Poldark Saga - Winston Graham discussion

Bella Poldark (Poldark, #12)
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Bella Poldark - #12 > "Against her will" (with apologies to Jane)

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message 1: by Tanya, Moderator/Hostess (last edited Nov 28, 2015 02:30PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tanya | 640 comments Mod
Referring to an earlier (closed) thread in which a comment was made that Ross took Elizabeth "against her will". I found the sections Jane references in her comment. It would seem that with the passage of time, ROSS FELT he committed rape. We are never given much insight into how ELIZABETH FELT, though.

The Four Swans, Book 1, Chapter 12 page 212 in my Kindle version

"...'I have an uneasy conscience about her from the two misdeeds I committed against her. One, I took her against her will--though in the end I do not believe it was so much against her will. But, two, I never went to see her thereafter and I believe to the first injury added a much greater injury for which it would be far more injurious to apologize.'..."

Bella Poldark, book 5, chapter 8 page 618 in my Kindle version

"Amadora, confronted by the emergency, in all ignorance put him in the very bedroom where he had taken Elizabeth against her will twenty-seven or more years ago, and so had started all this trouble, which had gone on so relentlessly and for so long."


message 2: by Drush76 (new)

Drush76 | 16 comments I believe "Bella Poldark" made it clear that Ross did rape Elizabeth. I truly wish that people would simply accept it and realize that the "Poldark" saga is not a series of romance novels, but a historical drama with an ambiguous protagonist who is capable of good and terrible deeds.


Stella Day | 391 comments When WG wrote that a rape had occurred as with Ossie raping Morwenna, he called it rape. I believe he did not intend that Ross taking Elizabeth on May 9 to be viewed as rape.


message 4: by Joanne (new)

Joanne Campbell | 42 comments I completely disagree with the notion that Ross raped Elizabeth. Could you kindly cite the passage(s) from Bella that you interpret that way? As Stella says, and I have said before, WG called a rape a rape (Ossie), even though the concept of marital rape was unheard of, in the 19th century, and in most of the 20th as well.

I do agree, however, that this is not a series of romance novels, and that Ross Poldark is a complex and conflicted character
.


message 5: by Tanya, Moderator/Hostess (last edited Jun 19, 2017 06:24AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tanya | 640 comments Mod
Joanne wrote: "I completely disagree with the notion that Ross raped Elizabeth. Could you kindly cite the passage(s) from Bella that you interpret that way? "

I also do not interpret Ross's actions on the night in question (May 9) as rape. There are two discussion threads in which this is debated. During one of those, Jane mentioned later books in which Ross said he "took her against her will." That discussion point is linked in the Nov 2015 comment (but here it is again https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...).

When I came across the passages myself, I added them here because they seemed to belong in the Bella folder instead. They are cited in the Nov 2015 comment. (https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...)

I suspect that with the passage of time (Warleggan published in 1953, The Four Swans in 1976, Bella Poldark in 2002), the evolution of understanding what it means to consent, and the disfavor of plot lines in which passion is depicted as a forced issue, WG may have felt some discomfort with what was later interpreted as ambivalence in writing that scene. He did not mean to suggest it was rape--he wrote about rape (with Ossie and in other books) in ways that make it very clear that was his intention. But Ross behaved badly in this situation, accepted that and in his conscience took responsibility for his behavior--hence "against her will" are Ross's words. Note in The Four Swans he adds a qualifier "in the end I do not believe it was so much against her will", but in Bella there is none. At that point he is so full of regret and grief that he takes full responsibility.

Further debate on rape/not rape as it was written in Warleggan should go in the Warleggan folder under this discussion topic https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...


message 6: by Joanne (new)

Joanne Campbell | 42 comments Thank you, Tanya


message 7: by Drush76 (last edited Jul 14, 2017 07:32PM) (new)

Drush76 | 16 comments This is just pathetic. Graham practically confirmed in this novel that Ross had raped Elizabeth and many of you are still trying to find excuses to say otherwise. Oh my God. I can't believe this.


message 8: by Tanya, Moderator/Hostess (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tanya | 640 comments Mod
Drush76 wrote: "This is just pathetic. Graham practically confirmed in this novel that Ross had raped Elizabeth and many of you are still trying to find excuses to say otherwise. Oh my God. I can't believe this."

