Life Lessons that Downton Abbey’s Lady Violet Crawley has Taught us 

by Elysian Magazine

There is nary a person whose life has not been influenced, at some point or other, by a wonderful teacher. Ah, but how times have changed. These days, a television screen or computer monitor takes the place of a classroom. Because of COVID, remote learning has become the norm for school children. All you have to do is tune into class…

There’s one woman who stands shoulders above the rest. As teachers go, she is a phenomenon. Her teachings have a global reach and resound among countless. The funny thing is, she had absolutely no clue of the immense impact she has made on so many lives. But then again, why would she? After all, the Dowager Duchess of Grantham didn’t even know what a ‘weekend’ was until it recently was explained to her…

An estimated 120 million viewers have watched Downton Abbey. We learned about the Crawley family, life in Edwardian England, World War I and so much more. But above all, we have learned—


Life Lessons from Lady Violet Crawley, the Dowager Duchess of Grantham

Commentary by Pearl Lustre

“At my age, one must ration one’s excitement.”

Lady Violet offers very sound advice to those of a certain age (whatever that ‘certain age’ may be.) Excitement, a byproduct of drama, can wear one down. If you want to live quietly, move to the country, where excitement takes a gentler form—like attending a church supper or birthing a cow.


“There’s nothing simpler than avoiding people you don’t like. Avoiding one’s friends, that’s the real test.”

Whether it’s the supermarket or nail salon, it’s hard to avoid bumping into someone you know, even if they are wearing a mask. Lady Violet is saying, you can always pretend you don’t recognize someone you don’t like, but avoiding a friend takes skill. Especially during an election year if you’re on opposing sides of the political fence…


“Vulgarity is no substitute for wit.”

In Lady Violet’s Day, it was an affront to society to exhibit a lack of refinement or good taste. As a lady, if you were caught saying an obscene word, such as “hell” or “dammit,” do not be mistaken you are acting vulgar, not witty. Shame on you.


“The truth is neither here nor there. It’s the look of the thing that matters.”

This is a thinly veiled version of the idiom my dear mother was ever so fond of saying when she frequently observed, “First impressions always count.” Whether it’s what you wear, how you do your hair and makeup, or that little secret you promised not to tell but desperately want to, what matters most is appearances. It’s what’s on the surface that counts, not what’s beneath.


“Is this an instrument of communication or torture?”

—Lady Violet upon using a telephone for the first time.
The answer to both is “yes.”


“I will applaud your discretion when you leave.”

This is the proper way to invite someone who is a bother or a bore to leave the room. Look down your nose with a touch of disdain when doing so to really get the point across.


“I don’t dislike him. I just don’t like him. Which is quite different.”

Oh, so true. To dislike someone takes purpose and commitment. To simply not like an individual is a matter of choice.


“I do think a woman’s place is eventually in the home, but I see no harm in her having some fun before she gets there.”

Lady Violet lived in Victorian and Edwardian times, so do not be surprised at this one of her lessons. A country weekend was a large house party, held at a grand estate, where husbands and wives had separate bedrooms, strategically placed, so the merriment could continue discreetly behind closed doors into the wee hours with a spouse other than one’s own.


“Nothing succeeds like excess.”

This sentiment no longer has a place in today’s democracy…except when it comes to spending money, of course.


“You know me. Never complain, never explain.”

To never complain is a virtue. To never explain is an art.


“All life is a series of problems which we must try and solve,
first one and then the next and then the next, until at last, we die.”

What more can be said?

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