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The Real Love Triangle, The Powerful Rival (Elizabeth: A Love for Ross Poldark -Pt6)

Elizabeth Poldark with Francis and Ross Poldark in  love triangle

'There was no one to tell him that he was wrong in being jealous of Ross.' 
Book one- Ross Poldark 

In the journey through the saga looking at Elizabeth's love for Ross this blog looks at a time when she was up to a year into her marriage with Francis and in particularly the circumstances around Geoffrey Charles's birth and Christening day. If she was in love with his cousin, Ross, this situation would essentially be a love triangle with Elizabeth in the centre and the burning issue being who of Francis and Ross did she love and who of the two did she really want to be with. In this blog, and in continuing the assessment of Elizabeth's love for Ross, her marriage to Francis and her state of mind about this is explored. This includes the reasons for the cracks that eventually surfaced in the marriage after Geoffrey's Charles's birth and her thoughts and actions to Ross all alongside this. In this it becomes evident that the question of who held Elizabeth's heart might not be found in the 'Francis-Elizabeth-Ross' love triangle after all.  

Francis and Elizabeth Poldark -The newly and happy married couple 

Francis and Elizabeth Poldark at the Truro charity ball season 1
As supporting characters there are only occasional and fleeting glimpses into the Francis and Elizabeth marriage. Still updates are given here and there on the progress and hints on the reason for the cracks that occurred. At six months in to their marriage their attendance at the Truro Charity ball which was also separately attended by Ross as Verity's escort, is the first glimpse that Graham gives of them as newly weds. Elizabeth was described as smiling and waving to Verity as she entered the refreshment room with Francis and George Warleggan. Graham also referred to her being in good spirits and stated that she was 'excited and therefore radiantly beautiful'. She confirmed this herself when Francis explained their short notice decision to attend the party was because of all the fun to come. He expressed that even if all of England depended on it he could not be sedate that night. In agreement with him Elizabeth smiled at Captain Blamey saying "Nor I, I hope our boisterous spirits do not jar upon you, sir," As quite a reserved character this may well have been the most animated and lively that Elizabeth ever presented in the saga. The scene does seem to depict a happily and newly married couple enjoying their social life together. Verity offered another and therefore third party perspective of them looking like this too when in book two (Demelza), she attended the same event years later and was reminiscing back. On this occasion she was saddened that Captain Blamey was not with her due to family objections. With him in mind; 'She thought: this is just like five years ago, we sat here like this and listened to some people flirting in the next alcove, and we looked at a drawing of a ship, and Elizabeth and Francis came in suddenly, quite newly married and flushed and happy....' (*)

Francis and Elizabeth Poldark dance at the Harvest festival season 1
The indicators are that Verity could be relied upon to report on the state of Francis and Elizabeth's marriage accurately. She was a reliable and consistent informant in past and future observations. In relation to how Francis and Elizabeth began their relationship, her account to Ross of their magnet like and sudden attraction was consistent with Francis's own explanation to Ross of it being 'like a stroke from the blue'. It was also consistent with Elizabeth's account to Ross that "You went away and I met Francis. I Loved him."  Four years later Verity would speculate to Ross that Francis and Elizabeth had stopped getting on well after Geoffrey Charles was born. Indeed by that stage the Francis-Elizabeth marriage was indeed in trouble. Verity's observation would align with Graham's narration (as covered below) and so her observations were proved to be reliable once again. That being the case her observations at the Charity ball of Francis and Elizabeth in a flushed, happy and newly wedded mood can be trusted. They tell a tale of their general pre-existing happiness together in marriage at that time rather than just being happy together for the sake of the party. Otherwise if Verity had experienced them in truth to be unhappy and unloving behind closed doors, her observation would instead have been of surprise that they looked to be unusually happy together for once. Despite perception fuelled by the television adaptions it seems clear that in the early days of their marriage Francis and Elizabeth were indeed quite a happy married couple in the first year.

