Lady Mary Is an 8 – Downton Abbey and the Enneagram

Lady Mary Is an 8 – Downton Abbey and the Enneagram February 1, 2013

I have been hoping for a couple years that my beloved, Courtney Perry, would guest post here at Theoblogy. Her photos have appeared many times, but not her words. Well, I’m thrilled to introduce her first post:

A verbatim conversation had while Tony and I caught up on the Downton Abbey he missed (and I put on hold) while he was in Malaysia:

TJ:  “She’s such an 8.  I like her.”

CP: “No way, babe.  She’s totally an unhealthy 2 who is stressed a lot.”

Immediately my Love begged me to write a guest post on the Enneagram numbers of Downton characters.  I’ll do what I can.  I’m no Suzanne Stabile, but when it comes to the exaggerated, soapish characters of D.A., it’s not too hard to pinpoint a few personality types.  If I’m wrong, please chime in.  (If you think the Enneagram is a load of bunk, 1) I’m sorry for you, and 2) we get it and don’t need to hear it.)  This post is called simply having fun.

Isobel Crawley: Matthew’s mother, Isobel is the “I can help! I can help!” version of an unredeemed 2 that inspired the aforementioned conversation.  Tony thought her forcefulness indicated her 8-ness, and it did, but not as her core.  Twos go to 8 in stress, be it good or bad stress, and the Crawleys are usually in some state of imminent peril.
Twos need to be needed.

Tom Branson: Branson, the chauffeur-cum-socialite-husband, plays the role of the tragic victim, believing that he represents all of his fellow Irishmen as an unredeemed melancholic 4.  To fours, the world is hard place and no one could possibly understand them.  They don’t want to do ordinary things and can be reckless (burning down that castle probably counts).
Fours gain energy from the tragic.

Thomas Barrow: As the ever-conniving footman, Barrow is an unredeemed 3 who needs to succeed.  Deceit is the biggest hang-up for a 3.  He spends his life working on the external and reads the crowd to see who and what can meet his own needs.  He is trapped in an image, and I think his forced closeted sexuality has made this 3 blind to his own deception.
Threes live with the idea that it’s not okay to have one’s own feelings and identity.

Lady Mary Crawley: Though the time period and social structure reign her in a bit, Lady Mary seems to be an 8, and female eights are quite misunderstood.   Eights don’t like to have anyone in power over them, and that was something we saw Mary struggle with as it was established that the family wealth can only be passed to a man.  She was willing to marry men she didn’t love because she had to in order to retain her family power.  Vulnerability is equal to weakness.
Eights may not know exactly what they want, but they always look like they do.

Mr. Carson: Devoted to the family and possessing rigorous standards of excellence, the butler strikes me as a 1, the perfectionist.  And actually, he might be a healthy 1.  Ones suppress their anger and keep it tight-lipped, as Carson does in many awkward public confrontations, but every once and while it bursts out.  “Should,” “must,” and “ought” are buzzwords for a 1.  They are loyal to family (even though in this case they are his employers) but they are not mushy or romantic.  Love means you do your part.
Ones are on a quest for absolute moral authority.


*You should never tell a person in the real world what number you think s/he is.  It’s a journey of self-knowing.  In certain cases of distant knowing, such as Downton and Tony’s prior post about the presidential election, it can be both fun and helpful to surmise numbers.

"Have you considered professional online editing services like ?"

The Writing Life
"I'm not missing out on anything - it's rather condescending for you to assume that ..."

Is It Time for Christians to ..."
"I really don't understand what you want to say.Your"

Would John Piper Excommunicate His Son?

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

TRENDING AT PATHEOS Progressive Christian
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Great post, Courtney.

    I think it would be fun to put together a whole tv show with each character representing a different Enneagram number…and leave it to people to guess which one is which.

  • Chris

    I haven’t bothered with Enneagrams, but I am down with Downton.

    In the Enneagram scheme, are the numbers a product of personality traits that each person is hardwired with, or can the numbers reflect environmental/societal pressures? In other words, the “types” on Downton seem pretty true to what 1920’s British societal mores and norms dictated at the time. Stiff upper lip and all. It doesn’t seem these types are nearly as prevalent in present day Britain as their criteria for what would have been considered virtuous has changed.
    So I guess what I’m asking is, would we see fewer of say, the Carson type today, than we would have seen in yesteryear?

    Sorry if this is an annoying question. I’ll try to read up on Enneagrams when time allows.

    • Courtney

      Chris–not annoying at all!
      The stereotypical roles in Downton just make the personalities easier to read. The Enneagram is an ancient tool that originated in the Middle East, so across ages and cultures it remains applicable. There wouldn’t be any less or any more of a certain personality type today. According to my teacher, a person’s number becomes clearly defined in his/her youth and results from a combination of one’s nature and one’s nurturing.

  • Carla

    I have to disagree. Lady Mary is a 3. She’s all about keeping Downton on top and not at all willing to buck convention. If she were an 8, she wouldn’t have worried one bit about disgracing Downton with the Turkish Ambassador incident or saving the legacy of the house, etc. Sybil is the 8.

    And Tom Branson is a 1. Oh, is he a 1. Justice above all else. Can’t stop talking about it. Out to right the world’s wrongs no matter the cost.

    You are dead on about Isobel–2 with a 1 wing. I’m a 2 and I cringe every time she speaks because I see the desperate need to fix things in her eyes.

    • Chris

      I was going to say so-and-so WAS a so-and-so, but that would make me a spoiler wouldn’t it?


  • Courtney

    Carla–I love it!

    Very good points about Mary. I’m still confused about her due to the time period, but justice and loyalty are the big issues for the 8, and it’s true that those don’t seem to be her high priorities. It’s more about the power. So, yes, that focus on image goes with the 3. I stand corrected.

