Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Downton Abbey's Matthew Crawley: The Florence Nightingale Effect

Florence Nightingale Effect: A term used to describe a doctor's, nurse's or other caregiver's development of feelings for his/her patient. This effect causes a feeling much like infatuation, love or sexual attraction to come over the caregiver regarding a patient, even if very little communication or contact takes place outside of basic care. Feelings may fade once the patient recovers or dies.

Goodness. They may fade once the patient dies? 

Dan Stevens as Matthew Crawley wounded in hospital during World War I on Downton Abbey Matthew Crawley Dan Stevens Downton Season Two
So... I'll never be a nurse or doctor because I'm fairly certain I'd be particularly susceptible to the Florence Nightingale Effect. It definitely works like gangbusters with me on television.

Dan Stevens as Matthew Crawley wounded in hospital during World War I on Downton Abbey Matthew Crawley Dan Stevens Downton Season Two
I mean, just look at him! Poor Matthew Crawley looks like total and utter crap. Like he's been through a war! Really - it's more zombie-esque than anything. Those red eyes. That s shaped cut on his cheek. The pasty British skin. Yeah - I'd do him.

Dan Stevens as Matthew Crawley wounded in hospital during World War I on Downton Abbey Matthew Crawley Dan Stevens Downton Season Two
So Matthew Crawley was out fighting in The Great War when a bomb went boom and he went broken. God Almighty! My dear man! You poor chap! I mean - he didn't die. So that's good. Because, like, EVERYONE died in World War I. It sort of sucked a whole lot. Way to go on not dying, Matthew!

Dan Stevens as Matthew Crawley wounded in hospital during World War I on Downton Abbey Matthew Crawley Dan Stevens Downton Season Two
Okay. So. He thinks he'll never walk again - right? But that's not even the angsty part! He's all "I mustn't take a wife because I cannot consummate our relationship!" Which...aww. Broken man-bits are an underused angst issue. Like - Downton Abbey and Bonnie and Clyde have the market cornered. And it was one popular theory regarding Tate on AHS when he wouldn't hook up with Vi on the beach. 

Dan Stevens as Matthew Crawley wounded in hospital during World War I on Downton Abbey Matthew Crawley Dan Stevens Downton Season Two
Then - his mommy comes home and he gets all emotional. And by "all emotional" I mean he looks like a lost puppy for .5 seconds. There's something extra fun about the reserved behavior of this period. If this took place today (and especially in the non-realtiy of television) this guy would be told to get in touch with his feelings. And even if he didn't want to be all touchy-feely, he'd probably at least be impolite and outwardly bitter. Like Brody on Homeland. This reserved politeness is fun because it's an extra restraint; an extra form of self-imposed torture caused by not giving in to the impulse to be angry or unpleasant. 

Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary pushes Matthew Crawley in wheelchair Dan Stevens Downton Abbey
Okay. So he sends Lavinia away because he doesn't want to doom any woman to a sexless or childless life. Both a selfless choice and one bred from self-loathing. Always a fun combo. But come on now. He's the only one who wouldn't really get to have any fun, if you know what I mean. I don't know enough about England in 1918 to know whether or not you could, like, adopt a kid and then have them inherit your vast estate and fortune. And I don't care enough to look it up. But... it's TV. And you can do anything on TV! (Although - I guess in that case, Lord and Lady Grantham could just adopt a boy and they wouldn't need Matthew at all. So... yeah). 

Dan Stevens as Matthew Crawley wounded in hospital during World War I on Downton Abbey Matthew Crawley Dan Stevens Downton Season Two
Once Matthew is doing a touch better, Mary spends her afternoons pushing him around the grounds. Fun times. I can only imagine the effort it takes to push a man in a wheelchair across all that grass. Especially an old-timey wheelchair. But she loves him in her heart-of-hearts so she does it. Richard Carlyle WHO - amiright?

Dan Stevens as Matthew Crawley in wheelchair with Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Downton Abbey
Anywho... My screen-caps have already jumped a PBS episode (I think...) so I won't go any farther with this yet. But next time I visit Matthew and Mary, things will be drastically different. And I can't wait to write about it!

1 comment:

  1. So, does one consider Matthew's current circumstance fatal as well?

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