Poldark : The trajectory of Demelza's life if Ross hadn't married her

The trajectory of Demelza's life if Ross hadn't married her

The space for the thread title was not big enough for me to make this a question.

OK, enlightened self propelled Demelza sleeps with Ross. In this version she is unhappy that Ross and Elizabeth have closed her out of their tête-à-tête and Liz said the little blue flowers (a symbol of the Ross/Demelza pairing) were already wilting. (I think that's what she said.) She sets out for home.

Her father is a religious nut and has already chastised her for staying with Ross as a house maid. He thinks she has already been compromised. Will Demelza make up a story about coming home, leaving out the juicy part? Will her father subject her to a Doctor's examination?

What will her life be like back in the place from which she was rescued, a place none of us would ever care to be?

I'd like all of you who are lauding her free spirit to consider for a moment the time Demelza lived in as you do for Elizabeth. Elizabeth was bound by this and that but Demelza can do whatever she likes.

What are her options if Ross doesn't marry her?

Bonus questions:
Was Ross aware of what their actions could mean for her?
Isn't that why he married her?

Re: The trajectory of Demelza's life if Ross hadn't married her


What will her life be like back in the place from which she was rescued

I guess she would have taken care of the Widow Chegwidden's children. Or hopefully, some miner would have married her and she would have a home of her own. (Or not. Maybe having seen a better way of life, she would have been left like Rosina Hoblyn - "betwixt and between".)


Was Ross aware of what their actions could mean for her?
Isn't that why he married her?

Yes, of course, that was one of his reasons. Ross was more honourable than his father.

Re: The trajectory of Demelza's life if Ross hadn't married her


Was Ross aware of what their actions could mean for her?
Isn't that why he married her?


Yes, of course, that was one of his reasons. Ross was more honourable than his father.


I agree. As an honorable man very aware of what might be in store for Demelza, he made the decision to marry her.

Re: The trajectory of Demelza's life if Ross hadn't married her

In the beginning, [I love that, "in the beginning"] Demelza's father was a slovenly abusive drunk. His "holier than thou" posturing after Ross' and Demelza's wedding came out of nowhere.

Demelza looked like a homeless urchin wearing her brothers' hand-me-downs. Considering the era, it's bewildering she had no housekeeping or cooking skills [could she cook?] and was taught everything by Prudie.

After her father and his sons brought a gang of brawlers with them to Nampara to claim his "kidnapped" daughter, rumors spread that Ross was using the girl inappropriately. No longer desiring to fight the rumors and her overwhelming lust, Demelza presented her naked body to Ross and he accepted.

Yes, that's why he married her. If he hadn't, she would have headed to London and thrived as a prostitute. With her spirit (and lowly esteem), there was no way her father could beat her into submission and there was no other lifestyle she would have considered.

Re: The trajectory of Demelza's life if Ross hadn't married her


Considering the era, it's bewildering she had no housekeeping or cooking skills [could she cook?] and was taught everything by Prudie.

I don't think we're meant to conclude that Demelza was clueless. Not at all. The book says that she had "experience of catering for a large and poor family". She could feed hungry bellies all right, but what she lacked was the finesse of fine cooking - not that Ross could afford the best food, but his cuisine would be considerably more refined than a miner's diet.


she would have headed to London and thrived as a prostitute



Not sure what WG would have made of that!








If there aren't any skeletons in a man's closet, there's probably a Bertha in his attic.

Re: The trajectory of Demelza's life if Ross hadn't married her

I haven't read the novels, Supergran. Remember feeding me spoilers? I'm relying on my perception of what's been portrayed in this series (and a somewhat faulty memory - hence the bracketed question).


She would have headed to London and thrived as a prostitute.

I took into account her meddlesome yet charming nature:

• How she went through Ross' personal belongings and donned his mother's dress - thievery
• How she enthralled all the snobs at the Christmas party - enchantment
• How she intervened and covertly acted as agent between Verity and the Captain - espionage
• How she used what'shisname to get to the judge at the party - cunning


I don't think we're meant to conclude that Demelza was clueless.

