Thomas Barrow – Slytherin
A cold, calculating man, Thomas was the original villain at Downton, and wasn’t much appreciated either downstairs or upstairs. Ambitious, cunning, and wholeheartedly self-interested, Thomas does absolutely nothing unless it can benefit him in some way. Being a closeted gay man in a country that would imprison him for his orientation has left him hardened to the world, and he has had to grow up strong and resourceful to survive. Thomas’ pride is perhaps his best and worst asset; it keeps him from finding friends at Downton, but it has also kept him spirited in the face of adversity.
Thomas does have a soft spot though, and his kindness shows up abruptly, and at the most unexpected of times. There aren’t too many people who have been genuinely kind to him in the world, and he takes that to heart. His heartbreak over Lady Sybil’s death was a tearjerker, and recently, he’s shown genuine kindness and concern for Jimmy and Daisy.
O’Brien – Slytherin
A cunning and ambitious woman, Sarah O’Brien is not quite clever enough to recognize that her own self-interest would be furthered if she could just learn to make herself a little more likeable. Perhaps more than anyone else at Downton, O’Brien recognizes the harsh divide between upstairs and downstairs, and resents the way she is expected to fawn over the aristocrats who she feels undervalue her as a person. She sees the Countess as her employer, and does not kid herself into considering her a friend, but out of self-preservation for her own job, plays the part of confidant to Cora well.
Incredibly resourceful, O’Brien is a master manipulator who can pull the strings to play most anyone in the house — even those who are already wary of her behavior. As the series wears on, we come to realize that O’Brien is not quite the one-sided villain she would seem. She has several soft spots; she truly loves her family, and she shows compassion towards those she feels are misunderstood.
Daisy Mason – Hufflepuff
A simple, humble girl, though sweet, Daisy is incredibly naïve at the start of the series, but blossoms into both an excellent assistant cook and a mature young woman by the end of season 4. Fiercely loyal to those she cares about, she is especially devoted to Mrs. Patmore and Mr. Mason who have both acted as surrogate parents to the otherwise family-less Daisy.
Though her jealous streak can sometimes get the best of her, Daisy is overall an incredibly kind, tolerant person. Hardworking and determined, she isn’t easily won over by flashy material things like Ivy and Jimmy are, but because she comes from such a harsh background, she has learned to simply appreciate the opportunity to lead a healthy, content life. Always incredibly practical, Daisy knows how to keep a level head in even the most stressful situations — often finding herself the caretaker to the high-stress Mrs. Patmore.
Ivy Stuart – Ravenclaw
A sweet girl, Ivy does not take joy in hard work the way that Daisy does, but often dreams of escaping into a life of fancy and adventure. Still, though Ivy has lofty dreams, she is a simple girl who hasn’t had very many experiences in life. Ivy raises Mrs. Patmore’s ire with her fondness for makeup, and with her easy manners and sweet face, she easily catches the eye of most of the downstairs young men.
Ivy often unintentionally finds herself at odds with Daisy, as Daisy can’t help but be jealous of how easily romantic aspirations come to Ivy. Still, at the end of the day, Ivy is a kind, sweet, naïve girl, and though she has big-city dreams, she still has old-fashioned values, and has the gumption to take Jimmy to task for treating her with a lack of respect. At the end of season 4, this curious dreamer finally gets to sail off on her own adventure when she begs Daisy’s suitor to take her to America to cook for Cora’s brother, Mr. Levinson.
Alfred Nugent – Hufflepuff
Though Alfred doesn’t share Jimmy’s natural charms as a footman, he manages to make up for it with hard work and a steadfast determination. Humble from the minute he arrives at Downton, Alfred’s willingness to learn and grow ends up making him a favorite with Mr. Carson. Unfortunately, his aunt, O’Brien, is a terrible influence, and often manipulates him into hurting others downstairs for her own gain.
Alfred can be a little clueless when it comes to the ways of women, and after a couple of seasons of romantic turmoil, in the end he proves himself to be a man who is truly kind as well as practical when he leaves Downton with only warm wishes for both Ivy and Daisy. Like the housemaid, Gwen, before him, Alfred is on the path to achieving his dreams, and his pathway towards becoming a cook was a true inspiration for everyone downstairs at Downton.
Jimmy Kent – Slytherin
Proclaimed by Mrs. Hughes to be a “vain and silly flirt,” this handsome little devil is both ambitious and confident. Like too many Slytherins, Jimmy is unfortunately not as smart as he thinks he is, but cunning and a sense of self-preservation have managed to get him pretty far in life. Unfortunately, at Downton he’s going to need more than just a pretty face and winning smile to win over Carson.
Selfish and arrogant, Jimmy might have won over the young ladies (and Thomas) with his charming good looks, but the older (and in Daisy’s case, wiser) folks downstairs are not so easily impressed with his haughty attitude. But although Jimmy can act like a real prat sometimes, he has his moments where he genuinely (and sometimes, almost accidentally) acts like a good person. We come to realize that Jimmy is a good guy with heavy dreams that at a ripe young age, he’s already seemed to learn he will never quite get to fulfill. So he passes the time resenting a life he feels he is too good for, but doesn’t have the humility, drive, or work ethic to work to get out of.
Be sure to check out Part 1 of this article, featuring the Downton Abbey lords and ladies upstairs!