Life was good to her 

Francis and Elizabeth Poldark in front of Trenwith with Geoffrey Charles season 2
When Graham next revisits Francis and Elizabeth's marriage this is now six months later and therefore a full year in to their marriage. Elizabeth has just had their first child Geoffrey Charles who was a month old. Ross had attended the christening for him. However despite him and Elizabeth not having seen each other for so long and their last meeting being unpleasant (as explored in the blog Just a boy and girl attachment), Graham did not choose to focus on their interaction. He did not provide an independent narration of Ross's interactions with Elizabeth at this meeting. In fact although Ross did see Elizabeth at the christening, Graham provided no dialogue between them at all! That might give an indication of what Graham considered was Ross's level of importance to Elizabeth at that stage in her life. Instead his focus was of her reflections later that evening when she retired to her bedroom. Following Uncle Charles being taken ill during the party, Elizabeth's thoughts turned to him and what would happen if he did not live. Thinking that Francis would become the master of Trenwith we are told that for her 'The prospect was a pleasant one, of herself at twenty-one as full mistress of this fine estate;...' She also thought that '..she and Francis had lived an extravagant care-free life..' Graham described that she '...sighed happily' and further that ' was good to her. It seemed unsympathetic to be happy; but life was good.' 

Elizabeth Poldark holding baby Geoffrey Charles at his christening with FrancisAlthough it is set out that for Elizabeth 'The birth of her child had been the supreme experience of her life.' and that on Geoffrey Charles's birth her existence had changed with motherhood becoming to her 'all absorbing', this had just been the new life developments for the last month. Graham's references to her feeling happy and that her life was 'good' did not appear to relate only to the relatively new and short one month period of time between then and when Geoffrey Charles' was born. Instead her thoughts of feeling happy and that life was good were all related to her life as a married woman to Francis. Presumably her 'carefree and extravagant life' with him was not a recent occurrence but was something enjoyed since the beginning of their marriage. Therefore this 'happy' and 'good' life had commenced before the birth of her child. In book two (Demelza), Graham as narrator stated that although things went downhill after Geoffrey Charles's christening that 'Somehow that day had marked the peak of her happiness...' Together with her self confessed boisterous spirits six months before when out with Francis, Verity's observation of them as flushed and happy newly weds, her first child and her excitement in eventually becoming 'mistress of Trenwith' with Francis as master, one can see how her happiness grew over the course of the marriage. Although now a year into the marriage that had reached a peak, Graham did not paint a picture at this point in her marriage of a woman who was trapped in it and desperately unhappy for reasons of being in love with someone else.

Missing Pangs of Disappointment

Elizabeth Poldark putting baby Geoffrey Charles to bed
Following Geoffrey Charles's birth Elizabeth was clearly enjoying a new phase in her life that she derived much happiness from too. It would begin to overtake her happiness derived from her marriage, if it had not started already. Still it is unlikely that even this would blot out for very long the pangs of disappointment or the yearning and desire for the man she really loved, if this was so. It is also unlikely that if she loved this other man, that such pangs of disappointment would not return to her when after so long she had come face to face with him that very day. But Elizabeth did not show much reaction to seeing Ross again and Graham did not lay any importance on this since he provided no dialogue of their conversation or otherwise some narrative of Elizabeth's feelings upon seeing him. Indeed,  added to this he chose not to document any pangs of disappointment from Elizabeth in seeing Ross and much of the future happiness that Elizabeth was excited and happy about was not just based solely on being a mother but on a life in general with Francis. For instance being 'mistress of their grand estate'. Also Graham told that though Elizabeth thought that their carefree extravagant life would be put on hold, that 'in a few years, when Geoffrey Charles could go with them, there was no reason why part of it should not be resumed.'  She was therefore looking forward to resuming their enjoyable pastimes but as a family unit, meaning that at this point Francis featured as a component of her future happiness. She also did not think of anything else, such as Ross that might impact or impinge on her happiness.

