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Elizabeth And The Analogy Of The Key (To Unlock Ross's Love And Desire)

Ross Poldark and Elizabeth dancing

This post is a follow up to the previous one titled 'That Mysterious Unlocking Key-Demelza' which is inspired and framed around a particular passage in the second book 'Demelza'. This is where Graham wrote Ross's thoughts of gratitude for having Demelza as his wife. He was thinking of how she had a ‘mysterious way’ about her that like a key unlocked his attention and desire and love. That post looked at where the mystery arose from and how it was a unique blend of personality traits which made Demelza 'that key' for Ross. It also considered how Winston Graham set Demelza apart from other women as being able to fully command Ross's heart in this way. For instance, it addressed that, though Ross was quite taken by women such as Caroline Enys and Harriet Warleggan, they still did not have the elements to be ‘that key’ for him. While that previous post also hinted at Elizabeth’s potential to be an 'unlocking key' for Ross, it was promised that this should be explored more thoroughly. Therefore, this is the purpose of this post. However, this will say that despite Ross's self confessed ten year devotion for her, Elizabeth also did not have this ability of Demelza’s to be an 'unlocking key' for Ross in the long term and as the woman she had become.

Another Unlocking Key: Elizabeth?

'He was struck by the mystery of her personality ...that this hair and head and person of the young woman below it....meant more to him than any other because it made up in some mysterious way just that key which unlocked his attention and desire and love."
Narration of Ross's thoughts on Demelza 'Demelza' (internal book 1 chapter 10)

This is ‘the key passage’ that this post and the last one is based around. It is from chapter 10 of the first internal book of 'Demelza'. This invokes the imagery of a key that unlocks something special, as it confirmed that Demelza did this for Ross. However, since many keys are not designed to open one lock, the imagery of a key is also synonymous with being ‘The One’. The emphasis being on the word 'one' in 'one key'. So that is 'one key' out of many that is unique, as the key serves as 'the only key' that can open a particular padlock, front door, treasure chest or in this case Ross’s full heart and soul. That 'one' key is designed to be perfectly in tune and fitted to that one lock. Ross’s lock. 

That Mysterious Unlocking Key-Demelza

Ross and Demelza with their forehead together in contemplative loving thought

Despite Ross's self confessed devotion to Elizabeth of several years, Winston Graham included narrative into the early story of Ross and Demelza's marriage which contradicted that he had a stronger attachment and yearning for Elizabeth of substance, than he had for Demelza. This post will look at one of these nuggets which gave the game away well before the final showdown as to which of the women would truly command his heart and why. This is the analogy that Graham set down for Demelza as being 'that key' that unlocked Ross's attention, desire and love.

Demelza: The Mysterious Unlocking Key 

'He was struck by the mystery of her personality ...that this hair and head and person of the young woman below it....meant more to him than any other because it made up in some mysterious way just that key which unlocked his attention and desire and love."
Narration of Ross's thoughts on Demelza 'Demelza' (internal book 1 chapter 10)

Graham wrote many scenes in the book as if to enhance and reinforce the notion of Demelza as Ross's greatest most meaningful love above any other. Of course this was over a period of time but it was actually not that long after they were married. This was at the beginning, during the course of the marriage and at the end of the saga where he reminded her that for him she was comparable to no other woman. However, much earlier, Graham includes a scene at the start of the second book ‘Demelza’ that followed an exchange of flirty banter between Ross and Demelza on their way back into their house. Inside Ross bent his head against Demelza’s hair and had private thoughts of gratitude that this ‘vibrantly alive woman’ whose personality he was struck by, was all his. It was here that Graham then wrote that Demelza ‘...meant more to him than any other because it (she) made up in some mysterious way just that key which unlocked his attention and desire and love.’ 

