All we know is this moment, and this moment, Ross, we are alive! We are. We are. The past is over, gone. What is to come doesn’t exist yet. That’s tomorrow! It’s only now that can ever be, at any one moment. And at this moment, now, we are alive — and together. We can’t ask more. There isn’t any more to ask … Demelza to Ross (last page of novel).
Monk Adderley (Malcolm Tierney), actually a twisted sick man
Dear friends and readers,
The failure: Ross and Demelza cannot make a new life for themselves in London because they carry over all that they are to London, which includes Ross’s own angers, bitterness, and he ends up murdering a provocative scum-rake type; Elizabeth dies in an effort to end George’s rage at her and the world for not thinking as well of him as he thinks he deserves.
The Angry Tide is (as I’ve suggested in the first blog) fuelled by rage; in this second part I show how it brings to a resolution the tragic results of another wrath: Aunt Agatha’s. Upon George’s spiteful prevention of her party, she tells him that his beloved son, Valentine, was not an eighth month baby: this arouses his half-alert suspicions the boy is not just not his, but Ross’s — who by the time of The Angry Tide, Valentine has come closely to resemble. Agatha only glimpses as she lays dying how her insinuation would affect the lives of Elizabeth and her children, subject as they are to George.
Ross’s murder of Monk Adderley results from more than Ross’s anger over Demelza’s love for Hugh Armitage (The Four Swans): it’s a deeper diffuse abiding anger he barely understands himself
Insfoar as this novel may be seen as instinctively feminist, we see how one chief heroine (Demelza Crane Poldark) cannot make her way in London because she cannot cope with the contradictory customs and demands, especially sexual made on her; and how the other (Elizabeth Chynoweth Poldark Warleggan) dies in childbirth in a futile attempt to get her husband to accept the baby she has had by another man. Between them, the hero (Ross who raped Elizabeth) and anti-hero (George Warleggan) kill her.
See Part One on Graham’s powerful The Angry Tide.
This time I think it best to begin with summary and then provide commentary:
Book Three, early July 1799
Chapter 1: early July Caroline returns to Cornwall, hopes Clotworthy will be Dwight’s permanent assistant, Ross’s visit to Drake who is disconcertingly like Demelza; go back and rebuild, you should not let yourself be destroyed by a thing like that, Ross leaves to be back September, Demelza to Verity, Demelza and she discuss larger economic issues, Demelza cannot get herself to tell Verity of Armitage, only Caroline can understand
Chapter 2: Late August 1799, English-Dutch battle, Ross returns safely from Bareham downs, September 6; bustle and haste, Demelza and Ross leave September 14th, Falmouth 6 am, the long trip, all new to Demelza; the ldogings, Mrs Parkins; joyous sex and love: “we shall be down in an hour”
Chapter 5: first five days of unalloyed happiness, then Sept 24th, a Tuesday, the reception (Demelza rejects several dresses on the grounds of indecency); Portland Place, perhaps Prince regent will be there, Monk Adderley and Andromeda Page (17 semi-nude), the Warleggans, Elizabeth sees Anselm whom Adderly tells her has compounds for women’s troubles, Demelza’s inability to cope with Adderley; they agree to go to play with him because she cannot think of a way not to be impolite
Chapter 4: Caroline tries to help Demelza by removing Adderley, they are to treat it lightly as a joke, but neither can do this; expensive box to see The Revenge, experience of playhouse; Adderley’s downright insulting behavior, in next box Caroline and Dwight who met Dr Jenner today (p. 408); Ross and Demelza’s attempting to understand one another in bed in their room afterward (he says it arouses old jealousies); then the flowers and ugly intrusion, Adderley wants to revenge himself on Demelza too; now second week in Sept, still tourist like Royal Academy, British museum &c but then the altercation over chairs, the challenge in a letter
Chapter 5: Night before the duel; Dwight’s objections, , visit to Strawberry Hill, Twickenham; foursome go to play (Caroline, Dwight, Ross, Demelza); dinner with some minor world-historical characters, late laughing and drinking, then narrative about duels, their nature, class thing; Ross made a will, Monk one last insult
Chapter 6: Dwight one more effort; duel, murder Adderley’s scorn while dying since Ross stays for chairmen; Dwight comes to attend Ross, Demelza I’ll never forgive him for this (“blasphemy against life to risk so much for so little”), Monk dead, 3 days later Ross’s fever abating, Craven tells of bet, Ross’s deep regret, Craven repeats Monk wanted to kill Ross; Coroner’s inquest, everyone knows
Chapter 7; George furious that Adderley’s adversary might escape law; goes to Sir John Bull, Mitford, no one will listen; George still paying people to turn up evidence., visitors including Geoffrey Charles; George and Elizabeth, his good mood, GC’s “Just look at him. Ecod! is he not the every spit and living image of Uncle Ross” (p. 465)
Chapter 8: Nov 9th 1799, bandages on Ross come off; Demelza tells Ross that she is returning to Cornwall with Dwight next week; Ross visits Falmouth, viscount does not really want to know an yet Ross tells him; their disagreements as Ross believes in principle of liberty, equality, fraternity, Viscount says go home to be safe and Ross refuses; Caroline tells Demelza George and Elizabeth getting along so bad there are rumors of coming separation, Demelza she is going to have baby, Caroline shrugs, the scene where George throws coins in Ross’s face and Bullcock stops another duel; Ross’s dreams (Elizabeth screaming), Demelza’s adieu letter
Chapter 9: Elizabeth’s visit to Anselm; Anselm’s history, a Jew who found a place, as Mrs Tabb (not fooling him); he recommends December
Chapter 10: Demelza’s homecoming, visitors, Sam, he tells of how Drake sees nothing of Rosina; how Mrs Whitworth would not see Drake; “Almost crazed she was, he said. .” and Sam thinks she shows herself way above him, Sam asks gingerly after Emma, he hopes she is happy, Demelza says all she does turns to harm and he replies: “Never regret anything you do out of the goodness of your heart” (p,. 494). Two days later she walks to see Drake, on the way Prudie; Demelza how Drake must come for Christmas and take Caroline and Dwight as his equals, dearest friends, and then the miracle: it’s now winter, and the woman carrying a bag, hesitant before Morwenna but Drake says: “oh my love have you come home” (p. 500). A tall damp bird; that she has been despoiled, that the miscarriage was brought on by her hatred; his intense love for her and how being together is everything.
