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Her own mind or her parent's mind? (Elizabeth: A Love for Ross Poldark -Pt3)

"What I have done I have done willingly and of my own mind."
                                                                         Elizabeth Poldark

Ross Poldark Joan Chynoweth and Elizabeth warleggan

So far in the journey looking at Elizabeth's love for Ross Poldark it has been established that she did not
keep the faith with him and that this was not because she believed he was dead before she chose to marry Francis. As to whether we should still believe that she truly loved him, parental pressure is a potential theory that may support this and explain why Elizabeth Chynoweth chose Francis Poldark instead of Ross. Was Elizabeth acting with her own mind or following the wishes of her parents? That is what is to be explored.

Did Elizabeth only marry Francis instead of Ross Poldark because of family pressure?

The theory which parental pressure is based around for Elizabeth is that her parents did not or would not have allowed her to marry Ross Poldark. If this is the case one might conclude that although she went with Francis she really did love Ross but was simply unable to follow her heart. This idea is certainly perpetuated by the latest TV adaption rather than the books. However whilst it is clear that her mother Mrs Chynoweth did not hold Ross in high esteem and would probably openly admit that she did not like him, there is actually nothing very conclusive and significant in the books to document that Elizabeth was firstly under intense parental pressure to marry Francis and reject Ross and secondly, whether it was intense or mild pressure, that she objected to their wishes and did not herself still want to marry Francis either way. It is therefore necessary to explore these points in order to understand if parental pressure was a real issue in this story. If so then again this could be the explanation for Elizabeth's decision rather than a lack of love for Ross.

What evidence is there of any significant pressure to marry Francis?  Mrs Chynoweth was not featured much in the entire Poldark saga but she was there at Francis and Elizabeth's engagement dinner. She is the person who gladly announced the engagement to an unsuspecting Ross. Much can be made of the fact that in both the latest TV adaption and the books she sent Elizabeth out of the room at the dinner in order for Elizabeth to fetch her shawl for her and then used this opportunity to tell Ross of the engagement news before Elizabeth returned back to the dinner room. The first thought might be that this was a sinister act and the first evidence of parental pressure. On the other hand it may well have been an act of parental kindness and protectiveness to spare her daughter the awkwardness of publicly facing her ex and his potentially angry and upset reaction in that environment and thus spoiling the dinner. It could not have been known whether following the shock of having been led to believe over two years at war that he would be returning for Elizabeth's hand and then to find out in this manner that this was not the case, that he might then have made a horrible scene. On reflection it was probably quite a sensible intervention by Mrs Chynoweth and the discomfort and hesitation of all the other parties there too, (including Verity), and their reluctance to deliver the bad news to him, supports this and gives Mrs Chynoweth some justification for her intervention.

Earlier wedding day
After Ross's return to Cornwall Elizabeth's wedding day was brought forward to take place in two weeks time rather than a month (as originally planned). Again it could be presumed that this was at the behest of Elizabeth's parents and designed to apply pressure and secure the marriage before Elizabeth changed her mind. The problem with this theory is that it is another presumption and it is not actually made clear from any text in the books as to whose decision it was to move the wedding date.

Veriiy Poldark visits Ross Poldark on horseback at the cliffs for season 1When Verity informed Ross of the earlier wedding date she simply told him that "They decided last night." This was without clarifying who specifically decided this and without indicating that it was in anyway a controversial or disputed decision. In fact before Ross's arrival at the dinner Mrs Chynoweth had been complaining that a month was not enough to plan the wedding but it was Uncle Charles who had expressed a wish for the wedding to be earlier. At that point he may have suspected that Ross was due to return soon. Ross's father, Joshua Poldark had indicated this on his death bed in the prologue of the first book. However, though he was most likely concerned that Ross's arrival should not throw a spanner in the works of Francis's union with Elizabeth, he did seemed satisfied that the engagement confirmation and Ross turning up in the middle of the celebrations actually secured Elizabeth with Francis. After the dinner he had said to Francis "It was as well you got your bethrothal announced, Francis, or he might have stolen her from you yet." Without anything else in the books or a suggestion including from Verity that there was some dispute over the change of wedding date, there are no clear indications that this was driven by either Elizabeth's parents or Uncle Charles. Then following this there are no indications that if any objections were raised that they were raised by Elizabeth or that she felt bamboozled into agreeing this. In fact when the matter was discussed at the dinner before Ross' arrival, Elizabeth did not express a view on the matter of wedding dates either way.

Care free, handsome and loaded Vs War-torn, Injured and Skint

Of course parental pressure would be more likely to have been applied if there appeared to be a need for t=it. There would be a need if there was a real chance that Elizabeth might have change her mind and that she was showing signs of wavering on this. Again Winston Graham in the books did not insert a scene like the Tv adaption did to show Elizabeth having second thoughts. So in the absence of clear text to confirm this it is worth looking at the likelihood and signs of any serious risk that at this point Elizabeth no longer wanted to marry Francis anymore and that she preferred Ross? The risk should be considered from a practical point of view and then from an emotional one?