Foretellings: Demelza - The Surprising Underdog Frontrunner Over Elizabeth

Demelza Poldark stuns at Trenwith before a crowd of Elizabeth's friends at Christmas

Ross Poldark confront Demelza at Nampara and telling her that he loves her and not Elizabeth
Following 'A Discovery Of Preference' 'Reassurances of First Choice' and third in the series so far ‘Poldark True Story Vs Adaption Fiction’ this is the fourth post in the series exploring whether Ross settled for Demelza while his heart, or half of it, may have been with Elizabeth after 'That May Incident'This post will look at how there were early indications in Graham's narrative from soon after Ross married Demelza, that so far as who would dominate Ross's heart and be first choice above the other, that it was Demelza who was the front runner over Elizabeth. However the particular point is that this was from the start of their head to heads, soon after Ross married Demelza. This post will reference the many different ways this was indicated and therefore how these indications served as a foretelling for the inevitable head to head where Ross would finally have to make a choice between the two women and decide who he really loved and wanted. 

Crumbs of Foretelling 

Ross Poldark sheepishly leaving Elizabeth in bed after sleeping with her to a scene of Ross returning home and embracing Demelza
Of course with Ross being rejected by the beautiful and much coveted Elizabeth at the start of the story, and with him in turn deciding before he loved her (Demelza), that he would marry his kitchen maid who was a miner's daughter, the natural presumption for most readers would be that Demelza was a more inferior second rate choice. However, in actual fact, readers had the opportunity to get a hint of Demelza as a frontrunner well before Ross’s realisation after his night with Elizabeth. Indeed, Graham’s writing should have prepared the reader quite far ahead of time before this relationship crisis. How so? Well, this was through Graham laying crumbs that Demelza had taken Ross’s heart in a way that subconsciously for Ross she was ahead of Elizabeth. As stated, and as of significance, this was at a very early stage before Ross’s infidelity with Elizabeth that May night. It is just that this was not, and would not be clear for Ross as a conscious belief until after his experience with Elizabeth jolted him to this. More importantly these crumbs pointed to Ross’s inner feelings, meaning that as evidenced throughout the story, being a man that went with his feelings rather than expectation and common sense, his eventual choice of Demelza would indeed be based on his feeling rather than convenience and practicalities.

Poldark True Story Vs Adaption Fiction (Pt3 -Did Ross Settle For Second Best Choosing Demelza Over Elizabeth?)

Blended image of Poldark Adaption fiction with Ross Poldark standing in Trenwith with Elizabeth and Valentine Warleggan and a blend of a stern faced Demelza Poldark looking in their direction.

There is no requirement that an adaption of a book to a movie or to a series must be 100% faithful to that book. In the case of the true story of Poldark written by Winston Graham, it is indeed noticeable that 
a different slant was given to the love story of Ross and Demelza and to Elizabeth's position within that in the most recent television adaption of Poldark (which commenced in 2015 and stopped in 2019). This was even after the climax where Ross quite unromantically took Elizabeth to bed by force. But as this series of posts considers whether Ross Poldark 'settled' for Demelza, it should be noted that in contrast to the adaption fiction, Winston Graham was clear in clarifying a narrative that can be distinguished from the narrative that was taken up in the latest adaption. This is his statement in his capacity as the story’s author that it was this experience, 'That May Incident' with Elizabeth that caused Ross to 'discover' that it was Demelza that he 'really' loved. (See image below: Article  Winston Graham Goes A Second Round, 'Opelousas- Daily World' newspaper dated 25th June 1978)  The differing stance of the adaption, how this was done and the impact this has on the perception of whether Ross settled for less with Demelza, is the focus of this particular post.

A Subliminal Narrative Revision

Elizabeth gives Ross Poldark as cold stare as she turns and walks into Trenwith with George Warleggan
Adaption fiction not based on the true Poldark Story
The post to follow this one will focus on Ross subconsciously feeling that Demelza was the woman he wanted and loved more than any other woman. Hence more than Elizabeth! This is because 
there are bits of the story which serve as a foretelling that Ross would always choose Demelza over Elizabeth. This is because he loved her more authentically. However the discussion here is on how the Poldark series adaption did not necessarily support those foretellings in the books, but instead may have purposefully or inadvertently steered some viewers to think that, save for the unfinished business of Valentine, that there was also unfinished business in Ross's mind of an ongoing and romantic longing for Elizabeth after 'That May Incident'. This then can feed the idea for those viewers that contrary to Winston Graham’s statement there was indeed a loss to Ross in all this and that in his mind Demelza was and still remained his second best love even after this incident. 

