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    The Inspiration Behind "The Haunting Of Bly Manor" Explained

    The Haunting of Bly Manor actually has a happier ending! Warning: contains spoilers.

    The Haunting of Bly Manor, like The Haunting of Hill House, is based on an iconic classic horror story — or rather, several of them.

    The Haunting of Bly Manor still: Dani, Hannah and Miles sit around the dining table; Owen and Flora walk through the doorway with food; the plague doctor ghost stands in the shadows in the corner
    Netflix

    While The Haunting of Hill House was based on the book of the same name by Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Bly Manor takes most of its inspiration from The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, but it also incorporates aspects from James' other stories. Here's a look at the books the show is based on, and how the stories have changed in the adaptation process...

    The Haunting of Bly Manor uses the same framing device as The Turn of the Screw — a person telling a ghost story to a gathering of friends.

    The Haunting of Bly Manor still: An older Jamie raises her glass to toast at the wedding
    EIKE SCHROTER/NETFLIX

    While the show has what we later learn is an older Jamie telling Dani's story to the people gathered for Flora's wedding, The Turn of the Screw has a man called Douglas telling the story of a governess he once knew, who is now dead.

    Both stories are about a young woman who is hired by a wealthy man to look after his niece and nephew at his country house, Bly.

    Still from the Haunting of Bly Manor: Dani stands in the garden at night, sweaty and upset, looking back towards the house
    EIKE SCHROTER/NETFLIX

    The book, which is set in the 1800s when it was written, sees the governess — who remains unnamed — moving to Bly to take care of the orphaned children, Miles and Flora. The uncle in both stories is uninterested in raising or hearing about the kids, although we learn more about why in Bly Manor.

    While Miles has already been expelled at the start of show, in the book only Flora is at home to begin with and Miles returns home a little later, after being expelled from boarding school.

    While Dani clearly feels affectionate and protective towards Miles and Flora in the show, the book's governess is much more attached to them, and to Miles in particular. Like, unhealthily obsessed.

    In fact, The Turn of the Screw is not so much an explicit ghost story as it is a mystery centred around a young woman's mental unravelling. Whether the ghosts are real or a symbol of the governess's mental state is left open to interpretation, which makes it all the more chilling.

    Interestingly, this is similar to The Haunting of Hill House. While the show makes the ghosts very real and part of the story, the original book is much more ambiguous, and there's a strong argument that Nell's mental state, and not ghosts, is the real problem.

    The story of Miss Jessel and Peter Quint is pretty similar in both The Haunting of Bly Manor and The Turn of the Screw.

    The Haunting of Bly Manor still: Peter Quint gives Flora a bunch of roses as Miss Jessel and Miles look on
    EIKE SCHROTER/NETFLIX

    Miss Jessel is the previous governess who died after becoming involved with the shady Peter Quint.

    The Dani character in the book becomes convinced she sees the ghosts of Miss Jessel and Peter Quint around the grounds of Bly — and moreover, that Miles and Flora can also see them and are even influenced (and possibly possessed) by them. The kids (or ghosts?) play pranks on the governess — including running outside at night and leaving muddy footprints through the house — and they act in bizarre, and sometimes adult, ways.

    This is where the book and the show start to differ dramatically: Flora becomes afraid of the governess in the book, which the governess believes is a result of her connection to Miss Jessel. Mrs. Grose, who is the housekeeper in the book as she is in the show, takes Flora away to her uncle. The governess is left alone at Bly with Miles. Peter Quint appears at the window and, according to the governess's telling of the story, she tries to shield Miles from him, only for Miles to see Peter Quint and drop dead in the governess's arms.

    Of course, if you believe the interpretation that the whole thing is actually about the governess's unravelling mental state, and not ghosts, then it's likely in this scenario that the governess actually kills Miles.

    But as we've mentioned, The Turn of the Screw isn't the only book that The Haunting of Bly Manor is based on. Another James story, "The Romance of Certain Old Clothes," was also inspiration.

    The Haunting of Bly Manor still: in black and white, Perdita and Viola sisters stand in period clothes symbolizing mourning
    EIKE SCHROTER/NETFLIX

    This is where the Bly Manor backstory comes from. In James' version of the tale, two beautiful sisters, Perdita and Viola, both fall in love with a man named Arthur Lloyd. Lloyd chooses Perdita and Viola is bitter and jealous. When Perdita gives birth to a daughter and becomes ill, she makes Lloyd promise to preserve her beautiful collection of gowns in a chest for their daughter only.

    Viola moves in with Lloyd and the little girl after Perdita dies, and eventually marries her sister's widow. They run into financial trouble, and Viola begs Lloyd to open the chest. He refuses, and Viola is later found dead in front of the chest.

    As you can tell, the show adapts this story pretty faithfully — with the strange exception that they switched the names of the sisters around, so it is Viola who first marries Lloyd, who has the beautiful gowns and who dies after giving birth to a daughter — and whose ghost kills her sister in the end.

    Notably, neither Viola or Perdita become a lady in the lake in the original story; that's a show invention.

    Henry Wingrave's "haunting", meanwhile, is partly inspired by James' story "The Jolly Corner."

    The Haunting of Bly Manor still: Henry Wingrave lies on a couch looking up
    EIKE SCHROTER/NETFLIX

    The story itself is quite different from anything we see in the show — a man returns home after having lived abroad for three decades to renovate two properties and discovers he's good at it. He becomes obsessed with the idea of what might have been if he hadn't gone overseas and had stayed home and developed this skill. It turns into such a problem he is haunted by a manifestation of his alter ego.

    While Henry Wingrave's alter ego that appears in the show is entirely unrelated to home renovation, it is a nice meta nod to Henry Thomas' previous character in The Haunting of Hill House.

    Hannah's dedicated candle lighting habit seems to be inspired by James' "The Altar of the Dead."

    Still from The Haunting of Bly Manor: Hannah prays in front of lit candles at the chapel
    EIKE SCHROTER/NETFLIX

    "The Altar of the Dead" is about a man and a woman who meet after both become obsessed with lighting candles at a Catholic church for their dead. Hannah Grose's habit in the show is clearly based on this story, but that's about where the similarities end.

    Grose, of course, is a character in The Turn of the Screw, but she finishes the book very much alive. A lot of Hannah's story is actually original to the show.

    Finally, Dani's fate seems very loosely inspired by "The Beast in the Jungle."

    The Haunting of Bly Manor still: Jamie comforts an upset Dani in the kitchen of their apartment
    EIKE SCHROTER/NETFLIX

    The James short story is about a man who is convinced something catastrophic will happen to him in the future, so he keeps the woman he loves at a distance and doesn't live his life to the full.

    While Dani is much better at embracing Jamie and trying to live her life, the sense of foreboding — her "beast in the jungle" — is certainly ever-present and inhibits her more as the years progress.

    All of these stories have The Haunting of Bly Manor episodes named after them, and there are several other James stories that are referred to very briefly or given nods in episode titles: "The Great, Good Place," "The Pupil," "The Two Faces," and "The Way It Came".

    The Haunting of Bly Manor still: Peter Quint wraps one arm around Rebecca Jessel and holds up a polaroid camera focused on them with his other arm
    EIKE SCHROTER/NETFLIX

    Characters and plot points from these stories aren't really present in the show, but their overarching themes can certainly be felt.

    And while characters like Owen and Jamie are entirely inventions for the show, Owen's name — and the name of the Wingrave family — is taken from Owen Wingrave.

    The Haunting of Bly Manor still: close up of Owen with a frown on his face
    EIKE SCHROTER/NETFLIX

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