Please keep your comments civil. I understand your belief that your interpretation is correct, but accept that others have a different opinion. If you can't do that, I'll need to play moderator and remove some of your comments.


message 9: by Joanne (new)

Joanne Campbell | 42 comments Please, Drush76...we are all entitled to our opinions. Being insulting is not what literary discussion is about.


message 10: by Drush76 (new)

Drush76 | 16 comments This is just sad.


Parker | 32 comments I think Graham walks a fine line here between rape and what starts off as rape (to a 21st century person's eyes), but possibly ends up as not a rape. Ross was Elizabeth's first love, and obviously she still has feelings for him (as he does for her). I think it starts off as forcible (because Ross wants Elizabeth to admit her feelings for him and she won't) but probably ends up in mutual passion.


Stella Day | 391 comments Parker wrote: "I think Graham walks a fine line here between rape and what starts off as rape (to a 21st century person's eyes), but possibly ends up as not a rape. Ross was Elizabeth's first love, and obviously ..."

Parker - I think you may be right. I feel as certain as I can be that WG would not have intended his main character to be a rapist. Also, as has been said many times, when WG is describing a rape, he calls it 'rape'. There is also perhaps a hint that at least part of the initial excitement for Elizabeth was the use of some force.


message 13: by Drush76 (last edited May 30, 2018 12:29PM) (new)

Drush76 | 16 comments Ross raped Elizabeth . . . period. Even Elizabeth believed so in both "Warleggan" and "The Four Swans". He raped her.

It's amazing that in this age of the "MeeToo" movement, some people cannot admit that a fictional protagonist had committed rape, because the act was described in a formal tone. Or perhaps they cannot accept that Ross Poldark is incapable of rape. Why, I do not know. Just about anyone is capable of anything.


message 14: by Mayi (last edited Nov 09, 2018 08:18AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mayi Husosky | 20 comments If you are alone in a bedroom with the man you love but he is married to someone else, what would you do?
It think it was a humiliation of Elizabeth not because of rape but because she responded to him despite her words and compromised her dignity. After that she is willing to be his mistress or at least ask he put Demelza aside and marry her, that's why she tries to postpone the marriage to George.
Her "no" was based on morals of the time and her class/station, WG mentions several times that she was an upright lady. I think she desired Ross, but since it was a sin and she could not be his wife she objected. WG contrasts it with Mowena where it was clearly rape, but not a sin since there was marriage. Not everyone was upright, for example Rowena, but Elizabeth was.
I think her apparent hate of Ross is not so much for the so called rape, but for the fact that he did not come back for more. Ross realizes this as he said he did her a 2nd wrong for not going to see her afterwards.

Also consider the lack of privacy that always existed with servants and people about, Even though Ross and Elizabeth had many encounters, the night of the 'rape" was the only time they were really alone together. Elizabeth was too moral to request an assignation, but she did flirt with Ross, she competed with Demelza for his attention, I think she always loved him.

Demelza due to her lower class could have been put aside to make room for Elizabeth to be Ross wife, that is probably what would have happened if Ross continued the affair, and what Elizabeth would have expected. That is what Demelza thought and why she volunteered to leave, divorce was difficult at the time, but an annulment could be obtained.

You wonder why Ross did not go back to see Elizabeth, if only to explain, that he had decided on Demelza, I think he was ashamed but also feared that Elizabeth would have demanded marriage and Ross would have been unable to refuse her due to her class, I wonder if Elizabeth knew she was pregnant when she married George, she knew afterwards but since she would have only been 1 month along at the time of the ceremony perhaps she did not know, maybe that is why she wanted the delay to be sure? Or was the delay in hopes that Ross would come around to her?


QNPoohBear | 21 comments I think at this point Ross is feeling guilty and he feels the act was not consensual. My modern standards it wasn't. I read it as sexual assault. Even in Georgian times only the most hardened rakes and libertines take a gently bred woman like that. Affairs happened among the haut ton but they were consensual and discreet. What Ross and Elizabeth did falls into a gray area. In The Twisted Sword Demelza seems to feel it was rape but at the time she wasn't in possession of the facts. She remarks to Jeremy that he can't take a woman against her will, not even your father..."


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