphale usually prefers for humans to solve problems by themselves, and prefers to solve his own problems using minimal divine powers, and thus rarely uses magic unless he feels that he has some sort of direct responsibility to take action for. That, and his activities are apparently carefully monitored by his bosses Above. "Any more miracles and we'll really start getting noticed by Up There," Aziraphale tells Crowley at one point (page 94, to be exact). "If you really want Gabriel or someone wondering why forty policeman have gone to sleep..."
The Arrangement... was the sort of sensible arrangement that many isolated agents, working in awkward conditions a long way from their superiors, reach with their opposite number when they realize that they have more in common with their immediate opponents than their remote allies. It meant a tacit non-interference in certain of each other's activities. It made certain that while neither really won, also neither really lost, and both were able to demonstrate to their masters the great strides they were making against a cunning and well-informed adversary.
Aziraphale and Crowley began their arrangement in the year 1020. Crowley wiles, Aziraphale sees the wile, Aziraphale thwarts. Simple as that. Although Aziraphale is quick to clarify, "I encourage humans to do the actual thwarting. Because of ineffability, you understand" (page 44).
In case you haven't figured this out already, Aziraphale isn't your average innocent, sweet little angel. I rant more about this here, but I do think it's worth pointing out that, as Crowley notes (see below), Aziraphale does have a little bit of a bastard in him. Most tellingly, Aziraphale's motivations for preventing the Apocalypse could be read as purely selfish - he *likes* the Earth and its pleasures, that's why he doesn't want the Earth destroyed. Aziraphale's inner bastard manifests itself in many small, sometimes subtle ways throughout the book. He's cold and rude to customers of his bookshop, because he doesn't want to sell any books. He's not above using the ends to justify the means - hey, this is the angel who wanted to kill the Antichrist, remember? He's materialistic, has limited patience, and is even conniving in his own angelic way (i.e., the Arrangement). Aziraphale tells outright lies, especially when he recruits and manipulates Shadwell into killing the Antichrist for him. And remember, he also originally lied to Almighty God himself about how he "lost" his flaming sword. He also admits that he helps support terrorists as long as he can justifiably call them "freedom fighters," and he further supports gun ownership rights. "(Guns) lend weight to a moral argument. In the right hands, of course," he explains to Crowley (page 87). He also causes a traffic warden's notebook to spontaneously combust. Although, to his credit, Aziraphale does tend to feel guilty after he does something bad. He tries very, very hard to always do what is right and good.
Aziraphale understands Crowley well, and most of this is due to the fact that the two of them share a somewhat world-weary outlook on humanity. Afrai comments:
For more of Aziraphale's subtly nasty cynical comments, I suggest referring to pages 248-253 of the novel. Aziraphale swears, barely disguises his obvious contempt for Australians, and in a particularly scathing passage, puts a tele-evangelist in his place. He also accuses Heaven of perpetuating "propaganda," and suggests to a television audience that "You might just as well send money to a Satanist hotline to cover your bets."
The parallels between Crowley's tendency to do good and Aziraphale's tendency to be slightly evil are drawn in many ways throughout the novel. Kylni writes:
Jessi has this to add about Daegaer's comments:
Important Note: Page numbers in reference to quotations from the book refer to the 1996 Ace mass-market paperback edition. Disclaimer: Crowley, Aziraphale, and Good Omens are owned and copyrighted by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. Excerpts and quotes from the novel Good Omens used throughout this site are reproduced without legal permission, for which I can only hang my head sheepishly and apologize. However, this is a FANSITE, meant in the name of fun, and not intended to make a profit. The lovely model in this site's header graphic is an endangered Eastern Indigo Snake, in a photograph courtesy of SeaWorld.org. Brushes used in the header graphic are courtesy of Paper Flowers.