Watch For: flowers, roses, mysterious hands, ribbons, pearls, chains, cages,
feathers, wings, butterflies, skulls, crowns, crosses,
chessboards, curtains, stars, rabbits, mirrors, earrings, colors.
We've seen the theme of chains
binding many characters in Pandora Hearts, and I think
ribbons are a more subtle and versatile extension of that
theme. In a very literal sense they represent being tied up.
This could be elaborated into connection, manipulation, and/or
control. Puppet strings. And, in the Pandora Hearts pilot, this
explicitly: "You see only what you want to see. That's
why you can't see the [Chains] playing with the strings just
Jack has had two ribbons
on his right hand so far. One in the picture of "drugged" Jack
with dark Alice, and one in the picture of "dark" Jack with Oz:
In this picture of the present, he has a white ribbon.
The female (Lacie?) hand has a matching white ribbon.
Oz here has black ribbons on his left arm and
right leg. He also had the same limbs wrapped in blue
ribbons in the blue rose
picture of him
studying the Lacie melody.
In the picture from 100 years ago, during the Sablier tragedy,
Jack has a red ribbon:
Is there a significance to loose ribbons versus
tied ribbons? Do the colors matter? Red usually
means passion, White can mean purity, Black... could mean a lot
of things. The red ribbon tying up Jack's hand
is accentuated by a black rose, indicating that
the passion it represents is a violent or vengeful one. The
"dark" Jack in the Yin Yang picture is likewise wearing
black rose earrings (hover mouse over Jack for detail) as opposed to his regular
teardrop ones, suggesting the kind of influence he either hears
or is listening to.
Right and left hands are also important. Jack
has his right, active, sword hand tied up. Oz had his
receptive, passive hand wrapped.
But Alice herself is bound by red AND white ribbon
to her twin. The red likely stands for the rivalry between them.
Then again, this could also be the
Red String of Fate from Japanese legend, said to tie
together people connected by inescapable fate. When tied around
the little finger, it is a sign of lovers, but other kinds of
relationships bind hands, wrists, and
other body parts. The string is unbreakable.
Alyss on her own has black ribbons wrapped
around her arms, throat, and torso (corset), in stark contrast
to the rest of her whiteness. This could possibly represent how
her violent insanity affects her coherent expression.
What is the difference between ribbons around
arms versus legs? I would say that arms represent purposeful
action whereas legs represent overall freedom and mobility.
Therefore, ribbons on arms could represent
restraint, influence, or direction over the mind, and
ribbons on legs could represent the same over the body.
Gil has a blue ribbon
around his left hand - the Raven hand that seals B-Rabbit, which
has been rather ineffectual as of late since Oz had been
accessing B-Rabbit power on his own. Alice has red
ribbons tied to her legs, indicating how much control
she lost over her B-Rabbit self:
Notice that Alice has a cage-like structure on
her left leg in both the picture on the bed with Jack an din the
red dress with Oz and Gil, whereas Alyss has the cage-structure
on her right leg. Aside from the binding symbolism of
cages, this also brings in a "mirroring" aspect to the
polarity symbolism. You also see this in the picture of dark
Alice over Jack with a light Alice in the mirror.
It suggests that opposite ends of the spectrum - which appear to
be in conflict - don't just contain the seed to give rise to
each other such as in a Yin Yang, and don't just flow towards
harmonious integration, but are all immediate (though inverted)
reflections of each other.
Dark Alice with Jack also has cages on her
right arm, and over her torso like a corset. More on
To further solidify the link between ribbons
and chains, we have a picture of Oz and Gilbert
being linked by a white ribbon from Oz's right
hand to Gil's left:
There are bands of tattered black and white ribbons
around them, and here we see that there are chains
underneath. Although I think the symbolism of ribbons
is softer and more subtle than chains,
they may still be akin to silk gloves that hide the steel chains
of bondage. Also note that Oz is holding a white feather.
More on that later.
Ribbons typically correlate to relationship ties, and
while they can often be combined with actual steel
chains, the chains themselves are a
direct link between the living human world and the Abyss - and
between Chain and Contractor in particular. Such a chain
wraps around a person's limb(s) - using Break as an example,
his right arm - in ways eerily similar to how chains
bind characters on the manga volume covers. Once the illegal
Contractor seal arrow completes a full circle, the Contractor is
dragged to the Abyss and the connecting chain
between Chain to Contractor
So what are we to make of the broken and unbroken chains that we
see on the manga covers?
This turns out to be a much more abstract question but, to get
started, here's a quick comparison of the characters' chains:
(Unbroken, Slightly Broken,
Volume 1: Oz - slightly broken.
Volume 2: Gilbert - unbroken.
Volume 3: Break - slightly broken.
Volume 4: Sharon - unbroken.
Volume 5: Vincent
- very broken.
Volume 6: Lottie - slightly broken.
Volume 7: Jack
- very broken.
Volume 8: Cheshire - slightly
Volume 9: Echo - unbroken.
Volume 10: Glen - unbroken.
Volume 11: Reim - slightly broken.
Volume 12: Ada - unbroken.
Volume 13: Lily - unbroken.
Volume 14: Elliot - unbroken.
Volume 15: Rufus - unbroken.
Volume 16: Leo - unbroken.
Volume 17: Lacie - unbroken.
Volume 18: Levi - unbroken.
(In-Depth Look at Volume Covers)
Pandora Hearts and all the characters, story, and art therein is
copyright Jun Mochizuki. No copyright infringement is intended,
and I hope that this essay inspires more people to read/watch
Pandora Hearts! Translations are by
Syndicate. Visit the
page to see who else helped!