I missed the episode of Downton Abbey when sweet Anna, maid to Lady Mary Crawley was brutally raped by a visiting valet called Mr Green. Audiences were understandably distressed and Downton fans accused the writers of using a sexual assault to ‘spice up’ the show.
But I suspect there’s much more to come now that Mr Bates, Anna’s husband knows about the rape and is plotting revenge.
Post the rape, Anna, hysterical and bleeding from deep cuts to her lips sought the solace of Mrs Hughes, the head housekeeper. Anna feeling ‘unworthy’ of her husband, removed herself from their cottage, staying instead in the servants quarters. Bates doesn’t know what has befallen his young wife for Anna refuses his requests for information. But in the latest episode, an angry Mr Bates has managed to force Mrs Hughes into telling what has occurred.
After learning the truth, Bates confronts Anna and mercifully comforts his distraught wife, all the while imploring her to name the assailant. But Anna fears what will happen if her husband learns that it’s the valet, Mr Green. Bates has a troubled history; he was previously convicted of the murder of his first wife for which he spent some time in prison only to be exonerated, due to the diligence and devotion of Anna. He’s also been a soldier , so we know that he’s not a man to avoid conflict.
After Mrs Hughes delivers the grim details of Anna’s rape, Bates turns to the head housekeeper. And just as we fear, the wronged husband states his intentions, “Nothing’s over and done with.”
So what will happen next? Will Bates actually turn to murder this time? Why can’t he leave well alone. Why the revenge? Why can’t he be a good husband and care for the woman who was after all – the one harmed.
What is to be gained from Bates finding out who it was and and maybe getting killed himself, or worse murdering the rapist?
It occurs to me that this is very male behaviour. That another man should dare defile another’s woman – this I fear is the real crux of the matter. The woman is his possession!
But what is really needed is for Bates to support his young wife at her time of need. She may even be pregnant. One thing’s for sure, the next episodes of Downton Abbey are not for the faint- hearted.