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Post Info TOPIC: Stephen Carrington.


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Date: Aug 13 10:17 AM, 2019
RE: Stephen Carrington.
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Mrs Enys wrote:

Really interesting discussion. I didnt like Stephen from the very begining and that seems to be a universal reaction so Winston Graham obvioulsy intended that response from his readers. I used to think it was just me ! I agree with Mrs GImlet in that I dont think Demelza liked him either. I  think she tolerated him for Clowances sake and was wise enough to know that Clowance had to discover for herself what kind of man he was. I think she hoped she was wrong about the worst aspects of his character and of course she did not know his full history. I think Demelzas knew her daughter well enough to realised that Clowance would not be swayed by Parental disaproval and would likely marry him anyway , at least with their apparant approval , communication and confidence was maintained.


 Mrs Enys - I think you are right. Both Ross and Demelza agreed that their children should make their own decisions about their lives. It must have been very difficult for them to not try to influence Clowance.



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Date: Aug 13 10:02 AM, 2019
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Really interesting discussion. I didnt like Stephen from the very begining and that seems to be a universal reaction so Winston Graham obvioulsy intended that response from his readers. I used to think it was just me ! I agree with Mrs GImlet in that I dont think Demelza liked him either. I  think she tolerated him for Clowances sake and was wise enough to know that Clowance had to discover for herself what kind of man he was. I think she hoped she was wrong about the worst aspects of his character and of course she did not know his full history. I think Demelzas knew her daughter well enough to realised that Clowance would not be swayed by Parental disaproval and would likely marry him anyway , at least with their apparant approval , communication and confidence was maintained.



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Blackleburr

I think it's more a question of Lobb and Emma knowing their father rather better than Jason did Stephen.

The Tregirls family came from a tight knit community; every misdeed and piece of nefarious work Tholly carried out was known to everyone.  Lobb and Emma never forgave Tholly for leaving them when he had to 'disappear' from the scene for a bit and they ended up in the poorhouse.  Can you blame them? Tholly had no hiding place and the locals knew his reputation with women and acted accordingly, even after his return - memories were long.  He was a thorough rogue, but was tolerated and probably mistrusted in equal measure. Lobb had not the intelligence of his sister and was rather a pathetic figure, but Emma had become a strong character and was not afraid to stand up to Tholly.

Jason appeared on the scene not knowing his father at all.  He had heard about him being a 'success' and decided he would like a share in some of it.  So his first real sight of Stephen was as a handsome, happy go lucky man, newly married and puffed up by his recent money making schemes.  No doubt Jason idolised him and in his eyes, Stephen could do no wrong.  They were two of a kind and Stephen wanted to be admired so he did everything he could to accommodate Jason, even though Clowance was unhappy about it.

It is interesting that Stephen died following an act of stupidity, trying to prove his supremacy and piqued by a member of the aristocracy, whereas Tholly died in his bed reflecting on things past with Ross, who was the dubious inheritor of that infamous steel hook.

 



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Date: Jul 31 12:00 PM, 2019
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Thanks for sharing your view on this, Mrs Gimlett. I fully agree about Tholly being more straightforward and easier to read of the two. 
 
However, one other thing occurred to me, thinking about Stephen's and Tholly's children: that Jason appeared much more fond of his father than either Lobb or Emma were of theirs. Does this count for nothing, or could it be a case of "children and fools tell the truth", after all?


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If there is a direct comparison between Tholly and Stephen Carrington, I would go for Tholly any day.  I'm not sure Ross actively liked him - he was part of his past, one of the few who remembered Ross' parents - and was a useful ally from time to time.  However, I'm fairly sure Tholly would have been firmly put in his place had he stepped out of line whilst 'working' for Ross.  The main thing about him was his 'what you see is what you get' attitude.  I doubt he would have lied much, his past was widely known and his penchants understood by everyone.

