People are a work in progress. The same is true with fictional characters. We liked flawed characters because we, too, are flawed. It is intriguing to see characters grow over time. None captivated us more than the popular PBS series, Downton Abbey. Last night’s finale did not disappoint. I picked six characters that I think demonstrated the most growth, six characters that seem unchanged, and two that refused to change.
Lady Mary – Eldest daughter- At last by Season 6, she has moved from her grief over the tragic death of her husband, Matthew. After rejecting several suitors, she opens her heart to true love. I thought Mary treated her sister, Edith, badly. Edith claims Mary could never stand for her to be happy, and I agree. In the end, she becomes overwrought with guilt for a wrong she did to Edith and makes amends, reconciling with her sister.
Robert Crawely- Earl of Grantham- By the end of the series, I believe Robert realized their way of life would have to change with the times. That was especially true with the role of women. With some hesitation (and out of love), he allows Mary to help oversee the estate, Edith to become a magazine publisher in London, and most difficult of all, his wife to oversee the hospital foundation.
Daisy – Kitchen Maid- Even in her lowly position, Daisy is ambitious. She wants more, but I don’t know that she ever discovers what “more” is. She studies hard to pass an exam. She holds her suitors to the same high degree, rejecting any man who shows her any interest. Over time, she puts her ego aside to accept the courtship of a young servant, Andy, who is illiterate, but a hard worker and a good man.
Thomas Barrow– Under-Butler- Thomas was the one character we love to hate. From the beginning, he is conniving and scheming. When the job of valet for Lord Grantham goes to Mr. Bates, Thomas plans to sabotage his employment. He blackmails and plot against others, but over time, he grows a heart and comes to terms with his identity. He even privately tutors Andy in reading and plays with Master George, Lady Mary’s little boy.
Lady Edith– middle daughter- Poor, poor, Edith. Much heartache befalls her, including the loss of her great love and father of her illegitimate child. Fortunately, Edith has the fairytale ending and marries Bertie, the Marquess of Hexam, with a home that makes Downton Abbey look “quaint.” She is no longer willing to live a lie and becomes honest even at the risk of losing the man she loves and forfeiting her future title as marchioness of Hexam.
Unchanged Characters: They appear, at least to me, to be very grounded to begin with: Countess Cora Crawley, Mr. Bates, Anna Bates, Mrs. Hughes, Isobel Crawley, Mrs. Patmore
Two Diehard Unchangeable Characters: Unwilling to change with the times are: Mr. Carson and Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham