ANNA BATES, the character from BBC/Masterpiece’s Downtown Abbey enters. She wears the black lady’s maid dress, plus her nicer velvet hat, gloves, coat.
ANNA: Excuse me? Is this where I might find Mr. Fellowes? Mr. Julian Fellowes.
ANNA: If I might have a moment, I have travelled a bit to say something to him.
ANNA stops to take her gloves off, places them in her pocket and holds her hat in her hands.
ANNA: I came to ask if he was behind the recent episode that occurred to me. In the second part of the fourth series. You know, if you saw it. The rape. My rape. I came to ask why it had to happen.
ANNA: I have done my job well, both as a character and a lady’s maid. I have reflected the needs and bounds of my time, but also demonstrated a great heart that can accept change, difficulty–even the arrest and imprisonment of my husband. I’m not a helpless woman and I work hard for everything I earn. I deserve my position in the Abbey. I deserve my cottage in town and my lovely marriage to Mr. Bates.
I don’t deserve to have it all ripped away at once when that valet, that horrid . . . beast took me and spoilt me! I showed him kindness and kept an open mind when Mr. Bates suspected him of something–is that why? Is it a punishment for my good heart? Am I too trusting?
ANNA: It can’t be that the show needs more action. Or that my plot line has dried up. Didn’t I find a way to care for Moseley? Didn’t I initiate that action, that sweet plot line that showed how much love and hope there is in a relationship like mine and Mr. Bates?
ANNA: Even in that second episode, I made sure that that valet was well taken care of and welcomed into the house. There was no need for anything more. In spite of the dramatic irony and the foreshadowing in every smile I sent his way. I curse them all now. But was it necessary? This pain and hindsight I have for my actions? What is the point?
No response. Long period while ANNA thinks.
ANNA: Maybe . . . I know it’s the duty of the show, the television series, to show the truth of what happened in my era. And I know that these sorts of crimes have happened all throughout time. I know they often didn’t get reported or dealt with in the way they are now, in your time, Mr. Fellowes. I can see myself as an example as all of this and more, but I can also feel it all being laid on top of me. It’s too much of a burden, not only to live through it and deal with the truth it wreaks upon my daily life, but to know I’m an example for everyone else watching? I have to overcome it because everyone believes I can? I’m just a character! I’m a stubborn, resourceful woman, but I am not invincible! I can’t take everything you throw upon me.
ANNA: Or can I? Is that the point? To show how much you can manipulate me for some greater need in the world with complete faith that with one plot twist it’ll all be fixed. If I believed in that completely, I should fear for my life–end up like Lady Sibyll or dear Lord Matthew Crawley. Just because a contract or a holiday special called for something extra.
Well, that’s not entirely true. I do still love the world of Downtown. I am still married and surrounded by people who love me. That’s something. And . . . and I do know that there are plenty of people out there who believe I’ll make it through everything that’s been happening. This rape. That’s what it is and it’s what I’ll call it to you especially, the puppet-master who made it all happen. It is rape that for the time being has ruined me.
Pause. ANNA replaces hat and tugs on gloves.
ANNA: I know there’s no point in saying anything. Not really. You’ll do just as you please. But I wanted you to know that I don’t like it, I don’t appreciate it, and it’s not some make-believe game you play with Joanne Froggatt. It’s me, it affects me. I’m here and I’m hurt. I’m hurt.
ANNA exits. Large shadow of a man’s head appears and nods, thinking.
After watching the third episode of Downtown Abbey‘s fourth season this morning, thoughts about Anna and her character’s development popped into my head. I thought it would be a fun exercise to give her a monologue, playing with the character’s relationship to the show-runner and the grander scheme of the television series.