The Haunting of Bly Manor has ghosts on every corner, which lurk behind the mansion residents and even possess them every now and then. Blink your eyes and you’ll miss some of the ghosts, but some are much bigger. A ghost appears frequently in the first few episodes, but you have to wait for episode eight before learning its full story.
The phantom of the plague doctor can be seen in the background of many scenes at the start of the season. Even out of focus or far away, it is easy to spot with its long black beak. Centuries ago, doctors treating patients with plague wore recognizable masks with long, black, beak-like noses. According to National Geographic, these doctors believed the masks would prevent them from catching the plague, which ended up being inaccurate. The magazine quoted Charles de Lorme, a 17th century plague doctor, who described the mask as “half a foot long, beak-shaped, filled with scent with only two holes, one on each side near the nostrils, but that may be enough to breathe and carry with the air we breathe the impression of [herbs] enclosed further in the beak. ”
So why is a plague doctor ghost hovering around Bly Manor? In episode eight, we find out. This episode dates back hundreds of years to when Viola (Kate Siegel) and her sister Perdita (Katie Parker) were the ladies of the house. From there, we learn how Viola fell ill and died, becoming the Lady of the Lake and going in tears to find her daughter, killing many in her wake. When she kills, she quickly grabs people’s throats before dragging them to their deaths.
After Viola’s death, her husband and daughter leave the mansion. It is then used as a quarantine area during the plague, of course with a plague doctor on hand. The doctor finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time – on Viola’s path while she is still searching for her daughter. The doctor becomes Viola’s first victim when she grabs his throat, killing him instantly. He is then forced to stay at the mansion with the rest of the ghosts until they are finally freed.