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

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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. 

Visions of This Love Marriage

As Francis and Elizabeth were not the lead characters in the Poldark saga, the ups and downs of their marriage was not a storyline that Graham focused on with precision detail. So it is only through brief passing scenes and throwaway comments made by them and other characters about them, that the reader can pick up the opportunities where Graham as the writer conveyed a vision of their marriage. These therefore were mainly snapshots and together they help to build a vision of it. Graham did this throughout the story. This included the honeymoon phase. Also he covered when this was over, when the marriage had a marked changed for the worse and when it became more amicable towards the end. This is even though this was without the love they had had in the beginning.  

A Honeymoon First Year

As for that love to begin with and the idea of a 'love marriage' instead of an arranged one for Francis and Elizabeth, Elizabeth gave her outlook on this retrospectively. When addressing Morwenna's questions in 'The Black Moon' about whether Elizabeth had married Francis for love or not, Elizabeth told her that "...we thought ourselves in love with each other." The reader should therefore be clear that a feeling of feeling themselves in love was indeed present for Francis and Elizabeth to start with for them. For this post the significance of this is that Francis was a man that was presented in such a way, and who had the character for Elizabeth to feel that she loved him. This is to Francis's credit and to begin with this was a positive foundation and should have been essential fuel for a good love marriage between them. It was surely a motivating and defining emotion to potentially shape a good husband in Francis, as it initially did. This is just as Francis’s love of Elizabeth and hopefully hers of him should have shaped a good wife in her too. 

For the first year of the marriage Graham did in small ways document that Francis and Elizabeth's romantic connection (which was evident when they were courting and also when they were each other's fiancé), continued as a feature of their marriage for that first year time period. So that was at least until after Geoffrey Charles was born almost exactly a year after they had married. That loving feeling lasting a year is roughly in accordance with Elizabeth's own declared timeline, as told by her to Morwenna. Indeed it was in that scene in 'The Black Moon', (already referred to above) where Elizabeth had expanded to Morwenna that her and Francis's love did not last twelve months. Thus, although this is a seemingly negative reflection, again for the purpose of this post it still does suggests that Elizabeth’s experience of the marriage, at least before then (in the first twelve months or up to and around that time), was with a man in Francis that she felt she loved and who she was made happy by, for that year.  

Francis-The More Compatible Choice Of Husband With Substance

In a terse scene with Ross after her marriage where Elizabeth explained her reasons for marrying Francis, she told Ross that she did not love him (Ross) and that the romance she had had with him before he went to the war had just been a 'boy and girl attachment'. She further explained in so many words that in growing up she found she had more in common with Francis and that their tastes were the same. She implied that she had something more deeper with Francis than she had had with Ross. 

In light of Elizabeth telling Ross nine years later in 'Warleggan' that she had indeed thought she loved Francis 'better' at the time, readers can again be assured that this does mean that Elizabeth did genuinely feel this at the time. So here the significance is that this points to Francis being a man of some substance so that Elizabeth did actually really feel she had a deeper connection with him instead of, or over what she had with Ross. In comparison Elizabeth had trivialised and quite undermined her attachment with Ross in a way that the other key women in the Poldark story who had had love affairs could not do of their true loves. 

Elizabeth's comments to Ross about why she defected to Francis while he was at war also spoke to a greater compatibility with Francis over Ross. Indeed it is likely that even though her marriage eventually soured with Francis, that this does not mean that one with Ross would have faired much better either. This is especially when it is probably the case that Ross's character and Elizabeth's would have mixed even worse than hers did with Francis. Or otherwise, if not worse, then nevertheless just as bad, but in different ways. Even Ross, despite his idealisation of Elizabeth was able to acknowledge this likelihood when in 'Jeremy Poldark' he thought that 'Perhaps there are elements in her nature and mine which would have made our life together difficult.' 

Date Nights: Fun Nights Out Together

Fleeting scenes in that first year of marriage showing Francis and Elizabeth happy and socialising together like a normal happily married couple does help support the suggestion of initial compatibility along with a comfortability and ease that they had with each other. And so it seemed that Francis was indeed a good fit with Elizabeth to begin with. 