By no means has she been portrayed as "clueless" which is why I selected the word thrive. I think she would have prospered as a prostitute.

Re: The trajectory of Demelza's life if Ross hadn't married her

If Ross hadn't gone after her and married her? Well, let's look at Demelza's personality, she is a spunky survivor. She would have gone home to her father's house and helped out for a time but I think that she would not have stayed there for very long. She would probably leave within a month or two to find work in some other gentry's house, Ross I am sure would have given her a good reference. She could have started out as kitchen help and later been promoted to head cook, possibly married another member of the staff there. She would have remained a servant to someone else.

Re: The trajectory of Demelza's life if Ross hadn't married her

I too think Ross would've given her a good reference, enabling Demelza to get in with one of the other good houses. There were several of the older men who seemed to admire Demelza's light and wouldn't have minded having her around to brighten their days, lol. . She likely would never have reached the station of being a gentleman's wife but she would have made a life for herself nevertheless. Her spunk and defiance was already evident as the young girl she was when Ross first found her so, yes, a survivor indeed. She would've landed on her feet.

Re: The trajectory of Demelza's life if Ross hadn't married her

Cornwall aristocracy preferred to believe the rumors about Demelza. “She looks like a dangerous woman to me!”

Because she was with Ross, the women wouldn't have permitted her into their houses, not even in their fields.

Who was the man who tried to take her physically? He chased her around a garden.

Then consider what Prudie and Jud would have said about her before they became fond of her.

If she would have gotten hired, she wouldn't have lasted. Women despised her and men objectified her. She would have had to leave Cornwall.


Re: The trajectory of Demelza's life if Ross hadn't married her

I think she would have put up with just about anything to avoid prostitution, even being with her religiously insane father living pretty much as a slave for as long as possible. That said, it is something that pops into the mind.

Her options are not exactly palatable. She would have to choose between bad and bad. The scenario where she might find someone as decent as Ross to work for is something that would only happen in a movie.

Re: The trajectory of Demelza's life if Ross hadn't married her

Demelza was inspired by WG's wife, "a free and independent spirit of Cornish ancestry".

Demelza by author design was deigned to struggle, remain independent and find success within her lifetime.

I visualize Demelza initially fishing, having a fish stand, to eventually finding financing to own both her own boat and profitable fishery. 😀

Re: The trajectory of Demelza's life if Ross hadn't married her

I know she was inspired by WG's wife. That is why WG gifted her Ross.




I visualize Demelza initially fishing, having a fish stand, to eventually finding financing to own both her own boat and profitable fishery. 😀


I suppose if Ross chose not to marry her, he could have sent her off with his boat as a consolation prize and she might have made a go of it. (I am now LMAO at your post.)

Re: The trajectory of Demelza's life if Ross hadn't married her

There is a brief discussion in Ross Poldark of Demelza herself evaluating her life prospects in the event she were to leave Nampara as her father demanded (and without becoming Ross's lover). Worst-case scenario: Virtual slave to her own family members for life. Best-case scenario: Wife to an illiterate miner who would treat her decently and perhaps provide a small cottage of their own.

If Demelza left Nampara after becoming Ross's lover, but without marrying him, he might have been able to recommend her for a position in service at one of the better estates in Cornwall. This is in fact what Ross proposed to do in episode 3 of Oldark. (He wanted to boot out Demelza after sleeping with her.) Whether Demelza would have been successful in securing such a position would have depended on how far the gossip about her had spread. A bad reputation probably would have kept her out of a good house.

Re: The trajectory of Demelza's life if Ross hadn't married her

You've been silent, Joe.

What are YOUR opinions of the way the VBT was played out?





If there aren't any skeletons in a man's closet, there's probably a Bertha in his attic.

