If you’ve reached a certain part of the game, you may be wondering whether Cole should achieve personhood or spirithood. In fact, this is a rather beautiful story in itself, because at the core of it, it implies that there really is no “good” or “bad” decision. Instead, there is just a decision. It is the decision itself that is important; it is the decision itself that heals him. Regardless of whether Cole becomes more like a person or more like a spirit, he’s happy. He is happy knowing what he is supposed to be.
[Read no further if you have not yet done Cole’s personal quest–or at least, arrived at it.]
My personal belief is that Solas is correct; Cole should be more like a spirit.
There are two sides of this. Cole can become more like a person, just as Varric suggests. Varric’s premise is that Cole wanted to be a person, but that’s not really true. Varric’s premise is flawed because he assumes being a person is the default state; that it’s something everyone would want. Cole didn’t become a person because he wanted to. He became a person because he was trying to save the real Cole, failed, and was so traumatized that he became confused. Cole certainly can become a person and he can be happy about it, but it’s very confusing.
After becoming a person, Cole is confused and distraught. People can see him and he feels uncomfortable. This is seen positively by Varric because he’s learning to become a person. But as we’ve seen, spirits are not people. They don’t need to be people. They are something else entirely.
If Cole, instead, becomes a spirit again, he will tell the Inquisitor how happy he is that he’s finally found someone to accept him the way that he is. He remarks that Rhys and Evangeline couldn’t accept him and that everyone has wanted to change him; that the Inquisitor is a true friend, in other words, because the Inquisitor accepts him for his true nature. It’s a very touching scene. He feels immediate relief as a spirit, even though Varric is distressed that he can no longer understand him very well. But this isn’t about Varric.
I think that this situation becomes confused because people naturally want to do what Varric wants–he’s a very relatable character and what he says seems to make sense, especially since Solas is kind of being a dick about the entire situation. But though Varric may want Cole to be more like a person, because it’s easier to understand for him, that doesn’t mean that Cole is a person.
Either way, Cole will be happy. But he seems happier more immediately as a spirit and it is his true nature. It’s difficult not to read Varric’s reaction to it as a negative, especially the haunting, “He could have been a person.” Yes, he could have–but he isn’t a person.