It is significant that Graham wrote about Francis and Elizabeth being in such good spirits when 
in the early stages of pregnancy with Geoffrey Charles and just six months married, they attended the Truro ball at Easter in April 1784. Since Elizabeth for most of the saga was not a character that presented as being the life and soul of the party, Graham was making a point here to highlight their honeymoon love phase. He did so when writing dialogue from this night between Elizabeth and Blamey which emphasised this happy and lively mood of theirs. For instance as Elizabeth said to him “I hope our boisterous spirits do not jar upon you, sir.” It is indeed a struggle to find any other party or gathering that Elizabeth attended in the saga across the remaining six out of seven books that she featured in, where she was so upbeat and jovial. Equally, bearing in mind that later in the saga Graham would narrate that Francis would say and think that Elizabeth sucked the joy out of his life and depressed him, Francis in this scene was also in a happy go lucky and excited mood too, adding that “All the fun’s to come.” The narrative as addressed below indicates that Francis asked Elizabeth to escort him for social events regularly in that first year of marriage. This is just as a loving husband who wanted and enjoyed having his wife on his arm would do. Though Francis was clearly turned off later this indicates that Francis really did come into the marriage wanting a best friend, true partnership and romance with Elizabeth. 

So at this stage in the story Graham did write scenes featuring Francis and Elizabeth that painted a positive vision to the reader of their marriage. They showed how in their coupledom they bounced off each other well and that Francis was a husband that Elizabeth was happily married to and enjoyed spending time with. 

A Happy Wife- Flushed With Love

If there was any doubt of the happiness and love that Francis and Elizabeth had together early in the marriage, just as shown in the Easter ball snapshot, then Graham did address this when he revisited this very night out in the first edition of the second book. Using Verity who was proven over time to be a reliable observer of the Francis and Elizabeth marriage, Graham doubled down on the impression he had given and confirmed that narrative. This was when he wrote of verity remembering how 
when they had come into the Easter ball together Francis and Elizabeth had looked '...quite newly married and flushed and happy..' (First and full edition of 'Demelza' Book 2 Chapter 9). But Graham did more to corroborate his snapshots and Verity's confirmation of them as a couple in this way. For instance he did this through Elizabeth herself. Such as when having her comment on what in today's world would be called 'date nights' with her husband. This includes some three years later where he wrote about Elizabeth visiting Ross at Nampara the day after he had slept with Demelza. Although this was to complain about the changes in her marriage that had occurred by then, in doing so it was highlighted to the reader that Elizabeth really had enjoyed going out with Francis in the early days and was disappointed that this had since ceased. Elizabeth had referenced them going to Warleggan gaming parties telling Ross "We used to have great fun until the stakes became too high. I have only been twice since Geoffrey was born. Now I'm not invited." 

Great Days With Francis

Elizabeth's comment to Ross on her visit to him serves as yet another corroboration of the timestamp for the deterioration of her marriage being about
 a year after she married Francis, shortly after Geoffrey Charles's birth in October 1784. However although her comment about the end of the days of "great fun" with Francis was a complaint, as stated above it really does also indicate that she was saddened by this change in her married life with Francis. It shows that as a contrast she had indeed very much enjoyed her marriage to Francis or that aspect of it, prior to that change. This supports the notion that in that first year period of the marriage Francis and his company had satisfied Elizabeth and he was a good husband to her. It further indicates that in that early period of the marriage Francis and Elizabeth’s lifestyle was such that they regularly partook in these social nights out together so that she missed this when it stopped. This was when when Francis no longer invited her to join him. Still, this should contradict any belief that from the very beginning of her marriage to Francis, Elizabeth was desperately or in any significant way unhappy with him. Or that she somehow felt short changed having him as a husband.  Clearly this was not the case at all.

