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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.

Ross Poldark standing outside Nampara with Demelza standing next to him standing sideways looking at him
Graham’s crumbs came in the form of much 
foretelling earlier in the story. This was through many mediums. Firstly there was Ross’s thoughts and feelings about Demelza, but also when he often compared both her and Elizabeth against each other too. Readers could quite easily be absentminded in missing that on most occasions, amidst some confusion, Ross still leaned more favourably to Demelza when he did so. On this, and as a second medium it is interesting that as covered in an upcoming post, Graham also used pearls of wisdom from Verity and Francis as a literary device to bring Ross’s feelings and those comparisons he had made, out in to the open narrative by way of their spoken observations. This of course then put this out for the reader to note and  consider, but in doing so Winston Graham validated Ross’s subconscious position even further, and as well as that also Ross’s own conscious realisation that would come later. Thirdly, even Elizabeth’s reaction to the threat of Demelza was a medium for conveying to the reader the notion that Demelza was a front runner and actually a major threat against Elizabeth who was heralded as the perfect woman. And yet she still saw Demelza as a threat. This is along with a fourth medium which simply was Graham’s narrative which just discreetly always positioned Demelza ahead of Elizabeth in their many head to head clashes. Actually, except in physical beauty this was something which Graham continued throughout the saga in Demelza’s favour. That is a theme in its own right to be explored in another post. 

A Great Start-Demelza: Beauty In Ross's Heart (A New Feeling For Ross)

"So he found that,.....what had been for him the satisfaction of an appetite, a pleasant but common-place adventure in disappointment, owned wayward and elusive depths he had not known before and carried the knowledge of beauty in its heart."
Narrative of Ross On Demelza in 'Ross Poldark' Book 3 Chapter 2

Ross and Demelza Poldark newly in love walking on a cliff then stopping for a kiss
Although at one point Ross could never have imagined a romantic relationship with Demelza, and since this would make the idea of her being second best to Elizabeth totally reasonable, prudent readers will have seen that Winston Graham crafted a story which soon went to the other extreme in terms of what Ross chose to do with Demelza and how he came to feel about her. Whilst marriage to Demelza started as a practical decision for Ross, rather than motivated by love, soon after it Graham did document Ross falling in love with Demelza. But in emphasising the beauty of this he set this up so that it was almost quite magical. This major story development was covered in '
The Magic of the Fall in Love' and after Ross declared his love for Demelza, Graham wrote that Ross found that what he then realised he had with Demelza '... owned wayward and elusive depths he had not known before and carried the knowledge of beauty in its heart.'

Ross Poldark and Demelza walking hand in hand along a cliff side
Graham’s depiction of Ross’s fall in love with Demelza and the words he used in that particular passage presented as beautiful poetry written with the intent to convey that Ross had struck a very unexpected unique and beautiful thing with Demelza, and that in addition to that Ross was clear in this feeling he had about her and what they had together. Later, many years later, 28 years to be exact, Ross in ‘The Twisted Sword’ would tell a tearfully moved Demelza that meeting her had therefore been the “luckiest day” of his life. But at this moment in time, in 1787 it is important to note that Graham tells us readers that Ross had not known this feeling of wayward and elusive depths that carried beauty in its heart before. That therefore means that Ross did never experience this beauty and depth of feeling in his fall in love with Elizabeth! And so by writing this Graham put Elizabeth on the back foot from Demelza quite early on. Essentially what Ross had with Elizabeth as early young lovers did not compare with what he had with Demelza at the same stage of being new and early in their love, at the point of their marriage as newlyweds.

Holding On: Elusive Depths Vs Boy and Girl Attachment 

"But, Ross, ours was a boy-and-girl attachment. I was very fond of you... But you went away and I met Francis, and with Francis it was different. I loved him. "
Elizabeth to Ross  in 'Ross Poldark' internal book 1 Chapter 7

Ross Poldark and Elizabeth in tense conversation at Trenwith after she chose to marry Francis Poldark
Graham’s suggestion that there were 'elusive depths' to what Ross had with Demelza was clearly him marking up what they had as something that was not at all trivial. Instead i
suggested that from a marriage of practicality Ross had entered into something which was to be much more meaningful than he anticipated. The ‘elusive depths’ should have been a notification to the reader that against the backdrop of Ross's feelings for Elizabeth, that this new relationship formed with Demelza, and the feeling Ross would develop in it, would strongly challenge what he had with Elizabeth and also contrast against the feeling that Elizabeth had inspired in him. The danger would always be that what Ross had with and from Elizabeth might not come out on top with the way Graham conveyed what he had with and from Demelza. Again, as alluded to above, Graham provided a clear signal through comparison here. So this is a relationship with Demelza of elusive depths versus one with Elizabeth that Elizabeth had rejected, betrayed and told him had been for her just “... a boy and girl attachment.” 

