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As it turns out, I'm capable of much unpleasantness.
~ Abigail revealing her true colors

Abigail Hill (later Baroness Abigail Masham) is the main antagonist of the 2018 period black comedy The Favourite. She is a fictionalized version of the real Baroness Abigail Masham.

She was portrayed by Emma Stone in her first (and so far, her only) villainous role.

Biography

In 1708, England is in war with France and Queen Anne is in frail emotional and physical health, Lady Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough, Queen Anne's advisor and furtive lover rules the kingdom through manipulating the queen and pushing on the war with the help of Sidney Godolphin, 1st Earl of Godoplhin, whilst the leader of the opposition Robert Harley tries to get to talk to the Queen and persuade her to stop the war as it means raising the property taxes, but is constantly prevented from doing so by Sarah.

Sarah's younger cousin, Abigail Hill arrives to the palace seeking employment, she is shown to have bad luck on his first day as she is pushed to the mud by a man in the carriage she was travelling in. She presents to Lady Marlborough and tells her how her father lose her in a game of whist to a German man that used her as a sexual slave, Sarah sends Abigail to work with the maids, who on her first day make her burn her hand with lye. Abigail is shown to not get used to the maid life.

One night the queen is having a gout on her right leg, the maids help ease the pain commanded by Sarah, Abigail then has the idea of searching for herbs in the forest to heal her hand and the queen's gout. Sarah discovers Abigail applying the herbs to the sleeping queen's leg and orders for her to be whipped. When the queen wakes up she says her leg doesn't hurt anymore. Sarah stops the whipping and thanks Abigail, making her lady of the bedchamber.Robert Harley then asks Abigail to spy on the queen and Sarah.

One night a ball is taking place in honor of the queen, there Harley informs a wheelchair bounded queen of the situation in the lands with the tax raises, a matter the Queen was unaware of. Whilst Sarah dances with Baron Samuel Masham, the queen gets angry and stops the ball and demands Sarah to take her back to her bedroom, there, Abigail is hidden to spy on them, but discovers Sarah and the queen having sex, she sneaks out of the room shocked.

Sarah is occupied with the war so Abigail sees an opportunity to get close to the queen, she develops a friendship with her when she fakes interest on the queen's pet rabbits, of which she has 17, one for every kid she lost. Sarah seeing their developing friendship passive-aggressively threatens Abigail, but the queen is later shown to start preferring Abigail's company. Their relationship then turns into something sexual, Abigail sees this as well as Baron Masham interest in her as an opportunity to regain her noble place. One night after having sex, Sarah discovers Abigail in the queen's arms, she becomes aware of Abigail's machinations. The next day, Sarah accuses her of stealing a book and fires her, Abigail then hits herself on the face with a book and sits crying outside the queen's bedroom so she can hear her, implying that Sarah beat her.

Abigailmasham

Real life Abigail (Hill) Masham

The Queen scolds Sarah and prohibits her from firing Abigail. Days later, Abigail poisons Sarah's tea before she goes horse-riding, she fades on top of the horse and is dragged away through the forest, later to be found by prostitutes and taken to a brothel, alive but brutally battered. Meanwhile the queen believes Sarah has abandoned her to make her jealous, during her absence, the Queen is manipulated by Abigail to help her marry, Baron Masham, the Queen consents the marriage and Abigail regains her place in the upper society.

Sarah contacts Godolphin to find her, and is taken by him back to the palace, with a scar across her cheek. She confronts Abigail and hits her on the face before confronting Queen Anne, however, Anne is disgusted by Sarah's scar. The next morning, Sarah tries to blackmail Anne into firing Abigail by threatening with showing their intimate letters to the media. However Sarah later regrets and burns the letters before being fired by Anne from the court. Sarah tries to convince her that Abigail doesn't loves her as she does, but she refuses to listen.

Godolphin convinces Sarah in to trying to make amends with Anne, but Abigail intercepts Sarah's letters and burns them, then she manipulates the queen into making her believe that Sarah and her husband have been embezzling money, the queen believes this and gets Sarah and her husband exiled from the England. Abigail also manipulates her into stopping the war, fulfilling Harley's plan.

Time later Abigail is now enjoying the upper society, despite her husband, who now realizes she doesn't love him. But one day in the Queen's chamber, Anne is very sick and only being able to move the right half of her body, Abigail sees one of the rabbits and abuses it by stepping on her neck, Anne is awaken by the poor animal's distress cry and seeing Abigail abuse one of her "children" she forces herself out of the bed, Abigail tries to help her but Anne angrily refuses to accept her help, she stands on her own and orders her to rub her leg, as if she was a servant, Abigail is forced to obey, the queen then grabs onto Abigail's hair to prevent from falling, as Abigail is rubbing Queen Anne's leg, she slowly realizes she was never her favorite, nor Sarah, but the rabbits and now by her own hand she has destroyed the Queen's trust in her.

Trivia

  • The film does not mention it, but Abigail was Robert Harley's cousin.
  • Emma Stone is the only American in the cast. (except for Rachel Weisz who has American citizenship)
  • All three of the main characters vomit at least once in the film.
  • Emma Stone is the only main actress who was not in The Lobster, another film directed by Yorgos Lathimos.
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