Upon the Crimson Stage: Another Look at Madam Red and Grell
Please Read: I adore Grell. She is my favorite character, so I will often analyze her quite a bit. Recently, someone thought that I didn’t like Grell because I will look into those darker aspects of her personality along with the fun, passionate side. I only delve so deeply into her psyche because I love her. As always, what I write is purely my own opinion, and I will never claim it to be fact.
As a long time Grell fan, I have analyzed and reanalyzed the relationship between her and Madam Red. Since it had happened so early in the manga, it’s one of those stories I feel like there’s quite a bit we don’t know. What exactly was Grell’s relationship with Madam Red? Did they love each other? Did they think they loved each other? Was it physical or not? I’ve explored it from so many directions, but an unusual thought came to my mind the other day.
Could Grell had set up Madam Red to die?
I know how strange that idea might seem, but it first crossed my mind while I was analyzing Grell’s first character song, and I came across this line:
“The enticement of love stabs through the cinematic records, while I simply yearn for a deep crimson dream in the eternity of a brief instant.”
The idea of holding a dream for the eternity of a brief instant is an interesting one. As I looked at that line along with the rest of the song, it occurred to me that Grell does look for some perfect moment to hold on to rather than something long lasting. It’s like the idea of cutting a rose when it’s perfectly bloomed. You are killing the rose in an effort to capture it at that moment of perfection. If I’m right, Grell wants to do the same thing. She wants to take that perfect moment and ‘kill it’ or the other person so it can’t wilt or die. She will have it in that moment of perfection, so she has no hesitation to kill. In fact, another line in the same song says:
“I am after all the Butler of Death, always ready to kill you or our love.”
With this in mind, I read back over the Jack the Ripper arc, and I actually found a few things that might support this theory. First, Grell makes no attempt to stop Sebastian when he goes to kill Madam Red. While Grell’s chainsaw was embedded in a brick wall, she doesn’t even try to remove it until after Ciel ordered Sebastian not to kill Madam Red. Even then, Grell doesn’t seem the least bit concerned that Madam Red could have died. In fact, she’s just appears annoyed that she hadn’t killed Ciel.
In fact, killing Ciel seems to have been a part of their plan. Madam Red said that she really couldn’t do it, as if this had been something she had perhaps discussed with Grell.
This seems to surprise Grell, and he immediately tells Madam Red that if she doesn’t, Ciel will ‘kill’ her, so I would guess this had been an issue they have discussed in the past.
Another thing that struck me is that it’s actually unusual that Madam Red and Grell would have went ahead and killed this woman when they did. Ciel thought their time to catch the killer might be limited because of the social season, but Madam Red actually didn’t have that time constraint. Grell was obviously assisting her in moving to the location of the crimes since they were able to get inside and kill the last woman with Ciel and Sebastian guarding the only entrance. Madam Red could have easily waited a little while until no one was expected another crime. So why did she go ahead and kill? Initially, I had thought that maybe Madam Red actually wanted to get caught so that it could all be over, and it’s still not a bad theory, but I have to wonder now if she truly understood the danger she was in.
I had assumed previously that Grell had told Madam Red that Sebastian was a demon and had even written so in a story. It simply makes since if Grell wanted to provide her with any protection. After looking at the arc once again, I’m not so sure. Madam Red does seem to be caught off guard when Sebastian shows off his unusual speed and talents. Plus, she honestly appeared surprised that Sebastian had discovered she was the killer. If she had known he was a demon, I doubt it would have surprised her.
This even goes back to the idea of killing Ciel. If this had been a planned act, then Grell had to know how Sebastian would react to someone killing his master. He seems to have some knowledge of demons after all, and had recognized Sebastian immediately. If it’s true that he had never told Madam Red about Sebastian, this because a curious issue. There would have been very little reason to keep that a secret.
The most curious part was how Grell acted towards Madam Red after killing her. She immediately almost chastises the corpse for her weakness. It’s as if Grell feels betrayed by her.
Now, why would Grell feel betrayed? Madam Red hadn’t turned against her at any point. She had refused to kill Ciel, but never had she done anything against Grell. At the very worst, Madam Red would die by Sebastian’s hands or be imprisoned with Ciel turned her in as the killer (women were rarely executed in the time period). Of course, if this was all a setup, then perhaps Madam Red had betrayed Grell by simply not following the plan.
It’s well-known that Grell is theatrical and often refers to things with stage terminology. In fact, she even does so when referring to Madam Red’s death.
Grell sincerely likes to think that all the world’s a stage, so this might be just another scene to her. It had been written for Madam Red to die at the hands of Sebastian – and this would allow her to die in the name of their cause and their love.
This sounds crude, but you have to think of it from Grell’s perspective. She equates love and death as great forms of passion. In her mind, Madam Red’s death would be highly romantic and beautiful. In an odd way, it was almost a gift to Madam Red – a moment to last for all of eternity. When Madam Red missed her ‘cue,’ and showed weakness instead of this strength concreted in their shared love, it ruined the show.
I still think Grell regrets killing Madam Red. Grell is very impulsive after all, but I think that perhaps her regret might be more because she couldn’t have ended their relationship on that perfect note, like the perfect closing to a play, and is instead stuck with a bittersweet memory.