Stephen is a more complex character.  I don't agree that Demelza was happy about him.  She found it hard to place his position in society and knew he lied.  In fact he lied to her from the very beginning about the shipwreck.  I think Demelza was very worried about Stephen and Clowance, but because she and Ross had agreed their children should choose for themselves, she had to bite her tongue and hope for enlightenment to come to Clowance.  Remember her relief when Stephen disappeared back to Bristol for some months, then the turmoil caused by his sudden return? Much later, she sensed that the marriage was not working very well.  I wonder at what point, if ever, Clowance divulged the true relationship between Stephen and Jason?  She told Verity, but I don't recall her immediate family ever being told.

I am not sure Clowance ever actually loved Stephen.  Wasn't it more of an infatuation?  He represented a romantic figure, strong and macho emerging from the sea like one of Neptune's brothers and quite unlike anything she had previously encountered.  He cared about her but only for his own ends.  His delight that being her husband brought him into contact with the Warleggan's social circle, or more accurately, Harriet's, made him think Clowance was his lucky charm.  As is mentioned many times, he dreamt up ideas and scenarios which in his mind had already happened. He was convinced everything he did was right and would be successful.

 Tholly - A rogue through and through but a known quantity.  Stephen - far more unchancy and unpredictable.  



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Date: Jun 19 4:58 PM, 2019
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I'm sure Emma was Tholly's daughter. If I recall the passage correctly, Emma was trying to explain to Sam the depth of Tholly's degeneracy. He had tried to seduce her behind a hedge. After that he tried to impress Emma with presents. She told him that he should instead buy food for his destitute son and his family. Before then I saw Tholly as a kind of likable bandit. I think it was, as you aptly pointed out, because he was Ross and Joshua's friend. But that incident was disturbing, and showed Tholly to be irredeemable.



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Date: Jun 13 12:45 AM, 2019
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Hollyhock wrote:
Hmmm, you'd have to go with Ross's instincts on this one.

Not a problem at all - now you've put it this way. In fact, I would happily go with Ross's instincts on pretty much everything

On another note - a few posts earlier, you mentioned Tholly trying to seduce Emma. That scene always puzzled me - was it WG playing with the idea that Tholly might not have been Emma's true father? (Yep, here I am again, trying to come up with a charitable interpretation for yet another bad character.) What do you/others think?



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Date: Jun 9 3:51 PM, 2019
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Blackleburr wrote:

 

It does seem that Demelza had fallen for the deception, as she was suspicious of Tholly from the outset (worrying mainly that he might get Ross into trouble), but did not seem half as much alarmed about Stephen's possible bad influence on Jeremy and Clowance.


 

Hmmm, you'd have to go with Ross's instincts on this one. Demelza was out of her depth when it came to the wiles of attractive young men.




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Date: Jun 9 12:08 AM, 2019
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Oh, I see. In that case, do you think this could be another reason why Ross seemed to like Tholly (bad, but predictably so) better than Stephen (not only bad, but deceptive as well)?

It does seem that Demelza had fallen for the deception, as she was suspicious of Tholly from the outset (worrying mainly that he might get Ross into trouble), but did not seem half as much alarmed about Stephen's possible bad influence on Jeremy and Clowance.



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No wait!...I said looked not was.smile  Just as Dorian Gray looked pretty on the outside but whose soul was ugly.  I'd prefer Tholly's company to Stephen's any day because I'd know I would always have to watch my back. It was dangerous to be Stephen's friend. Remember how the big man showed his cowardice by abandoning Jeremy and leaving him stranded during that dubious boat deal. If Cuby hadn't rescued him, Jeremy would have been arrested and/or shot. No, Stephen was the worst. 






-- Edited by Hollyhock on Friday 7th of June 2019 06:08:34 PM

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Hollyhock wrote:

Ahh, thanks for explaining Blackleburr. Glad you compared him to Tholly. I see Stephen and Tholly as two sides of the same coin; Tholly's side just looks uglier and feels slimier (Dorian Gray's portrait if you please). They share so many negative qualities: gifted lying, guiltlessness about abandoning their families, killing without compunction, bullying and bragging, skirt chasing, thinking the world owes them something...If anything's in his favor, Tholly had fewer opportunities than Stephen but I was through with him when he tried to seduce Emma. Just as Stephen broke the final straw when he tried to pounce on Harriet. But you make an interesting point about Tholly's seeming more acceptable than Stephen, and I wonder if it is because he was more helpful to the Poldarks than harmful. Ross liked him more than he did Stephen, but I think that was because Tholly was so much a part of his childhood.

