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Post Info TOPIC: on marriage, social status and happiness


Student

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Date: Jun 8 4:11 AM, 2019
RE: on marriage, social status and happiness
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Thanks for sharing your view, Hollyhock - the Edward defense team is always welcome to the field! Re Philip, I agree with you completely. Re Edward, let us agree to disagree - although, for Clowance's sake, I'd much rather be wrong.

As to what Clowance was bringing into her second marriage - I like your list, but I do have a couple quibbles.  First, I never got the impression that household management was something Clowance was interested in or enjoyed, whether at Nampara or later when she was married to Stephen - therefore I'm not sure why this should be different in the case of Edward's household? And second, you say that Edward would support her friendships - but Clowance seemed to barely have any friends at all, save for her unsuccessful suitors and Harriet, so I wonder what exactly this leaves for Edward to support?

Next, you ask if I think Clowance ever told Edward all about Stephen? No. I'm sure she told him enough - as much as she thought was fair for him to know - at some point before they got married. Later on (much later) I think there would come a time for deeper confidences: something they read/heard/came across would trigger Clowance's memories and she would want Edward to be able to share/understand her feelings, and so a long intimate talk would follow. But there is no way she would tell him about everything Stephen used to do with her behind their bedroom door... Ross once commented that "he believed there was an etiquette even in adultery, and he couldn't bring himself to discuss one woman with another - even if the second happened to be his wife". Clowance, who was very much like her father, certainly believed the same and therefore would never discuss her first husband with the second.

And speaking of how much Clowance resembled her father - that's also one of the reasons why I can't agree with your view about Ben. Specifically,

  • I don't believe that Ben thinking himself beneath Clowance would cause any problems in their marriage. Demelza thought herself beneath Ross for a long time, but that didn't stop their marriage from being very successful (not in the least because Ross dealt with her insecurities just fine - so why wouldn't Clowance be able to do the same for Ben?).
  • As for being in love with the idea of Clowance - if anyone, I think this applied to Edward (who had seemingly made up his mind about Clowance after seeing her just once at a ball in London, and then for two weeks at Bowood) not Ben, who knew her since they were children, whom she was helping - hands on - when the new engine for Wheal Leisure was transported from Hendrawna Beach to the engine house, with whom she went treasure-hunting down the mine, and so on. But more importantly, I don't think being in love with the idea of someone is necessarily a bad start for a marriage. The wedding is only the beginning of a journey, after all, and at that point people tend to have more ideas than knowledge about each other (or indeed about themselves). What matters is what they end up doing about those ideas. If, as you quoted, they re-make each other after the other's image - it can work wonders!
  • And in terms of pushing Clowance to reach her potential - with Ben's knack for engineering (as well as music) and Clowance's skills in business management, what if they became partners with Goldsworthy Gurney and got involved in the development of railway transport? Clowance had always been passionate discussing steam engines on Jeremy's behalf, so I expect she would happily rise to the challenge in order to be able to continue his legacy.

Now, enough of the speculation



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Date: Jun 5 4:40 PM, 2019
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As an Edward defense team member, I'd like to add my views. Much as I adore Ben, I don't think he would have made a good husband for Clowance--or she a good wife for him--for the same reasons that Blackleburr attribute to Edward. Ben worshiped her too much and, unfortunately, thought himself beneath her. That was not a good footing to start a marriage on and I don't think Clowance could have respected him for it. Ben would never have challenged her to reach her potential and would have smothered her with gratitude. I don't think his attitude would have changed much over time, or soon enough.

But Ben wasn't devastated because Clowance didn't marry him. He was devastated because she married Stephen who, with all his posturing, would make her a miserable husband. Finally, I'm not convinced Ben was in love with Clowance as much as he was in love with the idea of her--much as Ross was with Elizabeth. Esther was a much happier match for Ben, and he knew it.