Re: The trajectory of Demelza's life if Ross hadn't married her

The episode hasn't aired in the United States yet, so I haven't seen it. I've read detailed descriptions and voluminous online commentary, so I think I have a good idea of what Horsfield did. I don't want to express a firm opinion without having watched the episode itself (and indeed the remainder of Series 2 as well, since for me the immediate post-VBT actions of the main characters always have been almost as important as the VBT itself in shaping the story). Suffice it to say at this point that the considerable controversy now attached to episode 8 means that the project of "consensualizing" the VBT was botched. I always expected that the coupling would be rendered unambiguously consensual -- and it wouldn't have been difficult to achieve that. If your objective is to remove the horror of the VBT, and to rescue the character of Ross to the extent possible, then a good chunk of your audience shouldn't still be seeing rape on the screen, or at least an offensive, "rapey" encounter. Whether they are right or wrong, if that's their reaction, you've failed.

Re: The trajectory of Demelza's life if Ross hadn't married her


Suffice it to say at this point that the considerable controversy now attached to episode 8 means that the project of "consensualizing" the VBT was botched. I always expected that the coupling would be rendered unambiguously consensual -- and it wouldn't have been difficult to achieve that.


I wholeheartedly agree. I was thoroughly disappointed with the way it was portrayed. Over and over again, the choices with this adaptation have been to present the story in a manner that was palatable to a modern audience (even to the detriment of the original story). So why write this scene in such a manner?


If your objective is to remove the horror of the VBT, and to rescue the character of Ross to the extent possible, then a good chunk of your audience shouldn't still be seeing rape on the screen, or at least an offensive, "rapey" encounter. Whether they are right or wrong, if that's their reaction, you've failed.


Again, I wholeheartedly agree. How could they have blundered so completely?

Re: The trajectory of Demelza's life if Ross hadn't married her

I remember the first series episode all too well and was horrified that the director made that choice, especially when Winston Graham left it open to interpretation. Does free will to create am ambiguously written scene in a novel automatically mean it has to be translated to violent action of any manner against a woman? Especially one that has been cherished for years?

Okay, we comprehend that the fundamental issue is Ross's anger at George. So, go fight with George who is now evenly matched with you.

Until then, Ross Poldark was a hero and all nobility crumbled after that assault. The character was seen by many as having lost points with all involved, including many in the audience.

Although we haven't gotten the episode in America yet, the one photo of Elizabeth being backed against the wall by and inflamed Ross is ugly to me. The actors were doing the jobs their director and they agreed upon, yet the photo captured a look on Aiden face that was scary.

Having seen that look in real life with a former spouse, I can find no words to say what would happen afterward would be consensual. Whether one is married, or might have been married to the man in question, there is no "act of love" following such an expression.

There were other choices. I feel sorry for the director, writers, and actors because their good intentions are only a valid as the feelings of the viewers. This is life and in reality, not "all press is good press".



A Checkered Life speaks of myriad diverse adventures being the rewards of endless curiosity.

Re: The trajectory of Demelza's life if Ross hadn't married her


Again, I wholeheartedly agree. How could they have blundered so completely?

To their credit, both Horsfield and Andrew Graham recognized that the VBT scene in Warleggan is ambiguous, and could be (is) interpreted as rape by some. AG even conceded, "The point of departure for the relevant scene is indeed consistent with the potential for rape." But both of them felt that Winston Graham's intention was not to depict a rape. How then to make that assumed meaning clear?

It appears that they seized on what I've always identified as the locus of the ambiguity in the scene: the absence of any "what happens when they reach the bed?" climax (sorry about the pun). So, it appears that Horsfield decided that she could resolve the ambiguity merely by providing that missing scene -- and by adding a cheerful morning-after scene as well (so I've read).

I think their error was believing that simply resolving the ambiguity in favor of consent was the same thing as eliminating all the rape signifiers from the original scene, which apparently was adapted pretty faithfully, even though condensed. They didn't count on critics jumping on them mercilessly for allegedly perpetuating "rape myths" like "no-no-no-yes" (she really wants it, so keep up the pressure until she relents). And some viewers are arguing that the incident still qualifies as actual rape, even with the addition of the consent scenelets. I guess their position is that the level of coercion and intimidation applied vitiates any subsequent apparent consent.