The Good Husband In The Beginning Pt4 (The Real Francis Poldark)

Francis Poldark Good Husband in the beginning blog banner

To know the real Francis requires an understanding of both the good and bad aspects of his character and therefore this includes recognising the side of him that was a good husband as well as the times where he seemed to fail as a husband. Indeed Francis may often be wrongly given the sole blame for his and Elizabeth's unhappy years of marriage. The second post in 'The Real Francis Poldark' series called 'A bad and Unfaithful Husband' did document Francis's bad husbandry of Elizabeth during the middle period of this marriage where he wallowed in disappointment of it. Because of this disappointment he leant more excessively into his vices and into unfaithfulness too. No doubt for a period this established a kind of catch 22 scenario of ensuring a stalemate and no positive progress in the marriage for a while. However the blame is not necessarily one sided and therefore not solely resting on Francis's shoulders. In fact it is arguable that outside of the period of disillusionment Francis was probably more invested and put in more effort than Elizabeth did for the chance of an amicable married life. 

In the original story of the books not only is there narrative of Francis as set out in t
he last post in this series, whereby he was 'The Loving And Besotted Fiancé', but as was even recognised by Elizabeth there is also narrative of Francis as a good and loving husband in the first year of his marriage and a good and amiable one in the last couple years of it too. 

This post looks at the initial period at the start of Francis and Elizabeth's marriage. And so this is before that dark middle period where it deteriorated. Whilst it was in this first year where Francis showed promise as a 'good husband' and that because of this he was appealing to Elizabeth, a follow up post called 'The Good Husband In The End' will explore how after the deterioration and the unhappy times that came with that middle period of their marriage, Francis did remerge once again in the final years of the marriage to fulfil his initial promise. 

The Loving And Besotted Fiancé Pt3 (The Real Francis Poldark)

The second post (being the last one in this series) that addressed 'The Real Francis Poldark' explored Francis's position in the story as a bad and unfaithful husband but essentially how this was for a time and was rooted in his disappointment of expectation in his marriage with Elizabeth. In a sense it was this disappointment that fed most of Francis's vices which surfaced in the middle of his story arc. However, it would be wrong to completely write off Francis as a bad romantic partner and husband for Elizabeth throughout his courtship and marriage with her. W
hilst the saga narrative of Francis seems to lull the reader to give him this general unfavourable label, as shown in that last post, below the surface there is more to this and there were certainly periods where he had the makings of a good husband for Elizabeth and did actually demonstrate this. Since the previous posts have focused on his failings, this post focuses on the positive indications of Francis before his marriage and as a fiancé. The next will focus on the same, but during the marriage. Therefore this would be in the early period of  the marriage and some years before his death brought the marriage to an end. 

It Started With Infatuation And Love 

There is no doubt that to begin with Winston Graham wrote Francis as a character that was initially in love with Elizabeth both before and after 
he was engaged to her. Readers can assume that despite the more functional attitude toward marriage of that day, that it is more than likely that Francis entered into marriage with Elizabeth in good faith and with the intent to be a 'good husband'. That intention therefore included to be faithful and devoted to her, and naturally he wished to have a happy married life where she would equally be loving and faithful to him too. That would include being faithful and loving to him in spirit as well as in deed. Readers eventually find that in respect of Elizabeth she failed to do this in spirit just as much as he had failed as a consequence to do this in deed. However before Elizabeth became 'the loved but the unloving, the Galatea who never woke..' (as Dwight had deduced from a suicidal Francis in the third book

A Bad And Unfaithful Husband? (Pt 2 The Real Francis Poldark).

Although the storyline of Francis cheating is not fully fleshed out by Graham in the books, it is however a story line which many define and judge his character by. Francis's infidelity can overshadow his whole story arc in the saga or at least the perception of him as a husband. Therefore he is often labelled a 'bad husband' as well as an 'unfaithful' one. This is irrespective of anything else, the changes he later made, how his story ended and whether Elizabeth herself was a good and faithful wife to him. The question here is whether that is entirely fair and whether the many factors to be considered when labelling Francis as a 'bad husband' make this a black and white matter.

