Poldark tells the story of Ross Poldark, a gentleman and mine owner living in Cornwall who is trying, against all odds, to raise his business from the ground and help the poor people of his hometown to have a better living condition. His estate and house were in ruins after he returned from the american revolutionary war. As if this weren’t enough, his fiancee became engaged to his cousin during his absence, believing him dead.
Despite all this, Ross is determined to make his life decent and respectable, not wallow in despair. Which is so refreshing, believe me. I come from the Twilight generation, I’ve had enough of two acting like they’re addicted and can’t live without one other. And Elizabeth, the fiancee, is also determined to move on.
The most engaging aspect of Poldark’s character is by far the combination of traits in his personality. Poldark is noble, honest, direct, well-spoken, and loyal, but also sharp-tempered, intense, and impulsive. You may always count on him to do the right thing, even if the right thing to do sometimes is not the same as the proper thing to do.
Poldark is also a romance. Ross marries his kitchen maid, Demelza, after a couple of years of service. He slowly grows to love her as he realizes what a generous, warm heart she has, and how devoted she is to him. And she slowly blossoms from a street urchin into a charming, sweet lady. In fact, one of the best things in the season is seeing Demelza’s transformation from scullery maid to a Lady, and she does rise to the occassion, even though she will always lack the education and wit that Elizabeth has.
Which brings me to the love triangle. Ross may be deeply in love with his wife, but that doesn’t mean he has forgotten Elizabeth. It just means his affections have somewhat dimmed. It’s difficult to watch this show and not think that all of the heartache, all of the defeats, and difficulties, and tragedies that happen could have been avoided had Ross and Elizabeth married each other, just as they had promised to before Ross went to the war.
They do seem perfect for each other. Elizabeth is such a refined lady who always does and says the right thing, who is always on her best behavior, and who is also capable of deep love and sentiment. Ross’s sharp temper would have been appeased through time with her influence, while his passion may have made her infinitely more happy than she is with Francis, her husband and Ross’s cousin.
Francis is a disgusting character, and played so well by the actor. He is weak, and flimsy, and incompetent, and prideful. Add to this the fact that he also has the Poldark temper and you have a recipe for disaster. No wonder his marriage is an utter failure.
And of course, this wouldn’t be the brilliant show it is if it weren’t for the villain: George Warleggan. The Warleggans have made their fortune and entered the gentry in just two short generations, as opposed to the long-standing Poldark name, which hasbeen around for centuries. For some reason George seemed intent on destroying Poldark from the get-go, and of course Ross catches on to this and doesn’t back down from the fight.
Which makes it ironic that George asked Ross at the end of the season why he is so insistent on them being enemies. It seems as if he has forgotten he was the one who started this whole fight in the first place.
Poldark is a good, engaging show that shines because of the level of relational complexity between the characters. It feels human, real, true. Which makes what happens at the end of the season so utterly heartbreaking.
I will definitely be tuning in for season 2.