Philip would not have been a good match for Clowance either because, unlike Ben who expected nothing, Philip expected too much. He perhaps loved Clowance, but he thought she could help him regain his mental stability, his peace of mind. A lot of baggage to drop at a woman's feet. So, he was going into the relationship expecting something that might not happen. She would again be sacrificing herself, subduing her herself as she did with Stephen. I think their marriage would have worked but they would not have balanced each other.

She and Edward did balance each other. I think Edward seems so virtuous only because Stephen was so dishonest. Edward gambled a little, hung out with his boys, and probably left his clothes lying around on the floor. He wanted a companion with whom he could share life. He was not expecting her to heal any wounds and I can't imagine him being a romantic doormat.

Clowance wanted a husband, and a friend, she could trust and respect, and one who would respect her. Afterall, she had her parents as models. Edward exhibits this aptitude during their courtship. He makes Clowance laugh again, something she'd almost forgotten how to do. Their camaraderie grows as he soothes her uncertainties and, I think, melts her heart. (She loved his conversation with Little Henry.) Do you think she ever told Edward all about Stephen?

What could she bring to the marriage? (Edward waited a long time for this woman and only WG knows why.smile) Aside from love and companionship, I think he would expect her to take some interest in his concerns--the theatre (no problem with Bella so involved); his charities (if she could deal with Prudie and Jud, no problem there); she'd assume management of his household (something she'd like), etc. Edward would also support her friendships and encourage her to grow interests of her own. She seemed to have a facility for this; he'd introduced her to his friends and she admitted that she enjoyed being in their society. Clowance also gave him the grounding of a down-to-earth family; he confided that he valued being part of the Poldarks. So, I think that despite his 'goodness,' Edward was the best husband for Clowance. Ross once said that he and Demelza re-made each other after the other's image. I think that would happen with Edward and Clowance.

 



-- Edited by Hollyhock on Wednesday 5th of June 2019 05:29:23 PM

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Date: Jun 5 12:25 AM, 2019
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Fijane - as the person who first brought up the issue of a non-boring husband for Clowance I feel that I should explain:

I agree completely that "being entertained" was the last thing Clowance expected from a marriage. She had already given loads in her marriage to Stephen, and would have been happy to give even more - had he encouraged her to, or shown any sign of appreciation (which he didn't, either because he didn't notice, or - when he did - because he considered it patronising and therefore resented it). And I'm sure she was ready to give again in her next marriage.

What I meant by a "non-boring" husband for Clowance was in fact the exact opposite of someone to "entertain" her - I think she needed someone with a good grace to accept all she had to offer, so that she could give freely and see the difference it makes. With Edward being so perfect to begin with - I struggled to see what more Clowance's love could bring into his life. Even more importantly, I worried that Clowance might struggle to see it too. If her role in marriage was reduced to being simply the receiving end of Edward's love and kindness - wouldn't her life soon begin to feel hollow? Would she not crumble, smothered by the mountain of goodness Edward was heaping on her?

At least, that's the reason why I felt that Ben Carter would make a better husband for Clowance. Unlike Edward, we know how badly Ben needed her love to make his life whole. And because she had treated Ben as a pal for most of her life, I think they would have been on a more even footing as husband and wife, each giving and receiving in equal measure.

And what attributes and benefits do you think Clowance would be bringing to Edward?



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Date: May 14 11:16 PM, 2019
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Fijane wrote:

Blackleburr has summed up all I was going to say about Edward. As well as all this, how Edward appears from the outside may not be indicative of his role as a husband.

I am interested, though, by the concept of Clowance needing a "non-boring" husband. It is a common saying here (in Aus) that only boring people are bored, and it irks me a little that all these men have to run in circles to keep Clowance "entertained". This sounds like very one-sided marriage, and I would like to reflect on the attributes and benefits that Clowance should be bringing to Edward. I think it is our reflection that has landed in this spot - I don't think Clowance herself would expect a passive role in the marriage.


