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Lord Grantham: Clueless Lord of the Manor

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I guess I must not mind his flatness. I am actually a little bummed any time a story arc ends with him "coming around" to any degree, because my absolute favorite thing is the way he flips out at the merest hint of something that is not 100% conventional and proper.  Tom Branson: "I'm naming the baby after her dead mother." Lord G: "GOOD! GOD!"  

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Lord Grantham is the character I would love to hate, but can't. He's a bit daft and I hated how he treated Tom Branson after Sybil's death, but then, I don't know how, he gets me back every time and I find myself liking him again. I think it's Hugh Bonneville, I have a thing for him, LOL.

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I think it's the fact that his story arcs always follow the same pattern that bothers me (although that's more the writers' fault).  As mentioned above, he freaks out about something he considers "unconventional" and then eventually he comes around on it.  And while the story of an older generation adapting to a new way of doing things (especially after a hugely traumatic event like WWI) is very interesting, it doesn't really go anywhere with Lord G.

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It seems that he was willing to look to the future when Matthew was alive, but wanted to revert back to his old ways after Matthew died. He is not heeding Shrimpy's warning. Also, he was very shady about Mary's involvement with the estate and he acted sketchy once he found out the money was Mary's and not George's. I guess he finds it easier to manipulate a baby?

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I think his character got the short end of the stick in both S3 and S4.  He was basically used as an antagonist to Matthew in S3 and to Mary/Branson in S4, and overall to progress in both seasons.  They even make sure Violet is more progressive than him!  

 

Having said that, I don't hate or dislike him since it's obvious why they make him that way, and as said above, he always "comes around", but he doesn't actually get to have actual character progression and development.

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I guess I must not mind his flatness. I am actually a little bummed any time a story arc ends with him "coming around" to any degree, because my absolute favorite thing is the way he flips out at the merest hint of something that is not 100% conventional and proper.  Tom Branson: "I'm naming the baby after her dead mother." Lord G: "GOOD! GOD!"

I could understand disagreeing with Tom's decision to name the baby after the late Lady Sybil. Let the kid have her own name and her own life and don't, in any way, burden her with the idea that she's some kind of replacement who should live Lady Sybil's life and not her own.

Not that Lord G could articulate that idea, or just about any idea.

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Just to offer my perspective as someone who's named after dead Grandma Photo Fox myself,  I've always felt it was a foundation for me to stand on, not a burden to carry.  It gives me a feeling of connection to her, even though we never met.  That's what I think Tom intended.  (Slightly OT, but I have a friend who was raised by a single mom - dad refused to be in the picture.  She named her son after his dad, which astonished some people, because they didn't think the dad deserved that honor.  She agreed, but she did feel that her son deserved some piece of his father, some connection, and that's the only one she could give him.)  I see Tom's actions much the same way.

 

Besides, a little girl who is born as her mother is dying, and then goes on to be raised in the bosom of her mother's family, in her mother's family home?  I think there's a certain feeling of "replacement" no matter what her name is.

 

Total agreement, though, that neither of them actually articulated these ideas.  What was Robert's argument against?  Or did he offer one?

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What was Robert's argument against?  Or did he offer one?

I seem to recall him using the word "ghoulish." It's just a guess on my part, but I assumed that the scene was highlighting a difference in the customs of upper-crust Englishmen and working-class Irishmen.

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I don't know about Britain, but in the US in the early 1900s and earlier, it was not unusual for a child to be given the name of a parent or older sibling who had died.  Often the names had been used for several generations in the family,  It was seen as a continuation of the legacy and a tribute to the deceased relatives.

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I guess I must not mind his flatness. I am actually a little bummed any time a story arc ends with him "coming around" to any degree, because my absolute favorite thing is the way he flips out at the merest hint of something that is not 100% conventional and proper. Tom Branson: "I'm naming the baby after her dead mother." Lord G: "GOOD! GOD!"

Though you have to admit that the nickname "Sybbie" sets the teeth on edge.

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I don't think Tom was trying to use Sybbie as a replacement for her mother.  He thought it was right to name her Sybil, to honor her memory.  He wanted to be reminded of her mother when he looked at her, but that doesn't mean he sees her as a replacement.  As someone said above, it's an homage.

 

It's the Jewish tradition to name a child after a family member who has died, in fact.  Not one who is living.  And today many other kids are named after their parents, especially boys.  I don't think the parents are doing so in the belief that these kids will just be replicas of their parents.  My brother's son is a IV. He doesn't see the kid as a "mini-me" or anything.

 

Robert told him it would be "painful" to name her Sybil, and Tom said it would be, at first.  He still thought it was the right thing to do.  But I mean,  come on, painful?  A Hell of a lot less painful than watching the love of your life die like that.  To me Robert's attitude was yet another indication of his emotional repression and how he chooses to bury his feelings and guilt so things can go one as they had before.

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Robert told him it would be "painful" to name her Sybil, and Tom said it would be, at first.  He still thought it was the right thing to do.  But I mean,  come on, painful?  A Hell of a lot less painful than watching the love of your life die like that.  To me Robert's attitude was yet another indication of his emotional repression and how he chooses to bury his feelings and guilt so things can go one as they had before.

 

Everyone experiences grief differently, and Robert has a right to that opinion and to dealing with loss in his own way and I don't think he should be ridiculed for it either.  However, I liked that Tom wanted to pay homage to Sybil like that.

Edited by Camera One
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Let's see. He got Bates sent to jail, killed his daughter and lost the fortune. He never knows where anyone is or what's going on. I'd say all he's missing are the clown shoes.

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I love that he flies off the handle at everything and misinterprets things and is quietly and easily manipulated by the women around him.  He's kind of sexy too, I don't know why it bothers me that I think he is, but he is. He has a commanding and stately presence.

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Lord Grantham is now at least in his 50s.  He was born at a time when the Earl of Grantham was not only the leading citizen of the area, but a person of great influence.  Violet told him earlier this season, "Your papa told the villagers what they wanted". 

 

Think back on season 1 when Robert handled Mr. Grigg quite deftly and authoritatively. "This is what's going to happen....", paid the man off and told him not to come back.   He had the influence to follow through on his threat to have Grigg thrown in prison.

 

That was first season Robert in a nutshell.  The Lord of the Manor, confident in his purpose in life, as he explained to Matthew, to preserve Downton.  Most of Robert's life has been spent doing just that and he had every expectation that it would continue.

 

But "Downton Abbey" really isn't about the Earl of Grantham sitting in his domain, doing as his Papa and Grandpapa did.  It's about the change that occurred in the early 20th century that began the process of diminishing the centuries-old system.  And part of the story is how Lord Grantham finds himself becoming obsolete over a ten-year period.

 

We saw it in season 2 as he was relegated to a mere honorary rank in the army.  As Downton was being usurped by the military, his wife and daughters off doing war work, the male servants off fighting while housemaids were recruited to serve meals instead, Robert was flailing with nothing to do, feeling useless.

 

That was, in part, what drew him to Jane Moorsen the maid with the son.

 

After the war, though, he was ready to return to normal.  That didn't happen.  Times have continued to change.  With the working classes finding better jobs outside of service, women having more educational and professional opportunities and the fluctuating mores of the period, he is feeling pushed out.   His way of life - his purpose - is being challenged everywhere.  Even at his own dinner table.

 

So, we don't see confident Lord Grantham anymore.  We are seeing defensive, insecure Robert Crawley.

 

 

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