So, if Mary Musgrove is Lady Edith …

and Anne Elliot is Lady Sybil, then we have to acknowledge that Matthew Crawley has an awful lot in common with Persuasion’s villain, William Elliot.

WWEBoth are lawyers. William Elliot was poor, struggling through by couch surfing with Mr. And Mrs. Charles Smith. We don’t know how difficult the study of the law was for Matthew Crawley, but is is middle class—GASP!—the son of a Manchester doctor. I assume he didn’t have to live hand-to-mouth.

Both Elliot and Crawley are the beneficiaries of a tightly written entail that cuts out the daughters of the current title-holder. Upon the death of their relative, both will be elevated to the status of gentleman and master of an estate.


As an aside, Michelle Dockery would make a perfect Elizabeth Elliot, doncha think?

As a bonus, in both cases, the plot twist can be solved by marrying a cousin. In Matthew’s case, he succeeded. At the end of Persuasion we have only Anne and Frederick happily wed. Miss Elliot and William Elliot were left dangling by their beloved authoress.

So how about it, are Matthew Crawley and William Elliot fictional brothers under the skin? Or are they not only ages apart but worlds apart in character as well?

Take care—Susan Kaye

Click HERE to read my comparison of the Elliot sisters of Persuasion to the Crawley sisters of Downton Abbey.

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10 thoughts on “So, if Mary Musgrove is Lady Edith …

  1. Robin Helm

    They occupy the same positions in the story and have many similarities, but in my opinion, Elliot is a jerk of tremendous magnitude, while Crawley is a dream guy. I love Dan Stevens!

  2. Diana Oaks

    Interesting observation and comparison. It had not occurred to me even after your last post, but it is true – they do have some remarkable similarities in terms of their background and relationship to the family. It is also a fantastic study of the impact a person’s character and nature can have in how things play out. Matthew has a profound degree of integrity and no pretense, while William Elliot was an unethical slime-ball with the a deceptive facade of elegant manners that fooled many people. In the end, I think they are one another’s literary foils more than a mirror image.

  3. Susan Kaye Post author

    I too like the character of Matthew Crawley, but he’s coming into pretty slippery territory now that he’s helping manage Downton.

    I’m bothered by the tack that the show is taking that the Old White Guys of Lord Grantham and his faithful servant Mr. Carson are the repressive old guard while everyone else is so understanding and enlightened. Puh-leez. The middle-class Crawleys would have been right nodding in agreement with him when it came to the Catholic vs. Anglican fight.

    The Ethel Question is also one in which I think the Middle-class Isobel Crawley would be less than likely to be crusading. The daughters or even Cora would have been more noblesse oblige than Cousin Isobel.

    It will be interesting to see how enlightened everyone is when O’Brien’s plan to rid the house of Thomas comes to fruition.

  4. Laura Hile

    William Elliot and Matthew Crawley? A most delightful contrast. You’re right, to begin with neither of these men cared about inheriting a title and landed estate. William Elliot was openly scornful…until he learned the social value of being the future Sir William of Kellynch Hall. (I’m thinking this is how he managed to negotiate the terms with his first wife, that he inherited all her money if there were no children).

    And the burden of Downton is growing on Matthew Crawley, yes. As I recall, Lord Grantham considers it his life’s work.

    Sailors of old faced deadly storms at sea thinking only this: “The ship must keep sailing.” Thus the survival of Downton (or Kellynch Hall or Pemberley) preys on its possessor.

    Since you raise this contrast, I must wonder if there are hidden similarities between Lord Grantham and Sir Walter Elliot… :)

    1. Susan Kaye Post author

      I think both are of the Old School. Even Sir Walter refused to sell off a piece of property he owned outright to put towards his debt, wanting to keep the estate whole.

      I think Sir Walter sees stewardship as his privilege and frittered away the benefits while Lord Grantham sees it as a responsibility and gave us his personal desires to keep Downton going. Who knows, he may NOT have wanted to marry an upstart American girl!

        1. Susan Kaye Post author

          After a year they said. It’s funny that Cora’s mother was so disdainful of the English system and temperament and yet must not have put up too much fuss when it came time for her to become Lady Grantham.

      1. Laura Hile

        Sir Walter has the convenience of being not only a widower, but also of having no pesky in-laws. Better yet, both his parents are deceased. I daresay Sir Walter learned his superiority from somewhere. What would the man be like if, say, his toplofty mother were constantly underfoot?

    1. Susan Kaye Post author

      Last night was the show-before-the-season’s-end-that-ties-up-a-bunch-of-loose-ends-and-gives-off-lots-of-good-vibrations-and-hopes-for-the-future.

      This of course means that the next show is a train wreck of Mayan Apocalypse proportions.


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