Chapter 11: Parliament adjourns Nov 20th 1799 and not to resume until 21 January 1800. Ross sees Caroline on 21st, helping John Craven to tidy up Adderley’s estates, 30th November Ross and Caroline leave for Cornwall. 6th December Demelza to Morwenna and Drake, Demelza has to be convinced, and then Drake wants the marriage to occur as soon as possible. Demelza accompanies Drake to Odgers to demand bans be called and marriage achieved; torrential December rains. Caroline and Ross’s talk: that he was killing Armitage; that they must not sleep together. He spoke to her 6 years ago and now she to him out of love (this refers to the story in Warleggan where Ross brought Caroline and Dwight together in London before Dwight sailed off).
Chapter 12: Monday morning Demelza and Drake to Bodmin for special license, left at 8, at that time Ross and Caroline passing through Liskard and at 11 Elizabeth comes to visit Morwenna; Morwenna accompanies the pregnant Elizabeth home and accepts dinner invitation. The gale of November 9th, 1799, Ross home to Demelza; she tells what had happened at Odgers; Drake’s homecoming to empty place and desperation, panic, despair but moves out, finds she has gone to Trenwith and off he goes.
Chapter 13: Morwenna at dinner; George as cruel tyrant over everyone; the cruelty of George to Valentine who he refers to as “this child;” switch to Drake’s arrival, Drake thrown out, threatened, told by Elizabeth what direction Morwenna went in (short cut), trembling with anger and anxiety he turns back and finds her by the gate of the smithy again shuffling, she clings to him. Culminating cene where Elizabeth confronts George and discovers it was Agatha; laughs hysterically, demands he will love Valentine as his son and then takes concoction (she is to take second week of December). Demelza to Ross tells of trips to Chynoweths, Drake’s decency, mother talked of Morwenna throwing herself away and Demelza stood up for Drake and again they try to come together; she it isn’t love I lack but understanding, and we are to see the love that must trump all.
Chapter 14: Drake at Nampara by 7 am; Demelza takes a dress for Morwenna to Pally’s, 4 years ago she was sewn and stitched into Elizabeth’s dress, now it’s Caroline’s, same church, different cleric, done by 12 and they walk off dwindling to view. Elizabeth lying on floor at 8 o’clock that morning, Dr Behenna, a girl, the name, Ursula, she’s to be Lady Warleggan; the asinine supper George with in-laws, and then midnight to rest but at 3 Ellen Prowse says mistress suffering severe pains in legs and arms
Chapter 15: Thursday morning George sends for Dwight, her great pain for 36 hours; Dwight recognizes gangrene and tries to counteract; Friday the 13th of December Ross in Truro at Cornish bank, home. Demelza says Elizabeth delivered of a premature but living child; Elizabeth still gravely ill, Ross defies Tom Harry and danger, goes to Trenwith. George keeps up the “turn this man away,” Ross demands to know, George says she is dead and intuitive: “see what we have brought her to.” She died holding my hand, Ross to the room; George all that he has planned and worked seems purposeless as she is now dead, the last moments of her fear of the dark; narrator tells us he blamed fate never knowing he should have blamed himself.
Chapter 16: The last scene: Demelza and Ross:” we must hold to one another and now and here it’s all we have
Closing scene of 2nd mini-series: Ross (Robin Ellis) and Demelza (Angharad Reees)
John Ryland remarks that Graham creates worlds. Yes.
Typical paratext opening and close of the 29 episodes: Cornwalll
Book 3 Caroline’s return to Cornwall and Dwight and Demelza accompanying she and Ross back, Demelza’s trip to London. Ross takes his month in the local militia in Barham Downs in the south, and returns to take her to London.
Graham also keeps up the presentation of the flaws and horrors of medicine at the time and through that a sceptical perspective meant to comment on the limits of modern medicine. Enys was unwilling to leave his patients in Cornwall, and only agreed to it when he found a rare apothecary, not very learned who is not into heroic medicine (bleeding, cupping, purging and other tortures) which are intended to refer (I think) to modern high tech medicine too. Enys has become more and more convinced that the less he does the better, he should follow the body’s patterns and perform watchful waiting. What his patients need is peace, quiet, a decent diet (opp. 372-3). Once in London Caroline assumes he is not thinking of his patients anymore but the narrator enters his mind to show that he is and is thinking of returning to Cornwall at the end of the month.