Francis And Elizabeth: A Year Of Marriage Where Her Life was 'Good' 

Indeed the evening of Geoffrey Charles's christening helps the reader to see that up until then Elizabeth really did not present as a married woman who felt she had lost out somewhat in having Francis as her husband instead of Ross Poldark. That evening actually went further to show Elizabeth's feeling of contentment and also provided a holistic observation of a woman happy in her married life at the time. The event was just over a month after Geoffrey Charles was born and so it was in early December 1784. Francis and Elizabeth had married in November the year beforehand. Even though their argument that night is that timestamp for the beginning of the unhappy days in their marriage, Graham
 narrated retrospectively in the next book (which was the first and full edition of the second book ‘Demelza’), that for Elizabeth this night had been the ‘peak of her happiness’. Of course that was until their argument. However on the other hand the narrative earlier in the actual day of the christening event reinforces the idea that at that time Elizabeth did feel Francis was a 'good husband' through some comments that she made herself. It again conveyed that Elizabeth was happy in her married life. This is particularly evident in the extra text provided in the first edition of this first book where this christening evening scene is featured in full. In this, Graham specifically wrote text of Elizabeth resting following the day's event and almost daydreaming. Although she would later come to feel that what she had felt for Francis at the time was probably not love, nevertheless Graham at this point in her life presented Elizabeth as a woman who was not unhappy and who did not believe herself to be in a mutually loveless marriage. It is easy to draw this conclusion when Graham wrote of Elizabeth’s demeanour and how she 'sighed happily' and had thoughts of how her 'life was good'.  (First and full edition of 'Ross Poldark' Book 2 Chapter 16)  

Daydreams At The Peak Of Happiness With Francis 

Elizabeth's daydreaming on the evening of Geoffrey Charles’s Christening is very revealing as to her state of mind. There were no reflections from her that suggested that Francis was excluded as being part of what made her life good or that he particularly caused her an element of unhappiness. Of course if at this stage Francis had been, then as her life partner this surely would have then been the time for Graham to unearthed this in her thoughts for the reader. This was not his narrative at this point. 
Indeed Graham proved throughout his twelve book saga that he was not averse to sharing Elizabeth’s unhappiness with her husbands and he did do this in respect of the negative aspects of marriage to George but also in respect of Francis later when she became unhappy. 

Graham first brought the narrative of unhappiness in the Francis and Elizabeth story only after the two year time jump in the first book. This was when Elizabeth turned up at Nampara to see Ross and complained about hers and Francis's married life.
However at this stage, on the night of the christening day argument Graham narrates that she was happy and that this would be the peak of it with Francis. The happiness was conveyed through conditions within her married life and circumstance that she mulled over. This was together with the bonus of being a new mother. Her life as he narrated she felt it was, was 'good'

The reference to Elizabeth’s happiness reaching its peak suggests a building happiness. This  makes sense with regards to their circumstances at the time. Graham’s description of Francis as a handsome, charming and easy going man alongside Elizabeth’s comments off their shared taste explains why happiness could be found in their match on those grounds alone. However at this stage the other aspect of the marriage credentials (being that Francis would be a provider and keep Elizabeth in relative comfort) was also being served and was no doubt part of Elizabeth's happiness with Francis. It would not be until later as Francis’s mine struggled to pay and eventually closed four years later, that this would be an issue which then caused cracks in the marriage to form. However until then and following Francis's father being taken temporarily ill that day, Elizabeth's reflections included how she would soon be mistress of Trenwith when (Uncle) Charles died. She was excited about that prospect. She was also excited that she and Francis would shortly be able to resume their social life together, with Geoffrey Charles in tow. What was not to love for a woman like Elizabeth who expected to be cared for to a certain standard and had a husband in Francis who was doing this at the time? To a woman like Elizabeth, of that era, this was a 'good husband'. 

Francis: A Kind Husband -According To Elizabeth


"It is not like you to be so unkind."  Elizabeth to Francis

In terms of a ‘good husband’ in character, on that christening night for Geoffrey Charles, Graham gave further insights to the reader that Francis had been patient she thought him to be a 'kind' husband. 

Graham's narrative implies that during Elizabeth's pregnancy of Geoffrey Charles, and despite his own desire for affection and lovemaking, Francis had respected Elizabeth's wishes and refrained from pursuing lovemaking from her for some significant time. This was something that Reverend Whitworth in respect of Morwenna and many other husbands of that time were not so amenable to do. As an argument was brewing between them Graham wrote that this occurred after Francis's move to being physically affectionate with Elizabeth where he took her in his arms and Elizabeth seemed to recoil from him due to thoughts that Francis might have been seeking more than what she was willing to give. 

