BBC One POLDARK, Series 4, Episode 5, offers an insight into the gradual transformation in England from the late eighteenth into the early nineteenth century, as wealthy English gentlemen realised they could not merely continue as their forbears had done, leading a life of self-indulgence combined with estate management.
As the nineteenth century progressed and the Industrial era began, if a gentleman aristocrat did not manage his estates diligently, they could and would be taken over by someone from a less exalted station in life, who had the ready necessary.
POLDARK is set in the time when the centre of power began moving down the social scale, from the Gentry, to the Middle Classes. In Episode 5, the struggle of the few good men in Parliament, such as Ross Poldark (Aidan Turner), helped put in motion the winds of change, which would eventually change the face of ‘civilised’ society forever.
His proposal to the rich men of his own constituency to offer the poor assistance in times of food shortages and fever, has been voted on positively. They come to the realisation their workers are dying and that their lives and livelihoods will be affected if they don’t help them.
The minority were all friends of Ross’s rival George Warleggan (Jack Farthing) who spoke and voted against it. George, as we well know by now, is not going to take ‘defeat’ lying down. Someone will be made to suffer.
While Ross Poldark’s proposed move would eventually lead to the establishment of a minimum wage for workers, helping men to keep food on the table and a roof over the head of their families, was still a long way off. However, he makes a start.
Do Not Read Any More Unless You Want Spoilers.
Ross’s wife Demelza (Eleanor Tomlinson) back home at Nampara Farm, with the help of friend Dr Dwight Enys (Luke Norris) is rallying her family and friends to help the miners with food at a difficult time.
While they are thrown together a great deal and comfort each other as friends do, they both know their own hearts and minds belong to their spouses and it is no more than the love of friends.
Ross is up in London again, speaking daily in parliament endeavouring to rally support for the poor. A smirking George Warleggan is now on the opposite bench, stirring up support for his own prejudiced viewpoint.
While in London Ross is looking to his nephew Geoffrey Charles’s welfare and observing how his friend Dwight Enys’s wife Caroline (Gabriella Wilde) is handling her grief.
She is living in another world, without the flicker of love and compassion he knows his best friend’s wife has in abundance. She’s shut down her feelings with the death of her and Dwight’s baby daughter, leaving and the man she loves to drown her sorrows and to be diverted in London society. Ross is worried about her.
Back home at Nampara Farm all is not well for Drake Carne (Harry Richardson) Demelza’s brother. He is still moping about the love of his life Morwenna, who had married the vile vicar Ossie Whitworth (Christian Brassington) only to suffer cruelly.
Demelza talks to her brother about what true love is and how with the new lovely young woman Rosina (Amelia Clarkson) he has been walking out with, if they are wed, true love will grow.
Distressed at being alone he proposes and as the day of the wedding grows near, is hopeful he may find happiness after all. She said yes because, as she tells him, he is a ‘brave and honest man’. While he is all politeness, Drake finds he has a job convincing her father and her two awful brothers, but in the end a date is set.
The Godless vile Vicar Ossie is still constantly servicing his own wife’s married sister Rowella (Esme Coy), who wants the funds he provides to buy the niceties of life her husband does not provide.
Ross in London meets up with Caroline in a gambling den and is not pleased. Later attending a gathering again in her home, she comes upon him sitting quietly in another room, ignoring the party to read a letter from Demelza.
Gently he talks to her about the circumstances surrounding the death of his own baby daughter, and how she had died in his arms, counselling Caroline ‘pain should not be avoided’ and ‘tears must fall’, if she is to resume her real life again.
She takes his words to heart for the first time, and the tears begin.
It is more tears down in Cornwall, where we come across the vile Vicar Ossie hiring a horrid nurse to look after his son, cruelly taking him away from his mother Morwenna. He claims his prize, his conjugal rights, and the next day dismisses her sister Rowella’s services, although not before he has had one last session during which he is discovered, seen through the window by her husband Arthur (Will Merrick).
The night has fallen by the time Ossie Whitworth leaves for home on his horse, only for him to be held up by a man in a mask who beats him with a silver candlestick, strangely like the one Rowella recently acquired.
Ossie’s horse bolts with his foot caught in the stirrup dragging his rider for ages, until he is dead. It was hard not to cheer. Ossie has surely been even more ghastly than George throughout his time in this series, great acting. However, as do all events, it will have consequences because his grand lady mother is looking to blame someone for his death.
Up steps Drake, having been told on his wedding day by his sister Demelza what has happened to the Reverend. He lets down the gentle girl who loved him at the altar who was so happy at the thought of being his wife, for as he had told her in all honesty, about the love of his life, Morwenna.
Now knowing his love might be free again to become his wife he’s in a turmoil and after wandering aimlessly for a few days, he unwisely tries to see Morwenna. He’s not counted on how scarred Morwenna has been by her terrible experiences while married to Ossie. Now she cannot bear the thought of another man in her bed, throwing the bracelet Drake gave her once and for all into the sea.
She tells the ghastly George and her cousin Elizabeth (Heida Reed) how her husband had abused and violated her. When they hear of Ossie’s death, his mother’s suspicions he was murdered, and the fact Drake tried to visit his widow immediately after the funeral, George plans revenge without proof.
The first step is to burn down Drake’s home and livelihood, his blacksmith’s forge, much to his and everyone’s distress.
The good news at the end is from London where Caroline tells Ross she has begun to cry and to heal and so there’s hope on the horizon that she and Dwight will be reunited soon.
By the end of this challenging episode of our fav dramatic soapie, we certainly needed some good news.
Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2018