- “I spent so long in the darkness, I'd almost forgotten how beautiful the moonlight is.”
- ―Emily upon returning to the Land of the Living
Emily is the titular deuteragonist of Corpse Bride.
She’s a reanimated corpse who was a talented and wealthy lady in her lifetime, as well as the self-proclaimed bride of the young Victor Van Dort after their encounter at the woods. She was murdered by her ex-fiancé Lord Barkis Bittern and indirectly killed him shortly before gaining her freedom, therefore finally being allowed to enter Heaven.
It's unknown exactly how she died, although she may have been stabbed, given the context of her death, and since Barkis is known for carrying a sword. She also claimed that Barkis left her for dead, implying that he fatally stabbed her and robbed her, then left Emily to die with wound still intact. Victor Accidentally Put The Ring On Emily's Wrong Finger
Emily was a tall and very beautiful young woman who had a slim and graceful figure. It can be assumed that she was just as plain and dull like the rest of the living when she was alive. Bonejangles replies that Emily was a beauty known for miles around.
As a corpse, she’s still graceful. Her current only colorful features are her purple lips, in contrast to her monochromatic blue coloring.
After her death, her long wavy hair (which was presumably dark colored) and her once pale skin turned blue, while her big eyes became wide and circular with black dots as pupils. They have a gaunt, sunken look after her death.
There is a hole in her left cheek that shows that her skin is deteriorating and reveals her white teeth. On her right hand she still has nails. Under her left arm is some exposed muscle, although her actual left arm is only bone. Her right ribs are showing due to the hole in her wedding dress. Her right leg is almost completely bone except for the skin that still covered her foot and her ankle. The tip of her nose is somewhat skeletal.
Emily wears a strapless dirt stained wedding dress which has a form fitting (likely corseted) bodice that ends in a deep V in the front. The dress belonged to her mother. The dress has a long flowing pleated skirt with a rip up the middle showing either of her legs. There is light blue filigree on the bottom of the skirt and edging the veil. There are pearls trimming the bottom and top of the bodice. Her tattered veil is attached to a rose crown made of dead blue roses. She also wears tattered fingerless gloves that end to her elbows though her right one appears to be hanging on her wrist. She wears white pumps and white stockings (that have piled at her ankles, due to her skeletal body) to match her wedding dress.
Emily is a kind, somewhat gullible and sweet young deceased woman who has a kind-hearted nature.
While she is rather fun-loving and easy-going, Emily can easily feel guilty for others' situations indirectly caused by her and often shows nostalgic moments after arriving to the Land of the Living.
Emily is willing to give her whole heart (even literally) to those she cares for, and would even sacrifice her own happiness even after to help them, as evidenced when she stops Victor from killing himself, then willingly steps aside and lets Victoria be with him. She‘s usually a kind person, but she was encouraged highly to marry Victor. (despite the fact that he was alive and she was dead). She was very jealous of Victoria and began to lament about being dead as she believed Victor didn’t love her because she wasn’t alive. She originally intended to marry Victor, even though it meant she was (unknowingly) be stealing Victoria of the same happiness Barkis stole from her years ago. However, she learns not to use her emotions for selfish reasons, since she saw how depressed Victoria was and saved her from her marriage to Barkis (which would have led to Victoria suffering a similar fate as Emily). She then learns that she can’t steal another person’s happiness just so she can achieve her own and ultimately decides to stop her wedding with Victor (the goal she has been trying to achieve for the majority of the film) so he and Victoria can achieve happiness. Her purpose being fulfilled, Emily turns into a million butterflies and descends into the moonlight implying that she’s now at peace.
Emily was the daughter of an unspecified wealthy Victorian era family. Apparently, she had a high education regarding arts related with music, since she surprised Victor with her piano skills. She was also regarded as a beauty known for miles around, which hints that she may have had a lot of suitors.
