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Life Lessons Learned From Downton Abbey

WARNING: This post contains Downton Abbey spoilers!  If you have not yet seen the show, (Are you serious? What’s wrong with you?) please do so at your earliest convenience.  It’s amazing!

A few of the life lessons learned (sometimes the hard way) over the 6 seasons of the television period drama "Downton Abbey".

I am so saddened to see Downton Abbey end.  Since I stay pretty busy, I haven’t found many TV shows that are worthy of a spot on my schedule.  However, Downton Abbey became the cap to my weekend and I could lose myself in the storytelling, if just for an hour.

But Downton Abbey taught a lot of life lessons as well, if you were paying attention.  Here are just a few of them, and they are not always learned the easy way:

A LITTLE MONEY SENSE GOES A LONG WAY- While Lord Grantham foolishly (and repeatedly) finds himself jeopardizing the family fortune, his servants downstairs are saving money for their own retirement. Mr. Carson is able to buy a house for his bride, Mrs. Patmore is able to open a Bed and Breakfast and the Bates family has dreams for the future thanks to the income provided by a rental property that they own.

AN EDUCATION CAN OPEN DOORS- You don’t have to look any further than Season One to learn this lesson.  When Gwen, one of the housemaids, takes a correspondence course in typing and shorthand, it seems like a foolish waste of time until Sybil helps her find a job as a secretary.  When Gwen returns to Downton as a guest in Season Six, she is hardly recognized as the invisible housemaid she had once been and can be proud of her status as a proper lady with a good government job.  Mr. Molesley, Daisy and Andy can also attest to the power of a good education as we see their studies come to fruition in the final season.

THE LOVE OF A GOOD DOG MAKES LIFE A LITTLE BETTER- Downton Abbey just wasn’t quite the same after the death of Lord Grantham’s yellow labrador retriever, Isis, and you can see pure the joy on his lordship’s face as he meets his new four-legged companion in Season Six.  There is just something about a boy and his dog that never gets old- even if that boy at heart is a grandfather with silvering hair.

STEP OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE-  While Lady Mary felt it was her duty to remain at Downton and produce heirs, the other Crawley sisters knew their roles were not assigned.  Free-spirit Sybil found her calling as a WWI nurse, while the war taught Edith that she could be helpful in her own right, by not only learning to drive during the war but assisting with patients while Downton was being used as a convalescent hospital by the British Armed Forces.  This sense of confidence and independence helped her again once she became a London editor and found that she was able to manage a magazine while acting as a single parent to her daughter.  Even Mary finally stepped out of her comfort zone, briefly acting as the Land Agent for Downton Abbey in Season 6.

FRIENDSHIPS CAN BE COMPLICATED- Anyone would agree that Isobel Crawley and the Dowager Countess got off to a terrible start but, as time marched on, they found an alliance in their desire to see Matthew and Mary together at last.  These two women were headstrong, opinionated women willing to fight for what they believed in and, ultimately, gained each others’ respect for doing so.  They came a long way when you consider how their relationship started and that, in Season Six, Mrs. Crawley enlists the help of the Dowager to liberate Lord Merton from his son and daughter-in-law’s control. Each of these ladies can fight her own corner but, together, they have tact and influence that neither would have without the other.

CHOOSE LIFE- One of the most poignant scenes of Downton Abbey was a heartfelt scene in Season Four between the Dowager Countess and her bereaved granddaughter Mary, who had been in mourning for her husband who died suddenly.  “You must choose: either death or life,” her grandmother advises her and Mary finally decides that it is time to live her life again and begin to be a mother to her son and find joy in watching him grow.  Fate is not always kind and it is up to you to decide whether or not to let it defeat you.

