The Haunting Of Bly Manor Episode 8 The Romance Of Certain Old Clothes Explained- Henry James
The origin of the gravity well that binds everyone to is revealed in The Haunting Of Bly Manor Episode 8. It is you. It is me. It is us.
Perhaps the cruelest of all of the episodes in the series, The Haunting Of Bly Manor Episode 8, shows how dark the will to hang on can be. Bly Manor wasn’t always such a terrible place with ghosts and regret. At one time, it was a gorgeous old house filled with love. Perversion of love, sickness, and jealousy warped it into a gravity well of misery that few could escape. The Romance Of Old Clothes by Henry James formed the backdrop for this making of a haunted house and the creation of everything that happened after.
Before The Romance Of Old Clothes weaves its tale, Dani and Flora try to escape from the dead. Dani’s struggle with Viola bookends the cautionary tale. Netflix’s The Haunting Of Bly Manor Episode 8 flips many of the main characters around and elongates the story while preserving the general theme. Viola and Perdita are wealthy and alone. The older sister Viola spies on Arthur to ensure he was not an opportunist. He originally had feelings for Perdita, but once Viola arrived, he fell under the witty, wild, and beautiful older sister’s sway. They married and had a child. Shortly after she develops a sickness called The Lung or Consumption which is Tuberculosis.
After a lengthy and painful attempt to cure her is unsuccessful she is left to die. She refuses to pass however and stays stuck between life and death by sheer will alone. The force of nature that is her desire to stay with her family forms the basis for the gravity well that holds all the dead to Bly Manor. Her soul is corrupted by her jealousy, anger, and loneliness.
In this version of James’ story, Perdita kills Viola because she has had enough. Perdita justifies the murder by convincing herself it was mercy, but really she had just had enough of her sister’s accusations, her anger, and her care. Years before, Viola had made Arthur promise to keep her beautiful things locked in the trunk for Isabella. He agreed, and when Perdita killed Viola, that promise held for a while. Perdita and Arthur married but were unable to have children.
When the family’s financials begin to unravel, she begs Arthur to open the trunk and sell her sister’s clothes. He refused, and she stole the key and opened it anyway. Viola finally got her revenge by killing her sister. Viola was in the trunk all those years. It looked like a room, but it was the trunk. She waited for years for her daughter to come. Confident her story would have a happy ending through her. Unfortunately, by killing Perdita, she sealed her own fate. Arthur and Isabella threw the trunk in the lake, fearing a curse, and left.
Alone and perverted by time and circumstance, she made Bly Manor what it is now. Walking every night from the lake to her house, it is her muddy footsteps Mrs. Grose and Dani finds in earlier episodes. The passage of time and forgotten memories cause the creepy faceless child and her Lady of the Lake. She had forgotten so much she couldn’t even remember her face. It is a clever interpretation of the uncanny which the source material is so praised for.
The Romance Of Certain Old Clothes was first published in 1868 in the Atlantic Monthly, and James made subsequent revisions altering the family and eldest daughter’s names. Viola and Perdita are beautiful sisters who fall in love with the same man, Arthur Lloyd. He chose Perdita, and the couple married and became pregnant. While Perdita was giving birth Lloyd was away at a wedding with Viola. Now, in poor health and dying, Perdita is jealous and angry. When Lloyd returns home, she makes him promise to keep all her beautiful dresses and jewels locked in a truck for their infant daughter. He initially promises, but years later, after marrying Viola and falling on tough financial times, she convinces him to open the trunk. Shortly after, Lloyd finds Viola dead in from of the trunk with ghostly hand marks on her arms.
Thought to be the James story that best encompasses Sigmund Freud’s uncanny theory, it is a dark fable of sibling rivalry and revenge. The concept of the uncanny valley is something that is familiar yet alien at the same time. Something known but mysterious that tickles the brain. The ghost of Perdita in James’ story or Viola in The Haunting Of Bly Manor is the uncanny. Viola denies death, and even after she passes, she lies in wait for the day, her sister will open her chest. On that day, she springs and gets her revenge on Perdita. The Haunting of Bly Manor Episode 8 redefines this story of sibling revenge into a sadder, and somehow darker story of the inevitability of time and loneliness. Viola’s anger and stubbornness taint everything on the grounds of Bly Manor.
Netflix’s The Haunting Of Bly Manor is a brilliant re-imagining of Henry james’ stories. It is gothic horror at its best with a perfect equilliberium established between romance and ghost stories. Find all our analysis on The Haunting Of Bly Manor here.
As the TV/Streaming Editor for Signal Horizon, I love watching and writing about genre tv. I grew up with old school slashers, but my real passion is television and all things weird and ambiguous. When I’m not watching and writing about my favorite movies and series, I’m introducing my family to the wonderful world of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. My only regret, there is not enough time in the day to watch everything.