Mary is one of the more divisive characters on Downton Abbey. When it comes to fans, there is no middle ground. Viewers either love or hate the future Countess of Grantham. No matter what though, one must admire her conviction and independence. If one thing is for sure, no one can tell Lady Mary how she should live her life.
Throughout the series, her dialogue really signifies that. Full of wit, sarcasm, and occasional coldness, Mary's most quotable lines embody her character to a tee. These ten are the best lines of Mary's that the series has to offer.
10 "I’d rather sleep on the roof than share with Edith."
Lady Mary and Lady Edith have never been on the best terms. Sibling rivalries are fairly normal, but these two take it to a whole other level. This line really embodies the cruelty that Mary expresses towards Edith on a daily basis. The rivalry between the two sisters is one of the most defining relationships for Mary throughout the series. Though this line comes from a rather small moment in the show, with Cora suggesting the two share a room while guests stay, it still exemplifies both Mary's tendency to be a bully and the witty nature of the series' writing.
9 “Cheer up, come the revolution it may be useful to have a contact on the other side.”
This quote came in response to Sybil's pregnancy, as Lord Robert was not very pleased with Tom and his political leanings. Mary's response showed her tendency to fall between both sides of the battle between tradition and progress.
On one hand, Mary is the heir apparent to the Crawley family and is responsible for the future care of the institution that is Downton. She has to carry on the work of her family and title. But, mary is also a realist and knows that change is inevitable. The sly jab shows that there is no way to go against Sybil or Tom's politics and that to do so would be futile.
8 "Sometimes I don't know whom I'm most in mourning for, Matthew or the person I used to be when I was with him."
The loss of Matthew was the biggest blow to Mary. He was the love of her life and the man that she should have grown old with. Instead, he was snatched away by fate and killed far too young. Matthew brought the best out of Mary, as did she to him. But, as grief has a tendency to do, Mary seemingly forgot her own independence and self-worth.
This quote shows how hard the death of Matthew hit, as well as the innate self-loathing that Mary hides underneath her tough exterior. Mary is far less self-assured than many would have been led to believe.
7 “I’ve been married, I know everything.”
When Mary went off on her escapade in Liverpool, she had already learned the romantic ropes with Matthew. This quote shows that while she has to go through all the ups and downs of finding a suitor again, she knows the ins and outs of marriage fairly well.
Because of this, she is a far more mature minded suitor than most. Anyone who has been in a long term relationship or marriage knows a lot more about dating and love than anyone should. This fun little quote pokes fun at that.
6 “How many times am I to be ordered to marry the man sitting next to me at dinner?”
It often feels that the entirety of Mary's life is dominated by her finding a suitor. When she finally stuck with Matthew, fans thought the searching was over. Alas, with his death came another three seasons of love searching. From the quote above, mary was tired of it too.
Certainly, she wanted to find a partner for love, but there is no denying that if it wasn't for the backward gender politics, she could run Downton on her own. Mary was more than capable of being the sole heir, as opposed to sharing the title with a husband.
5 “Women like me don’t have a life. We choose clothes, and pay calls and work for charity and do the season. But really we are stuck in a waiting room until we marry.”
This quote expands on this idea further and offers insight into the lives of all the ladies inside the halls of Downton and beyond. It is the most "radical" that Mary gets throughout the whole show, offering a solid critique on how women are treated.
While they might play the game and pretend to be involved, at the end of the day it only matters who and when a woman is going to marry. Whether it is Mary herself, her sisters, Rose, or even some of the downstairs staff, all the women are often leading towards is marriage and motherhood.
4 "Haven't you heard? I don't have a heart. Everyone knows that."
This remark bleeds back into the self-loathing aspect of Mary's personality, but it also shows that small bit of humility that she so rarely shows. The fact that Mary can go around and joke about the way others view her shows that she can be a bit self-reflexive. She knows that she can be harsh and cold, and knows that others think the same way of her.
At the same time, its not always a bad attribute to have. Mary needs to have a backbone in place of a heart because it's thinking with your brain that keeps you on track. While she might not have always been happy, Mary certainly was stable.
3 “I shall be Countess of Grantham one day. And in my book the Countess of Grantham lives at Downton Abbey.”
While Mary is open to new ideas and innovations, at the end of the day she is loyal to her family, and specifically to her father and her home. Mary is the one person who, no matter what, is going to be the next and arguably final ambassador for this stately home.
With mansions, castles, and abbeys all over the countryside disappearing, it is Mary who has to take on the task of preserving her home. This quote shows that no matter what, she is determined to keep the home and (some of) the traditions alive.
2 "I'm not often called sentimental."
Once again, Mary shows off her coldness with a bit of a wink. In a season four exchange with Charles Blake, one of her suitors, Mary remarks about how she feels bad for the pigs. When he asks her if she eats bacon and she says yes, he calls her a sentimentalist who cannot handle the truth.
Her response shows that although that forward comment was pretty insulting, she took it in stride and still came out on top. This comment returns the power to her without showing her as the arrogant one. Once again, her wit and surface-level humility wins out.
1 “It's easy to be generous when you have nothing to lose.”
Maybe not a quote that one would fully want to agree with, but cynical Lady Mary certainly has a point. While her sisters risk their happiness on risky loves or escapades, Mary has to stay behind, stuck with the duty of her position. Her sisters have far more room for mistakes, risking their reputations for passion.
Mary, on the other hand, doesn't get a choice in the matter. As eldest, it is her responsibility to stay in line and follow the rules, which results in her bind cold and stony to many. She can't risk it all because she has too much at stake.