Francis's infidelity was with the harlot 
that Ross had also slept with one night early on in the first book. This was Margaret, also known as Margaret Cartland and then Margaret Vosper. Whilst most readers will automatically (and rightly so) write this behaviour of Francis off as 'unforgivable', often the judgement on him lies simply in the fact that he did cheat but without also exploring much of the reason why he did this and what this says about 'the real Francis Poldark'. So in exploring this concept of the real Francis over a series of posts, that idea and Francis's general persona as a 'bad husband' is the focus for this post. The next post on this series 'Francis: A Good Husband' will explore the other side and perhaps highlight the choice to define him as a 'bad husband' might be rooted in the hanging on to the middle part of his story, rather than the end of it which could be thought of as redeeming.

Absence Of A Devastated Heart- Elizabeth Compared (Pt2 A Lacking Instinct Of Love For Ross Poldark)

The previous and part one of this post titled 'The Distant And Cheating Heart Of Elizabeth' covers Elizabeth's loving instinct when she was separated from Ross before the written story began. They were each other's first love and they had promised to marry when he returned to her from war. What was apparent was that during this separation from Ross, Elizabeth's loving instinct was lacking. Rather than absence making her heart grow fonder and her faithfully waiting for Ross, the opposite happened. Instead, she didn't wait for Ross and she formed a new attachment with his cousin, Francis Poldark. As narrated by Graham in the first edition of the first book, as well as Ross realising through her letters to him that Elizabeth had felt a 'slackening' interest in him while he was away, just as she later told him several times, their love to her was just a 'childish' thing and their romance had just been a 'boy and girl attachment'. This in a sense explains the lack of a loving impulse by her towards Ross at that point in the story, and most likely towards him thereafter. 

Theme of The Separated Lovers

What is also apparent is that the separated lover's theme was one that Graham replicated not just in Elizabeth and Ross's story but several times in his saga in the love stories of other characters. These were characters whose love for their suitor was written so that this love would never be in question to the reader. It so happened that in those stories there were elements of devastation that both of the lovers suffered as a result of their separation from each other. Another manifestation of the loving instinct for these couples was that during the separations they pined for each other, were concerned for the other and often even deteriorated in looks, health and mental well being until they were reunited with each other. It is clear to conclude that in this separated lover's theme and storyline Graham singled Elizabeth out as not suffering from a distraught and devastated heart in Ross's absence, and on his return. This supports the suspicion that equally, unlike the others where they loved and were moved by a feeling of love, Elizabeth did not truly love Ross in that way and therefore was not moved by this level of feeling either.

Elizabeth's Loving Instinct Compared. - A Different Mindset

Comparison can be a great teacher of a 'likely truth' as it is often the case that a significance can be found in commonality or differentiation. Therefore in this post, concepts and themes in Elizabeth's actions and thoughts on Ross (as set out in the previous post), will be set against those in the love stories of characters such as Verity, Caroline, Morwenna, Drake, Clowance and Jeremy. This is because they all had similar dilemmas to Elizabeth in their love stories but she acted differently to them. It's a fair consideration that she went against the grain because her feeling and the impulse this would stimulate was not the same as with the other characters and did not even compare really. 

Although comparisons with other characters might not be a perfect and definitive indication of a fact or this 'likely truth',  as referred above, it can certainly be a revealing and worthy consideration if the outcome consistently goes so far against the norm for how the loving instinct would normally manifest itself. The fact that in respect of Ross, Elizabeth consistently failed to act as if she followed the natural impulse of love or had thoughts akin to this, strongly suggests that this is because she had a completely different mindset and feeling from the other male and female characters that did truly love. 

