Grand scenery and human stories

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Holywell Bay, Cornwall. Favoured beach in Poldark

Another series of the BBC drama Poldark has ended. If you haven’t been watching it is a costume family drama set in 18th century Cornwall, based on a series of novels by Winston Graham. As well as the beautiful couple Ross and Demelza, played by Aidan Turner and Eleanor Tomlinson, the scenery is stunning, and provides a dramatic background to the emotional turmoils of the characters.

This season there has been a lot of loss. Hugh Armitage, the baby daughter of Dwight and Caroline Ennis, Rev’d Whitworth, Captain Adderley, and in a dramatic season finale, Elizabeth Warleggan. These losses touched the lives of many characters in different ways. In some dramas characters experience loss, trauma or illness, and then appear to be entirely untouched by it a few months later. In Poldark past events do revisit characters, and they are shown to be changed by their experiences. The death of their friends’ child brought back the loss of their own daughter for Ross and Demelza. Dwight cries on Ross’ shoulder and when Caroline appears unable to mourn the loss of her daughter Ross reminds her that grief doesn’t go away if it is pushed aside.

Morwenna endured a violent and abusive marriage at the hands of her husband, Rev’d Whitworth. When he died her old, forbidden love,Drake, came back to her. She felt defiled and unlovable. Drake showed her compassion, care, respect, all the things that were denied to her by late husband.

One of my favourite characters is Dr Dwight Ennis. Dwight is quietly courageous, compassionate, caring, considered and faithful. The contrast to the dynamic and impetuous Ross is dramatic, yet they bring out the best in each other.

Both Morwenna and Dwight demonstrate how relationships can harm us or help us be the people we want to be. And that consideration and respect for others, their differences and their needs, can be transformative.

Having been born and grown up in Cornwall I am often amused how everyone in Poldark appears to only travel over the cliffs, no matter where they are going. Even in 18th century Cornwall inland roads existed, and cliffs are dangerous places in a storm. Sometimes I could see they were going in the opposite direction to their stated destination, or at least by a very circuitous route. However, it is the beauty of the scenery that is being emphasised, and, as I said at the start, how the scenery reflects the mood of whichever character is standing on a cliff looking out to sea. And perhaps it illustrates the saying ‘ the journey is as important in the destination’ particularly when the view is so very good.

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