Was Downton Abbey inspired by Jane Austen’s Pride and
Prejudice? One Sunday night while watching season 2 of Downton Abbey, it dawned
on me: Downton Abbey is a copycat of Pride and Prejudice! Now, whether Julian
Fellowes really did look to Jane Austen’s classic for inspiration, I cannot
say, but let’s look at some of the similarities.
A houseful of
daughters with no heir.
Both storylines are built on the premise of impending doom
due to the family’s misgivings about the unfamiliar heir. In Pride and
Prejudice, Austen placed a cast of five daughters at risk of being “thrown
to the hedgerows” should their father die before they are wed. Julian
Fellowes chose three sisters for Downton Abbey’s cast, but the situation
differs in that they seem more concerned for the future of their physical home
and the general uncertainty brought about by the new heir rather than their
personal futures.
Similar characters.
Both Austen and Fellowes chose a heroine who is an “obstinate,
headstrong girl.” Downton Abbey’s Lady Mary Crawley was never one to hold
her tongue. And certainly Austen’s Elizabeth Bennet never hesitated to voice
her opinion on everyone and everything!
Perhaps the most similar character in the two stories is a
domineering matriarch. The outspoken dowager Lady Grantham is one of Downton
Abbey’s most colorful characters. But I believe Fitzwilliam Darcy’s imperious
aunt, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, could have given even Violet Crawley a run for
her money!
An attempted
elopement
Both dramas include an attempted elopement that spawns
uproar in the respective families. Readers are aghast when Austen’s rogue,
George Wickham, runs off with Elizabeth’s younger sister, nearly ruining the
Bennet family’s reputation.
Conversely, Downton Abbey fans cheered when daughter-of-the-manor
Lady Sybil and chauffeur- servant Branson finally kissed. But their pairing and
attempted elopement was scandalous nonetheless, sending Sybil’s sisters
hurrying after her and her father into a thunderous outage.
In both stories, the scandalous union became a clever plot
device to not only create drama, but to keep audiences on the edge of their
seats. Would the scandalous pair remain together? How would the scandal drive
future storylines and affect the other characters?
A grand estate
In both Pride and Prejudice and Downton Abbey, a grand house
is a silent, yet central character. For nearly 200 years women have been
swooning over Pemberley, the estate of Austen’s heartthrob Fitzwilliam Darcy.
And Highclere Castle’s gold rectangular structure topped with corner towers and
spires is instantly recognizable as the Crawley’s beloved family home on Downton
Abbey.
These lavish homes set our hearts to dreaming and become a
beloved character in and of themselves. But the Austen/Fellowes parallels don’t
stop there. It is worth noting that the name Downton Abbey is suspiciously
similar to Donwell Abbey, the name Austen chose for George Knightley’s estate
in her classic work, Emma.
An entailed estate
with an “unsuitable” heir.
In Pride and Prejudice, the unsuitable heir is the obnoxious
rector William Collins, whose marriage proposal to Elizabeth Bennet is flatly
refused. In Downton Abbey, Matthew Crawley is a dashing, but lowly solicitor.
And although both “unsuitable heirs” go on to propose to other women,
in the case of Downton Abbey, viewers are thrilled when the lovestruck hero and
heroine eventually marry.
High society
characters falling in love with, well, those not so high society.
Fitzwilliam Darcy is downright disgusted with himself for
falling in love with Elizabeth Bennet, a woman so decidedly beneath him. And in
Downton Abbey, Lady Mary Crawley is incensed that a man in trade will inherit
her family home. But in the end, love wins out for both couples.
We may never know if Julian Fellowes was inspired by Jane
Austen, but certainly in both cases, the premise has enchanted millions and
proven to be a blockbuster success in both literature and film.

Darcy’s Hope Saga: Downton Abbey Meets Pride and Prejudice

Escape to the era of Downton Abbey and experience all the
drama of World War 1 alongside Jane Austen’s iconic Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam
Darcy. You’ll watch their tender love unfold as they learn to work together and
reconcile their differences at a field hospital only miles from the Front.
*****90% of reviews are five star!*****
The Darcy’s Hope Saga:
Darcy’s Hope ~ Beauty from Ashes
Darcy’s Hope at Donwell Abbey
Genre: historical romance, Pride and Prejudice fan fiction
Book heat level (based on movie ratings): PG-13
Publisher: Spero Books
Barnes and Noble, iBooks, Kobo: https://books2read.com/u/47kXOj

Ginger Monette Social Media

Grand
prize winner of Char/Meck library’s 2015 “Picture This” contest,
Ginger Monette lives in Charlotte, NC. When not writing historical romance, she
enjoys dancing on the treadmill, watching period dramas, public speaking, and
reading–a full-length novel every Sunday afternoon.