There’s a Reason Why Dani Stops Seeing [Spoiler] in ‘The Haunting of Bly Manor’
Netflix‘s The Haunting of Bly Manor deals with many forms of loss, fear, and love. While there are very real ghosts on the grounds of Bly Manor — some more malicious and horrifying than others — there are also ghosts of one’s past. [Spoiler alert: Spoilers ahead for The Haunting of Bly Manor].
Dani Clayton comes to Bly Manor haunted by a ‘ghost’ of her past
The story this time around isn’t as jarringly scary as The Haunting of Hill House, but the themes are relatable and there’s just an overall feeling of dread; it’s certainly scary enough. And even though the majority of the haunting takes place at Bly Manor, Dani Clayton comes into the place with a horrible ghost all on her own.
Dani is the new au pair for the Wingrave children, Miles and Flora, who spend their summers at this estate in the countryside. She left America for Europe, and while she insists she’s not running from anything, she is definitely trying to divert her attention. Especially from the eerie figure that follows her around, with glowing orange glasses.
Viewers find out that this is the “ghost” of her ex-fiance, Eddie, who died after jumping out of the car when she broke off their engagement. She realized she couldn’t love him fully because she was gay, and he freaked out on her. He’s not a real ghost, in the sense that the Lady of the Lake or Peter Quint are. But he’s more like Henry Wingrave’s alter ego “ghost,” according to Victoria Pedretti.
“I think those ghosts both exist very similarly,” Pedretti — who plays Dani — told Digital Spy, referring to Henry and her character’s ghosts. “While his looked like him, hers is still a reflection of herself, watching back at herself, reminding herself that she is bad. That she needs to feel guilty, that she should be ashamed, that she does not deserve to be happy.”
Dani overcomes her past when she finally realizes she deserves happiness
Dani feels this way because of a lot of reasons. For one, being gay comes with a lot of shame and guilt in and of itself, even today. But especially back in 1987, when this story takes place.
On top of that, though, Dani buried her sexuality far down because of her relationship with Eddie. She didn’t want to disappoint their friends and family, especially his mother. And she still loved him very much; they were childhood best friends. But she just couldn’t love him as his wife.
So when he rejected her and was furious, screaming “Why are you doing this to me?” like Dani had a choice in the matter, it was a traumatic experience. And then to see him die right in front of her? No wonder she manifested her own ghost.
However, Dani does confront her ghost. The last time she sees him is after she kisses Jamie. She gets spooked and then feels awful and fed up with feeling this lingering shame and guilt. So she throws his glasses in the bonfire. And he’s gone.
Pedretti told Digital Spy that this is because Dani “stops hiding.” She comes to the conclusion that she “deserves happiness” and is worthy of love. She knows that she deserves to be her “authentic self.”
Dani and Jamie make up one of the most genuine love stories in ‘The Haunting of Bly Manor’
Jamie, the gardener, played by Amelia Eve, certainly plays a major role in Dani’s realization. While Dani finds love for herself and realizes her own worth, she also lets Jamie in, which helps. And while this romance wasn’t advertised with the show’s trailers, it is the most central love story, having vital implications at the end of the season. And it’s also one of the most genuine love stories in the show.
“They set boundaries, they establish trust, they take their time,” Pedretti said about the two characters. “And I really believe that they really loved each other. Not [just] an idea of each other.”
She told Digital Spy that they “avoid a lot of the traps of toxic relationships,” which tend to go to the wayside in media.
“The truth of the matter is I think a lot of people think that a healthy relationship just isn’t interesting to see,” Pedretti said. “But I think there’s so much intensity to their dedication to each other. Their devotion and loyalty and the true friendship that they establish as well. It is passionate.”