 I think that, after her experience of life with Stephen, Clowance wanted and needed someone honest and truly loving. Clowance had her adventure with Stephen and, no doubt, realised she had not been happy with him. After Stephen's death and the revelation about Stephen's dishonesty, Clowance will have taken stock and learned some lessons.



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Date: May 14 10:27 PM, 2019
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Blackleburr has summed up all I was going to say about Edward. As well as all this, how Edward appears from the outside may not be indicative of his role as a husband.

I am interested, though, by the concept of Clowance needing a "non-boring" husband. It is a common saying here (in Aus) that only boring people are bored, and it irks me a little that all these men have to run in circles to keep Clowance "entertained". This sounds like very one-sided marriage, and I would like to reflect on the attributes and benefits that Clowance should be bringing to Edward. I think it is our reflection that has landed in this spot - I don't think Clowance herself would expect a passive role in the marriage.

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Date: May 3 2:58 PM, 2019
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Blackleburr wrote:

 In a way, I think your observation that Edward is like Ross - without the faults - sums up brilliantly both your point of view and mine, because the only fault I can see in Edward is that he appears to have no faults at all


           clap.gif

 



-- Edited by Hollyhock on Friday 3rd of May 2019 03:24:37 PM

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Date: Apr 25 6:57 PM, 2019
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Well, Hollyhock - I went back to re-read that letter, and my immediate reaction was that it reminded me a lot of the marriage proposal that George offerred Elizabeth... but rather than this becoming an argument against Edward, I think it made me look at George somewhat more sympathetically. So in the end I guess Edward's charming and virtuous nature has worked its wonders on me too - while also having added to the problem I had in the first place, that Edward seemed to have had too many virtues already. In a way, I think your observation that Edward is like Ross - without the faults - sums up brilliantly both your point of view and mine, because the only fault I can see in Edward is that he appears to have no faults at all

As for who would make a non-boring partner for Clowance, my vote goes to Ben - I think he deserved to be given his first-best choice of a wife by WG. Clowance was effectively friend-zoning all of her suitors (except Stephen) throughout the second part of the saga, and I felt that love was most likely to grow from that childhood friendship of hers with Ben - and really wanted Ben to be rewarded for his patient and quiet devotion.

About WG casting women as siren-like creatures, I think you're spot on! And it's not just the Nampara women - Elizabeth, Morwenna, Cuby all fit into that picture. In fact, the case I found most bothering was Cuby - and how Jeremy got besotted by her in a single meeting. I'm really struggling to see that as realistic... but then, we all have our peeves.



-- Edited by Blackleburr on Thursday 25th of April 2019 08:19:33 PM

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Date: Apr 24 3:12 PM, 2019
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Blackleburr noooo! smile

I feel I must defend Edward--one of my favorites. How could you read his impassioned letter to Clowance and think he might be boring? It was heartbreakingly sweet and sad at the same time. Edward realizes that Clowance might not find him as sexually exciting as Stephen, but Stephen did not make her happy and I think Edward would have. After reading that letter, Clowance should have dropped everything and jumped on the next stagecoach, boat, or donkey cart to London--NOT sat around doing her 'to marry or not to marry' thing.

She once told D she didn't think she'd ever find a man like Ross. Well, Edward was like Ross, just not as high-strung. He was spontaneous and charming, a 'heart-melter', honorable, despised injustice, was comfortable with all classes. The miners and villagers around Nampara took to him immediately--which was highly unusual for a stranger. And, like Ross, he would make a wonderful and indulgent father. (If they had children, they would insist that Dwight deliver them.) Some people would think he married down but, like Ross, Edward didn't care about those people. Like her, he loved riding and fell in love with her beloved Cornwall.

And here is one of my peeves. WG cast the Nampara women almost siren-like: men were enthralled the moment they clapped eyes on them. (Demelza even attracted another Monk Adderly in France.) So, my feelings run the other way. While Edward obviously doted on her, all the work of making the marriage a success should not have been on his shoulders. Although Clowance was wary and defensive initially, I think she did come to appreciate and love him. Well, you can see I'm besotted with Edward, but who do you think Clowance would have found 'not boring' as a husband?

