I almost feel guilty saying that I like Thomas from Downton Abbey. For those of you who don’t know, he’s “the bad guy” on the show. He is pretty evil. However, there is something that makes me love him. I said this to a few coworkers and they looked at me in disgust. Please allow me to fully explain.
It’s so easy to write Thomas off. He’s the bad guy. He’s mean. He has no heart. His arrogance is annoying. His motives are always self-serving and he doesn’t care to have any positive relationships with others. And we love to hate him. We’re told to hate him through great writing and acting, and we follow our orders very well. But even though we hate him, there’s something about him that strikes a chord within myself.
Perhaps Thomas represents something in me, in all of us, in humanity. He is the ugly, the ruthless, the disregard for others that some of us are, carry, or bury deep within ourselves. His self-serving demeanor is something I despise, but I keep coming around and defend. He’s broken. He’s hurt. He’s alone. He’s just like the rest of us.
Thomas, like so many other characters, exemplifies the part we all try to hide, cover, and pretend doesn’t exist. Much like Iago from Othello, Curley’s Wife from Of Mice and Men, Satan from Paradise Lost or Voldemort from the Harry Potter series, they all just want to belong, feel loved, or be accepted. And those desires become powerful enough to drive them to be in constant pursuit of those qualities and they turn “evil.” So why write about evil? Does it function as a warning for us all?
On some level, we all have exhibited the “bad” behaviors of Thomas and these other literary characters. Maybe you lie. Maybe you quietly retreat into your aggression. Maybe you disguise your disdain with a smile. Maybe you fail to show grace, and instead write that person off for good. How often do we, myself included, do this to coworkers, people at the gym, someone we call a “friend?” I will admit I’m guilty of doing such actions. Perhaps Thomas and I aren’t that so far removed.
So what’s the answer? What’s the trick in keeping us from continuing to be like Thomas, Iago, and Voldemort? Stay away from England? I’m not sure if there is an answer. Perhaps turning to love. Showing love when it’s hardest, when it’s the last action we want to perform, when it’s the last thing on our mind. And I know, easier said than done, especially because I don’t know your past, baggage, and hardships. Love definitely isn’t what I turn towards first.
But what’s the alternative?
Becoming like Thomas.