The Dog In 'Crimson Peak' Is A Metaphor For Edith, Proving That You Can Be Beautiful & Strong
The second the adorable little dog showed up in Crimson Peak , I was worried. "That dog is going to die, isn't he?" I whispered to Bustle's Entertainment Editor Kelsea Stahler who attended the screening with me. I can deal with ghosts and murder and death to a certain extent, but kill an animal and I'm done for. Everything about the Sharpe siblings Thomas and Lucille (played by Tom Hiddleston and Jessica Chastain) and their scary mansion screamed doom and gloom. Such a happy, sweet puppy would surely fall victim to some horror throughout the film, I thought. But, it turns out the dog is basically a metaphor for Edith (played by Mia Wasikowska), and as such had a larger role to play than I ever thought. Movie spoilers to follow.
The idea of metaphor in the film is established early on, when Edith says the ghosts in her novel are simply a metaphor for loss. So, I'm not surprised that later the small, perky papillon pup was a metaphor for Edith herself. See, when Thomas and Lucille departed for America to stalk their new prey, they left the dog to die. They believed that there was no way it could have survived on its own for many months in the barren clay-filled grounds of Allerdale Hall.
But, the dog did survive, much to Thomas and Lucille's annoyance. When Thomas questions how such a thing could have been possible, Lucille reckons that the dog lived "on scraps" as the both of them did due to their lack of money. She seemed to be harkening its survival to her own, but the pup is much more a reflection of Edith than Lucille. Both Edith and the dog could be written off as overly frilly, naive, and ill-prepared for life on Crimson Peak. The dog is not a hardy farm dog, but a lap dog. The same could be said for Edith who definitely grew up well-off with fine clothes and belongings. But, though the audience may initially doubt their resilience and strength, the dog and Edith prove them wrong.
Earlier in the film Edith and Lucille have a scene where they talk about butterflies and black moths. The butterflies are dying, and Lucille remarks that where she lives they only have black moths which are not as pretty but far tougher — oh, and they eat butterflies. Which isn't true to life, but serves the purpose of cementing the divide between Edith and Lucille. Basically Edith is a butterfly, so fragile she dies when the sun goes down, and Lucille is a black moth who is there to feed on Edith. (How Edith still agreed to go live with her, I'll never know.)
It's no coincidence, then, that a papillon was chosen as the breed in Crimson Peak. Known for the shape of their ears, papillon means "butterfly" in french. The pup and Edith are one in the same, and were able to prove that appearance isn't everything. Though they may have looked fragile, they were the most formidable characters in the movie. So, it only makes sense that they're the last ones standing.
Images: Universal Pictures (2)