SOMETIMES YOU BECOME EXACTLY WHO YOU DON’T PLAN TO BE, AND IT’S WONDERFUL- Look no further than Tom Branson for this lesson.  When this Irish Socialist came on the scene in Season One, he resented everything about the nobility and their way of life, but meeting Sybil Crawley showed him that not all of the upper crust were as selfish as he gave them credit for.  Through grieving with the Crawley family and seeing that they had problems of their own, he was able to find his place in their world (and on his own terms). This fish-out-of-water not only learned to swim upstream, but found his voice and was able to let the others know when they weren’t swimming in the right direction.

I think it will be awhile before a television drama comes along that can match Downton Abbey and I miss it already! Let me know in the comments below what you will miss most about Downton Abbey and what other life lessons can be learned from the series.  I know Mrs. Hughes and Mrs. Patmore taught us a thing or two!


31 thoughts on “Life Lessons Learned From Downton Abbey

  1. Well played…
    “There is just something about a boy and his dog that never gets old- even if that boy at heart is a grandfather with silvering hair.”
    Best synopsis of the entire series that I have ever read.

  2. I loved and am mourning Downton Abbey myself. I agree that it will be a long time before something comes along that can rival it. I love the approach that you took with this post. You are so right. There are many life lessons from DA, including that change is continuous and inevitable no matter how we fight it. We must move with it or be left bitterly behind by it. I loved the development of the Dowager Countess and Isabelle also and how strong a force they are together in the finale. So many characters grew in ways I did not expect. I was probably most pleased with Barrow’s arc and where he ended personally and professionally in the finale. (I was so worried about him in his new employ and complained through the entire episode to my husband that he changed, so he deserves a happy ending too.) He may have learned the greatest lesson of everyone and the most fundamental of our existence here…treat others well for their sake and your own.
    Regina L. L. Wells recently posted…Fuller House Fracas and a Cautionary Christian TaleMy Profile

  3. Oh Downtown Abbey! I already miss you stated above, I also looked forward to watching the next episode of Downton. I would curl up on my couch and watch on the edge of my seat as the drama unfolded. So happy they ended things on such a good note!
    I love that you pulled out these wonderful life lessons from the show and shared them with us.

  4. I’m a real Downton Abbey fan too! Another life lesson I can think of is the importance of family and friendship. They all worked together and cared for each other (upstairs or downstairs) and even Thomas realised that it was not good to be alone. Something we can learn from today.

  5. Great life lessons indeed – although I hope you don’t mind but I didn’t read all the deets because I have a box set of the last season and I haven’t had time to watch it yet so thanks for the spoiler alert! I almost can’t bear to watch it because I just don’t want Downton to end! It’s just glorious!

  6. I’m pretty sure I am in the minority here, but I just couldn’t get in to Downton Abbey. My husband liked it, but for some reason, I just didn’t. I’m sorry that so many people are sad it is ending. For the people, like you, who love it so much. Great lessons in your post though. Thank you for linking up to Tips and Tricks. Hope to see you again this Monday. PS Don’t tell anyone, but I don’t like Pride and Prejudice either.
    Kathleen recently posted…Cuban Coconut Pound CakeMy Profile

  7. I’m probably one of a few people on the planet that has never watched this show. I’ll have to catch up through on demand. Thanks your for sharing this at Celebrate Your Story link party and have a great week!
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  8. Okay, I’m going to seem like a real nerd when I say this… But I’ve never watched the show. Seriously don’t throw a Rotten Tomato at me. I love what you wrote and the lessons that you learned from the show, and I see a lot of my friends in the comment section who are also adoring this television series. I think you have pushed me over the edge, I am going to look and see if I can find the episodes and start watching from the beginning. I am sorry for all of you, that love this show so much, that it’s over. But thank you so much for sharing this with me I had no idea what it was about, but it sounds right up my alley.
    Nikki recently posted…How Happy Does This Make Me? Baby Greens in March!My Profile

  9. I absolutely adored Downton Abbey from the story lines to the costumes and everything in between. But I am also glad they chose to stop it before it started to lose quality. Plus I think it was Maggie Smith who said that the Dowager Countess would be over 100 by the last episode! #pocolo
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