I figured an actual classic horror monster would be a great pick this week!
How have I avoided Black Butler in this series so far? I am the derp. Clearly, it’s the perfect series to find fun ill fated characters with interesting quirks. As much as I would love to subject you all to a detailed and loving tribute of my beloved Alois Trancy, I just can’t handle the inevitable backlash in my comments. Not even for me, I don’t mind if you guys criticize me. But my poor little blonde boy has already gone through enough without your unjustified animosity (stop that, I can hear you groaning through space-time) So instead, I will keep my thoughts on best boy in my heart where they belong… That’s not where thoughts belong you say? This may explain some things…
It’s completely accidental that I seem to be slowly turning this series into some sort of half throughout feminist musings. I just happen to appreciate well rounded and unusual female characters. (Or maybe they meet tragic fates more often…nah…) In any case, one again I bring you a great… powerful… interesting female character that was way ahead of her time. Baroness Angelina Dalles-Burnett.
I know a lot of the core audience of Black Butler probably didn’t pay that much attention to Angeline in the first season. This is one of those shows with a cast full of Big Personalities and it’s tough for anyone not in the main cast to stand out in any way. Even the fantastic Phantomhive servants usually get overlooked. And how is anyone suppose to get noticed when standing next to Grell. Sutcliff is a diva who sucks all the attention out of a room. Poor little Angelina never stood a chance.
And yet, this lady is an icon in her own right. First, she’s an epic cosplay:
‘Cmon! I wanna wear this to work!
Second, she’s Ciel’s only living (well…you know) relative and despite her occasionally aloof personality she cares for him deeply. In fact, we come to learn that Angelina is surprisingly selfless and devoted to her family and loved ones. She was able to put aside her own personal issues and share her sister’s happiness even as it caused her to give up her own. Regardless of jealousy, she remained loyal and loving towards those closest to her.
In fact, she openly stated that if the two people she loved most are happy, then she would be happy as well. And although she harboured feelings for Vincent for a long time, she nevertheless greatly respected and loved her husband in his own way. She was always honest with him and they were genuinely happy together. How often do you see that in an unrequited love story?
She was also witness to the destruction of the Phantomhive manor. Until Ciel’s miraculous return, she truly believed that she had lost absolutely everyone she loved in the world, including her husband and unborn child. And despite that she soldiered on and kept up her duties, for some time at least. There’s no doubt this event took a toll on her, but it didn’t destroy her as it would have many others.
And when Ciel did reappear, she welcomed him back with open arms. Unquestioningly. She never resented that he wouldn’t share the details of his disappearance with her or had any misgivings about his suspicious new butler. She simply did the best she could to take care of a wounded little boy, asking for nothing in return.
Possibly most impressive, this lady is a licensed doctor in the 1800. I don’t think we are told when exactly her license is issued but she would probably have been one of the first women to earn that distinction. And she did so against her own parent’s wishes, which was also incredibly difficult at the time.
Are you having trouble recognizing the lady I’m describing? I assure I’m not making any of this up. Angelina Dalles-Burnett is an admirable women and worthy role model. But maybe you’re more familiar with Madame Red. Angelina’s nickname in certain circles, due to her fashion choices.
There’s an rather well known feminist theory that women can’t ever truly be considered complete people in their own right, until we allow them to be flawed. Not cutely, innocently imperfect in ways that only make them more adorable. But bad. The idea is that women are people. And people are sometimes just awful. Horrible, despicable and unlikable in every way. I’m not saying this is the case here, but man, you got to admit, Madame Red is one fantastic antagonist.
SPOILERS FOR SEASON 1 OF BLACK BUTLER***YOU HAVEN’T SEEN SEASON 1 OF BLACK BUTLER AND YOU’RE READING THIS? I’M SUPER FLATTERED, THANK YOU!
I’m just gonna cut to the chase her. Angelina Dalles, also known as Madame Red, is Jack the Ripper. I’m pretty sure you knew that. If not – BAM – I just blew your mind, right? No you’re just super confused and thinking about dropping this post? Uhm wait….
OK, so if you don’t remember, after her husband’s death, and the fall of the Phantomhives, Angelina just numbly returns to work as she really has nothing else left. In part due to her circumstances, she finds herself regularly treating prostitutes who want abortions. Due to her recent repeated personal traumas, coupled with the fact that she lost her on child and husband (making it more or less impossible for her to try to have another child), Angelina soon develops a personal hatred towards her patients. She considers it an affront towards herself and possibly God, to throw away a life and happiness simply because it is inconvenient. It may not be clear in the series, but Madame Red starts her killing spree before meeting Grell. It is her own idea.
Just as historical female doctors are uncommon, so are historical female mass murders. Usually, ladies get to be black widows, poisoning husbands. To have one independently carrying out such violent crimes of her own volition is… I actually don’t know. I don’t want to write empowering. That’s not what I mean. There’s just something weirdly gratifying about having a lady who’s a real bad guy. Not pushed into it by a third party and yet not an incomprehensible monster either. Just a fractured, flawed person who went very very bad.
Her rational makes perfect sense in context. Her actions are her own. She never repents, asks for forgiveness or even gets any justice. Her eventual demise is caused by her unwillingness to do more harm at the hands of a supposed ally, rather than her getting the punishment she deserves. This tragic irony is one of the many examples of the pitch-black humor that makes Black Butler so deliciously and cruelly amusing.
And so today, we are here to remember a woman who was simultaneously a hero and villain all on her own. A character so fascinating that for a little while at least, she even managed to capture Grell’s attention. Someone you may have forgotten about, but you really shouldn’t have! And lest not forget, a truly fantastic cosplay.