There is nothing to support that Elizabeth was not keen on lovemaking with Francis because she did not love him. In any case at this time she thought she did love him, so that could not be the reason she considered. Elizabeth as a character was not presented as warm and affectionate in her romantic relationships at any point throughout the saga. Therefore this reservation over sexual loving seems fitting of her character. Even though adult Geoffrey Charles in 'Stranger from the Sea' commented that at the least he had thought his mother became fond of George when married to him, Graham did reference Elizabeth being pleased that after they consummated the marriage there was no regular demands for sexual love and it appeared to be very occasional thereafter. 

Of note, 
Elizabeth did not challenge Francis when he asked "Have I been ungenerous or short of sympathy?" This suggests that she could not rebut that because he had indeed been this way. But in response to his strong words and in his expressed upset at her seemingly long held reluctance to have carnal relations with him, or perhaps just to show some basic physical affection, Elizabeth had actually admitted to him that "It is not like you to be so unkind."(First and full edition of 'Ross Poldark' Book 2 Chapter 16). So in this statement so much is told to the reader about the kind of husband Francis had been to Elizabeth up until this night at least. Indeed, it suggests that Elizabeth's experience of Francis as a husband was that he was a kind and sympathetic one, just as she had said. 

Elizabeth was also consistent in implying that Francis was generally a fair minded reasonable husband to her. When she complained to Ross about him at Nampara she suggested that he was only less reasonable when it came to his addiction of gambling as she said "He is reasonable in so many things, but I cannot influence him in that."  Of course that suggests that she did have some influence on him in other matters where some wives in that time had none over their husbands whatsoever. Also whilst Graham later wrote of Elizabeth's thought post marriage to George where she felt he was the master of the big things and that Francis in comparison had been a more 'malleable' husbandthis impression of a decent level of reasonability from Francis is further supported. 

Francis’s Ongoing Devotion For Elizabeth 

The third post in ‘The Real Francis Poldark’ series being ‘The Loving And Besotted Fiancé documents that Francis was, as in the title, besotted with Elizabeth and that he viewed her as if she was a woman of perfection. This was so much so that Graham included dialogue from Francis at their engagement dinner whereby he stated that he loved her just as she was. Graham continued this narrative of the besotted Francis in his first year of marriage. For instance, he narrated that despite his upset at her having made him feel lonely for some time and retiring upstairs early on that christening evening, ‘….at the sight of her his grudge vanished and his love returned.’ Then Graham had told the reader that earlier he had carried her down the stairs feeling happy to feel her against him and smelling her scent whilst doing so. Yet where he had clearly not neglected her, he evidently spoke compassionately when he said “My poor wife, neglected as usual.” Graham also shared with the reader that that day Francis had pretended to busy himself with the guests but '...he had really had eyes for no one else.' 

In light of the above it is clear to see that Graham presented Francis as the spouse that loved his wife, wished to be loving towards her and continued to have the devotion for her just as he had had when they were engaged. Interestingly enough and something to be explored in another post focusing on Elizabeth as a loving wife, in keeping with Graham's 'Galatea' reference of Elizabeth as the 'loved but unloving' wife, Graham failed to document the same devotion from Elizabeth of Francis. Ever! This included before and after this point. Therefore when it comes to critical judgment of them as spouses, Francis could at least make a case that at some point during their marriage he had followed the vows of loving and cherishing her. 

The above covers the year period in the Francis and Elizabeth marriage up to the christening evening. So Graham swept through this very quickly meaning that with the first book comprising of three internal books, this stage in their marriage is reached quickly and by the end of the first book. So the assessment of the Francis and Elizabeth marriage until then is based on a few scenes which nevertheless still speak volumes for these supporting characters. The next post in this series explores how after Francis's disappointment, sadness and loneliness and also after he had an epiphany, (which seemed to be his attempt at suicide), Francis pulled himself together in more ways than one so once again he became again 'The Good Husband In The End' too.

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