“Downton Abbey” is the wildly popular Masterpiece Classic period drama that follows the the Crawley family and their servants in post-Edwardian England. It is one of the most widely watched television dramas in the world.
I run hot and cold with this series. I start watching it but stop in the middle of the season, because it becomes too much like a soap opera. Then I’ll start watching again out of sheer curiosity. Despite the outlandish plots and out-of-character character motivations, what also keeps me coming back is the dialogue.
Often, the best lines of the show are delivered by Dame Maggie Smith, who plays Lady Violet Grantham, the dowager countess and matriarch of the family.
Lady Violet values status and tradition, and she clings vehemently to the aristocratic ways. In early episodes she often questioned the usefulness of electricity and telephones.
She has a “withering wit and a sharp tongue.” It’s the kind of wit many writers aspire to write. I find myself wishing I could write like that every time I watch the show.
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To inspire us all, below are 14 of the best lines spoken by Lady Violet in “Downton Abbey.”
Though not necessarily directly useful to our work in PR, perhaps we can find a little inspiration in these words.
1. “My dear, no one can accuse me of being modern, but even I can see that it's not a crime to be young.”
2. “I'm a woman, Mary. I can be as contrary as I choose.”
3. “Oh, that's a relief. I hate Greek drama, when everything happens offstage.”
4. “‘Lie’ is so unmusical a word.’”
5. “Of course it would happen to a foreigner. No Englishman would dream of dying in someone else's house.”
6. “One can't go to pieces at the death of every foreigner. We'd all be in a constant state of collapse whenever we opened a newspaper.”
7. “Edith, dear, you're a woman with a brain and reasonability. Stop whining, and find something to do.”
8. “No guest should be admitted without the date of their departure being known.”
9. “Don’t be defeatist, dear. It’s very middle class.”
10. “One forgets about parenthood. The on-and-on-ness of it.”
11. “Marriage is a long business. There's no getting out of it for our kind of people. You will live 40, 50 years with one of these women. Just make sure it's the right one.”
12. “Really. It's like living in a second-rate hotel where guests keep arriving and no one seems to leave.”
13. “I forbid it. To have strange men prodding and prying around the house. To say nothing of pocketing the spoons. It's out of the question.”
14. “It’s the job of grandmothers to interfere.”
readers, care to share any of your favorite quotes from “Downton Abbey”? (You know you watch it, too.)
Laura Hale Brockway is an Austin-based writer and editor and a regular contributor to PR Daily. Read more of her work at impertinentremarks.com.