Andrew Graham is 74, so perhaps he can be excused for not realizing how the adapted scene would play in light of 2016 mores. I don't think Horfield has any excuse. She should have known that her light additions would not be nearly enough to prevent substantial controversy and, in some cases, outrage or disgust. And again, it would have been so easy just to depart from the text a little more and make the action truly mutual in everyone's eyes.

I have to say that I was wrong about Horsfield in this instance. I didn't think she would leave any doubt at all that the VBT was absolutely consensual. It's perhaps unfortunate for her that she chose this ground on which to take a stand in favor of heightened literalism in her adaptation.

Re: The trajectory of Demelza's life if Ross hadn't married her

I don't think Horfield has any excuse. She should have known that her light additions would not be nearly enough to prevent substantial controversy and, in some cases, outrage or disgust. And again, it would have been so easy just to depart from the text a little more and make the action truly mutual in everyone's eyes

I quite agree. Considering all the other departures from the novels, I was expecting this scene to be very different (esp after reading the quotations from Horsfield, Reed and Turner in the press, months ago).

Re: The trajectory of Demelza's life if Ross hadn't married her

Joseph said:

The episode hasn't aired in the United States yet, so I haven't seen it... I don't want to express a firm opinion without having watched the episode itself (and indeed the remainder of Series 2 as well, since for me the immediate post-VBT actions of the main characters always have been almost as important as the VBT itself in shaping the story).

Being that the PBS broadcast is edited, and gosh knows what bits and to what extent, I think I'll wait to see the uncut edition that the local libraries will provide. I tried via "other ways and means," yesterday, but the picture quality was extremely dark, and I could not see much of what was going on very well. lol

Re: The trajectory of Demelza's life if Ross hadn't married her

I understand you want to reserve judgement until you've seen it, Joe.

I will just say this: I think a lot of the controversy has been created by journalists who haven't been following the series, haven't seen the scene in context, haven't any real interest in the series, and are just jumping on the bandwagon. This becomes VERY apparent when you actually read the newspaper articles.

Of course, I'm not saying that the scene was entirely sanitised. Ross doesn't come out of this well. But I don't know if Horsfield's objective was "to rescue the character of Ross to the extent possible". I think she was just trying to convey the VBT as she believed Graham intended.

Look forward to your impression when you see it, Joe.






If there aren't any skeletons in a man's closet, there's probably a Bertha in his attic.

Re: The trajectory of Demelza's life if Ross hadn't married her

Yes, although I don't really know for myself how good a job Horsfield has done, the one thing I do know is that lots of viewers apparently don't think it was good enough! E.g., http://themuse.jezebel.com/christ-poldark-what-are-you-doing-1788146959. As noted above, I find that very surprising. The existence of the controversy has become more significant than the way I will ultimately interpret the scene.

Re: The trajectory of Demelza's life if Ross hadn't married her

Thanks so much for that link, Joe. And within the Muse article, one can click on the link to the Radio Times article as well. :)

Re: The trajectory of Demelza's life if Ross hadn't married her

Check out the long comments thread there as well. It's running about 30 to 1 against the show, and many of the comments are amazingly indignant. I assume that the Jezebel/Muse website is a pretty good match for the Poldark core audience too.

Re: The trajectory of Demelza's life if Ross hadn't married her

The comments are pretty heated. It's interesting that on my Poldark Facebook group all the women are angry at Ross and want to see him suffer dearly, but the anger is over the adultery. No one there seems to view what happened as rape.

That said (and I haven't seen this episode yet either) it does sound as though the scene follows that no-no-no-yes trope which I feel, as the mother of two daughters and two sons, sends the wrong message.

Re: The trajectory of Demelza's life if Ross hadn't married her

oh for *beep*'s sake i keep reading a lot about the horros of the scene and after seeing it i'm like.... is this it?
that was not rape, it was a dom>sub fantasy and ery subtle at that!
quite sad that aidan's gonna catch the fallout for this since many people (especially those on the jezebel like someone posted earlier) seem to not differentiate between a charachter and an actor...
those are the same peopel who thought walter white was the scum of the earth...