Elizabeth's claim to Ross when he returned home to her after his time in the war and with him wanting to resume their relationship and to marry, was that what she had with Francis was 'different' and that she loved him. Of course this undermines the true nature of the relationship and bond she and Ross truly formed before and during the war. It implies the relationship with Elizabeth wasn’t quite what Ross thought it was. It is hard to presume that Elizabeth was fibbing or throwing Ross off the scent of feelings of love for him because Graham did not write this. However this is also because in later years in ‘Warleggan’ she would modify her position retrospectively but even still would say that she had still thought at the time that she loved Francis better at the time.

The Inevitable Preference For A Real Love Than An Illusion

“…if you bring an idealized relationship down to the level of an ordinary one, it isn’t always the ordinary one that suffers.” 
Ross to Demelza Poldark ‘Warleggan’ Internal book 4 Chapter 7 

Ross Poldark glances up to see Francis and Elizabeth Poldark looking lovingly into each others eyes on their wedding day reception party at Trenwith
Elizabeth's comment to Ross further implies that what she had with Francis was different in the sense of it being deeper than what she had with Ross. This is in line with her going on to explain that she and Francis had more shared interests than she had with Ross and that she had the same tastes as Francis. Naturally one can take from this that Elizabeth felt at the time that she had a less solid connection with Ross and was more in sync with Francis. In addition to this there is the reference in the first edition of the first book to Ross looking back at Elizabeth's letters sent to him while he was at war and noting that 'there were hints of a slackening interest' in him from her. Again this really does support
 that there was not the same beauty in his relationship with Elizabeth as Ross found and experienced with Demelza. Instead it speaks to a slightly one sided relationship where rather than one where Elizabeth was offering unquestioning, undoubting love and devotion, Ross, while at war was instead basking in an 'idealised relationship' that he had dreamed up that he was having with Elizabeth. This 'idealised relationship' caused Ross to think more of what they had than what they really actually had. So whilst the relationship was just a boy girl attachment for Elizabeth and her interest did not hold when faced with another and more handsome option, it meant that making more of their romance than Elizabeth had, and while she would have had a blissful appeal for Ross against the misery of war, as Ross had told Elizabeth, he had thought of no other woman than her while he was there.

Newly wed Demelza Poldark sings a romantic song to Ross who is overcome with emotion amongst friends at Trenwith
Along with admitting an 'idealised relationship' with Elizabeth, Ross would later acknowledged in the fourth book that he had inflated Elizabeth's apparent value above her true value.
Coming to that understanding took time and a violent sexual confrontation for Ross but at least his realisation about her 'slackening' interest while he was a war was a mini wake up call. However it would seem that at the time he did not dwell over it in a way that might have caused him to join up the dots and appreciate that Elizabeth was not offering the kind of relationship he thought she would. Instead Francis having been the one to marry her came to that learning through real life experience. Nevertheless, this insight still brought Ross a disappointment in Elizabeth as it exposed her flaky commitment to him in their relationship. All of this supports the notion that knowing and falling in love with Demelza's 'real value' and having a 'real relationship' with her rather than an 'idealised' one, meant that it was indeed a relationship of more depth than Ross’s pre war relationship with Elizabeth. Therefore on two levels Demelza was ahead of Elizabeth and that would be important at the final head to head too. Demelza was ahead as a person whose value to Ross’s was real rather than inflated and then secondly the relationship Ross had formed with her at an early stage was clearly of more substance, love and therefore beauty, than his relationship with Elizabeth.  