I like your observation about marriages between secondary characters. Although we don't hear much about them, these seem, as you suggest, to reflect those of the major characters. The Zacky Martins seem happy, as do the Nanfans, the Daniels, and the Bottrells. I like to think that Katie was eventually happy, at any rate Music was blissful. On the other hand, Jinny's second marriage falls into the 'convenience' category (like Elizabeth's but not as beneficial for her); and Jacka Hoblyn was a bully, like George, just un-polished. Whether considered major or secondary characters, Ben and the Carne brothers had successful marriages. I was happy that the amazing Rosina was finally allowed to marry. (Sorry, but I could never quite forgive Drake for treating her so shabbily.)

------------------------------

 PS: Another thought provoking topic 

 






-- Edited by Hollyhock on Wednesday 24th of April 2019 04:01:29 PM

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Date: Apr 23 11:49 AM, 2019
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I suppose that's always a risk with generalizing - that some examples you give won't fit cleanly into the categories created... I agree that Ruth and John's marriage seemed to work pretty well for the two of them. Elizabeth and George's had its ups and downs, but my overall impression is that they were both determined to make it work - even if for different reasons, and rarely both at the same time. And crucially, Elizabeth and George seemed to always retain a good deal of respect for each other, which cannot be said about Ruth and John even at the best of times - and that was really my main reason for putting E&G in the "happy marriage" category while R&J in the "unhappy" one. Although perhaps it could be argued that how much respect someone has for their spouse says more about their individual character than about the quality of their marriage. Still, there probably is a correlation.
 
Hollyhock - you asked if I thought that a further "married up but unhappy" storyline would add to the saga. That's an excellent question - and on one level my answer is certainly "no", because it is precisely the positive outlook of the Poldark story that makes it stand out for me (in fact, I hate books with miserable endings - however artsy or socially important they aspire to be; I always feel like there is enough misery in the real world so that there is no need to add more to it through a work of fiction). But on the other hand, I'm quite sure WG would be able to work his magic on such a storyline to make me love it as much as the rest of the saga And you're right I missed Arthur and Rowella in my tally, so the picture as it stands is not that incomplete after all.
 
The reason why I asked about the different marriage configurations was that on several occasions in the books we can see the characters themselves taking stock of the couples around them:
 

(1) Caroline "lecturing" Ross in The Angry Tide: 'This county we live in. Add up the number of affairs that are going on, some secret, some blatant, among our friends, or their friends. And the same, though perhaps to a different pattern, among the poor.' Ross took a sip of wine. 'It has always been so.' 'Yes. But also there has been always a small core of real marriages existing amongst the rest - marriages in which love and fidelity and truth have maintained their importance. Yours is one and mine is one. Isn't that so?'

 
(2) Demelza discussing with Ross the apparent disillusionment of Clowance after Stephen's death, in The Twisted Sword: 'It surely means that her marriage was not altogether successful.' 'A lot of marriages are not altogether successful. Look around.'
 
When I was trying to paint in my mind the picture they could have been referring to, I ended up putting most of the main characters' marriages in the successful category. Then I started scanning through the secondary characters to see how complete a mapping this produces, or if there is any pattern to be found. And then I started wondering if marrying up in status does not appear as a relatively fail-safe solution in the book universe?
 
It looks like things are heading that way with Clowance and Edward (although, to give them their due, neither of them seems to care much - if at all - about the "status" of the other). And while I certainly do wish them all the happiness in the world, my problem with Edward's character is that he seems dangerously close to a "good to the point of being boring" type, and I don't think I would like to see Clowance being bored for the rest of her life. But perhaps I only got that impression because we don't see too much of Edward throughout the books?