The Distant And Cheating Heart Of Elizabeth Pt1 (A Lacking Instinct Of Love For Ross Poldark)

The love story of Ross Poldark and Elizabeth is a story untold and one that never really was or became. That is for three reasons. Firstly, this is the case if it is to be concluded that on Elizabeth's side she never really held a true viable love for him from the start. Secondly, in the end Ross realised that what he had thought was true and real love of Elizabeth was idealisation, and thirdly it was ultimately a frustrated love story frustrated by Elizabeth herself. This was by her free choice at the start of the story not to 'keep the faith' with Ross and to marry someone else. 

Considering that it was Elizabeth who ended her romance with Ross before it could properly start and become anything, this post is the first in a series of posts which looks at the 'instinct of love' in Elizabeth and as compared to that in other characters. This is in particular to her romantic dilemmas with Ross and how this contradicted the idea that she ever held this all essential real and true love for him. Therefore, specifically based on that old adage of 'actions speak louder than words' the series will look at Elizabeth's actions, thoughts, feelings and therefore her instinct to love (or not) in certain scenarios, when compared against many of the other characters who faced similar romantic dilemmas in their respective love stories. 

That Loving Instinct

At Trenwith Elizabeth walks in to see Ross Poldark at her engagement dinner with Francis
The theory behind this post is that, 
when a person truly loves someone, it is very hard for them to hide this for very long. This is particularly in certain situations where there is some kind of call to action (or if not action then a call to feeling). In those moments of crisis, or where a significant decision is to be made, then Graham's writing on how his characters answered that call, (either by their actions, feelings or their thoughts), speaks to that love or contradicts it’s existence. Aside from Elizabeth it does appear that Graham established a pattern with other characters who truly loved whereby they acted or thought in a way which accorded with a natural urge, pull and instinct of loving that person. However, as a key character and against the rest, Graham seemed to single Elizabeth out as acting differently from them. It's likely that Graham writing Elizabeth's character as out of sync with the norm when it came to the loving instinct, is not coincidental. Instead it is likely that this was part of his key message in his story of love among all the characters and for her and in respect of their individual stories. Thus meaning that her reactions were different because her feelings were too!

Reassurances of First Choice Pt2 (Did Ross Poldark Settle For Second Best Choosing Demelza Over Elizabeth?)

Ross and Demelza Poldark in an emotional embrace with their foreheads against each other.

This is the part two to the topic question of 'Did Ross settle for second best choosing Demelza over Elizabeth?' The part one post addressing this is titled 'A Discovery of Preference'. To briefly recap, the premise of that post was inspired from Winston Graham's 1978 interview for an American newspaper whereby talking of his Poldark books he explained that "It's the story of a man who is deprived of the woman he loves, then discovers once he has her, that he is really in love with his wife." Therefore that post followed Ross's journey of 'discovery' as to his feelings after his night with Elizabeth on 9th May. It was that journey in understanding his feelings that led him to realise that his preference and his genuine wish was to be with Demelza on the basis that she was his 'true and real love' and Elizabeth was not. 

This post now focuses on how Ross reinforced to Demelza (and the reader) that choosing her was his sincere choice. When it comes to the question of whether Ross settled for Demelza then naturally Ross's grand speech to Demelza that Christmas Eve 1793 has to be the main point of reference. This is because this was a declaration which essentially was an outpouring not only of his feelings for her as his preferred choice but his solid case and reassurances as to the truth of this.  The follow up post 'Foretelling and Reaffirmations of A Love More Real' will look at how Ross's discovery from 'that May Incident' was foretold even before that event and was reaffirmed afterwards.  

Release Of A Long Running Truth

Ross did seem to drag his feet when it came to reconciling with Demelza after 'that May incident' with Elizabeth. In taking seven whole months a natural assumption might be that he did not move with the speed of a man who wanted and craved for a reconciliation with Demelza desperately. However in the part one of this post topic we saw that Ross used that time to process his feelings and his confusion primarily over what Elizabeth meant to him against what Demelza did. The reconciliation was a long time coming when it came and the reason for this will be under a microscope in an upcoming post called 'What took Ross So Long Choosing Demelza Over Elizabeth?' However for now the length of time taken should not mislead the reader as to Ross's certainty of mind. In fact the reverse is true. 

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