We see Ross re-energize (so to speak) his brother-in-law, Drake, in a moving scene, one which has this kind of strong firmness within disillusion that I find so appealing: Drake say to Ross, you must think me a fool (for all he did upon finding Whitworth dead and since), to which Ross says: “I think nothing … except that I have satisfied myself — and Demelza — and Sam. And I hope you in the end. You’re too capable to mope your life away. it should not be possible — nobody should be able to destroy a man like that’ (p. 368).
This long trip to London is give in stages and we are made to feel the time pass, how they get up in the dark, begin their journey, where they stop to eat, what they eat (never too much given, all felt as people might, nothing wooden), and then the travel feel, coach (Ross had come back by water) and then how the approach to London looks. She is Cornish and never saw all these trees, this (to her) lush landscape, the configurations of the south leading into the city and then how it looks. Down hill and in a sort of valley and as she approaches, smoke first, and then desolation, with houses run down and labyrinthine, then fields, then good streets and then again allies, dives and finally she comes out to see the wharves and the whole landscape of the Thames (much poverty passed, things falling down, coaches) — also the sounds, and the air. Solitary figures too. I wish I had time to copy and paste the several pages (pp. 373-78 in the older 1996 Pan editions). Now Ross has now spent two nearly a year in London and we’ve heard of it before but for the first time wanting to make us feel the place, he takes his heroines’ eyes who never saw such a large city before or such a concatenation of people.
We get a real renewal of the early feel of the Poldark marriage: freed from the children, the two make happy love in their new quarters and have cordial conversation.
Ross (Robin Ellis) and Demelza (Angharad) in their lodgings, at first gay, happy, teasing one another
Demelza gets to go to her first salon: we have a trip with Caroline to Caroline’s seamstress where with her account (she pays yearly) a modern style dress is got up for Demelza within sufficient time. ‘
The elegant dinner party and ball: Ross and Demelza uncomfortable
The assembly does show perhaps a tired motif reappearing: again we have an amoral ruthless man chasing Demelza sexually; this time she is more alive to what’s happening and much more aware (together with Ross) about what a shit this man is.
The scene gives Graham a chance to delve politics and present his leftist-liberal point of view — so unusual for these historical novels. He’s also writing with film adaptations in mind. The scene at Portland place provides much matter for a typical splendid kind of scene that Granada and BBC are good at. I saw some of the same writing with a film adaptation in mind in Four Swans: the conception around the four women and the repeatedly visual motifs (birds) and landscapes — much matter for more on location shooting.
At that dinner party George Warleggan (equally nasty) in Portland Place bets 10 guineas against a 100 that Monk won’t be able to seduce Demelza. Both men despise her as lower class. This is the central core that rivets Ross’s fury: at the ball and at a dinner party Adderly is openly physically aggressive at Demelza; this is an insult to the man she “belongs” to and it takes advantage of 1) her good nature, and 2) her courteous and uncertain ways whereby she is anxious not to do the wrong thing, not to insult anyone so can be led on to agree to go say to a play with Adderly (with Ross alongside) or say she will go out to Vauxhall with him when she has no intention of doing so. The way he treats her reminds me of the way Fanny Burney’s men treat Evelina, only it’s much worse because she really knows this man, he maneuvers his flesh near hers.
George hides (Chapter 4 still) what he has done from Elizabeth and Demelza worries about Ross’s response. We get a believable felt-within scene of Ross, Demelza, Monk in a box at the power: Powell’s Revenge, with a real sense of the social experience, the comic acts afterward and again Monk’s ugly behavior. A scene of Demelza and Ross afterward at home shows Monk is getting to them: I feel for her. Ross is saying she must not run away (she offers to go home) and yet he wants her to behave in public in ways that cope with ugly aggression. The problem here is the ugly aggression is allowed men. They do manage to come to an understanding and fall to love-making.
The Monday Adderley forces his way in by lying and now Demelza is frank and apparently is insulting. She goes over the line? This reminds of Toni Sol’s book on Burney and how it shows the so-called protective manners of women far from protecting them allow men to manipulate them. Monk leaves seething — he’s also losing his bet.
It’s Chapter 4:V that is the masterpiece is in its way. The two men meet in Parliament where there are not enough chairs, and when Ross goes out, Monk takes his chair; Ross goes over to demand it, and when Monk says he has no right, Ross reaches for his gloves. The words about the gloves have ugly sexual innuendoes over Demelza — he wants his gloves, does he?: “I’m no longer interested in your worn possessions” (p. 420). Ross physically attracts him, order is called, and Monk sends an insolent challenge where he names the weapons (against code).
In a duel with pistols Ross murders Monk Adderley (the “monk” is ironic, he’s a ruthless obnoxious arrogant rake, reminds me of Swift’s description of such types in Dublin gatherings; and an adder). The thing that is keenly interesting in the chapters is Graham at once identifies and disapproves strongly. Ross is acting partly out of this rage within him. He shows this through Enys and Demelza’s response. At every turn Enys points out that Ross could turn back and tries to stop the duel from going further, Demelza (who has been the target of Adderley’s insults) says Ross has at last done something she thinks she will not be able to forgive; “I shall never forgive him for this”) (p 444).
