“Right Away M’lady”: An Examination of Social Class and Gender within Women’s Relationships In “Downton Abbey”

Margaret Brown

Name: Margaret Brown
Major: Communication Studies
Minor: Environmental Studies
Advisors: Dr. Melissa Rizzo-Weller, Dr. Natasha Bissonauth
In this study, I analyzed the British historical drama series Downton Abbey and examine the interactions between the women characters based on social class and gender dynamics. Downton Abbey is a media portrayal of the wealthy, aristocratic Crawley family and their servants during the early twentieth century in Britain. The show focuses on the lives of the Crawleys, and their servants based on real life events such as the Titanic crashing, which is where the series begins. Using Sonja Foss’s feminist critique, I examined seasons one, three, and five of the series and looked specifically at the female characters. From my analysis I found three major themes that encapsulated the interactions between women of the television show: resisting societal norms, personal vs. interpersonal relationships, and restrictions of the female gender. One major conclusion from this study is how women did not follow gender norms that society imposed on them during this time. Women in the series earned an education, obtained jobs below their social class, and resisted the submissive expectations for their gender. I conclude this study by offering the limitations of this study and recommendations for future scholarship.

Margaret will be online to field comments on April 16:
2-4pm EDT (PST: 11am-1pm, Africa/Europe: evening)

Posted in I.S. Symposium 2021.

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