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Ross And Demelza Poldark- A Stocking Full Of Love

Ross and Demelza face to face smouldering about to kiss

"So you are not to be rid of me, my love."

The 'stocking scene' from series two episode six of the last BBC adaption of Poldark (2015-2019) is an iconic Poldark scene. It is taken from a scene in book four (Warleggan). The adaption of this scene has generally been hailed as one of the most romantic and sexiest scenes of all five seasons. Essentially Ross Poldark returns home with a gift of white stockings for his wife (although in the book they are garters), Demelza, who in turn conveys that she is seeking his love rather than his gifts. In giving firm instructions for her to open her present he proceeds to offer her both the gift as well as his love. 

Ross Poldark putting stockings on Demelza in the stocking scene
Though Demelza was bare legged for the TV show, for the book ‘She was wearing stockings tonight, old ones, but they were black and her skin above them glistened like ivory.' However just like in the TV show 'He put the garters on with a good deal of care.’ It goes on to say that he was kneeling with his hands cool on her legs as she leaned back in the chair with eyes that glowed at him. As is seen in the TV adaption their moment of connection is marked with pent up sexual tension which manifests itself in the most tender and sensuous way (as opposed to insistent and impatient). This is captured in the adaption through smouldering looks between the two and Demelza quite literally having to catch her breath as Ross slowly dresses and caresses her leg as if it were fine china.

Get Rid of the Baby 

Unfortunately for book readers the stocking scene ends with what is the equivalent of the halting screech of interruption as baby Jeremy ruins the moment by thumping down in the corner of the room. Of course the beauty of an adaption is that there is always room for reasonable creative licence. With this the TV show does go further than the book to play out for viewers a 'what happened next' scenario. It does this first by having the whole scene in the bedroom from the start. Also there is no Jeremy in sight to so inconsiderately block any possible baby making activities that his parents might so choose to indulge in. This certainly comes in handy for Ross and Demelza as they are left in peace to then follow up their smouldering looks and quick breaths with passionate soft kisses. Just as Ross says in the book, after telling his wife "So you are not to be rid of me, my love.", they edge over to their bed to take their activities to the next base.

Desire to be remembered

Ross and Demelza Poldark Kissing in the stocking sceneBut there is more to this scene than just a brilliant love scene and a prelude to their love making. It is a defining moment in their relationship. This is in particular because throughout the story from book one (Ross Poldark), Ross had been at the centre of a love triangle with his wife and his first love Elizabeth. It is around this period of time in book four that Ross was vulnerable and at risk of slipping down the slippery slope of temptation towards Elizabeth. Demelza as the ever perceptive woman could sense that and this is most likely why Graham narrated of this scene "It was months, almost years, since there had been this sort of thing between them, that odd fusion of desire and affection for which there is no substitute." As well as this, comforted by Ross's show of wanting for her Graham also shares Demelza's inner voice 'Remember this, she thought. In the times of jealousy and neglect, remember this.' 

A Sentiment of Passion Not Lost 

In giving us this additional 'what happened next' scene the TV show's creative licence was nevertheless faithful to the sentiment of the book stocking or rather 'garter' scene. Jeremy is around eighteen months old at this point and whilst Ross and Demelza were unlikely to have practiced celibacy since before then, it is likely that the romance and the passion of their love making had been lost or had fizzled down somewhat. That is perhaps not surprising having faced back to back trials and tribulations in their lives from the end of book two (Demelza) when Julia died. So this sentiment was not only a reaffirmation of their love for each other but also of their passion for each other through that fusion of desire and their affection. It confirmed that they still very much wanted each other passionately. 

Jeremy- A time of Great Stress 

It may seem odd that Jeremy Poldark has the third book named after him when he is unborn for most of it and also when he was not a key character even after his birth in that book. However as referred to in book eleven (Twisted Sword), Jeremy was their second child 'born in a time of great stress' and indeed this book title seems to represent this time of stress rather than the child himself. So as it seems book three (Jeremy Poldark) marks a stark period of change for Ross and Demelza in their marriage. Consequently it sees them both not feeling as loved by the other or indeed not demonstrating this for the other as much as they had done previously. Before then, from the end of book one, around six weeks after their marriage, Ross was a man so clearly in love with his wife who had already fallen for him years before.
Ross Poldark giving Demelza a gift of stockings in the stocking scene
Across that time period readers in particular were spoilt for scenes of them demonstrating their newlywed love for each other. On his way back from their first Christmas at Trenwith where he introduced Demelza as his new wife, Ross thought himself to be happy and eventually as explored in the 5th blog of their love story series The Greatest Love Above Any Other Ross felt this was ' some new way the greatest of all.' Such was the case that with Demelza walking and skipping at his side he wanted to grasp that moment and stop life for a while in order to truly savour that blissful moment with her for longer. In book two (Demelza), the narrator shares Ross's thoughts as he puts his face against Demelza's. Here he thought how struck he was by Demelza exercising her free choice to be with and to love him and he thought that she '...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.'

