Head of Houndsditch (formerly)
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|“|| I'll set you free, Alice. Memory is a curse more often than a blessing.
Dr. Angus Bumby was Alice Liddell's manipulative psychiatrist and the head of the Houndsditch Home for Wayward Youth in London. Bumby appeared to help Alice, along with the other orphans who lived there, to forget about traumatic events in their past using hypnotherapy. However, it was revealed that he had much darker motives, and a greater role in Alice's past than she first realized.
Alice saw his image as part of the tentacle creature known as the Leviathan, but he disappeared after a while.
Interactions with the Liddells
In his younger years, Angus Bumby was an undergraduate at Oxford University and was tutored by Dean Arthur Liddell. Like other undergraduates, he was a frequent guest for tea to the Liddell household. There, he came into contact with the older of the two Liddell children, Lizzie. Lizzie had a poor opinion of all of the undergraduates, having referred to them as a "bunch of toadies", but over the course of his visits to the Liddell home Bumby grew inappropriately fond of her. This fondness eventually turned into a sexual obsession, fed by Bumby's own justification that the young Lizzie was not only open to his advances but eager for them, and that the discomfort she displayed in his company was meant as further enticement.
Bumby's obsession toward Lizzie continued to escalate with time, moving from unwanted questioning of the girl to inappropriate touching. As a result Lizzie grew avoidant and fearful of him, prompting her to ask her father not to invite Bumby over for tea anymore. This distancing prompted him to begin stalking Lizzie outside the home and attempting to force her into performing sexual acts, even following her into the ladies' restroom at the London Waterloo station. Bumby's harassment of Lizzie was met with increasing fear and she threatened to tell her parents of his behaviour.
Assaulting Lizzie, murder and arson
On the night of November 5th, 1863, deep in his obsession and enraged by the now-18 year old Lizzie's supposed "teasing", Angus Bumby broke into the Liddell house. He made his way to Lizzie's bedroom, taking the key to her door as he did. Once he was inside the room Bumby raped Lizzie, though not without a struggle, before murdering her through unknown means.
Bumby's entry of the Liddell household was witnessed by the family's youngest child, Alice. However, too young to understand the gristly implications of what she had seen, Alice convinced herself that a centaur had broken into the family home and that the sounds coming from her sister's room had been Lizzie talking in her sleep rather than Bumby assaulting and killing her.
To cover up his crime, Bumby locked Lizzie's bedroom door and used an oil-lamp to set the house on fire, intending to kill everyone inside. Bumby kept Lizzie's bedroom key and later used it as his pendant when hypnotizing his patients.
Bumby fled to a nearby forest after setting fire to the Liddell house, but stayed for a few moments to watch the blaze consume the building. The youngest Liddell, Alice, survived the blaze by jumping out a window on the second floor and cushioning herself on a pile of snow. Alice briefly saw Bumby in a nearby forest and saw him holding Lizzie's key before he disappeared into the night. The fire resulted in Alice's fall into insanity, and she was committed into Rutledge Asylum for ten years.
The official story regarding Lizzie's death was that she perished in her sleep due to smoke inhalation, as her body was found still in bed, wholly unharmed by the fire. This could not have been her true cause of death, however, as her bedroom was too far from the fire to have so quickly incapacitated her before she could have attempted to escape.
Alice: Madness Returns
After Alice was deemed sane enough to leave Rutledge, her former nurse Pris Witless got her a place to stay in Houndsditch Home as a maid. Bumby also treated Alice to hypnotherapy in Houndsditch, promising to help her forget the memories of the fire so she could recover the remains of her sanity. However, this would also benefit him, as the last remnants of his crime would be completely erased with no evidence remaining.
His treatment seemed in vain, however, as Alice began descending into madness again, seeing Wonderland consumed by a strange black ooze and destroyed by a twisted train. Realizing that she had to face her problems her own way, she returned to her psyche to unravel the mystery of this new corruption. Along the way, she began recollecting her lost memories, including some of her therapy sessions with Bumby. Alice's collectable memories of Bumby are represented by a pearly image of his glasses.
