Women We Love: Lady Violet

1,191 views

Published on

Downton Abbey: They can kill off Sybil, and they can kill off Matthew, but if they kill off Lady Violet, there will be hell to pay.

0 Comments
1 Like
Statistics
Notes
  • Be the first to comment

No Downloads
Views
Total views
1,191
On SlideShare
0
From Embeds
0
Number of Embeds
6
Actions
Shares
0
Downloads
2
Comments
0
Likes
1
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Women We Love: Lady Violet

  1. 1. January  2014 Women  We  Love:  Lady  Violet Ann  Daly  PhD                                                                                AnnDaly.com
  2. 2. ✤ They  can  kill  off  Sybil,  and  they  can  kill  off   Matthew,  but  if  they  kill  off  Lady  Violet,  there  will   be  hell  to  pay.
  3. 3. ✤ As  the  materfamilias  of  “Downton  Abbey”’s   Grantham  clan,  Violet,  Dowager  Countess  of   Grantham,  is  the  queen  of  the  bon  mot  (search   “Sh!t  the  Dowager  Countess  Says”  on  YouTube)   and  a  beloved,  cranky  granny  to  us  all.  Even   more,  she’s  the  kind  of  woman  we  secretly  long   to  be:  unbowed,  unfettered,  and  uncensored
  4. 4. ✤ In  more  modern  times,  she  would  be  admired  as   “an  old  broad.”  After  all,  despite  her  most  reNined   demeanor,  she  is  “tougher  than  I  look.”  She   certainly  never  suffers  a  fool.  And  she  will  not  be   “handled.”  Lady  Violet  (if  I  may  portray  her  with   such  familiarity)  knows  her  own  mind,  and  she   comes  and  goes  as  she  pleases.  And  wherever  she   goes,  she  goes  in  splendid  style,  as  if  she  owns   the  place.  Which,  of  course,  she  once  did.
  5. 5. ✤ Lady  Violet  has  seized  her  advanced  age  as  a   license  not  to  please.  It  doesn’t  occur  to  her  to   mask  her  distaste  or  disapproval:  she’s  earned   her  opinions.  And  one  can  only  wonder  what  of   life’s  pain  and  disappointment  and  occasional   cruelties  she  endured  in  the  process.
  6. 6. ✤ Her  greatest  desire  is  to  stay  at  the  center  of  the   action.  (“I  hate  Greek  drama,  when  everything   happens  off  stage.”)  She  refuses  to  be  rendered   an  invisible  old  lady,  even  though  the  death  of   her  husband  has  demoted  her  to  a  vestigial   “dowager.”  Much  like  the  discarded  lover  Alex   Forrest  in  “Fatal  Attraction,”  Lady  Violet  refuses   to  be  ignored.  With  her  last  breath,  she  will   remain  a  central  player  in  the  Grantham  family   drama.
  7. 7. ✤ And  why  not?  She  is  the  most  observant  –  and   sensitive  —  of  the  entire  lot.  It  was  Lady  Violet   who  saw  early  on  that  Sybil  had  a  hankering  for   the  chauffeur.  She  who  saw  that  Mary  was  still  in   love  with  Matthew  (“I  was  watching  her  the  other   night,  when  you  spoke  of  your  wedding.  She   looked  like  Juliet  on  awakening  in  the  tomb”).   And  she  who  saw  that  the  “fallen”  servant  Ethel   Parks  was  suffering  unnecessarily  by  staying  on   in  Isobel  Crawley’s  employ.
  8. 8. ✤ Lady  Violet  is  also  the  most  politic  of  the  lot.  She  does   not  wear  the  trousers  required  to  be  direct  about  it,  so   she  presses  and  wields  her  inNluence  behind-­‐the-­‐ scenes.  She’s  always  strategizing.  Remember  when   she  strong-­‐armed  the  parochial  village  minister  into   marrying  William  and  Daisy?  Or  when  she  persuaded   Dr.  Clarkson  to  tell  Cora  and  Robert  that  Sybil  would   likely  have  died  even  if  she  had  undergone  a   caesarean  (“‘Lie’  is  so  unmusical  a  word.”)?  Or  when   she  surreptitiously  sent  Sybil  and  Tom  the  money  to   attend  Mary  and  Matthew’s  wedding?
  9. 9. ✤ Her  insight  into  human  nature  is  Nine-­‐tuned:  “My   dear,  when  tragedies  strike,  we  try  to  Nind   someone  to  blame.  And  in  the  absence  of  a   suitable  candidate,  we  usually  blame  ourselves.”   And  her  commitment  to  getting  things  done   unwavering.  If  nothing  else,  she  is  pragmatic.  “I   so  seldom  talk  about  matters  of  the  heart,   because  it  is  so  seldom  useful,”  she  explains  to   William.  
  10. 10. ✤ Lady  Violet  is  a  “Nixer.”  And  when  she  cannot   claim  victory,  she  Ninds  the  spin.  When  her  new   son-­‐in-­‐law,  the  household’s  former  chauffeur,   becomes  a  fait  accompli,  she  immediately  begins   to  imagine  how  she  can  rebrand  him  as  a   journalist  of  notable  relations.  She’s  the  ultimate   domestic  politician,  and  one  wonders  what  she   could  have  accomplished  if  permitted  into  the   public  sphere.
  11. 11. ✤ The  irony  is  that,  today,  women  do  have  access  to   the  public  sphere,  and  we  still  demonstrate  the   need  to  please.  As  far  as  women  have  come,  as   talented  as  we  have  proven  ourselves  in  the   workplace,  we  still  have  to  deal  with  the  Ninal   cultural  imperative  for  women:  likability.  Unlike   Lady  Violet,  we  can  earn  our  own  money,  decide   our  own  marriages  (and  divorces),  and  earn  our   own  titles,  but  we  still  have  to  be  perceived  as   likable.  
  12. 12. ✤ Research  has  shown  that  women  in  the   workplace  are  expected  to  be  likable  and  suffer  a   disadvantage  if  they  are  not  perceived  as  such;   men,  who  are  not  expected  to  be  likable,  gain  an   advantage  when  they  are  perceived  as  such.   What  would  it  be  like  if  we  did  not  have  to   monitor  and  temper  our  words,  our  actions,  our   accomplishments?  If  we  were  “ambitious  as  we   wanna  be?”  If  we  spoke  truth  to  power  just  as   freely  as  Lady  Violet?
  13. 13. ✤ Beware,  “Downton  Abbey”  writers,  just  in  case   you’re  harboring  any  intimations  of  mortality  for   the  dear  old  girl:  The  Countess  Dowager  will  not   go  tragically,  like  Sybil.  She  will  not  go   unwittingly,  like  Matthew.  And  she  certainly  will   not  go  gentle. ✤ Ann  Daly  PhD  is  a  personal  and  executive  coach  for  women.  She  blogs   at  AnnDaly.com  and  WomenAdvance.com.

×