I think these books are so readable because they allow for such individual interpretation and speculation. There's no one size fits all! 


 Wait... did you just say Tholly's side looked uglier and felt slimier? In a thread that pretty much concludes there's nothing positive to be said about Stephen? I always thought of Tholly as being much more likeable - despite the fact that, as you say, the list of his negative qualities is long and matches up well with Stephen's (btw, I'm stunned how precise that list is and how quickly you came up with it - I couldn't have done it better if I had a week to think about it! ). No one size fits all indeed!



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Date: Jun 7 4:12 PM, 2019
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Ahh, thanks for explaining Blackleburr. Glad you compared him to Tholly. I see Stephen and Tholly as two sides of the same coin; Tholly's side just looks uglier and feels slimier (Dorian Gray's portrait if you please). They share so many negative qualities: gifted lying, guiltlessness about abandoning their families, killing without compunction, bullying and bragging, skirt chasing, thinking the world owes them something...If anything's in his favor, Tholly had fewer opportunities than Stephen but I was through with him when he tried to seduce Emma. Just as Stephen broke the final straw when he tried to pounce on Harriet. But you make an interesting point about Tholly's seeming more acceptable than Stephen, and I wonder if it is because he was more helpful to the Poldarks than harmful. Ross liked him more than he did Stephen, but I think that was because Tholly was so much a part of his childhood.

I think these books are so readable because they allow for such individual interpretation and speculation. There's no one size fits all! 



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Date: Jun 7 12:57 PM, 2019
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Hollyhock wrote:
What do you think made him tick?

Very good question, Hollyhock.

A lot of the time, I think, Stephen was trying to prove to the world what he's worth: that he can make it in Cornwall, in spite of being an outsider; that he can climb in society, in spite of being low born; that he can fend for himself - and Clowance - without anybody's (and particularly, Ross's) help; that if he wants a woman - he can get her, etc. This suggests, to me, that he must have been seriously lacking in confidence/self-esteem - otherwise, why would he need all this validation from the outside?

Part of his motivation could also have been plain adventure-seeking (a bit like Ross, for whom routine and stability were no good if they couldn't be broken from time to time). In this, Stephen reminds me a lot of another character - Tholly Tregirls. Tholly wasn't a saint for much of his life either - but as he happened not to do any harm to the Poldarks, perhaps we find his sins easier to forgive?

There could, however, be a more fundamental difference between these two characters: Tholly seems generally to trust people, whereas Stephen - as a principle - never does. In the back of his mind, and especially when something goes wrong, Stephen always has these thoughts that others may be plotting against him, acting mean towards him because they think him this or that (an outsider, low-born, poor, love rival, whatever) or trying to use him for their own ends. WG doesn't really give us a reason why Stephen was like that (perhaps his childhood was difficult or life just dealt him one blow too many? perhaps he didn't come across any good role model in time? or maybe he was just born like that?), but clearly with such an attitude Stephen must have felt like he's swimming against the current for most of the time, which unfortunately didn't make his life any easier or his character any better.

After they got married, I think Clowance realised a lot of this - and tried to help, but didn't quite succeed in getting past Stephen's defences. In fact, it seems that throughout the books no one really confronted Stephen about what his problem was - Ben or Jeremy may have been the closest, but their message still turned out too circumspect for Stephen - and clearly Stephen wasn't able to figure it out on his own (I never thought he had a particularly bright mind, anyway). Or, perhaps Harriet finally did the trick - only WG didn't let Stephen live long enough for us to see the consequences?



-- Edited by Blackleburr on Friday 7th of June 2019 01:00:48 PM

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Hollyhock wrote:

Blackleburr, I applaud your desire to find some redeeming quality in Stephen.smile Surely there was some decency, but Stephen was most comfortable with those he felt to be weaker than himself, or those who looked up to him. Unfortunately, his regard didn't stem from love; it sprang from his need to be macho. We see this especially with his son, whom he abandoned without a thought. And even with young Andrew Blamey--although he befriended Andrew mainly to shut him up. I too think that Stephen had a need to conquer and possess, as he tried to do with Harriet.