Emily met Lord Barkis, a poor yet charming man who she fell deeply in love with, but her parents (Her English father & French mother) didn't approve of due his lack of fortune. When Barkis was rejected her hand in marriage by her parents, he convinced her to elope with him using his charm. They agreed to meet under the cover of night at 3 AM under an old oak tree out in the woods. On that foggy night, Emily snuck out wearing her mother's wedding dress and carried a small fortune (a gold satchel filled with the family jewels) with her, the last at Lord Barkis's request. Unbeknownst to the young lady, her groom-to-be had only proposed to steal her family's fortune.
After waiting in the dark forest for some time, Emily was robbed by Barkis from the shadows and murdered. It’s unknown how she died, as Barkis is known to know how to use a sword and Emily claimed he left her for dead, but it can be assumed that he fatally stabbled her once and left her in the woods to die. Before passing on, she made a vow to remain under the tree until her true love came to ask for her hand in marriage, thus setting her free.
Emily had remained buried under the tree for 8 or 9 years prior to meeting Victor. When Victor was practicing his wedding vows, he slipped his ring onto her hand he mistook for a branch, causing Emily to rise from her grave. After chasing Victor, she took him to the Land of the Dead with her. There, he learned her story, and feigned agreement to marry her to return to the land of the living under the pretense of introducing her to his parents.
This led to a visit with Elder Gutknecht, a wise old skeleton well versed in the magic arts. He gave them a spell that took them to the Land of the Living. The moonlight made Emily feel overjoyed, and she gracefully danced around the woods.
Shortly after this, Victor left Emily there to wait. After a while, she took a bet with Maggot (who suggested that Victor was being unfaithful) and decided to look for Victor. She found him with Victoria Everglot, his true fiancé, and angrily took him back to the Underworld with her and greatly argued with him. Emily called Victoria “the other woman” while Victor tried to explain to her that she was the other woman, but Emily refused to listen and backed up her point by reminding him that she was married to him. Victor then states that they weren’t supposed to be married and accidentally said that he would never marry Emily, which breaks her.
Heartbroken, Emily went to her room and laments about what happened to her and that Victor doesn't love her, being comforted by Black Widow and Maggot while singing a sad yet beautiful song about her current undead status compared to a living young woman.
Later, she was playing a piano piece which was very similar to the one that Victor played on the day he met Victoria. Then Victor came to her room and played the piano along with her, leading them to reconcile with each other rather quickly.
Later, upon learning of the returned Barkis and Victoria's engagement, Victor felt betrayed by his lover, unaware that Victoria was forced into marrying Lord Barkis by her parents who were under the presumption that Barkis was rich.
At the same time, Elder Gutknecht informed Emily that her "marriage" to Victor wasn't valid, since according to their vows, "death has already parted them." She said in despair that she could never ask Victor to give up the life he has. Victor, who had given up entirely on Victoria, heard all of this and agreed to drink the "Wine of Ages" (poison) to kill himself and join Emily in undead matrimony.
After going up to the Land of the Living, or "Upstairs" as the dead call it, Victoria, found Victor and Emily's wedding while sneaking. When Emily saw her, she decided to stop Victor from drinking the poison, realizing she cannot steal the happiness of another to achieve her own. Just then, Barkis interrupted and tried to run away with Victoria, but is identified by Emily as her murderer and ex-lover.
After that, a fight with Victor breaks out. Just as Barkis was about to stab Victor with a sword, Emily used herself to block the thrust which has no effect (since she’s dead) and disarms the attacker. Before moving to leave, Barkis berated Emily with a mocking toast and drinks from the glass meant for Victor, not knowing that it‘s poison. It stopped his heart and he’s no longer bound by the rules of the living, causing the dead to drag him away to face judgement for his crimes. Due to his current zombie status, he’s ominously declared a “new arrival”.
