Johanna does the same thing every day – sit in her window, singing and talking to her bird, sewing and staring out into the street, dreaming of a larger world that she cannot explore, since the judge keeps her shut up in her room and forbids her any contact with the outside world. She sings metaphorical songs about how birds are unhappy in their cages (meaning herself) and wondering how they came to be there, comparing the different colors of their wings but how they all have the same desire, which is to escape. This shows her interest in colors, in what she sees around her, and in her dreams of the outside world. She is easily emotional and sensitive, not wanting to offend anyone. The judge proposes their marriage, and says she seemed less than enthusiastic but did not turn him down, implying that she tried to deal with him tactfully to avoid hurting his feelings or offending him, even though she is scared of him. Johanna immediately has feelings for Anthony and sees him as her potential rescuer, throwing him out a key but also being aware of the danger. She also wonders how she has come to this sad position in life, and what the birds are thinking, but has no real ability to use her dreamy intuition as a way to save herself. She never intuits that the man caring for her is not her kin, even though she knows he cannot be trusted.

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Johanna goes out of her way to avoid causing any upset in the house. She fears her guardian and tries to avoid making him angry through tact. She rather passively gives in to her imprisonment, never trying to sneak out the window, steal down the back stairs, or pick the lock to her room. Johanna feels helpless to change her situation and searches for a rescuer, rather than assuming she must do that for herself. She is submissive in the asylum and cowed, until she sees Anthony has come for her, then eager to embrace a new and better life. Seeing Sweeney Todd kill and dump the judge’s body terrifies and scares her, but she manages to stay alive through her eagerness to appease him – and goes off to have a better life.