In HBO’s ‘The Gilded Age,’ young women find themselves with one purpose above everything else in their lives— they have to find a suitable husband. When Marian Brook’s father died and she was left with no money, she turned to her aunts for help, but even she knew that getting married well was expected of her. There is no shortage of suitors for her, but Marian is looking for something more than just money and standing. In the second season, she meets Dashiell Montgomery, who appears to be the perfect match, but that doesn’t mean he is perfect for Marian. SPOILERS AHEAD
Dashiell Might Not Get a Happy Ending With Marian
Having had her heart broken once, Marian is cautious about the next man who courts her. While trying to get over the betrayal of Tom Raikes, Marian busies herself with the work that makes her happy. Despite the disapproval of her aunts, particularly Agnes, Marian gets a job as a painting teacher, which is where she meets a young girl named Frances, who takes an immediate liking to her. Later, Frances’ father, Dashiell, is introduced as a nephew of Agnes from her husband’s side, and he also develops affection for Marian.
Considering that Marian doesn’t have any money to offer, a man like Dashiell appears to be the perfect one for her. He is widowed and has a daughter, but he is a decent man with a lot of money and is completely aware of Marian’s financial status. He could have sought a better match, but he wants to marry Marian, and everyone around her thinks that she should reciprocate the feelings. Who knows if someone like Dashiell will come along her way again? But Marian remains unconvinced.
Every time Dashiell makes a remark about Marian being a part of his and Frances’ family, she appears visibly uncomfortable. She likes him, but she doesn’t seem to have any romantic affiliation with him. She likes Frances, who adores her, but it’s pretty much like every other girl in her class that Marian likes. So, marriage with Dashiell is not exactly on Marian’s mind, even though it’s made clear by Agnes and others around her who would like her to say yes when he asks her hand in marriage. And it is this pressure that she relents to when he finally does.
Despite Dashiell being a good man, several scenes in this episode hint that he might not be the one for Marian. For one, she wants to do something meaningful with her life. When she is asked to take a class for the poor and help them read and write so that they can have an advantage in life, she jumps at the opportunity. But then, when she refuses to leave the class to come to Dashiell’s party, he makes a remark that diminishes her work.
Moreover, it’s pretty clear that he doesn’t want to marry her out of love. He sees her as a woman who can be a good mother to Frances, which is why he sets his eyes on her the moment he realizes his daughter has taken a liking to her teacher. Once they are married, it is expected that Dashiell will want Marian to leave her job and completely focus on Frances and the family. This isn’t something she would willingly settle for, and that’s where things get complicated.
When Marian was ready to elope with Tom Raikes, it was because she actually loved him. She didn’t care about his social standing or how much money he made (though the same cannot be said about him). This time, she agrees to marry Dashiell because she feels cornered. He proposes to her in front of a crowd of people who want them to get married, especially Frances. Perhaps, if he had asked her in private, she would have said no or taken some time to think about it. But with all eyes on her, especially Frances’, she is unable to refuse and is engaged to Dashiell.
Still, a promise of marriage isn’t the same as getting married. It’s clear that Marian’s heart is not into it. It’s also hinted that Larry Russell might have some affection towards Marian, considering how dejected he looked when she accepted Dashiell’s proposal. A romance between them was hinted at in Season 1 as well, and it would be a shame if the show doesn’t explore that at least once. It would also be a shame to see Marian settle for a man she doesn’t really love or even know, for that matter. Perhaps, down the line, circumstances will favor her, and she will find a way out of this bind.
Read More: Why Did Marian and Tom Raikes Break Up?