Monday, January 28, 2013

Downton Abbey and Character Flaws

***NO Spoiler Alert***

Now that the third season on Downton Abbey has started, I can indulge in my tear-through of season two. In returning to my favorite now-wartime drama, I was immediately drawn back to two of my favorite characters: Mr. Bates and Lady Sybil Crawley.

Phin watched the first two episodes of season two last night--his first ever of the series--and in explaining all the backstory, the machinations, I realized that few of the most interesting characters are without deep character flaws. Mr. Bates and Lady Sybil, however, share their deepest motivation--idealism--even as this flaw has so far led them in separate directions.

John Bates's idealism stems from his deeply-held belief that doing the Right Thing (notice the caps there?) is always the best decision. This has served him well enough through the first season--his detractors may have won skirmishes against him, but Bates won the war--but I have my suspicions that the second season will be much rockier for this gentlemanly valet. His idealism has come at a much higher cost than Lady Sybil's, so far.

Initially, I had Lady Sybil pegged at one of the more flawless characters; however, she's far too interesting to be such a flat character. Idealism is the one thread that motivates her actions in season one, though in her case it is to the benefit of those around her. Even season two, when she breaks with tradition to help the war effort, her idealism has not (yet) led her astray. So yes, it might be a stretch characterizing her idealism as a "flaw", but who knows how long her luck will last. When her hopefulness leads her one step too far, her fall may very well be spectacularly painful. For her sake, I hope not--but we've seen where that kind of idealism has led John and those who love him.

Who is your favorite Downton Abbey character? Do you like them in spite of, or because of, their flaws?


Tisa said...

My favorite character is Voilet Crawley Dowager Countess of Grantham. She is my Grandmother and her sisters (the Aunties) all rolled into one. I can honestly say that I adore her because of her flaws. Listening to her lines I would swear that someone had been listening in on the Loly's (little old ladies) for years.

Kelly Jamieson said...

I keep intending to watch this show!I have the first season on DVD but haven't yet found time to squeeze in watching it.