I had never (yes, I know, ridiculous) watched Notting Hill before. I knew it had Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts in, but otherwise I knew absolutely nothing. So, when the opening titles showed the name Hugh Bonneville I freaked out. Seriously. It was awesome. But weird.
The thing is, when you’re used to seeing Hugh Bonneville looking like this:
Or even this:
Seeing him like this was kinda weird…
I mean, come on, that is weird, right? He’s wearing a rugby shirt and has brown hair and looks more like a boy than a man. He was by far my favourite character though. But it was weird. Weird-ity-weird.
Yeah, it was wrong and unfaithful, but I think there’s more to it than that. Basically, at the start of the second series, Robert was really keen to fight. He was told he couldn’t, and had to watch as hundreds of men who had been utterly destroyed (both physically and mentally) by the war flooded into his home in search of recovery. He was probably racked with guilt - if I were him, I would’ve been. To an extent, I think he wasn’t far off having a nervous breakdown, especially after what happened with Matthew.
I think he needed somebody to listen. Perhaps I’m wrong and forgetting some vital scene, but as far as I can remember, Cora never quite offered a sympathetic ear. Jane did listen, and she treated him more as an equal, which is possibly why he was so attracted to her. I think the whole thing with Jane was potentially a cry for help, which, to an extent, worked. He felt vulnerable, and Jane was vulnerable because of the loss of her husband. All the scenes she was in, I was constantly aware that she seemed a very small person in a very big world.
Also, I’ve seen people criticising him because he treats Matthew like the son he’s never had. Again, I think this is to do with his instability. His daughters change; Mary is engaged to Carlise, there’s the whole incident Edith rediscovers Patrick and Sybil and Branson. Well, with the latter, enough said. In comparison, Matthew is very stable. Apart from when Patrick reappears, Matthew has always been the future Earl of Grantham. In the first series, Robert clings onto the past, which is made clear by his reluctance to try and break up the estate so that Mary can inherit - here, Matthew represents the old way of doing things, and is thus very important to Robert. Thus Robert’s utter devastation when Matthew was nearly blown up.
Mind you, this is just my personal opinion. I am not saying it is good to cheat on your spouse/partner/other half in any way - in fact, I am utterly against it - but I think that Robert, like every other character in the series, is flawed. I love him as a character because he is flawed. The fact that he so desperately clings onto the old way of doing things in the first series and his shennannigans with Jane in the second series show this. Gotta admit, I don’t like Jane, but then, her only purpose as a character was to show this weaker side to Robert.
Maybe you disagree. I don’t know.
Share the Grantham love. <3