Francis Poldark and Elizabeth Chynoweth talking at their Engagement dinner in Trenwith season 1
The book Ross Poldark sets out that Francis was "a young man who has never known what it was to be in danger or short of money,..." He had a mine to inherit from his father and to then run himself. As well as this he also had the fairly grand estate of Trenwith. In comparison Ross had returned from war with no money and it was known that his much smaller estate was also now a downtrodden and dilapidated one in need of major restorations. From a practical point of view Francis looked to be a far better and appealing candidate for husband material.

Handsome Francis Poldark and opposite Rough Ross Poldark
Also not just in respect of their assets but both Francis and Ross were world's apart in terms of their external and personal appeal. Ignoring that the 2015 Tv adaption subtly portrayed Francis as an incompetent hopeless son and business man who could not be trusted and whose father had no confidence in him, the reverse is true for the Francis created by Winston Graham. This Francis was the apple of Uncle Charles' eye and he was proud of his son. The book version of Francis was described as '..compact, slim and neat, with the fresh complexion and clear features of handsome youth. He looked what he was, carefree, easy-going, self-confident..' His appeal is therefore notable and in referring to Elizabeth at the engagement dinner before Ross' arrival as 'brilliantly smiling up at her lover', Graham definitely conveyed a woman that was happy with him and saw this man as her romantic partner.  For him to be referred to as her 'lover' suggests that she was indeed emotionally invested in him for her future.

In comparison to Francis, Ross returned to reclaim his unofficial fiance' looking war-trodden with a slash scar on his face and a limp leg. In book two (Demelza), it becomes evident that despite Elizabeth's shock and likely guilt at Ross's unexpected return, that she had indeed noticed all of this about him. Therefore this being some six years later and while married to Francis, Elizabeth was still able to reflect back on this day and thought that 'Ross had suddenly come in upon them, travel-dusty and scarred, appearing without warning, from America, from Winchester, from Truro to remind her of her childish promise, like the re-emergence of someone dead.'(*) Her reflections even these years later do not suggest that she had felt emotionally torn or invested in Ross romantically at the time of his return or even at the time of her memory of it. Instead it seemed that his re-emergence served as a hindrance of a kind and as a bold and almost annoying reminder of a promise she made to Ross that she still considered was rather silly. She saw it as this instead of a promise that she should have followed through with to the man she even on reflection would have now preferred to have had a future with. If Elizabeth had been emotionally invested in Ross at this time and even half wanted to marry him, then it's unlikely she would have continued to label and minimise her promise to marry him as 'childish'. This certainly conveys that even if her parents desperately wanted her to marry Francis and not Ross, that she too had her own view which was dismissive of her promise to marry Ross. Clearly she had no longer thought of this as a serious, sensible or viable promise to have made or more importantly that she wanted to honour and she still felt this was six years later. 

Just a 'Boy-Girl Attachment', Just a 'childish promise'

Elizabeth Chynoweth and Ross Poldark before he went to war as each others first love
The idea that Elizabeth did not really consider her promise to Ross one that she wished to honour is confirmed by her to Ross on a number of occasions. At her wedding and after asking for his forgiveness she said "We were so young." When he visited her six months later at Trenwith as a married woman she told him "Ours was a boy and girl attachment....We could not be happy together, we are not the right temperament to blend, to live in amity. With Francis it was different."(*) She then later said "I love Francis and married him."(*) Here it appears that Elizabeth is speaking with her own voice and therefore is able to substantiate her decision with reasons that do not appear made up and far fetched. Instead they hold a strong note of probability. Ross left for war because of his reckless and unlawful behaviour and therefore as his father stated in the prologue in order to escape the gallows. In light of that and how the reader comes to learn of his character and his liberal views for instance on social justice, Elizabeth seems quite his opposite. She was definitely a more conservative character who Graham described in 'Demelza' as a 'beautiful' but 'over reserved' woman (*). So Elizabeth was not at all making any wild statements that could be viewed as an untruthful reason when suggesting that their temperaments were too different for them to live in peace together. It is clear that when Elizabeth completely wrote off her promise to marry Ross as being a childish one she did so having weighed things up for herself and formulating her own reasons for this. It would seem that even without her parent's view she herself was both emotionally invested in Francis and preferring him as a better match for herself.

"What I have done I have done willingly and of my own mind."

If there is any doubt at to whether Elizabeth was speaking with her own mind she made this clear to Ross at her wedding. Just after she watched Ross be slightly insulting to her mother she rebuked him saying "You have no right, no right or reason to insult my mother. What I have done I have done willingly and of my own mind. If you wish to criticise anyone you must criticise me." If there was ever a time Elizabeth spoke firmly and with conviction (and without a bible in her hand), then this was it. Again she happened to debunk a theory designed to give her some credit on her betrayal of Ross by making it clear that she did not consider her promise to marry him a mature and serious one and that her decision to marry Francis was made with her own mind and not her mother's. All the other additional observations seem to quite support this.

