Sweet, timid, and often overlooked, Edith Pelham had one of the most impactful endings on Downton Abbey that reversed everything that people thought about her on the show. The middle Crawley sister was compared most unfavorably to her siblings, and her own parents were convinced that she would end up a spinster — an expectation she clearly defied by the finale.
Her constant rivalry with her charming sister, Mary, and the misfortunes she faced in her life didn’t instantly make her a favorite. In fact, the people of Reddit have scrutinized and analyzed every single thing that Edith did, resulting in some seriously contentious opinions about the Marchioness of Hexham.
She Should Have Ended Up With Anthony Strallan
Edith’s first, and most devastating heartbreak (and perhaps her saddest moment) came in the form of being jilted at the altar by Anthony Strallan, yet some Redditors wanted her to end up with him. Lotrfangirl3 thought that the two shared a sweet and caring bond, and she didn’t feel that attraction between Edith and Gregson or even Edith and Bertie. She said plainly, “I wanted Edith to end up with Anthony Strallan.”
Strallan seemed to have cared for Edith, but the way he left her at their wedding was unacceptable. If he respected her at all, he would have put an end to the relationship earlier on, instead of fighting for it and reaching the altar, only to let her down. He was also easily swayed, as seen when Mary told him that Edith was only leading him on and didn’t feel anything for him. Moreover, Edith would have likely spent her life taking care of the older man, so it was only right that he disappeared after the debacle.
She Gave Her Child The Wrong Name
Some viewers not only hated Edith but also what she named her daughter. Edith’s unplanned pregnancy out of wedlock was a big scandal on Downton Abbey and netizens thought the name Marigold was a poor choice. To yepknope25, the name was too close to Mary’s name, who was an oft-sworn enemy of Edith’s, so they couldn’t fathom why she would call her that. They said, “I have no issue with either name separately or if the sisters could in fact stand one another it would be believable.”
To pick apart Marigold’s name is quite bizarre and a bit of a reach. It’s also uncertain whether the Shroeders, The Drewes, or Edith named her since she had passed through so many homes. It could also just have been a popular name in that decade, and most likely had little to do with the eldest Crawley.
She Should Have Announced Her Pregnancy
Edith’s journey was one of the best storylines of Downton Abbey, even if her pregnancy with Gregson made things very complicated and messy for herself and others. This is why carmelacorleone is of the opinion that Edith could have made things simpler and just confided in her folks about the baby. They said, “Edith should have sucked it up and told everyone she was pregnant instead of the stupid drama that occupied the last season.”
This is a rather myopic way of looking at things since women were shunned and ridiculed in society back then if they engaged in premarital sex, let alone get pregnant. It was impossible to wear it on her sleeve because she would have been an outcast for the rest of her life. She did what she had to, and it ended well for her.
She Always Provoked Mary
The war between Mary and Edith was far from a cold one, and they were always at each other’s throats. Netizens seem to think that Edith deserved Mary’s cruelty, because she was the one who always provoked Mary with hurtful things, got a sharp retort, and then cried about it later. Even the Marigold revelation came when Edith made a comment about Henry. Thomaspden stated, “She doesn’t learn or think that her actions and words have consequences that make her more sad than she was before.”
It’s important to see the complete picture, which was that Edith had been underestimated by her parents her whole life, and bullied by Mary way before audiences got to join the Crawleys in their lives. Mary was condescending and mean, and Edith fought her on it (one of her most iconic scenes). Letting Mary off the hook by just saying that Edith provoked her makes her seem like a saint, which she was not. Edith had been subject to middle child syndrome, which meant she didn’t feel as loved or cared for as the other siblings. Anybody would lash out in that circumstance.
Her Happy Ending Didn’t Make Sense
Edith showed everyone at the end. She got an Earl as a husband, lived life on her own terms, and experienced a complete turnaround in fate. Redditors feel that her happy ending was nonsensical because as the progressive woman that Edith was with her magazine and flat, it felt like she settled back into a life of convention when she got married. According to harpylynn, “We’re supposed to be happy for her just because she now outranks the family, but she will be bored to sh**s in that life and it doesn’t fit with the journey of her character.”
Edith had always longed for love and companionship, but Mary always got the attention. It’s true that she became a somewhat feminist icon when she became a boss and gained her independence, but that doesn’t mean that she had to give up on marriage and love to stay a feminist. She finally got the love she wanted, and her marriage was just as progressive as her single life had been.
She Used The Drewes
In an attempt to keep Marigold close to her, Edith enlisted the help of the Drewes, but couldn’t bear to be separated from her daughter. Viewers thought that her tussle with the farmers over Marigold was terrible and that she had treated them horribly by taking Marigold back. Actuallycallie opined that Edith didn’t grow as a person at all “Because that mess with Marigold and the Drewes … she used them badly.”
But Mr. Drewe was not born yesterday, and he knew who Marigold really was. Edith was driven by maternal love, and that was why she fought with the Drewes for her daughter. She only wanted her child, and being backed into a corner, she did what she had to to keep her daughter close to her. Mrs. Drewe should have caught on, or her husband should have told her.
She Was A Bad Person
Edith has been called a bad apple several times, and the unpopular opinion still appears on Reddit. Fans of the show feel that she created enmity between herself and Mary by outing her scandal to the embassy, made mistakes with Strallan, Gregson and Patrick, and then tricked the Drewes. KimberBlair opined that “Edith’s her own worst enemy.”
But in fact, the middle Crawley went through the most character development in the show. She brought herself out of her sadness and self-pity, took charge of her writing profession, and even became a more forgiving person. She found her purpose and had a lot of growth after season 3, and definitely tried to be a better person throughout.
She Was Bland And Uninteresting
Since a lot of Downton Abbey was dominated by Edith and Mary, there were inevitable comparisons between the two. Viewers thought that Edith was dreary and unattractive and that she was too clingy and desperate for attention, especially when it came to men. Stardust331 said, “I detest Edith also, she is bland… Out of the sisters, I like her the least.”
Just because Edith wasn’t as stereotypically beautiful as Mary did not mean that she was bland. She longed for the same things that Mary did, but she just showed them differently. She was an open book, as opposed to Mary’s closed, mysterious one. Most of Edith’s family made the mistake of underestimating her for this reason only, but she proved them wrong.