Dwight as Ross’s second and his attempt to stop it. These attempts go on inbetween further social events and the determination of Monk to hide what will happen. It’s clear both men want to murder one another. Enys tries to persuade Ross he’s not up to it; he need not go for the weapons should have been called by him &c&c
The duel (Chapters 5-6). Again Dwight steps inbetween and his attempt to stop them leads to further insolence on the part of Monk and further refusal to apologize and clear desire to take revenge in Ross. The thing here is they both shoot and miss, and Dwight rushes in to stop them now, both then break code and shoot again. Ross gets it in the arm bad but Monk in the groin. Ross, all pride we are to feel (as much as integrity will not leave immediately as he’s been told to do,only wrenched away from pain and blood when someone comes to help Monk.
Ross back at the lodgings and now Demelza sees. How lead feels. The awkward things and real sawing of his bones without anesthesia that Dwight must do. The bandaging and the slow getting better. Efforts being made to cover up; like an aristocrat, Caroline seems to defend Ross, and then news comes Monk has died.
The friendship: Verity has been dropped (she is important in book) and Caroline substituted totally
We already have seen enough to know it will be hushed up. The man dies, rat, horror that he is — his last words are to demand Ross pay 10 guineas to Warleggan so letting Ross know just how he regarded Demelza and the whole incident however obscurely.
At this point I found I could not put the book down. It was not the sudden extraordinary turns which slightly surprise but then are to be expected or prepared for (and not a surprise really) and the intensity of the scenes, but my anxiety for the characters, especially Morwenna and Drake Carne.
Rumor spreads and pretty quickly everyone “knows” that Ross and Monk duelled and Ross killed Monk(Chapter 6 still). Apart from anything else, Ross is laid up with a bad wound in his arm and hand; is it likely both would have shot themselves, and how was it that just as Monk was shooting himself in the groin/stomach two doctors were coming along. What we see is duelling is more or less accepted.
Mr Craven, Adderley’s second, goes to a great deal of trouble and money and lies himself on the stand, induces Dwight Enys to lie (reluctantly), pays off the chairman and the verdict is Death by Misadventure.
George Warleggan, incensed (Ralph Bates)
The interest is in how George (an utter egoist, spiteful, jealous) decides he will taken this opportunity at long last to destroy Ross (Chapter 7). He visits two different powerful men to induce them to prosecute Ross. Both refuse. The first is Henry Bull, KC, now King’s Advocate (pp. 452-56); the second a man who owes George money, Mitford, a parliamentary creature. What’s interesting is the terms in wihch the two men refuse and how they both begin to look at George askance (pp. 452-56). We see that in parliament in fact Ross gains respect which really does surprise him while people in society, the streets and those he just knows socially sort of begin to back off (p 471).
The characters are deftly interwoven, especially George’s activities juxtaposed to Ross’s. In the midst of what’s happening Geoffrey Charles Poldark, Francis’s son comes to visit his uncle. He must lie to his stepfather and Graham has created a new character who seems so real but is really Francis’s spirit come alive again with some of Elizabeth’s sophisticated ways and at the same time a decency of outlook which explains the boy’s behaviors to men at least and continued friendship with Drake. But he’s a silken fop, capable of the same superficial kinds of wit as his father (pp. 458-60) and he is it which brings “things” to a head. Coming back home, he sits among George, Elizabeth and Valentine and suddenly looking at Valentine he sees what Graham’s descriptions of Valentine have hinted: “”Just look at him! Ecod! Is he not the spot and living image of Ross” (p. 464).It comes midpoint at the section and froze me.
Poison to the heart of George, that fires his intense hatred, and destroys all trust and the mariage of Elizabeth. Some words do split the world open and things are never the same again.
Demelza says she will go home now that Ross clearly will survive (Chapter 8). She is livid with anger in herself because she feels Ross dueled out of jealousy of her and that means he distrusts her. I felt very much for her in this new increasing estrangement between the two of them. She decides to return to Cornwall. She feels she does not belong her, she is out of her depth (pp. 475-76). I liked how she refused to be pressured into behaving in a way she just could not and refused to be made to feel terrible about it, and returned to where she was wanted, belonged, could feel herself useful, respected. We see in these chapters in London, these last days Demelza and Ross not speaking, when speaking not communicating what matters at all. She leaves him a letter.
Ross himself somewhat astonishingly, but it’s in his self-destructive character, visits Falmouth and gets the man to listen to the real story. We can see Ross would like to be freed of his agreement to represent Falmouth but Falmouth, undeterred, will not let him off (pp. 465-67). On the other hand, he tells Ross go home, go home at once. That is the best way to get everyone to stop talking. Ross will not (he is a difficult man endlessly banging against what would be in his interest). Really what we see is the indifference of people to one another. No one really cares which of the two died as long as it’s not himself, and this it is which kept duels going.
Next (interwoven) scene: after visiting Falmouth, Ross in Parliament goes up to George with the 12 guineas and sees in George’s face fierce hatred; George takes the coins and flings them into Ross’s face and there is almost another challenge, thsi time from Ross, but it’s stopped by the men around them who don’t really want another duel and actually pick up the coins (pp. 472-73).
