Friday, July 18, 2014

Downton Abbey and Philosophy - William Irwin

Downton Abbey and Philosophy
I love stories. 

By this point in my life, I have figured out that that love is what drives my passion for reading, my occasional TV binge watching, and my endless search for the next great movie.  I even think it's why I love music. Good music, after all, tells a story in its own way.

The best moments are when a few of those story-telling methods join together. A book gets adapted into a movie, a Broadway show or opera combines music and plot, or, as is relevant to this post, someone writes about a story written by others.

That's what this little book is all about. Television hit Downton Abbey meets written analysis.

You may remember last year when I read The Girl Who Was On Fire. The collection of essays focuses on Suzanne Collins' blockbuster series, The Hunger Games. Each essay for that book was written by a different young adult author. I completely adored the in-depth look into the series and I was eager to learn that this pop culture analysis is practically a genre unto itself. There are books like this about tons of television shows, movies, and other book series.

I happened across this one while perusing my library's digital collection. I have been a Downton Abbey fan for years. This book was written at the conclusion of series (season) two, so it's a bit behind at this point, but it was still fun to take a deeper look into the characters, their actions, and their motivations behind said actions.

This particular volume focuses on the relationship of the show with classic philosophical ideas. Each chapter focused on a particular philosophical concept and extrapolated about the DA script from there. As with most books like this, where each chapter is written by a different person, some were more interesting than others. Each, though, had its own appeal and purpose.

The book is short - not even 100 pages. It's a delightful little read if you are a Downton fan and interesting in thinking about the plot beyond surface level. Easy to read and educational, even. I pulled a few quotes to give you a taste of the content: 

  • "Matthew craves the stability and devotion he can expect from Lavinia - but also the excitement and challenge that is guaranteed from Mary."
  • "Lady Mary's leadership ability, intelligence, breeding and education did not matter as much as her sex."
  • "Cora is no different, except that she, unlike O'Brien, has been wealthy from birth and has the privilege of property and a title."
  • "Julian Fellowes...masterfully weaves a cautionary line between progress and tradition - that is, between feminism and patriarchy."
  • "Lady Mary isn't a villain."
  • "The servants are, at the same time, grateful and resentful for this concern, which reflects the tension inherent in all hierarchical class systems."
Interested yet? You should be. It's nothing grandiose or groundbreaking, but it's worth an hour or two of your time to dive in a little deeper. After all, TV doesn't have to be mindless.

Pages: 99
Date Completed: June 10, 2014

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