Warning: Spoilers ahead for Netflix’s The Haunting of Bly Manor. If you’re in the middle of your Bly Manor watch, you may be wondering who the Lady of the Lake is in The Haunting of Bly Manor.
Since episode 1, the Lady of the Lake has been seen as the main monster of the season. (Think of her as Bly Manor‘s version of the Bent-Neck Lady from Hill House.) The Lady of the Lake—a woman with dark wet hair, no face and who is dressed in a white sleep gown—is seen many times throughout the series: She’s the doll that Flora doesn’t want to put in her doll house. She kills Peter Quint by choking him and dragging him down the stairs. But it isn’t until episode 8, the second to last episode of the series, that we learn who the real Lady of the Lake is.
The Lady of the Lake is a woman named Viola (played by Kate Siegel, who played Theo in Hill House.) Viola, her sister Perditta and their father were the first residents of Bly Manor. When their father died, the sisters were left alone. (Their mother had died years ago.) Soon, a man named Arthur comes, and though both sisters wanted to marry him, Arthur chose Viola and the two had a baby, Isabella. Not too long later, Viola starts to develop a cough, which leads to her hacking up blood. When a doctor comes, Viola, Arthur and Perditta are told that Viola only has a few months left to live. Viola is diagnosed with a contagious illness and is told she must quarantine herself away from the family. When she learns this, Viola gives Arthur a chest of her clothes and jewelry, along with a key. She makes him promise that he won’t give the chest to anyone but their daughter when she’s old enough. Years pass, and Viola, though still very sick, is still alive. Perditta and Arthur meanwhile develop a relationship. While Arthur is out on business one day, Perditta kills Viola by choking her. After Viola’s death, Arthur remarries with Perditta, but the two are unable to have children.
As time goes on, Perditta and Arthur become poor. Perditta tells Arthur to sell the chest of jewelry and clothes that Viola gave him, but he refuses. Perditta finds the keys herself and opens the chest, which leads to the ghost of Viola choking and killing her. Not too long later, Arthur and Isabelle lose the manor and move. But before they leave, the two take the chest and dump it in a nearby lake out of suspicion that it killed Perditta. Thus the Lady of the Lake is born. When Viola is dumped the lake, she unknowingly casts a spell on the manor which causes everyone who dies there to stay there like her. Viola, however, has no memory of anything. The last she remembers was being alive. So she wakes up everyday and haunts the grounds, looking for her daughter who is long gone. As children move into the manor, she mistakes them for her daughter and kills anyone around them who she thinks is a threat to her daughter. The more time she haunts the manor, the more she forgets. Over time, she also loses her voice and her face, as do other ghosts who live at the manor.
The spell is broken, however, in episode 9 when Dani tucks Viola into herself to prevent her from taking Flora into the lake. After Dani absorbs Viola’s ghost into herself, the spell is broken and many of the people who were killed on the grounds by Viola, like Miles and Viola’s uncle, come back to life. However, Dani knows that, one day, Viola will resurface. Dani and Jamie move to America to be together, and the two have a happy life for years until Dani starts to see Viola in reflections and has thoughts about killing Jamie. When the time comes until she can’t hold off Viola anymore, Dani returns to Bly Manor to drown herself in the lake. She then becomes the new Lady of the Lake, however, this time, unlike Viola, she doesn’t have the urge to take anyone with her. And thus people who die at the manor don’t have their ghosts haunt the estate.