I think he did love Violet, as much as he was capable of loving anyone. But I would add to other comments that it was because, unlike Clowance, Violet made him feel like a hero; he knew she worshipped him. He overwhelmed (conquered) Clowance with his experienced, older-man seduction tactics, but failed to completely possess her soul because she was not as needy as Violet.

Perhaps this makes your case that he was insecure. He may have been insecure, but he was still a nasty piece of work.

What do you think made him tick?

 


 Hollyhock - I agree with you about Stephen and I, too, do not understand how anyone can think he has any positive qualities. Whatever the reasons he is as he is, he harms others and is definitely not at all a likeable person. He has no conscience about hurting or harming others. Goodness knows what Clowance saw in him.



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Blackleburr, I applaud your desire to find some redeeming quality in Stephen.smile Surely there was some decency, but Stephen was most comfortable with those he felt to be weaker than himself, or those who looked up to him. Unfortunately, his regard didn't stem from love; it sprang from his need to be macho. We see this especially with his son, whom he abandoned without a thought. And even with young Andrew Blamey--although he befriended Andrew mainly to shut him up. I too think that Stephen had a need to conquer and possess, as he tried to do with Harriet.

I think he did love Violet, as much as he was capable of loving anyone. But I would add to other comments that it was because, unlike Clowance, Violet made him feel like a hero; he knew she worshipped him. He overwhelmed (conquered) Clowance with his experienced, older-man seduction tactics, but failed to completely possess her soul because she was not as needy as Violet.

Perhaps this makes your case that he was insecure. He may have been insecure, but he was still a nasty piece of work.

What do you think made him tick?

 



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Date: Jun 5 12:58 PM, 2019
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Stella Poldark wrote:
Blackleburr wrote:

Thanks for clarifying, Stella! I think that's a very good point.

Also, it's redeeming trait #1 found for Stephen


 I do not see it as a redeeming trait at all. Stephen was completely selfish and dishonest.


 Ok, Stella - it was your idea to begin with, so I'm not going to push it. Redeeming traits count for Stephen reset to 0



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Date: Jun 5 7:54 AM, 2019
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Blackleburr wrote:

Thanks for clarifying, Stella! I think that's a very good point.

Also, it's redeeming trait #1 found for Stephen


 I do not see it as a redeeming trait at all. Stephen was completely selfish and dishonest.



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Thanks for clarifying, Stella! I think that's a very good point.

Also, it's redeeming trait #1 found for Stephen



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Date: Jun 4 11:15 PM, 2019
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Blackleburr wrote:
Stella Poldark wrote:

The one person he seemed to love was Violet Kellow. Perhaps it was safe for him to love her as she was dying and her death was imminent.


This is an interesting perspective, Stella. Would you mind expanding on why Stephen might have felt that loving anyone whose death wasn't imminent would be unsafe for him?

It does seem to strike a chord with my view that in spite of appearing to be always rather full of himself, Stephen also had something about him that suggested he was never quite secure enough to let his guards down.


 My thinking is rather complex. Stephen knew Violet was dying and no one else would want her so it was safe for Stephen to 'love' her because only death would deprive him of her. With Clowance he knew there was another who loved her and that he could lose her. Stephen had a need to feel he possessed any woman he wanted. He was very insecure and quite unable to really love anyone but he came closest with Violet I think. He was a very bad husband to Clowance and lied to her many times I recall. My thinking comes from my psychotherapy training.



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Stella Poldark wrote:

The one person he seemed to love was Violet Kellow. Perhaps it was safe for him to love her as she was dying and her death was imminent.


This is an interesting perspective, Stella. Would you mind expanding on why Stephen might have felt that loving anyone whose death wasn't imminent would be unsafe for him?

It does seem to strike a chord with my view that in spite of appearing to be always rather full of himself, Stephen also had something about him that suggested he was never quite secure enough to let his guards down.