Ross: Something More Solid And A Declaration To Hold On To Demelza (All He Wanted)

"He thought again: if I could only grasp this moment now, hold it tight so that it could not escape.....I have all I ever want...we have found together a companionship few people know....This is all I ask of God. Let me hold it. Let me hold it!"
Ross private thoughts 'Ross Poldark (first edition)' Internal Book 3 Chapter 11

Ross Poldark kisses his new wife Demelza and playfully leads her away to bed
Following on from the idea or a more quality relationship with Demelza than with Elizabeth, it is relevant that Graham confirmed in narration more than once that Demelza had adored Ross and loved him before she married him. With Elizabeth conveying that based on their ‘childish romance’ she did not love Ross but was just ‘fond’ of him, (or even for those that don't quite believe she didn't love him, that at the very least she had thought she loved another man, Francis better), the reader can see in comparison that where Elizabeth would not have, Demelza came into the marriage offering Ross a marriage based on love from her side that had no dithering uncertainty to it. She came with a whole heart, undivided, and in 
his mother’s blue dress the night they slept together she had told Ross “I live only for you.” That was a very powerful declaration and a treasure for any man to hear and believe. This unquestioning love from the start from Demelza therefore was not something that would have to grow in the marriage. It had no element of uncertainty as to whether not going with the offer of another man would always be a backdrop and a possible regret for her. In any case, in that age where marriages for love were not prioritised, beforehand Demelza had also offered him a wholesome friendship that had engaged Ross and brought him companionship and amusement.

A More Solid Foundation

Demelza Carne sits with her Master Ross Poldark at Nampara eating together and making him smile by her manner
Ross and Demelza's friendship before their marriage was covered in 'Falling in Friendship' which highlighted the meaningful difference this brought to Ross's life. Demelza brought to this light and joy......and flowers! But also therein lay the foundation to a solid connection and marriage. So i
t stands to reason that given the uncommitted nature of what Elizabeth was offering in comparison ('a boy and girl' attachment and her fondness for him), the quality of what Ross had with Demelza was far more superior. This could be discreet to the viewer or reader at this stage in the story but in comparison did he ever had a genuine solid friendship with Elizabeth? Graham did not provide unequivocal narrative of this in the form of flashbacks covering the period before Ross left for war. However an upcoming post will document that Elizabeth’s friendship towards Ross post war was not always well demonstrated and at it's best was a bit flaky, dishonest and designed to unseat his happiness and peace of mind at times. But with a solid friendship with Demelza as an equally solid foundation to their marriage, readers would see that over the remaining eleven books , over good and bad times, as covered in 'Love For Better or Worse', 'Love in Loss' and 'Love To Cherish, Forgive and Forget', their love, though imperfect, was ultimately steadfast, resilient and never dying.
Ross Poldark at Trenwith lovingly stares at Demelza as she sleeps
In any case, in the early stages of their marriage, after Ross fell in love with Demelza, it was proven to have been a safe bet to assume that in a crisis of choices the instinct for Ross would be to treasure and hold on to what was indeed truly beautiful in his heart. Just as Graham had narrated it was for Ross then. That would then be what he had with Demelza and it cannot be a coincidence that at the end of the first book Graham wrote that Ross recognised this and that he thought of his happiness with Demelza and told himself ‘’I have all I ever want....This is all I ask of God....Let me hold it.’ This proved to be a fore telling because Ross did indeed hold on and never did let go of Demelza following his own infidelity and hers too. At all times this holding on was due to the compelling pull of his love, which meant any separation was never permanent.

Demelza -Elizabeth's ‘uncommon substitute’

"Knowing Elizabeth.....he wanted her to see that he had been content with no common substitute."
Private thought of Ross Poldark in 'Ross Poldark' Bo0k 3 Chapter7

Demelza Poldark as Ross Poldark's new wife sits next to Elizabeth to be compared by Aunt Agatha
In light of all that is said above and the idea that Demelza was expected to be second best, it should not go unnoticed that Ross did actually place a high value on Demelza before and after she met Elizabeth. Ahead of  their first visit to Trenwith as a married couple for Christmas 1787, unlike Demelza, Ross was excited to show her off and for Elizabeth to see that '....he had been content with no common substitute.' Therefore it is clear that despite Demelza being a miner's daughter and 'common' based on societal grading and when set against the gentry, Ross genuinely did not think Demelza was common. More importantly Ross did not think 
Elizabeth would see Demelza as common. Of course, in his idealisation of Elizabeth and not really knowing the woman Elizabeth was post war, Ross was wrong on that, but it is another insight to Ross’s mindset which shows he certainly did not rule Demelza out as a lesser choice on grounds of her background and class. Actually, despite this Ross thought Demelza could be considered very worthy. It is reminiscent of his thoughts before sleeping with Demelza that he owed nothing to Elizabeth any more and that his interest and arousal for Demelza was based on a ‘fair desire’. 