A Preoccupation With A Smaller Man

It is reasonable to think that there would be a reaction from Elizabeth if after a year of marriage she was face to face with the man she really loved. Also that if she had previously put such thoughts to the back of her mind then the sight of him again might then stir them back to the front. However it really seemed that the overwhelming incident for Elizabeth during the christening reception was Uncle Charles being taken away ill. It was not her seeing Ross again. It is the upset from Uncle Charles falling ill at her special celebration for Geoffrey Charles which caused her to retire to her bedroom early. She left her guests to be entertained by Francis. She had not waited to say goodbye to Ross. In fact, upon helping Uncle Charles to his bed Graham narrates that Ross returned downstairs and found out Elizabeth was not there. Instead he found that 'Elizabeth was much upset, they said, and had asked to be excused.' So he did not see her againWhatever Elizabeth felt for Ross it was not enough to distract her into wanting to spend more time with Ross or even to wait for him to return downstairs so that she could say her goodbye, thank him for coming and then to take her leave. Bearing in mind she had not seen him for six months and might not see him again for a similar duration this is quite significant. It is an indicator that Elizabeth had not particularly missed or craved for him in all that time. If she had, one would expect that she would be keen to take as much opportunity to spend time in his company rather than disappearing off early and not even saying goodbye. If he was her star-crossed lover it was not so evident in her behaviour here. 

'Her Quarrel With Ross Had Long Since Healed'

Elizabeth shows Ross Poldark baby Geoffrey Charles at Trenwith christening partyIn accordance with this idea that Ross's appearance did not have much impact on Elizabeth in terms of bringing any feelings of love to the forefront, whilst in her bedroom Elizabeth's thoughts did not naturally turn to Ross as might be expected. Once left alone with her baby Geoffrey Charles, as referred above her thoughts instead gravitated to this happy and good life with Francis. Meanwhile Graham shared that of Francis 'He forgot his loneliness, her unapproachableness through preoccupation with Geoffrey Charles.' Therefore Graham was alerting us to Francis feeling some rejection by Elizabeth in light of her withdrawing from him and diverting all her love to their baby.

But after Elizabeth rejected Francis's affectionate embrace when he joined her, and so caused him to feel 'like a lascivious schoolboy.', he jealously brought Ross into their argument by referencing how she had made a fuss of Ross earlier that day. Despite the opportunity to now address her feelings for Ross either in her words to Francis or privately for the reader in her thoughts, the commentary from the narrator only supported that her feelings for Ross were not really a significant issue to her in terms of unfinished business at that point in her life. There was no indication by Graham that Francis had hit the nail on the head and unearthed a suspicion which had a kernel of truth to it. Rather Graham described that Elizabeth's reaction was that 'Anger flickered up in her eyes.' Graham then explained her feeling that 'Her quarrel with Ross had long since healed.' Of course the immediate impression with this is one of resolution. A healing from their quarrel certainly implies that Elizabeth had no open wound in her matter with Ross. This might then explain why she was not so concerned to say goodbye to him before retiring to her room early and why her evening reflections did not include him as they might have done if seeing him after so long brought feelings of love for him back to the surface. In fact, the fact that this day represented what Graham referred to as the 'peak of her happiness' while she thought of her happy life with Francis really does indicate that she had moved on from Ross and her quarrel with Ross was indeed healed. However, if Elizabeth was still in love with Ross or wanting to be with him it is likely she would not feel this peak of happiness and her wound from affairs of the heart with Ross would still be a little open rather than completely healed. Seeing him might have instead brought a little sadness and dampened her spirits. Or otherwise after not seeing him for so long it might have reopened her wound. Though there is no suggestion of this at all.

Just A kindness To, Or A Fuss Of Ross

Elizabeth Poldark at Trenwith with baby Geoffrey Charles seeing guests
But did Elizabeth make a fuss of Ross? Francis as the paranoid husband may not have been a reliable observer. Graham as the independent and impartial narrator did not even write the scene for the reader to see for themselves and neither did he write Ross feeling in his thoughts that he had been fussed over by Elizabeth. But that very point may be the clue that there was nothing to see here. Given Ross's weakness for Elizabeth and that he was still in love with her, he would surely have noticed if she did show him more special attention. This may have both confused and pleased him. However even though it is the case that Ross did experience moments later in the book where for reasons to be explored in future blogs he was able to identify Elizabeth paying him special attention, he is not said to have felt this on this occasion. Instead the most he observed as he mingled with a number of guests was that 'Elizabeth went out of her way to be kind.' Yet it was not specified that this was just directed to him, but just generally speaking, kind to all her guests. Hence not only does this suggest that maybe Francis was just paranoid, it also suggests that there was nothing inappropriate or outstanding in the way that Elizabeth treated Ross, or to suggest she treated him like she was harbouring feelings of being in love with him. Instead it looks as if she was indiscriminate and that like a woman whose quarrel with him was indeed healed, that she was simply trying to be kind to him and all her guests and Ross was not singled out in this.