#cloneclub /i am the topic closer, the real topic closer//if you post after me a faerie gets cookies

Re: The trajectory of Demelza's life if Ross hadn't married her

Agreed about Aidan catching the fallout from this. Just judging from the Jezebel article/comments he seems to be getting in a lot of trouble for his earlier comments about the scene.

Other than the Jezebel comments I haven't seen too many actual viewers up in arms about "rape" or the scene being "rapey".... Most of the comments from people who've watched the series and know the context are primarily angry about the infidelity itself. From what I've seen most of the indignant comments about rape seen to be coming from journalists. IMO it seems pretty likely to me that the BBC tipped off the journalists to create a controversy which was an VERY poor move.

Re: The trajectory of Demelza's life if Ross hadn't married her

I honestly suspect that they would be on significantly better footing if they hadn't gone out of their way to "manufacture a controversy". It's just one of several key mistakes in this treatment of the VBT.

Re: The trajectory of Demelza's life if Ross hadn't married her

oh man i really hope they did not manufacture the scandal for press, that would be sooooo cheap!
and poldark doesn't need that!

#cloneclub /i am the topic closer, the real topic closer//if you post after me a faerie gets cookies

Re: The trajectory of Demelza's life if Ross hadn't married her

I could be wrong, but I think Jezebel's target audience tends to be the uber feminists who see something to battle everywhere. I'll all for feminine power but not everything is a power play meant to denigrate womanhood.

Re: The trajectory of Demelza's life if Ross hadn't married her

I think could be right about that. Also Oh No They Didn't on LJ. There were lots of comments there about the VBT being portrayed as a rape. Not so much on twitter/Tumblr/Facebook. I have a suspicious that the later groups represents the "core" viewing audience ie people who've are actually watching the series and know of the context. I suspect that LJ, Jezebel and the articles from the journalists represent the very casual viewer or the Uber Feminist

Re: The trajectory of Demelza's life if Ross hadn't married her


Of course, I'm not saying that the scene was entirely sanitised. Ross doesn't come out of this well. But I don't know if Horsfield's objective was "to rescue the character of Ross to the extent possible". I think she was just trying to convey the VBT as she believed Graham intended.



I read a lot of the press previous to the episode and was "pleasantly" surprised at the interpretation that was on screen. Ross did not come out of the encounter as any kind of hero, I didn't see any rescuing of the character at all. I thought it was pretty close to the book text;I will state that as a qualifier that I never read the scene as rape. I do think, in the context of the entire story it was a no means yes scenario, which as been extensively debated in other threads.

Instead of viewers being indignant of how the scene was portrayed and interpreted for a 21st century sensibility, perhaps they could use it a point of departure for a talk on sexual consent and how society's views have changed over the time. To state that a period drama, depicting events set in the 1790's and written in the mid 20th century acts as a role model for behavior taking place in 2016 is ridiculous, in my opinion, as well as holding a actor, under contract, responsible for the acts of his characters.

Re: The trajectory of Demelza's life if Ross hadn't married her


Worst-case scenario: Virtual slave to her own family members for life. Best-case scenario: Wife to an illiterate miner who would treat her decently and perhaps provide a small cottage of their own.

Yup and yup. Marriage to a miner (I hadn't thought of that) could have set up some awkward situations where she and Ross see each other, somewhat like the Ross/Elizabeth situation we are living through now.




If Demelza left Nampara after becoming Ross's lover, but without marrying him, ..........
Whether Demelza would have been successful in securing such a position would have depended on how far the gossip about her had spread. A bad reputation probably would have kept her out of a good house.

Agree wholeheartedly.


Re: The trajectory of Demelza's life if Ross hadn't married her

Unfortunately she may have been in the same situation if she left Nampara before becoming his lover. Since the gossip preceded the actual relationship
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