Bumby also appeared to Alice during her hallucination of Rutledge, in which he asked for obedience and honor on the same level as the Queen of Hearts. He tells Alice he wanted what the Queen wanted. As the Queen wanted to control Wonderland and make its inhabits her slaves, Bumby is telling Alice his motives. He also told Alice to "trade the tentacles for the train, it's all together a better ride", and "it's that or back to Rutledge."
As Alice traveled deeper into Wonderland, she came to the realization that it was Bumby who killed her family and his hypnosis sessions were really an attempt to cover his tracks. She also came to terms with another terrible truth: Bumby had been using Houndsditch Home as a front for turning its vulnerable children into mindless sex slaves, stripping away their memories, leaving them divorced from reality and deep in their dissociation. At the end of the Dollhouse, Alice met the Dollmaker, Bumby's Wonderland incarnation. The Dollmaker viewed children solely as commodities to be used, manipulated, and exploited. He firmly believed that he was doing nothing wrong and that by turning traumatized children into "proud products" to be sold to pedophiles, he was providing a valuable service to the public.
After regaining her memories, Alice confronted Bumby at Moorgate Station for his crimes. Bumby said that he was waiting for Alice's "replacement", suggesting that he was planning on firing Alice for a new Houndsditch maid, which Bumby likely decided due to Alice's absence for the past few days. Alice called Bumby out on his actions, and for exploiting and abusing children and destroying their innocence, memories and identities for his own monetary gain. He casually confirmed her accusations, and admitted he was trying to break down Alice herself into a mindless sex slave too, but she proved too stubborn and too powerful, even in her insanity, to allow herself to forget. Bumby claimed Alice was "mad" like her sister, claiming Lizzie was a tease who pretended to despise him, and that she got what she wanted in the end, alluding to her rape.
As Alice's Wonderland self destroyed the Infernal Train and the Dollmaker, she threatened to tell the police and have Bumby hanged after being raped himself by "some halfwit bruiser" in gaol. In spite of this, Bumby laughed at Alice, pointing out that no one would believe a former lunatic accusing a well-respected man of such a hideous crime, and he implies that he already covered up his tracks by destroying all evidence and traces of his crimes. Bumby called Alice a "psychotic silly bitch", told her her madness will be punished and ordered her to leave.
However, Alice snatched Lizzie's key from Bumby, stunning him. She appeared to transform into her Wonderland form (both dress and physical features) before him and he appeared shocked by her sudden change. It is unlikely that Alice literally manifested a dress. It is more likely that Bumby was shocked by her sudden confidence. Alice pushed him in front of an on-coming train, killing him instantly and avenging her family, as well as putting an end to his heinous crimes.
While underwater in the miniature version of the Nautilus, one of the Leviathan's tentacles were in front of the viewing window. Alice noticed the tentacle as it shifted into the image of Bumby and reflected on her relationship with the deceased doctor to Jules Verne, stating that she had come to learn not all men of science were driven by noble pursuits. She gripped her Vorpal Blade and almost drew it out, as if ready to attack, causing the tentacle's eyes to light up. The Bumby tentacle observed the Vorpal Blade for a short while before it returned to its normal appearance, and disappeared. Despite that Bumby was deceased, his memory still faintly haunted Alice.
Bumby appeared to be slightly middle-aged, with a slim figure and broad shoulders. His face was very long and thin, with a pointy chin and defined cheekbones. His hair was dark brown, and was cut to the nape of his neck, and combed into a side parting to his right-hand side. He also had a full beard and mustache. His eyes were small and pale in color. Upon seeing his portrait, Alice commented he was "just shy of classically handsome."
Bumby's state of dress was far more professional and better-kept than Alice and the other children he watched over. His outfit consisted of black trousers, a white shirt, and a gray waistcoat with a red tie. When outside, he wore a brown coat and top-hat.
