Monday, February 3, 2014

Mondays with Martha

As Valentine's Day approaches, love is in the air in all shapes and forms at Downton Abbey.  When it comes to matters of the heart, last night's episode reminds us that whether it is 1922 or 2014, certain truths about love are timeless.

Matters of the Heart; Lessons from Downton Abbey 


Never Know You Love Him Till You Let Him Go:
Downstairs, Ivy's love story is as old as time.  For months she has overlooked Alfred's romantic gazes and gentlemanly gestures, while pining for the suave and stuck-up Jimmy.  Even when Jimmy took her out and encouraged her to get so drunk she could barely walk, she continued to choose him over Alfred. Suddenly, Alfred has a chance to move up in the world through training in London at The Ritz. It is not until Alfred says goodbye that Ivy realizes her mistake and all she has lost.

Forbidden Love Can Make the Heart Grow Stronger:
Cousin Rose is bursting with excitement about a surprise concert she is planning for Lord Grantham's birthday celebration. It turns out that her enthusiasm is as much for the eloquent and elegant musician, Jack Ross, as it is for the music itself.  While Rose does a wonderful job of helping Downton's upstairs and downstairs characters open their minds, her efforts seem somewhat contrived and immature.  Mary catches Rose kissing Jack (Downton's first African American character) in the basement as viewers brace themselves for what is shaking up to be a classic tale of forbidden love.  Given the various forums in which the provocative Rose has been pushing the envelope since she arrived at Downton, it seems possible that her passionate feelings for Jack are intensified by the taboos associated with their unfolding love story.

When Times are Tough, Commitment is Essential:
Anna and Mr. Bates are doing what they can to get through Anna's unspeakable tragedy.  Like many who are traumatized by rape, both she and Mr. Bates express a wish to forget about it and enjoy each other.  Unfortunately, no matter how much they may both want to develop amnesia and forget all about it, the pain is too great and the trauma too deep.  What is striking about their relationship during this episode is their willingness to talk openly about a topic that is tough to discuss in modern times and seemed unspeakable in the days of Downton:
Anna: "I know it can't be the same as it used to be.  I don't deceive myself about that.  But I want to make some new memories.  Some good memories.  So it's not as if all our happiness was before."
Mr. Bates: "I'm happy whenever I look at you."
Anna: "But you're not, are you?  Everything is shadowed.  Every moment we share is shadowed."
Mr. Bates: "You're right.  Let's have one evening when we don't think about it.  We [will] leave it all behind."

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