Well everybody has to work an adoption story in somewhere and Julian Fellowes, the creator of Downton Abbey, is no exception. Lady Edith turned up preggers, had the baby and left her daughter in Switzerland. She has been advised by her aunt, who it appears has been there (to the land of unwed pregnancy** not Switzerland) before her, to keep quiet, move on, forget it ever happened and have other children. Now doesn’t this sound oh so familiar.
One of the reasons, I like to watch Downtown Abbey is that it gives me a glimpse into the society in which my ancestors lived. My grandfather like Robert, was a veteran of the Boer War. The strict social rules of Downton Abbey that we find somewhat ridiculous now were the rules in the world my grandparents inhabited even though they emigrated to Canada. Canada was still a very British place in the first decades of the 20th century. And so I have no doubt that the mores we see reflected on the TV screen every Sunday night were the mores that were passed down to my parents or at least my mother. And although I have a little more ethnic diversity on my father’s side of the family, there are lots of British ancestors there too.
Lady Edith, encouraged unknowingly by Branson, the former chauffer, to follow her heart has made a bargain with herself. She is trapped so she will hand the child over to be raised by someone else but she will be there lurking and watching and perhaps in 20 years when society may be able to accept her situation or she may not give a damn whether society accepts her or not, she will reveal herself to be her daughter’s mother. This too sounds very familiar. She will not move on, she will not forget, she will not pretend this never happened.
** Who will Edith’s aunt’s child be? Which one of the characters? Bates or the conniving footman? I guess we will have to wait and see.