Chapter 9: all is changed for Elizabeth and George. In a flash; Elizabeth does see George is “sick at heart”. She visits a man who has risen as a physician from a starving Viennese, and gets him to give her some herbs to make her pregnancy end earlier. Again this hope she has that having an 8 month baby will convince George. It would not have. The first warning bells of whats to come. Dr Lazarus (the name allegorical) agrees but warns this drug could hurt her and baby. She should take it earlier (7th month) rather than 8th lest the baby turn in the 8th month and not turn back until real parturition was due (pp. 478-88)
Elizabeth as Mrs Tabb and the doctor-physician, in the book Dr Anselm
But all this is not what kept me jumping ahead to make sure even if I didn’t get there all would be well. It’s what happens when Demelza comes home.
Demelza home again
This made me feel better as I read about my own decisions in life.The long journey home with Dwight (they go together) is beautifully done with her sick at heart as she thinks about the journey to London and the first happy renewed week in London they had had (Chapter 10, p. 492).
She sets things to rights in the house, and goes to visit Sam, who tells her of Drake’s continued depression (as he sees it, the man is not coming to religion) and half-mad strange behavior of Morwenna (Chapter 10).
There is some comedy: of the rough peculiar kind when Demelza visits the Paynters upon coming home and in dialect listens to a tale of a burial from Paynter (pp. 495-96) and better (I think) the comic feel of Sam’s liking Morwenna quickly because he sees in her “suitable material for conversion to his flock .. ” (p. 527)
She goes to Drake and sees him finding himself through work, recreating his house and business, but he is adamant he will not now marry. Demelza returns to Sam to lament her officious interference which made everything worse, and Sam comes out with another of these moments in the fiction which seems to do me good: “Never regret anything you do out of the goodness of your heart.”
And then Morwenna turns up (Chapter 10, p. 500); she flees to Drake. To me a heartrending scene between the two of them. She has fled the horrible mother-in-law, and left behind her son to do it (Ch 10 pp. 495-509), a long stretch of dramatic scene and feeling. Slowly she tells the story of her life with Whitworth, and he comprehends her horror of sexual congress, her terror, her upset.
In the film she tells him on the cliff the day after she returns to him, and she never leaves his side afterwards (partly the film must skip some chapters)
She says she has come to explain why she reacted so hysterically madly when he came to her in April. (We have been told that Drake was suspected of the murder during the talk in London over Ross; Drake is a nobody you see, but the evidence was all against it.) She was not only in a state of trauma, but pregnant with another baby. She has now lost that. It emerges she came to him to come to him, and she would rather stay here than anywhere. She has nowhere else. Their different in rank is not lost to them, she has to persuade him she wants to work, be his wife no matter what the loss in status. Last moments show him sitting afar and then tender to come close but no sex, as he realizes (is told explicitly) from her talk that their relationship must not include sex for a long time.
We begin Chapter 11 with news of Parliament adjourning, Ross’s helping Craven, Ross’s plans to leave with Caroline and then switch to Cornwall.
I’m impressed by how when news gets round Demelza is far from complacent or easy about it (Chapter 11), and when she comes is at first slightly hostile. She assumes that Mrs Whitworth will not fit in. Demelza is turned around by Drake’s face and they concoct a scheme to get a special license, for both fear Morwenna whatever she says will flee again. They get Odgers to tell them how because he’s hoping for Ross’s help in gaining the Vicarship at last (pp. 510-17). Drake again would get nothing.
Ross and Caroline at the same time going home together at last now that Parliament is ceased for a while. A long scene between them whch did not quite ring true for me again (Chapter 11, pp. 518-526): she’s willing to have sex with him she says but is too loyal to Demelza and Dwight. Would two people really talk like this? It’s too contrived. Her telling Ross that Demelza’s feelings are understandable make sense because his rage is against Hugh Armitage, and he is jealous. This is supposed to enable us to see that he could mend things. A neat scene but its function for real is to keep us anxious for our central couple for the moment, Drake and Morwenna.
Home for Ross and Caroline who now separate, Dwight waiting for her
My anxiety mounted as Demelza and Drake went off alone to get the license and Elizabeth naturally turned up (so it seems) for a visit. Huge wind and rain and a terrible walk. We surmize Elizabeth wants to fall again so the induced 7th month birth will occur. Elizabeth is actually softer to Morwenna than Demelza and is more willing to countenance this new relationship: she has seen closeup what Whitworth was. But now Morwenna feeling she should walk back with Elizabeth is induced near to Trenwith to come in for dinner.
Morwenna stays for dinner and George turns up. Given her weak character I fear for her, fear even now she and Drake won’t get together, the marriage is essential to get the others to leave them alone. I read the sentence where Morwenna coming into Trenwith knows she should not have and had to leave off. To quiet myself I jumped ahead to find that after some divagations and terrors for both, she makes her way back to Drake after all.
After I got through the intensely anxiety-producing pages of Morwenna’s walk back to Trenwith with Elizabeth, and her frantic (wild) return to Drake’s blacksmith shop, I went on to finish the book. The remarkable (artistically sound) events that happen in this sub-story is that what happens is what one might have expected — in a sense they are not remarkable. People are not that feeble. Also it’s only 17 pages: Graham does not want his reader to suffer too much — unlike that hard man, Richardson who makes you agonize for hundreds of pages.
