One thing we haven’t discussed yet is the whole idea of forgiving. A recent NYTimes article addressed this act; its primary focus was on the act of asking for forgiveness. But there are two sides to every issue, and the other side to this one is being the one in the position to offer forgiveness.
To apply this idea to Doc Martin, we first have to establish whether either of these characters should ask for forgiveness or would be the one to offer to forgive. Martin has asked Louisa to forgive him several times already: when she’s giving birth; when they rescue James from Mrs. Tishell; and most recently, when he’s about to perform the AVM surgery. In the first instance, she was ready to ask for forgiveness too and they almost simultaneously decided to reach out to each other. On the second occasion, Martin was proximally responsible for James’ abduction because he allowed Mrs. T to care for James; but more globally it’s not entirely clear that he was the only one at fault for how Louisa reacted to his decision to leave Portwenn. It was Louisa who sort of became a moving target in that she had such mixed feelings about being in a relationship with him. In a sense we could say she owed him an apology for doubting he would want to be an active father and for making hasty decisions. The final time Martin asks for forgiveness she is sedated and may not even remember it, but he is primarily right when he says he hasn’t been a very good husband.
The NYTimes article quotes Frederic Luskin who runs the Forgiveness Project at Stanford University. Luskin’s work has identified nine steps to asking sincerely to be forgiven but the steps can be distilled to four. The first one is to “admit vulnerability,” which means you must admit your responsibility for causing others’ pain. It’s particularly important in families for the offending party to acknowledge that they have done something to hurt another family member.
The second step is to apologize sincerely. “A true, authentic apology is one in which the speaker says: ‘I’m sorry, because my poor choice of action or words directly caused harm to you. That it’s my bad and yours. And that I recognize you feel hurt as a direct relationship of what I did.’ ” Furthermore, according to Dr, Luskin, “when a person accepts responsibility and promises to make amends… it has an almost universally positive effect.”
Thirdly, people like to be asked for their forgiveness. It may seem obvious but approaching the person you think you’ve wronged and simply asking them to forgive you is important.
Lastly, those asking for forgiveness must thank the person for forgiving them. The final act must be a joint expression of gratitude for being asked to forgive and for offering to forgive.
When someone has offered to forgive and the offending party acknowledges the charity that’s been extended to them, that moment of receiving forgiveness “is this moment of true humanity when we are seen for who we really are and loved anyway.”
Once again, there’s no way to know if these steps were in the minds of those writing this show. Nevertheless, they’ve done a good job of following them IMO. They have left things quite lopsided though. Martin has so far been the one to admit fault thereby leaving himself vulnerable; he has promised to make amends, or change his behavior; and he has asked for forgiveness by appealing to Louisa each time to accept his apology and even to help him.
Louisa has responded favorably to the first two appeals and acted willing to take him back. At the Castle, she told him outright that she had been waiting to hear him say something nice. He has finally done that during this scene. The last time is different. Perhaps if she had not been in an operating room and prepped for surgery, she would have had a more welcoming response, but this time she isn’t ready to accept his confession. We haven’t seen her forgive him fully yet.
Since so much of S7 has been a reversal of what’s happened before, this time she should be the one to admit fault and ask for forgiveness. During the first 4 episodes Louisa has said “Thank You” to Martin numerous times, and that’s a good start. Maybe now that he has made a sincere effort to not only say he’s sorry, but to demonstrate by his actions that he really means it, she will express her gratitude by accepting his apology and complete the cycle of forgiveness.
Originally posted 2015-10-01 15:37:51.