In Alice's hallucination of Bumby when she and Verne were underwater, she saw him as a part of the Leviathan tentacle that was pink and red in color. His head was elongated and contain several holes representing areas of his glasses, ears, and chin. His eyes were able to glow in yellow when she drew her Vorpal Blade out before returning to the actual appearance of the Leviathan's tentacle.
|“|| He uses her fears to manipulate her and lead her in ways that encourage dependence on him. He knows her rich fantasies, her domestic unhappiness, incidents of unresolved parental friction; her crippling survivor guilt. These are all grist for his disgusting mill. He wants to destroy her memory because she knows something incriminating that he wants her to forget; he wants to deprive her of all her imaginative recollections of comfort and security and joy and replace them with his degraded values; he wants her continued dependence—so she will become one of his “kids.”
To the public, Bumby was an extremely intelligent psychiatrist, and a scholar with a brilliant and wise mind. He appeared to be a respectable man of society as people perceived him as a helper of unfortunate children and a therapist who worked to relieve traumatized and mentally broken orphans of the burdens of their past. However, behind this well-mannered facade was a man who carried out various acts of abuse against young children and adolescents, including arson, murder, rape, forcible thought reform, and commercial sexual exploitation. Although he helped children forget their painful memories, he used trauma-based mind control to keep them in a perpetual state of dissociation and strip them of any personal identity, even going so far as to assign them numbers in place of names.
Bumby demonstrated a poor view of children, as was common in Victorian England, as Alice remembered him stating that while children have purposes, "it is the beholden duty of knowing adults to fit every young person to her calling", showing his lack of empathy toward children and his rejection of the notion that children are entitled to their own free will. He also told Alice that some insects eat their young and have "much to teach us", further reinforcing his distain for young people.
Although he was an educated man, Bumby chose to forge ties with London's child sex trade rather than use his knowledge for more noble pursuits. He viewed himself as doing a service to society by molding traumatized orphans into child prostitutes despite the inherent harm such actions would cause to society, both with regard to feeding the desires of pedophiles and to the psychological and sexual harm to the children themselves.
In addition to facillitating child sexual abuse through his involvement in the child sex trade, Bumby himself is a pedophile. Although Lizzie was 18 when Bumby raped and murdered her, his first contact with the Liddell family was during his undergraduate years, meaning Lizzie would have been a child or young teen when Bumby first laid eyes on her. The amount of time between Bumby's first contact with Lizzie and him raping her is unclear; however, enough time had passed that he was no longer reliant on Arthur Liddell's academic tutelage, and that his harassment of Lizzie could progress from unwanted conversation during tea all the way to stalking and attempted sexual assault.
- Bumby is imagined to appear in Alice: Asylum as the game's merchant who sells Alice toys and items. If one were to play Asylum before Madness Returns, then he would appear more noble and inconspicuous, and would retroactively make the plot twists in Madness Returns more shocking. Some concept art, however, depicts him around the same age in Madness Returns, when he should look appear a decade younger. However, if Bumby visited Alice in Rutledge recently, then he could still theoretically only appear five or so years younger.
- Unused text in Madness Returns suggests that if Alice were to die in the game, an obituary would be shown for her. One includes Alice falling onto train-tracks and being hit by a train which Bumby claims was a "suicide." It is unknown if this would truly have been a suicide or if Bumby would have killed Alice and covered it up.
- Pris Witless may have known of Bumby's intention to erase Alice's memories of the arson attack that killed her family, and been complicit in the execution of his plan. Pris was known to Bumby at the time of Alice's internment and catatonia in Rutledge Asylum, and it was Pris who found Alice employment at the Houndsditch Home for Wayward Youth when Bumby was the orphanage's sole director, making the two acquaintances at the time of Alice's release. Pris had placed Alice under duress and threatened to leak her false admission of responsibility for the fire to the public, but did provide Alice respite – a vow of silence subject to a daily fee. Bumby's hypnotherapy sessions, performed from the orphanage, would potentially render Alice permanently ignorant to her own innocence in the events of the fire, and allow Pris to continuously extort Alice for money. The fallout of Bumby's sessions would be beneficial to both conspirators, providing a motive for the two to collaborate.