    I still stick Tom in the 4 category, though. He considers himself to possess the correct way of thinking, and he looks down on everyone else because they don’t think like he does. I can see how that could be construed as a 1, but I feel like it’s more of the unhealthy 4 characteristic of him thinking he’s special, different, and better than everyone else because of it.

    Yes, I could go for Sybil being an 8. In the Enneagram teaching that I received, justice and loyalty are the key issues of the 8, not the 1. The lost message of the 8 from childhood is “you will not be betrayed.” This causes them to be extremely loyal to their own causes.

    And fyi, if you’re the Carla I think you are, you are SO FAR from being any kind of Isobel!

  • Eric

    Isobel and Mr. Carson were easy to peg as types. I could find great quotes for both to teach people about their types.

    A few other offerings:

    Matthew is a 1. Full of shoulds and oughts, that sort of thing.
    The Dowager Countess is a 6. Extremely loyal to family, and fearful of any changes that could affect Downton.
    Lord Grantham is a 9w8. Eager to please, but has a fire in his belly when he gets pumped up.
    Anna is a 2, Bates is an 8 (although he’s bottled it up recently, he’s got a temper in him).

    • Courtney

      Great observations, Eric.

      I figured Lord Grantham was a 9, too. I wasn’t totally sure until he flat-out dismissed Matthew when he wanted to talk about how the property was mismanaged. Complete avoidance of conflict!

  • Courtney

    And a note to the general public–I’m a professional photographer, not an Enneagram master, as Carla made clear. I’ve taken courses and read a lot about the Enneagram, which helps me in my daily life with those to whom I’m closest, but it is possible I might misread characters on a TV show. But it’s fun trying!

    • Carla

      I’m no expert either, but I think it’s super fun to dish about these things 🙂

  • Lisa

    Courtney: Love your analysis! The enneagram is way more fun when it isn’t smacking me upside the head with my own issues. =) I don’t think Sybil is an 8. Would an 8 go around whining EVERY SINGLE EPISODE about how her sisters get all the attention and she doesn’t matter in the family? I don’t think so. Find a passive-agressive, self-absorbed, martyr enneagram#…that’s Sybil.

  • Courtney

    Lisa–aren’t you thinking of Lady Edith? She’s the one who got left at the altar and is perpetually sad about her state in life. (aka the whiner)

    I think Edith could be a 4 who presents in quite a different way than Branson. She is envious and melancholy and no one understands her. Fours deal with perceived or real abandonment issues, which could subconsciously draw them out in later life (being left at the altar?). These types of 4’s are special but don’t know it.

    • Lisa

      Duh. Yes! I meant Edith, not Sybil. Yes, a four fits perfectly. =)

  • Courtney

    Of equal import to this post is the following link which pairs Downtown characters with types of dogs that portray their traits:

    You’re welcome.

  • Bradm

    Why should I take enneagrams any more seriously than astrology?

    • Courtney

      Because they are nothing alike.

  • Ratchet

    Fantastic & entertaining guest post! I guess I won’t submit this topic to questions that haunt : )
    (And yes, this IS the Ratchet you’re thinking of!)

  • Pat

    I don’t think Bates could be an 8 because he has such a strong masochistic streak. Why did he go to jail for his wife? Why did he not stick up for himself with the theft of the snuffbox? A 6 has a timidity that makes him very aggressive when pushed to the wall, which he is in prison. An 8 would be aggressive by nature: “Here I am: deal with me!” Kind of like that guy Mary didn’t marry, the newspaper chap.

  • Courtney

    I agree, Pat. I’m not sure about Bates. Eights are extremely loyal, but would an 8’s loyalty outweigh his adamant insistence for justice? Questionable. I wonder if he might be a 5 with a strong 4 wing. He’s ever-observant and leans toward the melancholy.

    In other Downton fun, here’s a Sesame Street spoof, Upside Downton Abbey:

  • Jodi-Renee

    I was just about to chime in on the characterization of 4 represented in Mr. Irish Chauffer and make a suggestion about Bates, but you’ve beat me to it! I agree with you, Court, that the chauffer is probably a 4 since we (yes, I’m putting on my ever so unique 4 robe to write this) like to act out our aggressive sides for the sake of a cause and masquerade in public settings as 1’s very frequently….but he’s a really unredeemed 4 at best. He’s not enough of eccentric or bohemian to make me things he’s *really* a 4 (because really, I must be the only one on the planet, being really a 4 *wink*) but he could be a very unredeemed 4w3.

    Bates has always been the most sympathetic character to me, because as a 4w5, his mystery, his integrity, his curiosity, his individuality, his appreciation of the cultural aesthetic + gentleman’s rituals, his laborious journey towards personal + community redemption and the feeling that he is too flawed to be loved resonated *all the way to my bones.* i just want to storm into his room, undecoriously, grab him by the shoulders and weep “I get you!!!” He may be a 5w4 or, as I want to suspect, a 4w5…and possibly the redeemed foil to Tom’s self-absorbed mission.

    We 4’s seem to often get the worst representations in culture. In fact, most enneagram books makes us sound like the whiniest, most self-absorbed, reckless people just looking for an oven into which we can stick our heads. I think it’s hard for us to recognize a redeemed four when they show up in our communities and our favorite dramatic archetypes. Just my two cents… 😉

    And I really like female 8’s. Especially artistic ones.

    • Jodi-Renee

      Also, 4’s are crazy loyal…emphasis on crazy because it can be reckless + destructive; but when we love, we love completely and sacrificially. We think that the rest of the world can #*&! themselves, but we’d take a bullet for our beloveds.