Please keep in mind that I have only recently begun watching Downton Abbey. I saw one episode of Season 4 and I’ve started watching season 5 from the start. Experienced viewers may have more knowledge of the back story of this particular character that I am about to rip a new one, so please feel free to chime in.
I should also go ahead and add a spoiler warning here.
The main problem as I see it is that Bunting is the kind of teacher who has an “I Touch the Future” mentality. She is confident and intelligent in a time when single, independent women were beginning to find a lot more opportunities for themselves that had not existed in the early 20th century. These are excellent qualities and to be frank, the only time I appreciate her presence is when Daisy Mason, the young cook, is becoming more and more confident in herself thanks to Bunting’s tutelage. But people like Bunting often carry themselves with this arrogance that refuses to be proven wrong. It leads to a mentality that I encounter all too often in real life and can be summed up in three words: Ignorance is Fact.
When I went to college, there was a professor who had some considerable experience in the world. This is my diplomatic way of saying that he was the one who told God, “You know what, it’s kinda dark in here.”
After a particularly lively, yet apparently uninvited, round of debate between him and a student who was writing about the accusations of pedophilia in the church, the professor loudly declared “Pedophiles are homosexuals!”, ending the discussion once and for all.
Whether this observation was based on actual experience or not was not important. This was what he had come to believe and there was simply no arguing with him on the matter. Similarly, Sarah Bunting maintains the opinion that all men and women of noble or aristocratic heritage must be corrupt tyrants living on the backs of the poor.
We the audience are well aware that Robert Crawley is certainly proud of his heritage. But he is a complex individual who cares deeply for the well being of his servants, as proven by the fact that he agrees that Mrs. Patmore’s nephew has been wrongly maligned as a deserter, but refuses to abuse his authority by insisting that his name be included on the memorial. Similarly, spending any time with his daughters shows that he and Cora have raised them to be strong and compassionate individuals who go out of their way to help the less fortunate among other things.
If Bentley would take the time to get to know Lord Crawley and his family, she would probably come to the same conclusion that the majority of us have come to. But instead, she takes every opportunity to piss off their guests and then spout her ignorance at the man’s dinner table, leading me to believe that she would actually improve her position if she blew her nose at the table and wiped it on Violet’s dress.