Meanwhile, Victor still wanted to keep his promise to Emily, but she had already decided to let him marry Victoria, since Victoria was happier with him, instead and gave back the ring that Victor accidentally gave her earlier. She then tossed her bouquet of blue roses, which Victoria caught. Emily then turned into a shower of beautiful blue butterflies while both Victor and Victoria watch her go up to the heavens.
Powers and Abilities
As a zombie, Emily can teleport to anywhere by crow, phase through walls and talk to animals. As she is already dead, she can receive lethal attacks without feeling pain. After getting her freedom and finally being at peace, Emily gained the ability to turn herself into a swarm of butterflies, likely symbolizing her ascent into Heaven.
Emily is great at singing and dancing, being skilled at both nostalgic and enthusiastic songs and step-sequences. She also can play the piano in a similar way to Victor, playing solemn to lively tones. All this suggests that she had a considerable education in musical arts.
When he accidentally raises her from the dead, she starts to see him for the first time.
Emily first saw Victoria when she stormed in her room.
- "I do." - After Victor Van Dort raises her from her grave.
- "You may kiss the bride." - After chasing Victor Van Dort through the forest.
- "He's not my boyfriend, he's my husband." - To Maggot who was in her head literally, referring to Victor.
- "Isn't the view beautiful? It takes my breath away. Well, it would if I had any." -To Victor in the Land of the Dead.
- ”Maggots. *laughs awkwardly*” -To Victor after shoving Maggot back into her ear.
- "I've spent so long in the darkness, I'd almost forgotten how beautiful the moonlight is." - To Victor and herself after arriving to the Land of Living.
- "Go chew on someone else's ear a while." - To Maggot while waiting for Victor at the woods.
- "Hopscotch!" - An angry Emily grabbing Victor to the Land of the Dead.
- "Maybe, perhaps he does belong with her... Little Miss Living, with her rosy cheeks and beating heart." - To herself and Miss Black Widow about Victoria Everglot and Victor.
- "Pardon my enthusiasm." - To Victor after her hand escapes her arm while playing the piano and dances up Victor's arm.
- "I was a bride. My dreams were taken from me. But now - now I've stolen them from someone else. I love you, Victor, but you are not mine." - To Victor at their wedding after having seen Victoria.
- "You left me... For dead!" - A shocked and furious Emily to a shocked Lord Barkis Bittern.
- "Get out!" - A furious Emily to a threatened Lord Barkis.
- "You kept your promise. You set me free. Now I can do the same for you." - To Victor before her farewell.
- Main article: Emily/Gallery
- Emily knew Victor's name before he told her his name. This implied that Emily might have met Victor in life and he had forgotten, or she at least knew about his family before her murder. Or it’s possible that she gained this information from the other deceased residents in the Land of the Dead, specifically from someone who knew Victor or knew of him in life.
- In an earlier version of the script it is revealed that Emily had been watching Victor for some time whenever he would venture into the forest to draw.
- While Emily was a wealthy lady in her lifetime, she wasn't part of the royalty. At most, she would have been an aristocrat, hence why Barkis killed her for her money.
- In an earlier version of the script where Emily meets Victors parents it is revealed that she came from a "very good family" whose grandfather was an Earl. She also revealed her last name is Merrimack.
- Emily states that Barkis murdered her, but then she later claims that he left her for dead. It is possible that Barkis stabbed her with either a knife or a sword after stealing her fortune, however she survived but was left mortally wounded, so he left her in the woods to die where her body was eventually buried and decomposed.
- A Youtube channel named The Fangirl made a theory and featured a part of how Emily died from suffocation. However, since Barkis fights with a sword, it’s possible that she was stabbed.
- In an earlier version of the script Emily states that Barkis strangled her. Although in this version of the script he was a highwayman.
- It’s unknown if her parents are still alive. The wedding dress belonged to her mother, but it may have been a simple hand-me-down.
- She woke up as a zombie shortly after her murder and remained under the tree for about 9 years.[Citation needed] It’s unknown who buried her or how she was buried, since as a zombie, she would have been conscious during the burial.