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Fijane wrote:

I have never seen any good in Stephen, even the first time I read about him, and didn't know what would come in the future. I can see why there is some conflict, because he could be charming or seemingly vulnerable sometimes. But in those circumstances, there was always a personal agenda. He never treated anyone well out of pure kindness or friendliness, there was always a benefit to him and his plans.

I don't think we get enough description of his background to judge properly why he was like that. There was lots of evidence that he often did not tell the truth about his childhood, or that he embellished it, to the point that I believed very little of what he said. I think it was tailored for his audience and the reality was very different to his tales. I would hate to have been the people raising him.


 Fijane - I agree with you. There is nothing positive  I can think of saying about Stephen Carrington. I don't see how he could have loved Clowance and treated her as he did, lying about so many things and deliberately keeping information from her. The one person he seemed to love was Violet Kellow. Perhaps it was safe for him to love her as she was dying and her death was imminent. Stephen made no attempt to really get to know Clowance or he would have known how much his dishonesty hurt her deeply. 



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I have never seen any good in Stephen, even the first time I read about him, and didn't know what would come in the future. I can see why there is some conflict, because he could be charming or seemingly vulnerable sometimes. But in those circumstances, there was always a personal agenda. He never treated anyone well out of pure kindness or friendliness, there was always a benefit to him and his plans.

I don't think we get enough description of his background to judge properly why he was like that. There was lots of evidence that he often did not tell the truth about his childhood, or that he embellished it, to the point that I believed very little of what he said. I think it was tailored for his audience and the reality was very different to his tales. I would hate to have been the people raising him.

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Interesting that you should bring up Hugh Armitage. One of the reasons why I thought it unlikely that Stephen could have been outright bad was that Demelza - with her usually astute judgement about characters - did not seem particularly alarmed by him the way she was, for instance, about Tholly. If anything, I think she rather liked Stephen. So I assumed she must have been right - and in doing so, clearly forgot how her judgement had been fooled before by Hugh Armitage. Thanks for pointing this out for me, Hollyhock!



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Date: May 9 10:03 PM, 2019
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If I had to choose only one word it would be amoral. Ben saw clearer than anyone else that Stephen was pretentious and unscrupulous. Aside from murder, bigamy, and accomplished lying, one of the things that I found most distasteful was his conceit. His trying to seduce Harriet, and her pregnant, was the outside of enough. As to why he was like that, perhaps his rough childhood--but again you can't really trust what he said about that either. Stephen was just a sleezeball, the spiritual brother of Hugh Armitage.



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I thought I'd bring out the topic of Stephen Carrington from the depths of the archives.

 
If I were to describe his character in a single word, I'd choose 'unreliable': not just because most of the time you can't really trust what he's saying, but also because I find it difficult to reliably class him as either a likeable or a non-likeable person. Instead, Stephen always seems to be fluctuating between the two. I start out quite wary of him, then I begin to think I might have been prejudiced (because he's different, an outsider, etc.) and that I could in fact like him, and then he does something to ruin all that and I'm back to being wary - and so the cycle continues.
 
But what is it that's making Stephen so volatile? Is he simply manipulative and outright a bad person? Or is he fundamentally insecure and therefore bouncing between extreme friendliness and extreme bullying? Or maybe he is just impulsive and making a lot of mistakes, but not very apt to learn from them?
 
At the moment, I think I like the insecurity explanation best. And what is your view?


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Date: May 22 8:19 PM, 2011
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I felt a great sense of relief when he died as if now Clowance could marry a man who would make her truly happy. I could never imagine any daughter of Ross or Demelza tolerating the way Carrington would eventually make Clowance feel and so if he hadnt died, they would have had to separate!



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The man's a bounder, never did like him.  Was I horrible to feel a sense of elation when he died and Clowance was free again?



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Off topic military and NCOs transferred to "Off Topic" Forum.



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Date: May 9 3:59 PM, 2011
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When he threw Jeremy to the wolves at Caerhays, I knew he was a rotter. You only get to betray me once.... :(



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A 'Bad Lot' I fear - but clearly had a certain attraction for the ladies!



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Never liked him or trusted him or thought he was the man for Clowance! BUt he was an interesting character and think he added a bit of tension to the storyline. 



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Stephen Carrington.



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