A little Sorry For Ross

Elizabeth Poldark with baby Geoffrey Charles talking to Ross at Trenwith Christening partyWith Francis having brought up the issue of Elizabeth's feelings for Ross she did then think of Ross and she thought '.......of his loneliness, of his pale grey eyes and wild scarred face.' Though Graham narrated that she had thought a good deal of him during the later months of her pregnancy, her thoughts do not appear to have been threatening to her marriage or suggest she was heavily invested in Ross emotionally, or that this was impacting on her happiness. Again this sits well with her psyche that her quarrel with Ross was 'healed'. In fact her thoughts leant towards concern that he was the one not coping rather than her. Confirming that she had indeed not seen him for a long time she thought that 'She had seen nothing of him and was very sorry for him.' Yet there is no suggestion here in this section that she felt sorry for herself on account of being without him and therefore denied the man she truly loved, if this was the case. 

Idle Comparisons

Elizabeth agrees to marry Francis PoldarkAs the topic of Ross was brought into the arena by Francis, Graham did narrate that of Elizabeth 'Like all human beings she could not refrain from idly comparing what she had with what she might have had.' However by presenting this as something 'anyone' would do in her circumstances and that Elizabeth did this 'idly', it is implied that she therefore did not do so on a more heightened emotional basis of being a woman who was particularly tormented with a strong desire and love for this other man. Instead it was like a casual speculation for a woman musing about what life might have been like if she had made her original choice of partner. So it did not appear to be a thought that had been plaguing her or which she was terribly conflicted by in her good life up till then. Graham also did not then document that from these idle musings Elizabeth had clear conclusions that the comparison went strongly in Ross's favour and that therefore she felt she had missed out and was feeling upset and sorry for that. Of course, her earlier happy musings that 'life is good' with Francis contradict the idea that she was consumed by her feelings for Ross and consumed by regret. It would be unlikely that she would think of how good life was and more importantly how it had been in her marriage (carefree & extravagant) while also loving and wanting Ross.

The Wrong Jealousy For Francis

Francis Poldark at Trenwith dinner table with Elizabeth and Verity and Geoffrey CharlesIf there was any doubt about Elizabeth's comparisons of being with Francis or Ross at this point in her marriage, Graham closed the chapter with it. He did so by stating that in relation to Francis's jealousy 'There was no one to tell him that he was wrong in being jealous of Ross.' This statement is potentially the biggest clue  on the question of whether Elizabeth really loved Ross. Because if Elizabeth really did or even was just half in love with Ross and wanting to be with him, this would be enough grounds for Francis to be jealous. In that case his jealousy would not at all be 'wrong' since most husbands would want their wife's whole heart exclusively and not have any part of it claimed by another man. By stating that Francis was wrong to be jealous of Ross, this implies that Ross was not really a genuine or serious competitor to take Elizabeth away from Francis either physically or emotionally. So far, with her peak of happiness and thoughts of her 'good' life with Francis it indeed did not seem as if she was so emotionally engaged with Ross so as to threaten and poison what she had had with Francis over their first year of marriage and to leave her yearning for Ross instead. It's hard to conclude that Elizabeth was in love with Ross whilst also accepting Graham's narration that Francis was wrong to be jealous of him.