Demelza Poldark stuns as she arrives to the Trenwith dinner table before a crowd of Friends including Ross Poldark, Elizabeth and Ruth Teague
Ross’s attitude clearly contrasts with Elizabeth as written in the first edition of the second book where in her anger at Demelza’s success she suggested rather maliciously to Francis that Demelza might feel she could be mistaken for a servant, that she might try to play 'the great lady' and Ross had married a ‘beggar girl’. But at this stage Ross’s attitude was that Demelza was a fair contender against Elizabeth and he felt she had outshone all that night. Graham was clear in his narrative that this was Ross's perspective as he wrote that when she was out of the room 'The thought of Demelza warmed his mind and lit it up..' This was together with his comment to her later that night that she had been a ‘triumph’. Naturally Graham then writing that Ross afterwards knew himself to be happy with a 'queer sense of enlightenment' would not have felt this way if his experience of that visit was that Demelza came up well short against Elizabeth. Being the source of Elizabeth's jealousy of Demelza after this visit it was quite the other way. This is despite Elizabeth being the 'greater lady' and Demelza just the 'miner's daughter'.  

Demelza Rivalling Elizabeth So Soon

"In her own queer way this evening she rivalled Elizabeth, who started any such competition with advantages of feature and colouring over almost all women."
'Ross Poldark' Book 3 chapter 9 

Demelza Poldark takes over from Elizabeth to sing at a Trenwith party and captures Ross Poldark's attention in her singing a song to him
Again it may be that some readers missed the significance but early in the story, very soon after Demelza married Ross, Graham laid more groundwork and substance to the concept that Demelza was not necessarily second best against Elizabeth. For 
the doubtful reader he laid down foretellings that she would not be so in the end. At the first Christmas at Trenwith, as highlighted in the narrative excerpt above, Graham reminded the reader that Elizabeth ordinarily had a head start over almost all women and therefore that she was the fiercest of competition for Demelza. However, despite this he informed the reader that nevertheless Demelza had rivalled Elizabeth. This is addressed in the post called 'The Greatest Love Above Any Other' which covers the early signs of Demelza unwittingly outdoing Elizabeth over a number of scenarios. For this first Christmas event Ross ending the night telling Demelza that she had been a 'triumph' was a message for the reader that Demelza was not to be ruled out but instead was a surprising underdog front runner. In the next book 'Demelza' the reader learns from the narration that privately Elizabeth had considered Demelza to have been a success that night and that she was 'piqued' by this and this prompted her to be at 'pains to rebuild her ascendancy over Ross'

"At Christmas she had been a little piqued by the young Demelza's sucess, and today she had taken pains to see if she could rebuild her ascendancy over Ross..."
Narrative on Elizabeth  'Demelza' Internal book 1 chapter 3

Demelza and Ross Poldark leave Trenwith arm in arm as Elizabeth looks jealous and desolate as she watches them go
The unsuspecting reader might then have missed that after Ross and Demelza’’s visit Elizabeth’s ascendancy mission was therefore a private admission by Elizabeth that she had lost her ascendancy over Ross. And who to? Demelza! This was her response to
 Demelza’s debut visit as Ross’s new wife and she felt this threat so soon. Going by Graham’s narration Elizabeth was right. When it came to how Ross felt about his love affair with Elizabeth before he went to war, one should note that Graham closed the first book having informed the reader that he was experiencing the 'greatest happiness of all', with Demelza. Thus this means his happiness exceeded the happiness he had ever experienced with Elizabeth in their pre war romance. Taking this achievement into account, if guilty of this then, the reader should never have dismissed Demelza as a second best alternative to Elizabeth so easily.

