BBC’s Poldark is a journey of unexpected twists, turns and drama. But these are 10 things in the show that only make sense if you read the books.
Poldark is a historical drama based on Winston Graham’s books of the same name. The series ended after 5 seasons in 2019 and the episodes stop in 1799, which is prior to the year the book’s end, which is 1820. A lot of fans of the series have a lot of questions that only the bookworms can explain.
We know that the production staff of the TV show has to cut down on some side and backstories to fit the time for each televised episode. But some scenes are just so difficult to understand without referencing the books and some storylines had to adjust to the different timelines in the book. Let’s delve into the things that only make sense if you’ve read the Poldark books.
The 5th season of Poldark ended in the year 1799, while the book ended in 1820. So what did they leave out? The installment ended with Demelza telling Ross that she is pregnant. The show decided to end the story between the seventh and eighth Poldark books.
After the pregnancy, Ross and Demelza’s characters become less important, shifting the attention to the next generation of Poldarks and Warleggens. The child that Demelza is pregnant with in the finale grows up to be Bella in the 12th novel. The novels end with Bella and three other children of Demelza and Ross happily married, traveling to Nampara to visit their now elderly parents.
Ross Finds Elizabeth In Trenwith Instead Of Charles
Ross goes to Trenwith to talk to Charles but instead finds Elizabeth there. Ross tells Elizabeth that it’s not pretty to make a complete fool out of himself and hold on to childish promises. If you read the whole passage in the book, it unmasks that very vague line.
What Ross meant was that, when he first saw Elizabeth, he had no eyes for other girls and the only reason he comes back is because of her. Elizabeth stops him for a moment but Ross continues, asking her if their childish promises had any meaning to her and asking her if she felt something for Ross, even just a little.
Ross’ Drastic Change
The show’s writer, Debbie Horsfield, explains that as they were approaching the end of season 4, they had an 11-year time jump and five more books to go. But the production was limited to five seasons. We see Ross becoming a special agent sent to report on the war against Napoleon, which is very different from who he used to be. He used to be reckless, restless, disillusioned and had despaired of changing the world.
Author Winston Graham has left some clues in the eighth book, The Stranger from the Sea, about what happened in those interceding years. Horsfield, with Winston’s son’s permission, adapted Winston’s methodology of including real characters and events and introduced another character instead who becomes Ross’ role model, Ned Despard.
Poldark Cast Didn’t Return To Cornwall
The series ended with the cast not returning to Cornwall at all. This has something to do with the characters that Debbie Horsfield added to the show. She intertwined the lives of Ross and Delmeza with Ned and Catherine, Ned’s wife who used to be a slave in Jamaica. Debbie concocted the consequences they had to face, which takes a big chunk of Season 5.
Other characters were also formed including William Wickham, who founded the British secret service, Joseph Merceron, the “Godfather” of London, and James Hadfield, the soon to be assassin of George the Third. It was an obvious and logical decision to not return to Cornwall.
Ross Is A Solid Egalitarian
In the screen adaptation of the book, Ross’ character was not only a believer in equal rights and opportunities for people, which the book has strongly emphasized. On the show, he is also portrayed as someone who is handsome, good at horse racing, drinks too much when he is unhappy, and often argues bitterly with Demelza.
If you read the books, you get to have a better understanding and respect for Ross. He leaves Cornwall to fight in the American Revolution, trying to make up for the assault he made on an officer and his dependency on whores and gambling. When he returns, he is concerned with the welfare of his tenants. He helps refugees, he fights swindlers and fraudsters, and he stands up to illegal animal hunters.
There’s Much More To Elizabeth Warleggan’s Cold Heartedness
A lot of fans increasingly began to hate Elizabeth Warleggan in season 3. She moved to the country with her heartless husband, George, and their baby Valentine, leaving behind her first child, Geoffrey, to the nanny, Morwenna. Her sadness has turned her into a completely unpleasant character, making viewers hate her all the more.
But before hating her, you have to understand where all this sadness and hate came from. In the book, Warleggan, Ross breaks into Elizabeth’s house and rapes her after she accuses him of treating her like a slut. Ross told Elizabeth that it was about time, he treats her as such and rapes her. In the television adaptation, the supposed rape scene was made consensual to sustain Ross’ character as a romantic hero.
Ross Knows Of Demelza’s Affair With Hugh
Television viewers came to the conclusion that Demelza had an affair with Hugh Armitage as revenge on Ross and Elizabeth. In the book, Demelza spent a good deal of time musing about why she had the affair. And it was not out of revenge.
In the book, Demelza had sincere feelings towards Hugh because he was attentive and romantic. He granted Demelza and Hugh an absurd amount of freedom to be together, even if he was suspicious. Ross was so angry at Demelza, because of his expectation that she wouldn’t cross that line and after everything they had gone through. He defended his affair with Elizabeth by saying it was bound to happen to lead him to Demelza.
The Scene Where Elizabeth Waited For Ross At Her Engagement Party
There was a scene in the screen adaptation where Elizabeth is waiting for Ross after her engagement party. Viewers were confused about why Ross didn’t show up to take her back. It left the viewers coming up with their own conclusions.
In the book, Elizabeth did love Francis better. Ross didn’t show up for a lot of reasons. He had nothing to offer to get Francis out of the picture. He just arrived from war with no money and no estate to his name. And their love is tainted in the first place, with Elizabeth not committing to the promise she made.
Demelza’s Age When Ross First Met Her
Demelza was 13 when Ross first met her. Book readers were taken aback since Demelza on the show didn’t look 13. Ross is 10 years her senior. In the books, they had a father-daughter dynamic until Demelza turned 17, four years after Ross took her as a helper. In the show, they had to make the pace slightly faster, making Demelza look older than she is in their first meeting.
It was a necessary change to not make the storyline awkward because of Demelza’s young age. The show shied away from and completely avoided the father-daughter dynamic between the two and dived right into the love story plot.
Demelza Hadn’t Experienced Good Relationships With Men
Demelza’s affair with Hugh was kept short in the series, making it look like Demelza did it out of character. Some fans were disappointed with her character development and some have speculated it was out of retaliation. This scene was beautifully written by Winston to depict human nature. Demelza, growing up, did not have a lot of good experiences when it came to men. After being taken from an abusive family to work as a servant, there weren’t any chances for her to meet anyone else.
Hugh enters and everything becomes a whirlwind of emotions for Demelza. The mutual attraction was unavoidable, given their backgrounds and the situation they were both currently in.
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