Resisting the Cat Eyes of Elizabeth 

Not only did Ross and Demelza think their private thoughts of love for each other before book three (Jeremy Poldark), but they demonstrated this in many scenes of loving and teasing banter and displays of affection. Demelza had no compelling cause to doubt Ross after their first stay at Trenwith ending with Ross making love to her. So when thinking of the threat that Elizabeth may have presented Demelza found that 'After a whole seven hours in Elizabeth's company he still wanted me at the end.' We were told that 'Demelza thought: I am nearer sure of him that I have ever been before.'
Ross and Elizabeth Poldark dancing seductively at a party
So it is clear that before book three (Jeremy Poldark) Demelza had reason to feel more secure in the love triangle and more certain of Ross's stronger love for her over his feelings for Elizabeth. Despite her observation that during a talk with Ross she had seen Elizabeth '....making eyes at him like a she-cat.', she noted that Ross had still come and shown love and attention to her afterwards to her. This encouraged such reassurance that Demelza ended up feeling that that 'Ruth Treneglos is worse than Elizabeth.' Instead as she basked in Ross's love for her she mused that perhaps she actually felt sorry for Elizabeth as she observed Francis looked 'so bored'.

A Growing Distance

Ross and Demelza Poldark love triangle with Elizabeth
Though Ross and Demelza initially had enjoyed much happiness together and Demelza felt secure in Ross's love of her, that certainty of feeling changed following the tragedy of their first child Julia's death. In book three (Jeremy Poldark) Ross and Demelza go on to bear the stress of Ross's court trial, his moodiness after his acquittal, his expressed wish not to have more children in the near future and their growing distance in emotion and communication as Demelza could not bring herself to share with him that she was in fact already pregnant. 

In addition to their challenging life circumstances both Ross and Demelza began to have suspicions about each other's love and commitment to the other. To add to their tetchiness, as explored in the 'Elizabeth: A Touch of Red Dress Seduction'  blog in the background Elizabeth was following through with her plans to 'regain her ascendancy' in Ross's mind. She had initiated this when she attended Julia's christening in a show stopping and flamboyant crimson velvet dress that made her look 'mesmeric'. Of course at that point in book two (Demelza) any attempt by her to turn Ross's mind back to her and away from his wife proved unsuccessful. He was not so susceptible then as he had later come to be in this great period of stress and detachment from his wife. If Ross had always been led astray by an 'ideal' of Elizabeth rather than the real Elizabeth, then this was the time when such an ideal presented such a picture of hope and escapism from his dire situation. The seemingly perfect woman in a red velvet mesmeric dress would now be more appealing than a wife of four years who was just as much in despair as he was and for reasons rooted in misunderstanding could not offer him much comfort and escapism from his worries. 

Invisible Strings to Elizabeth 

In comparison to their first Christmas visit at Trenwith where after seven hours in Elizabeth's company Ross went upstairs, had some playful banter with his wife and made love to her, on the second Christmas visit in book three he was now 'troubled' by Elizabeth's looks in her mesmeric red crimson dress originally worn to Julia's Christening to attract his attention and interest. This time he engaged in some flirting with Elizabeth in the kitchen after dinner and instead of going upstairs to make love with a now suspicious Demelza who thought he might 'go off with Elizabeth.', he did not. Instead he lay in their bed thinking thoughts comparing the two woman before he kissed Demelza's forehead and bid her "Good night, my love." 

Elizabeth flirting with Ross Poldark at a party table
By book four (Warleggan) and up to this stocking scene Demelza then had reason to lose confidence in Ross's love or rather as we readers saw, in his ability to withstand Elizabeth's efforts to direct that love and attention away to her. Although Demelza had not been aware of the content of Elizabeth's conversation with Ross she was picking up uncomfortable signals from their interactions. Later in Warleggan, where Elizabeth implied to Ross that her marriage to Francis had been a mistake, that she had also been mistaken in believing she had loved Francis better than him and that she wanted Ross to "meet her halfway" with that confession, Demelza did detect that '...something quite fresh had cropped up in Ross's life. She felt that Elizabeth must be at the bottom of it...' She had thought some ' thing had suddenly grown out of the old allegiance.' Naturally this was compounded by Francis's death a little while later and at this time of the stocking/garter scene, despite trusting in her husband in respect of his weekly visits to his ex girlfriend, this did stirred some unease and discomfort in her. 