Elizabeth: Becoming The Underdog A Knowing It

"Elizabeth was lonely and unhappy. Her marriage had not at all turned out as she expected; she was a beautiful, rather over-reserved, disappointed young woman. She was also jealous of the blossoming Demelza..."
Narrative on Elizabeth  'Demelza' Internal book 2 chapter 12

Demelza attracts stares from many men in a golden dress gliding down the stairs to a party
The foretellings go on. As set out in 'Elizabeth: Green-eyed Jealousy of Demelza Poldark' Graham continued with consistency in relation to his narrative of Demelza doing better than and outshining Elizabeth. So this subtly conveyed once again that Demelza was not a player that the reader should cast off as standing no chance against Elizabeth and assuming her to be so inferior to her. For instance, in support of that it was Demelza not Elizabeth who caught the eye of the Lord Lieutenant and other men and women at the ball held by the Mayor of Truro. This was in the second book when Ross brought Demelza out into society for the first time. Demelza had been the belle of the ball, not Elizabeth, and along with even George Warleggan, Elizabeth had noted Demelza's success that night. As referenced in the ‘Green-eyed jealousy post’ Graham wrote that this success along with Demelza’s observed ‘blossoming’ was the source of Elizabeth's jealousy and feelings of disappointment. It is clear that if the reader did not feel it Elizabeth herself had felt rather unfairly that she was looking like second best against Demelza.

Demelza Poldark looks beautiful dancing at the ball while Elizabeth Poldark and her mother and her friends watch her.
Readers not picking up the significance of these occasions where Elizabeth clearly came off as second best and felt this herself, may do out of  too much distraction with the idea that on paper Demelza should not have been able to match Elizabeth, let alone beat her in having a greater hold of Ross's heart. This probably mimics the distraction that Ross himself had via his idealisation of Elizabeth. It meant that whilst Ross had clear thoughts that put his assessments of Demelza ahead of Elizabeth the idealisation he had for Elizabeth created a blockage or distraction so that this did not connect with and alter his belief system held so long. This was that Elizabeth was this perfect woman and that she was the crème de la crème above Demelza. Perhaps readers also get swept up in this too. Or otherwise they may not but instead considered 
that Ross’s devotion of Elizabeth based in idealisation would trap Ross in that belief system for ever.

Elizabeth: Relegated To Backup Option 

‘Elizabeth had done her best to ill-wish the first years of their marriage. She had failed;…An estrangement, though barely perceptible, had grown from that day (Julia’s death) out of Ross’s grief, and Elizabeth had made the most of it.’ 
Narrative of Demelza’s thoughts  ‘Warleggan’ internal book 3 Chapter 6

Ross looks irritated as Elizabeth Poldark tells him at a dinner table that she loves him while Demelza is across the table with Captain McNeil
Another point that the prudent reader should have noted is that Elizabeth only made headway flirting with Ross when he was depressed and semi estranged from Demelza. As Demelza had observed in their first visit to Trenwith, Ross had been untroubled by Elizabeth ‘making eyes at him like a she-cat.’ However she only made some headway years later 
in the third book ‘Jeremy Poldark’ when he was in a state of despair  after the death of Julia, months of worry about a court trial where he might have faced hanging, near bankruptcy, fearing of the debtor’s prison, and a questioning of his wife’s love and faithfulness to him while unbeknown to him her distant from him was in her attempts  to conceal her pregnancy she thought was unwanted by him. In many ways Ross turning to romantic thoughts of Elizabeth then and flirting with her only then and after so many year still undermines Elizabeth’ position as preference. This is because rather than in ordinary time it was in depression and therefore not his right mind. It was only when he thought he had lost or was losing Demelza. This has the flavour of Elizabeth then being a  second option. Even then Ross was not keen on this option. 

A content Ross Poldark pulls a smiling Demelza closer to him as they stand on the windy moors
It is significant that it was Elizabeth that had made the advances and also that Ross was still not clear in his thoughts if he preferred Elizabeth. Perhaps this was the most significant indication because in
Warleggan’ when Elizabeth made her strongest advance to Ross and told him that she loved him ‘better’ than Francis and that he should meet her halfway with this confession, Graham wrote that Ross ‘…found himself liking her less.’, and later that in contrast he wrote that there ‘…had been a new warmth in his feelings for Demelza.’ So in this direct challenge and contrasted against each other, Demelza triumphed in Ross’s mind in another head to head with Elizabeth. Of course, since Ross did eventually sleep with Elizabeth where the pretext and the dialogue between them before this was fuelled by the provoking emotion of anger, the act of it may well have been more about his not wanting her to be with George Warleggan than wanting her for himself over Demelza. Certainly all of the points above showing how and why Demelza was ahead over Elizabeth in Ross’s heart from the start only add to the points made in Discovery Of Preference' as to why she remained so for that final head to head.

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