Anna being raped in Downton Abbey

by sophiecole

Understandably controversial and heart wrenching to watch, Downton Abbey was criticised for being too ‘soap opera-y’ when Anna was raped by the visiting valet. Thing is though, is that, although violent and very hard to watch, that was a damn good bit of acting on the part of Joanne Froggatt.

Of course, we all fell in love with Anna when she was fighting for the release of Mr Bates – her tenacity and fire being both unexpected and admirable in a housemaid. Because of this, we all felt personally affected by her plight. But, to dismiss Downton and say that it lowered itself to being like a soap opera was unfair. 

We all knew what happened, but nothing was shown beyond the initial attack and the devastating sobs of Anna. In this way, it stopped quite a way short of being gratuitous and did not let the program become seedy – in other words, creators were not ‘cashing in’ on the violence.

Rape is subject no one wants to talk about but it happens – it happened then and it continues to happen now. Hopefully what will come out of this story line will be Anna’s strength and she will become a role model for women affected by similar attacks. We have already seen that she will not be a victim. Although visibly shaken and affected, we can see Anna sticking to her resolution and ensuring that – however misguided – she does not put her husband in danger. This selflessness and strength of mind is something that should be admired and, although the character was in one of the worst situations a woman could be in, I imagine we will see a strength develop that will be nothing less than admirable.