The Cursed Woman in the Manor: Dantalian Ep. 2

Remind me how we loved our mother’s body
our mouths drawing the first
thin sweetness from her nipples

our faces dreaming hour on hour
in the salt smell of her lap…

and how we thought she loved
the strange male body first
that took, that took, whose taking seemed the law

and how she sent us weeping
into the law…
(Adrienne Rich, quoted in “Freud’s Dora, Dora’s Hysteria“)

“Hysteria is not a pathalogical phenomenon, and can, in all respects, be considered as a supreme means of expression”
(Louis Aragon and Andre Breton, quoted in “Hysteria, Psychoanalysis, and Feminism“).

Women and hysteria have long been topics of tense discussion in feminist and psychoanalytic circles, and was a popular approach for quite some time among literary critics.  “Hysteria”: (1) exaggerated or uncontrollable emotion or excitement, (2) a psychological disorder…whose symptoms include the conversion of psychological stress into physical symptoms…The term has a controversial history as it was formerly regarded as a disease specific to women.  Hysteria was once a phenomenon tied solely to women, and any male exhibitions of the same symptoms often resulted in assumed feminine tendencies.  But are these women truly crazy? Is this a disease passed down from woman to woman, or are there reasons for why their extreme behaviors and actions manifest later on in life?

Miss Estelle Lilburn, heiress to the Lilburn manor and fortune, publicly displays the perfect housewife demeanor, quietly graceful and eager to please.  Hospitality dissolves into desperation, as she begins to cling to Huey, begging him to call her by first name and to never leave.  The first hint of serious psychological stress appears at the murder of her guardian, Mr. Geese.  Instead of distress, she acts detached from the scene, and even smiles briefly through her blood-spattered face.  The Lilburn family’s history reveals a shocking number of mysterious murders and disappearances, all centering around the women of the household.  Most recently, the murders occurred in Estelle’s grandmother’s lifetime, then again during Estelle’s own adulthood.  Known for their tendencies to madness, her grandfather installed measures for protection and concealment of his family’s dark inclinations.

Through a good majority of the episode, it appears that the show promotes the idea of female hysteria, as all fingers point to Estelle and her female ancestors as the sources of the Lilburn curse.  However, Dalian gives an alternate reasoning near the end, attributing the accursed actions instead to overly strict female training of obedience and servility.  The strain of such an upbringing and its expectations could have very well resulted in the later abnormal psychologies.  Instead of pinning the homicides on an elusive curse, she instead suggests that the curse is a result of the humans themselves.  The same could be applied to the “disease” of women, as well.  Estelle’s surprising death, while befitting and releasing in a way, also serves as an accurate representation of the disregard others of her time period gave to women in similar situations.  Either way spells death, in will, or in body.

And Dalian’s super cute moment? An imitation up-do of Miss Lilburn’s hairstyle!

7 thoughts on “The Cursed Woman in the Manor: Dantalian Ep. 2

    • Her fits are admittedly cute, yes, though pretty standard coming form a tsundere. I’m surprised at how archetypical they made her, especially since I assume that she’s not actually a human, but a demon.
      I agree that this show holds a lot of promise. I’m completely in love with the setting and the premise of Dantalian’s Library.


  1. Interesting thoughts about hysteria. Given the time period being explored, it does seem appropriate.

    I was wondering at the end if they felt any requirement to inform the authorities, or if they just leave these places with bodies strewn about, and leave it for others to try figure out what happened.


    • Ha, that’s a good observation. I guess that’s just another realistic aspect that they felt too irrelevant to include in the actual anime. And in Estelle’s case, I’m sure people will notice her absence since she supposedly had suitors interested in her and her fortune.


  2. Now that you mention it, I have never read a man accused of having hysteria in any literary works that I have come across.

    As for this episode of Dantalian, it succeeds in pulling me into the atmosphere and the plot.


    • Yes, very rarely in literature are men associated with hysteria. There are cases where they may be accused of sissy-ness, as if any sign of weakness or softness immediately marks one as feminine in the negative sense.


      • I *have* seen the term used in reference to a man, but I think modern usage probably lacks awareness of the connection to “hysteria” or womb, or it is a form of sexism (an attempt to smear a man by asserting he is acting like a woman). In general, it seems like the term should be dropped from modern usage, since it is based on stupidity. It is useful to know about, however, since it is a good reminder about how even really dumb ideas can be dressed up as scientific theories.


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