Wedding invitation 

Ross and Francis Poldark walking near the mines in season 1In terms of second thoughts Francis's visit to Ross before the wedding is another thing that indicates that Elizabeth had a clear mind about her decision to marry him. Francis and Elizabeth had heard from Verity that Ross was not planning to attend their wedding. He went to tell Ross that his attendance at their wedding was his and Elizabeth's wish and clarified further that "She (Elizabeth) especially asked that you should (attend)." It is most likely that Elizabeth's desire to have Ross there reaffirms that she was comfortable and secure in her choice of Francis as her husband. Otherwise this would have been a request that would be quite torturous not only to Ross but also to herself. Indeed her behaviour to him at her wedding confirms that she had not had second thoughts. In addition to her brief explanation of rejecting him being because before they had been so young and that the decision to marry Francis was made of her own mind she specifically said "Ross you must wonder why I wanted you to come today.", and proceeded to tell him that she had wanted his forgiveness and for him to be happy for her. Again she gave no indications that she regretted her decision.

"I thought I loved Francis better."

Elizabeth and Ross Poldark when she tells him she loves him in season 2None of all these shenanigans in the prelude to the wedding or at the wedding itself suggests it was likely that Elizabeth was compelled towards Francis over Ross against her own wishes. It seems for practical and emotional reasons Francis was the better choice. If the author wanted to make parental pressure the story behind why Elizabeth chose Francis then when explaining herself to Ross ten years later in 'Warleggan', this would have been the time for her to either blatantly or subtly blame a third party such as her parents. A light suggestion that she had been under pressure to listen to loved ones in what they felt was in her best interests would have been enough. But again Elizabeth debunks the theory which would have given her some credit in this matter and again she confirmed that she did choose Francis out of her free choice and the reason she gave at this defining moment was (as she said) "I thought I loved Francis better."  Therefore even if it is to be believed that Elizabeth was under pressure from her parents to marry Francis, it seems that is quite irrelevant and any pressure applied would have been unnecessary because in spite of that she herself wanted to marry Francis. Also her personally wanting to marry Francis  may explain why there is no explicit text that points to her mother specifically and intentionally employing underhand tactics to coerce and pressurise Elizabeth into this. There simply would have been no need.

No waiting for the one she loved the least

Bearing in mind that we now know that Elizabeth had thought she loved Francis better than Ross, that indeed seriously discredits as authentic Poldark story the invented scene in the latest TV adaption where Elizabeth is waiting for Ross to visit her and which seeks to give the impression that she was hopeful for this, that her heart was still with him and his coming to see her might have made all the difference. It does push the narrative of parental pressure with dialogue from Elizabeth's mother questioning her about who she is waiting for and encouraging her to give up thoughts of Ross and to focus on Francis. For the real Poldark story this scene really does not make sense. Naturally if she thought she loved Francis more than Ross she would not have wanted for Ross to come and she would not have wanted to agree to cancel her engagement to Francis for him being a man who she thought she loved less than Francis at the time. The scene would only make sense if Elizabeth was waiting for Ross simply for the fun of hearing him declare his wish to marry her only for her to thank him for still making her feel wanted and then proceeding to upset him even further by confirming she was still intending to marry Francis.

The real stories of parental Pressure

Verity Poldark, Blamey, Caroline, Ray Penvennen, George, Elizabeth Warleggan with Morwenna & Osborne Whitworth in love stories involving pressure.
After previously establishing that the idea Elizabeth believed Ross was dead is a myth, it is now clear that another myth is that she was forced or pressurised into marrying Francis. She clearly wanted to of her own mind and this was because she thought she loved Francis better. The concept of Elizabeth being pressurised by her parents is not one that Winston Graham unequivocally made a key part of his story for Elizabeth. In contrast to this Graham really showed when he wanted to make such concepts part of a story, that he was able to do so in no uncertain terms. This is evident in the stories of Verity, Caroline and Morwenna. For Verity her father aka Uncle Charles and brother Francis made it clear that they did not want her to marry Captain Blamey. Such was the case that Francis challenged him to a duel. The same applied to Caroline and her guardian Ray Penvenen not approving of her courtship of Dwight and telling that direct to Dwight in person. Such was the case that both of these women in resisting the obvious parental and family pressure felt they had to elope. There is no doubt that Morwenna faced pressure from her family guardians Elizabeth and George Warleggan, and this was in order to enter into her marriage with Reverend Whitworth. Unlike these stories Elizabeth's one is clearly not one of a marriage induced by force or parental pressure and therefore knowing that she married Francis believing she loved him better than Ross and of her own free will and her own mind, this does not support the idea that she really and truly did love Ross Poldark.

Is it possible that after her wedding to Francis, Elizabeth had a new dawning and came to realise she did have a true love for Ross Poldark? This is to be explored in the next blog looking at her feelings for Ross whilst she was a newly wed and how she dealt with explaining herself to him.

(*) First edition Ward Lock print

A Love for Ross Poldark: Elizabeth-(Pt2) "Then came word that you were dead."
A Love for Ross Poldark: Elizabeth (Pt4) -Wedding blues for two? 
Did Elizabeth ever love Francis Poldark?
Ross and Demelza Poldark: A stocking full of love
Demelza Poldark: A fall from grace in a fall for Hugh Armitage 

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