I was thinking about Cora, today, and her attitude to Matthew/Mary. We all know how her opinion on their relationship changed - depending on the material advantage to Mary. In 2x02, she’s all “How natural they look together!” and seeming in support of Mary winning him back… yet goes cold turkey…
Ugh, I’m not sure I have anything constructive to add, but I think the thing is just that, Cora is incredibly pragmatic. She has to be, given her history and situation.
She gets upset with Robert for agreeing to host Lavinia/Matthew because he’s, once again, putting Matthew over his own daughter. Given the circumstances at the time, Carlisle was Mary ‘only option’ at this point. She wasn’t going to throw him over for fear of a scandal (they had bought a house, I mean, this is fairly serious stuff) and Matthew was being insistently mopey that he wasn’t going to be with anyone at that stage. And then there’s the fact that Mary would have played nursemaid for the rest of her life; she loves him, yes, but from that same pragmatic perspective, it isn’t much of a life.
And Cora knows that marriages aren’t about love. Violet, for all her insistence, is probably more of a romantic than Cora. Cora, who was carted across the ocean. Cora, who was married for her money and whose mother likely pushed her upon Robert (or that crowd of British aristocrats) so the Levinsons could have a title to their new. Cora, who spent the first year of her life with someone who did not love her (but she did love). Eventually, though, Robert did love her. I think that’s also key.
Sure, Mary doesn’t love Richard now, but he’s everything she was originally looking for (Mary’s s1 expectations, uh minus the creepy sexual assault of course). He can give her money, he can give her status, he can give her a family. She doesn’t love him now, but from Cora’s perspective that doesn’t matter. She probably believes they’ll come to love each other. (Not to mention Mary is pretty much an old maid at that point, isn’t she? So this is a pretty brilliant offer.)
Anyway, this is her life. Mary isn’t happy with the choices, but she’s going along with it anyway and the plan’s been in motion for a good amount of time now, so when Lavinia sweeps in (at Cora’s manipulation) and they Matthew and her decide to get back together, of course Cora’s upset Robert puts that ahead of Mary. Mary’s whose engagement has been longer and consistent. And, yes, it’s not as happy, but that doesn’t mean Robert should support it less. (Because Robert isn’t not supporting it because he senses unhappiness - that only dawns on him during the Christmas Special - at this point he’s simply putting Matthew ahead of her like he always does, out of habit and because Robert’s main priorities are centred around his legacy, his heir.)
On the topic of Cora’s pregnancy, I don’t even think you can really read into it because it was handled so poorly for Cora. Her body was used as an object and tool to drive a wedge between Mary and Matthew’s relationship. Do we see Cora’s reaction to her miscarriage? Nope. We see the unraveling of Mary/Matthew and Robert gets to tear up because he loses the son he always wanted - but what about Cora? How does she feel? We never see her devastation. The entire arch isn’t about her at all, which is what’s so cruel about it.
What’s most interesting for me is that in episode one of season two, Cora wants to - I don’t remember if it’s not tell Mary or tell her, but either way she wants to protect Mary from meeting Matthew and Lavinia. In that meeting (between Robert, Isobel, and Violet if I remember correctly), Cora’s the only one who’s sensitive about how Mary might feel towards Matthew’s reappearance.
I definitely just rambled about nothing for the longest time, sorry. But at the end of the day, I guess I just think Cora is pragmatic and does want what’s best for her daughters - she just doesn’t always know the right way to achieve it.