Graham is using a calendar where he did discover there was a wild gale of storming weather on Dec 9th, 1799 off the coast of Cornwall just at the area he has imagined his characters living. He has details of what was blown away and the storm. Ross arrives home during the gale — as does George return,
supposedly unexpectedly except that Parliament had ceased. He had just no told anyone of his return. It’s this gale that leads Morwenna to walk with Elizabeth now 7 months pregnant, and Elizabeth to ask her in to dinner with her parents.
What happens is Drake too and Demelza are returning a little late (Chapter 12); Graham teases us with the scene of Demelza and Ross’s first encounter since their intense estrangement, and involved as I was with them, I read on to find Drake coming home to a dark house and becoming frantic with no sign of Morwenna. It’s not that he thinks she is deliberately leaving him, but he does see her mind as unwell and fears she might run away (not wanting sex, not having self-esteem enough anymore). He hastens to Mrs Trewinnards who they have hired to stay with them to keep gossip down and she reports that Elizabeth came to visit and Morwenna walked off with her. He rushes to Trenwith. He thinks it may be that Ross thinks that “nothing should be able to destroy your life like that,” not one person, but in fact it has. And (sudden turn up) “if the depths were too deep, surely the heights could be too high.” No moral laws against misery or against happiness — doesn’t make much sense as the author skates over this material (P. 538)
As Graham has done before, we are not actually given the crisis high point of the riveting scene going on as Drake is rushing there. George has returned (Chapter 13) and the room before comfortable enough is now sour, nasty, ugly. He is ignoring Valentine’s little attempts to engage his attention (cruel in a believable way), deliberately cold, and when he sees Morwenna, asks why she is there, and Elizabeth’s mother says she is going to marry. Asked who, he is told Drake. He explodes in intense disdainful scornful wrath. An irony not pointed to, not mentioned in all this is that George’s intense hatred and resentments come out of his having been the grandson of a blacksmith. Drake is a blacksmith. Graham never makes this explicit, never mentions it. We are left to see this cause of Warleggan’s insensate wrath. He has no understanding of a woman like Morwenna who could experience Whitworth as a rapist; George’s level is Morwenna’s Rowella who dominated Whitworth in bed by her greater cruelty of temperament.
Switch to Drake coming in and refused entrance (it’s brave of him to come there), and then insulted egregiously by George coming to the door who threatens him with beating and I don’t know what, but he ascertains she is said to have left for home. Home.
He rushes back and at first can’t find her, but then he thinks of the gate where he first looked for her and she is standing there, herself frightened because he is late.
There was no doubt at all in his mind because she looked exactly as she had done when she first came last Thursday. Tall mannish in long cloak, with a shuffling walk. She was at the gate 0f the smithy.
He dropped the reins and ran on and called her name. but it was too gentle and the wind snatched at it and bore it away.
‘Morwenna!’ he shouted.
She heard him this time and turned, but with the cloak over her hair it was too dark to see her face.
He said: ‘I been searching for you and searching for you everywhere.’
‘Drake,’ she said, and hesitated, and then went into his arms.
He said: ‘I just been to Trenwith. They said you’d just left. . .’
‘I was looking for you. I thought you weren’t home.’
She was trembling and out of breath, exhausted.
‘I must’ve missed you. Ye must’ve come through the wood.’
‘I came through the wood.’
‘Never fear, my love. Tis all past now. There’s no need to worry.
He carefully did not kiss her or hold her against he:will. But he noted that at this moment she was clinging him. (p. 550)
Fast forward to the next morning; he had stopped before going back to the Smithy at Odgers to ask the ceremony be tomorrow morning (before noon it had to be) and gotten the man to agree by first detailing the carpentry work he meant to do for the man’s house. That morning Morwenna remembers details of the high quarreling she did face up to against Warleggan.
This is shades of Pride and Prejudice. It was in her intense defense of Drake against the insinuated charge that Drake had murdered Whitworth (nastily insinuated by George) that she saw how strong her devotion and sense of this man Drake was. She is now keeping “A tight hold, keep a tight hold on her over-strong nerves” In doing this it became clear how this marriage was a haven to be sought” (ch 14:1, p 568). This is Darcy’s comment on his reaction to Lady Catherine turned inward, and Elizabeth’s encounter with Lady Catherine implicitly improved on if not dared or challenged by the dramatic scene itself.
The time it takes is so brief. Demelza comes over with a gown from Caroline that like Morwenna’s first doesn’t fit right (cream, crimson ribbon) but no matter. Caroline comes, Ross, Peter Hoskins (the brother of the man who was hung and Drake has been friends with), Jud and Prudie, a few others. It doesn’t take long. All kiss one another haphazardly.
The scene outside is one of a crowded graveyard, silent stones, leaning this way and that, like broken teeth, the names on them erased by the wild weather, and the occupants long since mouldered and forgotten.
The two don’t want to go anywhere afterward or have any thing else and go down the hill.
What will happen next is what will happen, meanwhile here and now they have the companionship they wanted and (romancing this) trust.
