The series, set in the fictional Yorkshire country estate of Downton Abbey, depicts the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants in the post-Edwardian era—with the great ev
ents in history having an effect on their lives and on the British social hierarchy. Such events depicted throughout the series include news of the sinking of the RMS Titanic in the first series; the outbreak of the First World War, the Spanish influenza pandemic, and the Marconi scandal in the second series; the Interwar period and the formation of the Irish Free State in the third series; and the Teapot Dome scandal in the fourth series. Thomas and Miss O'Brien, in particular, gave Bates the cold shoulder for no particular reason and plotted to have him fired. Thomas sees Bates as the one obstacle complicating his chance to take the prestigious position as Lord Grantham's valet. While most of the rest of the staff treats Bates coldly, Anna is a kind and supportive presence. Mary's own sharp wit and searing observations are no doubt influenced by her grandmother Violet. She has a distrusting relationship with her sister, Edith, who tends to look at Mary as entitled and ungrateful and is not above plotting to make Mary's life miserable. Mary is often all-too-eager to reciprocate. On the flip side, Mary is extremely devoted to and protective of her baby sister,
Sybil. Mary also has close relationships with the staff, including her handmaid Anna. More significantly, she appreciates and respects the butler Carson, who has worked at Downton all of Mary's life and seen her grow from a child to the woman who could one day run the estate. Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham, is Robert's mother and the grandmother of Mary, Edith and Sybil. Violet is considered to be Downton's matriarch figure and has a withering wit and a sharp tongue. She is immensely proud of her son and loves her granddaughters very much. She is protective of her family and wants the best for them -- even if her logic is sometimes flawed.