I have resisted joining in the furore over the Poldark rape scene. Did he force himself on her? Did she let him? and I can resist no more.
Let’s begin with the basics: it is set in the 18th century and the TV series in made in the 21st century. We need to remember that at all times. Elizabeth is a woman of no means and a lady; she cannot go out and get a job to solve her problems. If we decide to attach our present day morals and sensibilities to what happens in Poldark then we should also update everything else that goes along with it.
Elizabeth – The Young Widow
Thus, Elizabeth is a single parent and carer for elderly Aunt Agatha and now her bedridden mother, Mrs Chynoweth (not deemed important enough for a Christian name to be revealed). Depending on where she lives in the UK – in this instance Cornwall – she would be entitled to care and financial support. She could take herself down to the local DWP office and sign on. She would definitely get carer’s allowance. Her mother may be entitled to carers, perhaps two or more daily visits relative to her dependency. Her medication would be free as would her aunt’s if she needed any. She could send Aunt Agatha to a day centre on a mini bus and her son to nursery/pre-school – at least 30 hours per week for child care. Ergo, she would not have to marry George Warleggan – a banker. Could it be any worse in this day and age? a profession reviled more than estate agents. Of course, she could always set up as an upmarket B&B to set the ball rolling but would she get a loan? Banks are not lending to just anybody – not that they ever were – and she is up to her eyeballs in debt (see above: George Warleggan).
Ross – the Flawed Hero
And Ross, dark, brooding, handsome Ross, who takes risks with his workforce – the health and safety department would have a field day. What? No timbers? Phones would be ringing off the hook at www.suetheballsoffyou.com. He breaks the law by smuggling, it may be contraband – insert cigarettes, human trafficking etc. for modern purposes but it’s smuggling all the same – where do you draw the line?
Instead of taking care of his wife and child he sells his shares and looks after his ex-girlfriend. Not just any ex-girlfriend but the ex-girlfriend his own wife nursed back to health which caused her to lose her own child to the fever. Oh, the sight of that empty bed fair tore at my heart.
See Jeremy Kyle for other representations of similar case studies.
He then rides to said ex-girlfriends house late at night, no doubt taking the scenic route by way of the coastal path as he usually does (the Tourist Board must be over the moon) – and kicks her door in. Now, here we have a problem. Elizabeth should have fitted five lever mortice locks and dead bolts or she might find that her insurance is invalid – if she has insurance. Due to Ross’s foul temper her fuel bills will go sky high because he damaged the aforementioned door and left the house open to the elements. There might be water damage – was it a dark and stormy night? She would need to call 24-hour response to board up the door. And this is not the end of her troubles. And it all costs money. Money that she doesn’t have.
He rapes her or he will possibly say that she said no when she really meant yes.
Did she encourage him by saying in an earlier episode that she loved two men? Was her skirt too short? Did she look like she was up for it?
See further episodes of Jeremy Kyle.
Elizabeth would consequently get a call from Victim Support and he would have to go on an Anger Management course.
Now, imagine Ross as a squat little bloke with glasses and a bald head (not that I’ve got anything against bald men, my father was bald, and not that I’ve got anything against squat, bespectacled men either) but, you get my point. We are dazzled by his darkly handsome exterior, we forgive him his bad business mistakes (of which there are many) because of the way he looks and dresses: those marvellous boots, those lovely, long-sleeved billowing shirts – and that glorious mane of hair. Had Donald Trump looked so achingly handsome and be in possession of a chocolate melting voice would we be so enthralled? Let me leave you to think about that one.
If only he had the business acumen of George Warleggan.
Demelza – The Feisty Heroine
And then there’s poor bloody Demelza, sticking by him and wondering whether he loves her or not. She is wise, feisty and moral; she has a big heart. The only person in the story with half a brain except where Ross is concerned. While he has been reckless she has been prudent, filling the pantry with preserves in case they fall on hard times, selling her jewellery, and delivering babies with nothing more than hot water and a bottle of brandy wine. Leave him, love, you deserve better than that.
And this is the reason I don’t fall for darkly handsome heroes. It’s not worth the headache as Demelza will soon find out. She might as well apply for a small business grant and set up an organic farm shop. At least she could sleep at night.
Heroes, who needs them?