What’s Really Going On With The Ghosts Of Bly Manor

Photo: Courtesy of Netflix.
Warning: Spoilers for The Haunting of Bly Manor are ahead.
The doors of Bly Manor have opened just in time for Halloween. Although the new series might be more concerned with the horrors of the heart than scaring you silly, it's still full of strange specters and unsettled spirits to get to know. With The Haunting of Hill House, Mike Flanagan set up a precedent for hiding ghosts in plain sight and his follow up continues that trend. But whereas those were set up simply to scare, the ghosts of Bly Manor are all deeply connected to the greater mystery at the heart of the series. So if you've already binged the perfectly splendid show (or don't mind spoilers) then get ready to explore Flora's dollhouse of horrors. 
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The Plague Doctor

This is the first of ghosts that we obviously see in the house. With his terrifying mask and incredibly threatening presence, like most of the ghosts we see early on he seems to be connected with Flora's dollhouse. The sweet and spooky young girl played by Amelie Bea Smith takes great care of keeping each of her dolls in their place and each one seems to represent a threat that lives in the house. But as we find out, Flora is simply trying to keep tabs on the spirits like the Plague Doctor whose story is unveiled in episode 8. During "The Romance of Certain Old Clothes" it's revealed that he was a plague doctor sent to treat the inhabitants of Bly Manor when it was being used as a hospital, but was killed by the home's most vicious spirit. Due to the nature of the house and that spirit — which we'll get into later —he was trapped forever.

Peter Quint

Photo: Courtesy of Netflix.
The sexiest bad guy around has returned. Yes, The Invisible Man's (and The Haunting of Hill House's) Oliver Jackson-Cohen is back on his toxic romance business as the nefarious Peter Quint. Although we mainly know him as one of the ghosts haunting Dani (Victoria Pedretti), we get to learn a lot more about his backstory as the show goes on. The one time assistant of Flora and Miles' (Benjamin Evan Ainsworth) Uncle Henry Wingrave became entangled with the children's governess, Rebecca Jessel (Tahirah Sharif). Though everyone thought he stole money from the family business before leaving the country, his real fate was death at the hands of the ghostly lady of Bly Manor. Stuck in the hallowed halls, he began scheming on how to escape his ghostly prison. Once he convinced her of his plan, he dragged Ms. Jessel into his ghastly scheme to possess Miles and Flora.
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Miss Jessel

Photo: Courtesy of Netflix.
Intelligent, sweet, brilliant, and loving, Ms. Jessel was the woman who cared for Miles and Flora before Dani. Her life was like so many others destroyed by the ghosts of Bly, but it wasn't the lady of the manor or one of the obvious suspects. She was killed by the man she loved, Peter Quint. The pair connected as lowly workers with big dreams and soon fell into a passionate love affair. It distracted Ms. Jessel from the children, and when she discovered her lover was dead it set her on a terrible course. Allowing Peter to possess her and test the limits of his powers led to her murder at the hands of the man she cared so much about. Taking over her body, he sunk her into the lake and drowned her as she was "tucked away" in a memory. It's a tale that makes Ms. Jessel one of the house's most tragic victims, but it also gives her the incentive to eventually betray Peter Quint and help save Miles and Flora from his chilling plan to steal their bodies. 

Mrs. Grose

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T'Nia Miller gives one of the best performances of the season as Mrs. Grose, the housekeeper of Bly Manor who dies just moments before Dani arrives at the country pile. We, of course, don't find that out until the fourth episode when Mrs. Grose gets lost inside her own memories. It's a heartbreaking entry into the series that Miller delivers with a subtle power. Mrs. Grose's journey is one that reflects what all of the ghosts of Bly have been through, from denial to realization and acceptance. But the truth that she was killed by Peter Quint inhabiting Miles' body is almost too much to bear and ends up trapping her within her own memories. That is, until she breaks free from her prison to help the people that she has come to love so dearly at Bly Manor. 
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The Dollface Ghost

One of the scariest ghosts in Bly Manor also has one of the most tragic stories. We first properly meet the Dollface Ghost when we enter a memory with Flora and she creates a visage for the strange faceless apparition using the face of an old doll she found in the attic. Just like the Plague Doctor and Peter Quint, the Dollface Ghost was a victim of the spirit who created the haunting situation at Bly Manor. Terrifying in her white robes, we've seen the woman who haunts the halls of Bly and terrorizes its inhabitants all season. Years after her own death she killed a child who would become the Dollface Ghost. During the flashback episode "The Romance of Old Clothes" we find out her name and why the Lady in the Lake has the most tragic story of all. 

The Lady in the Lake & the Jealous Sister

Photo: Courtesy of Netflix.
During the penultimate episode we learn the truth behind Bly. The ghost who haunts the halls leaving muddy footprints is Viola (Kate Siegel), the former matriarch of the massive stately home. But after becoming sick, she's betrayed by her jealous sister who kills Viola to take her place in the family. Replacing her isn't easy, though, as Viola's jewels and riches are locked away in a trunk for her daughter. Of course, that doesn't stop her greedy sibling, who opens the trunk only to find Viola's spirit inside ready to kill her. Later, Viola finds herself and her trunk thrown into the lake, leading to her final form as the Lady in the Lake. As these two ghosts have been in the "gravity well" of Bly Manor for the longest — Viola's grief creating the trap in which all the spirits are stuck — they're both faceless spirits. Viola's sister lives in the attic with the Dollface Ghost, and Viola herself can be found haunting the hallways of Bly until she becomes part of Dani. 

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