Flora Wingrave’s dollhouse in The Haunting Of Bly Manor follows a very particular and specific system that is entirely dependent on where the residents and restless spirits are at all times – here’s every doll and who they represent explained.
Mike Flanagan’s follow-up series to the incredibly successful The Haunting Of Hill House follows Danielle “Dani” Clayton, portrayed by returning cast member Victoria Pedretti, as she cares for Miles and Flora Wingrave. It is based on Henry James’s horror novella The Turn Of The Screw (1898) and features several other ghost stories by the author. When Dani is hired as the au pair for Miles and Flora, who’ve recently lost their parents to a tragic accident, she discovers that the young girl has a dollhouse that depicts where everyone in Bly Manor is at all times. While its most important doll is modeled after the lady in the lake, it also includes several of the manor’s most well-hidden ghosts as well as its living residents. She uses it in order to ensure that everyone alive stays that way, as the lady of the lake threatens to take them to their watery deaths on the off chance they unexpectedly come face to face with the centuries-old spirit.
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On several occasions, Flora is seen apparently playing with the dolls in her dollhouse, which is an exact replica of Bly Manor that was gifted to her by her biological father Henry Wingrave (Henry Thomas). While it may seem like an innocent game of house, she is actually moving the dolls, which represent people, to their actual locations, but Flora isn’t the only one moving the dolls. The faceless ghost of a young boy is actually assisting her in tracking several of the spirits, including the lady in the lake. The Haunting Of Bly Manor initially introduced the dolls and their house as an unsuspecting child’s game, but they mean a great deal more than that.
In episode 1, “The Great Good Place,” Dani goes to tuck Flora into bed and notices that there is a doll that shares a remarkable resemblance to her. It is the first doll that is shown in the series and the first indication that they’ll play a very important role. Despite denying that it is in fact meant to represent Dani, the series finale reveals that it is her. Flora had used it in order to track where her au pair was at all times and to make sure that the lady in the lake didn’t take her like she took Miss Rebecca Jessel (Tahirah Sharif). The doll shares Dani’s blond hair, pink sweater, and denim bottoms.
Miles’s doll wears his boarding school uniform and is mostly seen laying in bed with Peter Quint (Jackson Oliver-Cohen) lurking beside him. Episode 1 explores the various toys more than any other in the series. It is only one of a handful of times that Miles’s doll is on screen, but its proximity to Peter Quint’s indicates that Flora uses it to track when her brother is possessed by the vile man.
Flora’s own doll is the biggest indication that she isn’t the only one in control of the dollhouse. It appears remarkably shorter than most of the others in the home and has dirty blonde hair. Just like Peter Quint looms over Miles’s doll, Miss Rebecca Jessel does so over Flora’s. Both children become possessed by the lovers several times throughout the series. They are constantly manipulated and tucked away by the two until the big reveal that Miss Rebecca Jessel always planned to save Flora and keep her safe from Peter Quint’s harm. While his presence in Miles’s room indicates evil, her presence in Flora’s represents a guardian.
Hannah Grose (T’Nia Miller) looks the most like her doll. The two share an eggplant-colored top, a long skirt, and a shaved head. Her doll is mostly seen in the living room. Due to the fact that she is actually a ghost, which isn’t revealed until episode 5, “The Altar Of The Dead,” it is likely that her doll spends most of her time at the manor’s church.
Owen Sharma’s (Rahul Kohli) first appears in episode 3, “The Two Faces, Part One,” when Miss Jessel and Flora are playing with them in the school room. Its face features his thick mustache and it wears chef’s apron andglasses. It is hard to miss that this doll is Owen due to the apron, as he is the pun crafting cook of the manor. His does not appear as frequently because he does not live at Bly Manor.
The second time Owen’s doll appears is with Jamie’s (Amelia Eve) in the dollhouse’s kitchen during episode 4, “The Way It Came.” When Dani notices that its door has inexplicably opened, she peers in to see her lover’s doll in a t-shirt and jeans with her curly hair in a ponytail. It is the only time that the doll is ever seen, likely because Jamie doesn’t live at Bly Manor and normally stays outside due to the fact that she’s the gardener.
Peter Quint’s doll is dressed in the finest clothes of the entire collection, mainly because he often appears in suits, expensive-looking shirts and jackets, as well as neatly pressed slacks. He is normally beside Miles’s bed or just slightly to the side of it. Peter constantly looms over the young boy and threatens his safety as well as his sister’s.
Miss Rebecca Jessel’s doll is made by Flora in episode 3, “The Two Faces, Part One,” after she expresses an affinity for her new au pair. She loves all colors, which she tells Flora, so her doll wears a black dress because it is comprised of all colors in existence at once. When she gives Miss Jessel the doll, they are sitting by the lake and the water is directly behind it. This was one way that the series alluded to how she died and what she wears as a ghost at Bly Manor. As a result of Peter Quint, she was drowned in the lake and now lives out her afterlife trapped at Bly.
Viola Lloyd – The Lady In The Lake
The faceless doll Dani first encounters in Flora’s room is the lady in the lake. When she is under the dresser, she is under the water and when she is in the dollhouse, she is wandering the halls of the manor. As episode 8, “The Romance Of Certain Old Clothes,” reveals, it is Viola Lloyd who lurks in the depths of the lake. When the ghosts begin to forget themselves, their faces begin to disappear, which explains what happened to Viola’s as well as why her doll lacks any facial features. She is the reason the spirits are trapped in the house as her anger, resentment, and loneliness created a ghostly gravitational pull to the manor.
Viola’s sister, Perdita Willoughby is trapped in the attic of Bly Manor. After she opened her sister’s chest, her spirit jumped out and strangled her to death. The doll is always in the attic because that’s where Perdita will live out the rest of her ghostly days until Dani takes the spirit of Viola into her body with the phrase “it’s you, it’s me, it’s us.”
The Little Boy
The little boy without a face became a victim of Viola’s when she went searching for her daughter in Bly Manor. After Flora gave him a face, he became a ghostly friend to the little girl. His doll appears with a porcelain doll’s face, which resembles the one gifted to him by Flora. He is the only other individual who moves the dolls around the dollhouse, which assists Flora in keeping herself and her family safe.
The Plague Doctor
The plague doctor ghost is another of Viola’s episode 8 victims. When he wandered into her bedroom and questioned why she was in there, she strangled him to death. He lurks in the shadows of the manor and is seen on several occasions in the darkest rooms and corridors of Bly. His doll wears the same outfit he wore when he died – the plague doctor outfit he wore while treating patients inflicted with the deadly disease.
Viola claimed another innocent life in episode 8 when she killed the vicar for unknown reasons. Curiously, his doll does not resemble him as it appears with a beard and mustache, while the actual vicar is clean-shaven. The only indication that it is the vicar is the Jacobean Ruff around his neck and his long black robe.
The Hidden Soldier
There is one spirit in Bly Manor that is the most elusive; the soldier. He makes an appearance countless times throughout the series but it is nearly impossible to find him. It is common that he appears by the stairs, as indicated in Flora’s dollhouse in episode 1. While his importance to the story was not revealed until much later, the fact that he was once Henry Wingrave’s supposedly imaginary friend is integral to his connection to Flora. The Haunting Of Bly Manor is filled with the dead and the living, but only Flora Wingrave’s dollhouse knows where they are at all times.
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