Of all the characters on the hit historical period drama, Downton Abbey, none have been as popular as Violet Crawley, the Dowager Countess of Grantham, whose witty one-liners and savage quips endeared her to viewers of all ages.
With her commitment to the Victorian propriety of her youth and old-fashioned outlook on love, marriage and class, Violet was an unlikely breakout character. Thanks to Maggie Smith’s performance, there’s no doubt that Violet loved her family dearly, and her memorable lines became prime meme material. Below are 10 Violet Crawley memes that will leave you with tears in your eyes.
10What Is A Weekend?
The Dowager Countess made her first appearance in the pilot episode. She was an intimidating figure, dressed all in black, and opining about who will succeed her son as Earl of Grantham after learning that James and Patrick Crawley had perished on the Titanic.
The new heir turned out to be a distant cousin, Matthew Crawley, a solicitor whose middle-class ways astonished Violet. When Matthew stated his intention to work full-time and run the estate on his days off, Violet had but one thing to say: what is a weekend?
9How Middle Class
Violet was an aristocrat in every sense of the word. She attained the title of Countess through her marriage to the Earl of Grantham, and was probably born into a high social rank herself. This meant that there had to be standards, keeping a stiff upper lip among them. When her granddaughter, Edith, lamented about being forever alone, Violet was compassionate but firm: “Don’t be defeatist, dear. It’s very middle class.”
We can think of several things the Dowager Countess would call out for letting standards slip. Don’t watch Downton Abbey? How middle class. Drink tea with a bag? Same deal.
8Netflix And Chill
Violet grew up in a time when electricity and telephones weren’t the norm, and she often found the new technologies confounding. “Is this an instrument of communication or torture?” she once shouted as she struggled to place a call to Shrimpy. We can only imagine her reaction to the capabilities of a smartphone and the modern problems they bring.
For instance, after a long day at work, sometimes you just want to watch a few episodes of Downton Abbey and call it a night. That’s when this Violet-approved line comes in handy for some of those unwanted texts: “Young man, I have no desire to Netflix and chill.”
7Harry Potter / Dr. Who Crossover
Of Violet’s many sparring partners, she is particularly fond of Isobel Crawley. Despite their differences — Violet was a snobby aristocrat and Isobel was a reformist nurse — the two women shared a robust friendship that endured six seasons of bickering and disagreements.
True fans know that Violet and Isobel are played by Maggie Smith and Penelope Wilton, respectively, and that these aren’t the only major roles these actresses have had. Smith is also known for her portrayal of Professor Minerva McGonagall in the Harry Potter movies, while Wilton played Prime Minister Harriet Jones in Dr. Who.
There is a sizable overlap between crafters and fans of Downton Abbey. This is one of the memes that appeared on the blog Knitting Free, and is a bit of an inside joke.
Stitch markers are small rings placed between stitches to mark an important part of your knitting pattern. They save the knitter time and the frustration of figuring out where they left off if they lose their place. To begin a project without them is a bold choice, indeed. The Dowager Countess would be sure to let you know.
The Crawley family suffered many tragedies during Downton Abbey’s run. Notably, there was the loss of three heirs: Robert and Patrick Crawley, who were lost when the Titanic sank, and Matthew Crawley, who met an untimely end in a car crash. There were also times when Matthew’s status as heir was in jeopardy, such as when Cora became pregnant.
Downton’s current heir is Mary and Matthew’s son, George. Of course, with all the new additions to the family, we sometimes wonder if Violet ever entertained thoughts about changing that.
4One Of Those Faces
Violet had many friends, not all of whom she liked. This is a woman who once admitted that avoiding one’s friends is more difficult than avoiding the people she doesn’t care for, and aristocrats seem especially prone to grudges and vendettas. Violet wasn’t one to burn bridges, though. After all, if she withdrew her friendship from everyone who ever spoke ill of her, her address book would be empty. We can see Violet flashing this look in the direction of whichever aristocrat she is currently feuding with.
Few characters on Downton Abbey could match Violet in a battle of wits. One of the few people she feared was Cora’s American mother, Martha Levinson. Violet likened her to a homing pigeon that can always find the soft underbelly. While the Dowager Countess was never one to pass up a match of wits with a worthy opponent, it’s important to choose your battles. And sometimes, the circumstances call for you to leave the situation rather than face it.
Based on this meme, going on the internet is the 21st century equivalent of giving up and fabricating an excuse to leave the room. At least us modern folk have the luxury of escaping into our phones.
Violet’s wit and wisdom have made her one of Downton‘s more popular characters, and an inspiration of sorts. She is an intelligent woman who is held in high esteem by her family and community and doesn’t hesitate to speak her mind. While she may look like a frail old lady past her prime, her mind is as sharp as ever and capable of coming up with the most devastating zingers for those who cross the line. It’s certainly something to aspire to. The next time you find yourself in a tricky social situation, just ask: what would the Dowager Countess do?
1The Infamous Water Bottle
In a promotional photo for Season 5 of Downton, eagle-eyed fans spotted a modern contraption. Sitting on the mantle above Hugh Bonneville and Laura Carmichael (in costume as Lord Grantham and Lady Edith, respectively) was a plastic water bottle, which did not become widely used in England until the 1960s. The photo was quickly deleted, but it’s fun to think about what the Dowager Countess would have to say about the gaffe. Surely, things cannot be so lax in the modern age!