The Warning Of Geoffrey Charles

Elizabeth Poldark mothering Geoffrey Charles at Trenwith
Having previously declared Geoffrey Charles's birth to have been the 'supreme experience' of her life Graham aids the reader further to understand where Elizabeth's real love lay in stating of Francis that 'There was no one to tell him that another and more powerful rival had recently arisen. There was no one to warn him about Geoffrey Charles.' Of course Elizabeth's love for Geoffrey Charles is well documented and repeatedly confirmed across the books. In book seven (The Angry Tide) it is more or less confirmed that he is the child she loved the most. He was her first born and when thinking hopeful thoughts about Valentine inheriting all the Warleggan estate we are told in that book that she thought to Geoffrey Charles's benefit that 'If her first son- for whom she still cared most -was poor, and her second son was rich...there could well be some interchange of interests and property....' Elizabeth's bond with Geoffrey Charles was deep, 'all absorbing' and took primacy over any other child of hers. The intensity of her love for Geoffrey Charles was hinted at here with him already at just one month old in Graham writing that 'She could not bear the separation from her son.' It seems that although the story did not go on to focus on the ins and outs of the Francis and Elizabeth marriage, that this was the real issue that broke it, not Ross.

Bearing The Separation From Ross

Elizabeth Poldark devoted and caring for Geoffrey Charles at Trenwith windowThe concept of Geoffrey Charles as Francis's 'more powerful rival' and Elizabeth being unable to bear the separation from him does beg the consideration of Elizabeth 'bearing the separation' from Ross. If she really did love Ross over and above her love for Francis one could expect that there would be some element of her not bearing the separation from him either or feeling as if she was having to bear it somehow. As will be explored in a later blog Elizabeth herself later admitted to Ross in book four (Warleggan) that she had believed that she loved Francis 'better' than him. Still history here has already shown that when separated from Ross due to the war, her heart grew distracted. It did not grow fonder and stronger. Instead she was drawn to Francis who was probably a better option for her at that time too. The familiar examples that Morwenna and Caroline provide are further aids to assess the likelihood that Elizabeth had a genuine and real love for Ross like they did of their men. In their real love of their suitors both of these women struggled in their respective separations from Drake and Dwight. Morwenna in her marriage chanted Drake's name at night. Caroline could not entertain the idea of marrying another man and being happy without Dwight even if that man was more level with her status as a heiress and the expectations of her for a better match. Yet in contrast with Elizabeth's 'idle' musings she showed no signs or conclusion for herself that not being with Ross was anywhere close to unbearable. Graham consistently missed the plentiful opportunities to document a burning love from Elizabeth of Ross and that she struggled with this in her married  life. One can presume the opportunity was missed because there was indeed no burning love for him and that was not Graham's story, even if it was for those adapting the story for Tv. But in doing this and in documenting her behaviour as he did, he conveyed quite the reverse. At this point in the story she still did not seem a woman who was very much in love with Ross Poldark. 

The True Rival That Broke The Marriage-Elizabeth's Big Love

Francis and Elizabeth Poldark argue with Geoffrey Charles at Trenwith with Verity
The narrator's premonition that Francis was wrong to be jealous of Ross and that Geoffrey Charles was his real rival for Elizabeth's love is indirectly endorsed and confirmed by Verity. Once again as a live-in bystander of Elizabeth she told Ross three years later that 'She is devoted to the child... They say children cement a marriage. Yet it seems to me that they have not got on so well since Geoffrey Charles was born." Again not only does this support the idea that before Geoffrey Charles was born Francis and Elizabeth did get on well and were happy together, it reminds the reader that the breakdown for the Francis and Elizabeth marriage was not on account of any love Elizabeth had for Ross, but for her son. Graham made it clear that Geoffrey Charles was Elizabeth's big love but that also and  based on her behaviour and happy and healed feelings pertaining to Ross she did not appear to have a strong love or longing for him. With her compelling love being for Geoffrey Charles, it was apparent that Francis had more to fear from the Francis-Elizabeth-Geoffrey Charles love triangle than from the one with Ross.

Three years later Elizabeth would start reaching out to Ross following the breaking down of her marriage to Francis. The next blog 'Reaching out for Ross' will look at her visit to him three years later when she considered that because of Demelza she was 'too late'. There is the consideration of whether her need of him then indicates that she was in love with him after all and was then allowing herself to submit to that or for some other reason. 

Reaching Out For Ross (Elizabeth: A Love For Ross Poldark Pt7)

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