Book 3, Chapters 12-16: Death of Elizabeth
Ross kissing the dead Elizabeth: it was not only his rape that killed her
The powerful close of this book rightly focuses us on the opening 7 book’s main heroine (perhaps or after all), Elizabeth Chynoweth Poldark Warleggan, how and why she does take the herbs given her by Dr Lazarus (clearly allegorically named to some extent) to induce an early childbirth: this leads to her arteries closing up in her legs and kills her. This is what is swiring around and quickly supersedes Morwenna and Drake’s story which begins to fade from view.
Is Elizabeth a main heroine? It’s arguable she’s at least as important as Demelza even if a book is not named after her and we don’t go into her mind much: the film series sensed an archetypal paradigm underlies the book which would hold to this because they began with Elizabeth, and took passages from Warleggan where we experience as a flashback what happened between Elizabeth and Ross when he first returned in the 1780s to Cornwall from the US. Like other film adaptations, they took what is in the books presented as a back story later on and put it in the front. It’s right that we don’t go into her mind since she is a closed strongly inhibited personality, much a product of a proud upper class family. The first season began with Ross’s confrontational scenes with Elizabeth demanding she not marry Francis, the second season ended on Elizabeth’s death.
What happens in these last chapters is a repeat of the opening book — where Ross does go to see her immediately, to renew (as he thinks) the engagement and marry her; and of the rape where upon hearing she is to marry George Warleggan, he finds it irresistible to ride to her house, enter her bedroom and ferociously argue with her, and when she won’t listen, rape her in the late night/early dawn. Upon being told how sick she is after a premature childbirth, he again cannot control himself and rushes over to the house — dangerous though it now is, with Warleggan’s murderous thugs about (everyone we are told now walks around Trenwith, no one through the old common paths) — and demands and gains entrance, and demands of Warleggan himself to know how she is doing, to see her, only to be told (our first notice), “Oh, Elizabeth … Elizabeth is dead.” (p. 595). Revealing, George acknowledges (unconsciously or without knowledge to back this up) that they are responsible for her death: “‘Go on, you scum! … Go up and see her! See what we have brought her to!” (p. 595). When Ross goes up, he finds Elizabeth’s corpse’s skin is yellow and she and the whole room smells terrible; it seems she died of gangrene (pp. 596-7). He staggers at the smell and look of the body and leaves quickly.
There is a strong hint that Dwight Enys and even the incapable doctor, Behenna, have an idea of the cause of this death. This is ironic and suggests that in Graham’s imagined universe (not a simulacrum of reality) truth will out. By keeping us out of Elizabeth’s mind, Graham not only avoids telling us of what happened that night with Ross, but until _Four Swans_ that Elizabeth has long acknowledged in her mind Valentine is Ross’s child. Her ploy has been to lie and keep lying and only admit the truth in the couple of meetings she’s had with Ross since (secretly, once by Agatha’s gravestone).
This concluding last single scene replaces several across Four Swans and Angry Tide where Elizabeth confronts George and demands he act decently to her and to Valentine
What happened on the night Morwenna fled was another confrontational quarrel between Elizabeth and George (Chapter 13); she is incensed at him, and we see (as we’ve seen in her few remarks aloud before) that she is perfectly alive to what a rat, nasty, spiteful, destructive man she’s married. She tells him he ruined the dinner, he insulted her cousin outrageously, his behavior to his (she keeps it up) son was horrible and she implies she will separate herself from him; at this at long last (he too a secretive type) tells her his suspicions come from Agatha and she gets tremendously excited: of cousre Agatha would say that and he, George, deserved it for his spiteful refusal to let Agatha have a 100dreth birthday party; when he tries to excuse himself on the grounds of her real age (98) she derides (rightly) the rationale and said had he let the old woman have the party, she’d have died a couple of months later and been forgotten. Of course Agatha got back at him. He really does seem to believe Elizabeth when this explanation is offered, and ther is a momentary truce where they seem to come together — he does not want to lose her, and she makes a few demands, one of which is he must love Valentine too (with her). He has not mentioned Jud Paynter’s repeating the story to him, but this she would dismiss as silly malicious rumor and it was Agatha who had seared his brain.
But Elizabeth doesn’t trust it and although she had planned not to take the herb, she does it now. It brings on the baby immediately.
Series of ironies: Elizabeth is about to die because this man has the right to ruin her life because she had a baby by another man. She never never thinks to plea for herself it was rape. A second is that in a rare moment into her mind as she takes the herb we see her favorite son is still Geoffrey Charles (he is “dear” to her heart, deep friendly feeling for him and his nature, p 561) and the reason she wants George to like Geoffrey is she wants George to give Geoffrey money to run the estate he has inherited from Francis, and she has worked to keep Geoffrey and Valentine close so Geoffrey can be a loving presence and Valentine further help Geoffrey and vice versa. Why she does not think that her presence will be necessary for any of this to continue is beyond me. I find though it’s realistic for her never really to believe herself in danger from death.
