Because of the taciturnity and often blank expression of the little girl who plays Marigold Gregson on Downton Abbey, I wondered if the character was supposed to have developmental problems.
Several online comments by Downton followers suggest that the character was written to be autistic. Others speculate that the child playing the part may have been sedated to keep her quiet.
I think that the casting director chose the twins who play Marigold for their resemblance to the Edith character. Dithering about in a habitual state of passive uncertainty, Lady Edith often presents a vague and unfocused demeanor. Her apathetic personality is reflected in her child.
A more pertinent question is “What’s wrong with Lady Edith?” She has a London flat and owns a magazine. Her forward-looking ideas and writing ability were what attracted Gregson to her. Why does she continue to dither around Downton—forcing the poor Drewes off Yew Tree Farm and suffering her sister’s supercilious contempt—when she could take Marigold to London, dismiss the overbearing editor and run the operation herself?
I suspect that, for all his lip-service to feminism, writer Julian Fellowes believes that the only truly happy ending for a woman is to marry a wealthy man with a country estate.
In my search for answers about Marigold, I came across an article in The Huffington Post written by psychologist Gail Gross, Ph.D., Ed.D, M.Ed. The article considers abandonment issues that threaten little Marigold as she grows up. I found the article quite interesting, but, as a student of English, I stumbled at the use of the word rouse in the following paragraph:
Abandonment situation #3: In an attempt to keep baby Marigold close, Lady Edith devises a rouse to have Mr. and Mrs. Drew[e] raise Marigold. Lady Edith believes this will give her the opportunity to visit her daughter without giving away her secret. Thus, Lady Edith comes and goes away from Marigold, depending on the whim of Mrs. Drew[e].
I quite enjoyed the article and would like to invite Dr. Gross and her editor to read my post on the words rouse and ruse: Could it Be, Just Possibly, All a Ruse?
A Psychological Look Into the Fate of Baby Marigold on ‘Downton Abbey’