-- Edited by Blackleburr on Tuesday 23rd of April 2019 11:53:06 AM

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Date: Apr 17 10:55 PM, 2019
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Mrs Gimlett wrote:

 

Although Clowance said she would only marry again for money or position, in the end I think she did love Edward.  They appeared blissfully happy towards the end of BP and I would have loved to hear much more of them.

 

Mrs G - I agree with you. Clowance needed quite a lot of time to think through her marriage to Stephen. It took some time I think for her to work through her ambivalent feelings towards Stephen. Having done so, I think she was able to love Edward and enjoy her life with him. 

 



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Date: Apr 17 7:53 PM, 2019
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I agree with you Stella.  The Trenegloses were well matched.  I'm not sure they always lived in harmony, because Ruth was spiteful and John was not very bright.

Although Clowance said she would only marry again for money or position, in the end I think she did love Edward.  They appeared blissfully happy towards the end of BP and I would have loved to hear much more of them.

Elizabeth had something about her which makes me think she would never have been really happy with anyone.  Not even Ross, had she married him.  Her love was purely maternal and quite selfish.

Paul Kellow did marry 'up' because his was not a genteel family - they had pretensions and Paul liked to romance to strangers about their position and connections, but really they were parvenues.

What do others think?

 



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Date: Apr 13 10:31 PM, 2019
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I cannot agree that George and Elizabeth were happy. It's true that Elizabeth lived well materially but George's behaviour towards her and Valentine following Agatha's dying words to him was very cruel and punishing.

I agree with Hollyhock that Ruth and John Treneglos were well matched and happy in spite of John's lecherous behaviour. I think that eventually they were very close, perhaps because of the worry about Agneta.



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Date: Apr 13 5:41 PM, 2019
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It's been a while since I did a big read but I can't think of anyone Blackleburr.

Arthur Solway married up but was blissfully happy until he discovered that his wife was a...well you know. Even then, it doesn't appear that he regretted marrying the wretched girl. But who knows if she got up to her old tricks again, or ran off with some dandy?

Paul Kellow married money (not sure it was considered a step up) but the marriage certainly was not happy--poor Mary! 

Actually, I can't agree that John and Ruth's marriage was unsuccessful; over the years they seemed well matched. It's just that they each lusted after someone else--NOT unsimilar to Demelza and Ross.

Here's my long-winded take on your "imbalance" question.  I don't see one. From my understanding, it would have been mostly women who married up and such marriages most often were for advantage, not affection--if love grew all well and good. As Clowance once told Demelza, if she ever married again it would be for wealth or position, not love. So, looking at your list of 'cross-status' marriages (including Clowance & Edward's), my guess is that WG would have had to add more storylines and characters for an 'unhappy marriage-up' angle. WG loved to throw in historical references, so when Ross is trying to reassure Demelza about going among the gentry, he mentions a couple of London housemaids who married titles (these marriages were great successes).

Are you thinking that such a marriage would have enhanced the saga?  For my part, I'm happy that we didn't have to suffer through even more misery.smile

 





-- Edited by Hollyhock on Saturday 13th of April 2019 05:50:06 PM

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Date: Apr 12 7:35 PM, 2019
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Can anyone think of an example across the Poldark books where someone (willingly) marries up in terms of social status, but is unhappy in marriage?

 
Most of the marriages which are not altogether successful seem to be among equals (Elizabeth & Francis, Keren & Mark Daniel, Ruth & John Treneglos, Lady Harriett's first marriage). There is one person who marries down but ends up unhappy - Clowance.
 
The other people who marry across social status seem to be generally happy with their lot (if not better): Ross & Demelza, Dwight & Caroline, Drake & Morwenna, George & Elizabeth, George & Harriet, not to mention Margaret-of-the-many-surnames
 
But up and unhappy? The only candidates I can think of are Morwenna's marriage with Ossie (but she never wanted it in the first place, so I don't think it counts), and possibly Joan Pascoe (but we don't get to know much about her feelings at all, so I guess it's just a maybe).
 
So is this not a bit of imbalance? Or am I missing something?


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