‘The Haunting of Bly Manor’: Who Is the Soldier Ghost?
The Haunting of Bly Manor is riddled with ghosts. Some of them are hidden, like those in The Haunting of Hill House. Others exist as part of the narrative. There is one ghost fans have questions about. Who is the soldier ghost that roams Bly Manor?
[SPOILER ALERT: Major spoilers ahead for The Haunting of Bly Manor.]
There are a few hidden ghosts in ‘The Haunting of Bly Manor’
As in The Haunting of Hill House, showrunner Mike Flanagan hid some ghosts in The Haunting of Bly Manor.
“Gothic horror relies on shadows, but also on being able to see the architecture and use it as an accomplice in a scare,” Flanagan explained to Vulture. “[We] devised a pretty beautiful look for our darkness, and the rest was just having fun with the camera frame. We [hid the ghosts] in plain sight, in the deep background of shots. We don’t call any attention to them, but they’re there.”
From a hooded plague doctor to a faceless little boy, the manor is riddled with spirits from the past. Most of those ghosts were killed at the hands of Viola Willoughby (Kate Siegel), affectionately referred to as “the Lady in the Lake” by young Flora (Amelie Bea Smith).
The main ghosts in ‘The Haunting of Bly Manor’ are puzzle pieces to the story
Unlike the first season, where ghosts were a fun Easter Egg for fans to seek out, the ghosts in The Haunting of Bly Manor play a major role in the plot.
“This season, we wanted our hidden elements to tell their own story,” Flanagan told Vanity Fair.
The setting of Bly Manor helped dictate how Flanagan presented the ghosts this time around. In Shirley Jackson’s novel, “Hill House is described as having this gothic, frightening, shadowy presence,” said Flanagan. Conversely, Bly Manor is “described as being bright and sunny and welcoming and rather beautiful.”
By working the ghosts into the narrative instead of cloaking them in the background, Flanagan is leaning into the less scary aspects of the “great, good place.”
“Very much unlike the first season, [all of the ghosts in Bly Manor] are actually going to be explained,” Flanagan added. “By the end of the season, you’re going to know who they are and why they’re there.”
While we may understand most of the ghosts at Bly, there are other background ghosts some fans have a few questions about, particularly the soldier ghost.
The soldier ghost is from Henry Wingrave’s childhood
As Henry (Henry Thomas) explains to Flora (Amelie Bea Smith) in “The Jolly Corner,” he had his own imaginary friend growing up.
“I had a friend when I was your age, too,” he begins. “In this house in fact. He was a soldier, but I was very afraid of him until I gave him a story.”
Many fans think the soldier ghost is a nod to another work by James, Owen Wingrave. In the story, Owen attends military school only to renounce warfare and embrace pacifism. To prove to his shamed family that he isn’t a coward, Owen spends the night in a “haunted room.” The next day, he is found dead.
This soldier figure can be found in the background of several scenes, hidden in plain sight like the ghosts in The Haunting of Hill House.