October 3, 2017


'Poldark' Celebrates Hard Work, Fidelity, Common Law, And Community (Casey Chalk, SEPTEMBER 29, 2017, tHE fEDERALIST)

Over the course of the first two seasons, Poldark rebuilds his life and his inheritance. He reopens mines on his deceased father's property, and weds a young, attractive country girl named Demelza--whom he originally employed as his "scullery maid." For the sake of those unfamiliar with the first two seasons, I'll refrain from divulging too many of the plot's twists and turns. My goal here is instead to highlight how Poldark serves as an unexpected, inspiring source of conservative ideals.

The series thus far has evinced a sincere appreciation for English culture's traditional rites and customs, suggesting to viewers the importance of preserving such traditions from one generation to another. A number of children have been born over the course of the show's two seasons, and the producers take the time to present the Anglican baptismal rite for these newborns. Moreover, the baptisms are so explicitly portrayed in various episodes that they come across as normal--if also very important--events in the life of a family and community.

Another cultural custom often presented positively on the show is that of common law. Poldark is a man of deep convictions, but also one prone to combat the cultural and institutional powers of 18th century Cornwall for the sake of the common man. This at times leads Poldark into the courtroom, defending marginalized members of the community, or even at times himself. Poldark often appeals to the traditions of British common law as his defense. This is probably most saliently visible in one episode where a British merchant ship crashes off the coast of Poldark's own land.

Poldark urges the tenants on his land down to the beaches to collect the various goods that wash up on shore, motivated both by a desire to help those under his protection and to enact revenge against the owner of the ship, George Warleggan, the protagonist's arch-nemesis. Warleggan in turn exhorts British soldiers stationed in the town to march down to the beach, collect his goods, and punish the peasants. Violence ensues. Poldark is ultimately brought to trial on the charge of inciting a riot. When asked to explain his role in his tenant's collection of shipwrecked goods, Poldark appeals to ancestral Cornish common law, long honored in the county, that allows landlords along the coast to collect any goods that wash up on their shore.

Posted by at October 3, 2017 7:01 PM