It doesn’t really work. IN George’s mind thinking while the body lies there after Ross leaves, Valentine really looks like a young Ross, as Geoffrey Charles looks like a young Francis, and Ursula will look like a female version of George. Elizabeth’s genes are not predominant (p. 602). None of them resemble her; the idea is her patrician genes are worn out. He would give anything to have her with him again; indeed he does love her — as a symbol, as a personality congenial enough to his (shares his social desire for upscale living and networking), and our narrator says of him consciously, he “blamed fate” and never knew “he should blame himself.” (p. 603). He drove her to this
Again she says she fell; George comes in to see the baby girl, and is all love and belief now. She is always falling they laugh in mutual relief. They hold hands, and he tells her he got a knighthood from Pitt. She will be Lady Warleggan, he Sir George. This is the moment of peace and rest and kindness and (supposed) trust she was banking to live on from here on in (p. 578)
A curious feminist moment: she wants to name this one. Valentine was George’s choice for a name. She wants Ursula. And again there is a wince from George. It’s the name of her godmother, also great aunt: it brings to mind the connection with Morwenna (her grandmother), but Elizabeth doesn’t see or care: Ursula Chynoweth brought brains into the family (p. 577), which we see Rowella, Morwenna and she have, supported Mary Wollstonecraft and translated from the Greek.
George as of the close of this book now thinks Ursula was simply premature because Elizabeth “tends” this way (Chapter 15). Dwight knows better: upon being called because now Elizabeth is in ‘severe pain’ and coming into the room, he immediately smells something which he says to Behenna, reminds him of prisoner of war rooms in prison. Gangrene. What’s the harm or connection to a premature childbirth? It’s not made plain, but Dwight immediately says to Behenna he trusts Behenna will not publish this to George. It seems that the constriction of the arteries which brought on the premature birth is recognized by Dwight, and we are to surmise that he knows about this herb and that it brought on the baby. There is something fearful going on here and they had better not meddle. I feel Dwight will tell no one, and one hopes that really includes Caroline, but will Behenna keep so silent?
The scenes (Chapters 13-15) of the high quarreling, taking of herb, going into labor, birth, aftermath, horrific pain, coming of doctors, death, and then Ross versus George and George’s last thoughts in this book (including a real affection for his daughter which augurs what’s to come there), of Morwenna and Drake (which I went over in my previous posting), are prefaced, accompanied, punctuated by dramatic scenes between Ross and Demelza.
The first when he first returns where they acknowledge a continuing estrangement but also intense companionship and affection; the second after Morwenna and Drake’s marriage where they again talk, this time out near an old wall from which she sees Hendrawna Beach (pp. 562-67) and they talk about how talking sometimes makes things worse, does not help. She says what is lacking from Ross is not love it’s “understanding”.
This resonates and makes a parallel to the Warleggan story. George cannot understand but then Elizabeth never trusted him to. Perhaps rightly. And to Morwenna’s: no one understood and only after the murder of Whitworth (which like a Sherlock Holmes story seems utterly justified as if the universe had come forth to rid everyone of a blight), and her flight does Drake’s family at least acknowledge they need to understand, and then Elizabeth in her visit too.
There is a brief dialogue between them when Caroline brings the news of Elizabeth’s sudden bad illness and Ross takes to his horse. Demelza does not try to stop him beyond the safety issue. The language of Caroline and then Demelza acknowledges their sense that Valentine is his, e.g.
“‘It might be to do with her baby,’ said Demelza.
‘I wondered that,’ said Caroline, ‘I hope not, because it would be premature … though I understand Valentine was permature.’
There was another silence.
‘Yes,’ said Ross. (p. 571)
The third ends the book, all of Chapter 16. So this is another Poldark novel ending on a home scene of Ross and Demelza. It includes his sickness at what he saw of “gangrene,” his long walk on the beach, return home, their talk, he is sick for the loss of Elizabeth — give it to him he did not kill her and didn’t care whose father the child’s was and would not ever have driven her to take that herb — and Demelza’s acceptance of this (as she would like Ross to accept her love for Armitage). She is the book’s great accepter I’ll call it. She says the past is past and time moves them on.
“What is to come doesn’t exist yet, That’s tomorrow! It’s only new that can ever be, at any one moment. And at this moment, now, we are alive — and together. We can’t ask more. There isn’t any more to ask” (p. 612).
This goes well beyond “tomorrow is another day (another mid-century author’s thought — popular novelist too, Margaret Mitchell,” to in effect noticing suicide and saying that we must not despair because being alive is enough. One can’t ask any more.
But Demelza’s is not the book’s only voice. There’s Ross who does not answer, and there has been Elizabeth. I am impressed by how she dies never telling, but does say to George as he sits there by her
“‘George,’ she had whispered, ‘It’s going dark! I’m afraid of the dark.’He had held her hand more tightly as if with his firm grip he couldkeep her in the this world, held her against the drag of all the horrors that drew her to the grave” p. 602).
Another scene against suicide, against death, for life? More than that for in Elizabeth’s consciousness is the knowledge that she cannot protect her children now, all her plans for life, for gaiety — for she has risked death that she might have that lovely social life in London — have destroyed her and left her children vulnerable. She died of a rage not to live but live well (why she married Francis and then George) and be left in peace. Never granted. The implied author is in this moment too. Yes she would have been a real partner for Ross as he shares this outlook. The angry tide, kicking against things.
The film ends on a scene of the coffin with Valentine (the child actor was chosen because he resembled Ralph Bates) and George alone:
Each book has ended far more darkly than is realized and to that each of the film series, including the last (1996, Stranger from the Sea) is faithful.
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