First, I'll provide a little bit of context as to why Downton Abbey is related to my A-Z "All Things Grad School" Theme. I'll be doing my thesis on Jane Austen (to be extremely vague). Austen's novels are all about British aristocracy and although her novels and Downton Abbey are set approximately a century apart, the aristocracy, namely related to gender dynamics, that both encompass is relatively the same.
Downton Abbey has two major plot lines that intersect with each other. One plot centres on the lives of the Crawley family, the other plot, on their servants. Lord Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham, his wife, Lady Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham, and their three daughters, Lady Mary, Lady Edith, and Lady Sybil live in Downton Abbey in the county of Grantham. The Crawley family employs valets, footmen, ladies' maids, a cook, and many other servants each with their own developed story within the context of the the show. Season 1 occurs pre-World War I with Seasons 2 and 3 set post-war.
The major theme occurring throughout Downton Abbey is the necessary plight to find suitable marriages for the three Crawley daughters. As they have no son, there is also the pertinent issue of whom Downton Abbey and its associated wealth will be inherited by. Sound familiar? If you've read or watched Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice, Downton Abbey's plot should ring similar.
Pride & Prejudice: 5 daughters, no son a.k.a. no male heir
Downton Abbey: 3 daughters, no son a.k.a. no male heir
Pride & Prejudice: a mother whose goal it is to marry her daughters off and marry them off well
Downton Abbey: a mother whose goal it is to marry her daughter off and marry them off well
To add a little more similarity, I will talk briefly about the distant cousin in both plots who is established as heir and meant to marry one of the daughters in each case. In Pride & Prejudice, the distant cousin is Mr. William Collins. In Downton Abbey, the distant cousin is Matthew Crawley. Both are initially disliked by the families with which they are associated, but as the plot of Downtown Abbey progresses, Matthew comes to be accepted and very much welcomed by the Crawley family. William, however, never really fits in with the Bennett family of Pride & Prejudice.
I've heard critics say that Downton Abbey is little more than a trashy soap opera set in early 20th Century England, but I think it's brilliant. The intertwining plots, the character development, the beautiful sets, it all has be completely hooked. I watched all three existing seasons of Downton Abbey back-to-back and was incredibly disappointed to learn that Season 4 doesn't start until December 2013. What does make me happy, though, is that there is going to be a fourth season!
Have you watched Downton Abbey? Are you a fan? Read/watched Pride & Prejudice? Fan?