- When Charlie appears, Bumby says, "Now Charlie, your Pa was hung for killing your Ma, who beat you." This is a very blunt and insensitive thing to say to an abuse victim, especially to a child by a therapist, as it forces Charlie to recall his trauma. However, this brutish treatment of a traumatized child demonstrates Bumby's character as uninterested in the emotional wellbeing of the children in his care. In the end, it is heavily implied Bumby is only doing therapy for the end result: the money and profit he receives from selling these children.
- Bumby has framed portraits of George Meredith, Kate Chopin and George Washington in his office.
- The name "Angus" is anglicized form of Aonghus, which means "one strength" or "one force," and "Bumby" is a name of Middle English origin with means "fortress," a heavily guarded place. The fortress could mean Houndsditch Home, the place that Bumby hid his secrets from outsiders. His first name could be in reference to the fact he is a "one-man power" controlling the children, or that he just used one way to capture his victims: hypnotherapy. A possible play on his name (a type of beef) is seen in the Dollhouse underworld; his Wonderland counterpart, the Dollmaker, has a lair in which there are slabs of meat used for flooring in some areas.
- The Aberdeen Angus is a Scottish breed of beef cattle - this is likely a reference to Bumby's selling of children as "livestock."
- The slabs of meat beaten by metal pieces in the level could be a reference to "beat the meat", a slang for masturbating, that could foreshadow Bumby's sexual nature.
- Bumby shares his surname with Kurt Bumby, a forensic psychologist who is (ironically) Senior Manager of the Center for Sex Offender Management and creator of the Bumby scales of cognitive distortion (also known as the RAPE scale).
- In her previous memories of the fire, Alice remembered Bumby as a centaur, a creature from Greek mythology which is part human and part horse. Although centaurs are presented as clever and honorable in modern culture, they originally symbolized chaos, unbridled passion, and lustful behavior, including rape. These descriptions fit Bumby, as he was the indirect source of Alice's insanity, and he had a lustful obsession for Lizzie. He was also perceived to be a great person in society.
- The drastically different appearances and mindsets of Wonderland's citizens in Madness Returns are the result of a metaphysical "hard reboot" imposed by Doctor Bumby's treatments for Alice.
- It is unknown if Alice was ever found out to be Bumby's murderer. In addition, since Alice is a freewoman in Alice: Otherlands, she likely covered up her murder of him since no one else was at the train station at the time of his death.
- It is possible that Bumby's predatory behavior towards Lizzie were inspired by controversies surrounding the behavior of Charles Dodgson, author of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass. Coined as the "Liddell Riddle", the exact nature of Dodgson's relationship with sisters Alice, Edith, and Lorina Liddell, which would culminate in the sudden suspension of amicable relations between Dodgson and the Liddell family at the behest of the children's mother in 1863, has been a subject of debate for many years. Though four of thirteen diaristic volumes written by Dodgson have been lost since his death, it is evident that Lorina, the eldest sister, was the primary subject of Dodgson's writings featuring the Liddells from 1862 onwards. This is reflected through Bumby's obsession with Elizabeth Liddell, who herself was the eldest daughter of the fictional Liddell family.
- Bumby could have been the anonymous sender of the Liddell family portrait Alice received after leaving Rutledge Asylum. While this act would stand at odds with Bumby's overall motive of wiping Alice's memories, he does exhibit contradictory behavior, using Elizabeth's room key to hypnotize Alice despite its significance to her past. Bumby was taught by Arthur Liddell as an undergraduate, and so he had the means to possess a portrait of the family.
- Bumby may have been a drug addict or user, as the Dollmaker has a coke nail. In the beginning of the game, he orders Alice to fetch him unspecified pills from a high street chemist. It can be speculated that Bumby may have also been a drug maker and/or dealer. The coke nail might possibly be an indication that, to facilitate his hypnosis on Alice and the orphans, Bumby was utilizing psychoactive drugs to make them more compliant to his sinister designs.
- American McGee said, after killing Bumby in his Let's Play of Alice: Madness Returns: "Don't mess with Alice, motherfucker. That'll teach ya."
- McGee commented that Bumby was designed to be like a monster, and did not want anyone to sympathize with him. This is likely why the game does not delve deep into what made Bumby become the way he did, and also why it does not portray him as a tragic villain.