Stockings That Bring Relief 

Ross and Demelza Poldark kiss and cuddle in the stocking sceneIn the book Demelza actually burst into tears when Ross tells her why he brought her garters. She says "It is the relief... And then buying all these things." Not long beforehand until a turn of fate with Caroline's anonymous loan they had been in dire financial straits. One could have easily been mistaken for thinking that Demelza was referring to a relief that their finances had shown signs of improvement and this had enabled Ross to engage in a spending spree. However her reference to the things he purchased was made only as an additional point. Instead it is likely that his explanation for his purchases being that he had noticed she had been wearing no stockings often that winter, had surely made it a gesture she was particularly touched by. It confirmed that she still had his attention and concern for him to even notice her stocking-less predicament. She was relieved in the confirmation of this. There is no doubt that his proceeding to show he still desired her in the way he did when he put the garters on her, was something of a further relief and why she marked this in her thoughts as something so significant that it should be 'remembered in times of jealousy and neglect'. Indeed this stocking scene was very much needed for Demelza to be reassured again that not only did she still have her husband's concern and love but also he still had a passionate desire for her. 

Ross's Reassurance 

Equally Ross was as much in need of reassurance as Demelza was. She had not told him about all her activities in Bodmin. He suspected her of meeting someone else there because she had been evasive. Whilst at Trenwith for a second Christmas there she spoke of meeting Caroline Penvenen there and that Dwight had met Caroline there for the first time. But dodging his enquiries again about what she had been doing there Ross thought 'So she was hiding something. Queer if she too had met someone. But who? In that seething jumble almost anyone in Cornwall. One of the Trevaunances?....He stirred restlessly.' Not knowing that she was withholding her pregnancy from him he thought that it was she who had made the first move in bringing about a 'cooling' between them. Indeed in book three he had noticed that 'Also some chill had come upon his relations with Demelza. Her thoughts were not as open to him. Dating strangely from his acquittal, the laughter had gone, and the instant understanding.' Further to this we are told that 'He tried more than once to break down this new reserve but failed,...' Together with this he was recovering from his trial and having just escaped a hanging by the noose he was now racked with worry for impending bankruptcy and how this would impact on Demelza and their future. Then there was his ongoing grief for Julia's death which Graham tells us due to Demelza's pliancy of character had hit him the hardest. Ross is deserving of the reader's sympathy as he was a man in some despair and worse still a man who was so unusually detached from his wife and therefore had little solace from his strife. 

Three Little Words For Ross- "I love you." 

It is now easy to appreciate that both Ross and Demelza were going through a period of private doubts and questioning of each other. Though the reader should be under no confusion about Demelza's love for Ross at any time since she more than demonstrated this, Graham does not have her declare her love explicitly many times throughout the twelve book saga. It is therefore no coincidence that Graham has her do just that in this scene. Just when Ross needed to hear this the most. For the same reason it is extremely puzzling why this was left out of the TV adaption. Demelza says those three special words after she had burst into tears upon hearing Ross's explanation for his stocking purchase for her. She says "I'm sorry. It was the relief. You see- I love you so much..." We are invited to see how much this meant to Ross in the first edition of book four (Warleggan) where in describing Ross's reaction we are told 'Ross stared down at them both, moved himself and happy by the last words she had said.' (*) It is no wonder that these encouraging and reaffirming words of love seemed to induce Ross's next words regarding the stockings where he said "I must put them on." In doing so he confirmed that his wanting of Demelza had not at all disappeared and the very act of putting them on set the tone for their steamy and passionate activities that followed. 

Ross and Demelza Poldark kissing in the stocking sceneOf course we know that about six month after this scene Elizabeth's betrayal of Ross (mainly through her dishonesty as to the extent and nature of her contact with George and later), and the shock of her engagement from two months prior, to his greatest enemy, prompted Ross to then betray Demelza. In doing so Demelza's fears about his renewed allegiances to Elizabeth were realised. However it is not all so sad. That does not take away from the beauty of this scene. Ironically whilst this stocking scene merely confirms Ross's enduring love and desire for his wife, his betrayal of her with Elizabeth, whilst a betrayal nonetheless is the very act that helps him to realise that his true and real love was all for Demelza. 

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