“See the garment, think the person”

When I mentioned Louisa’s fashion style in my recent post about this character, not much commentary came of it. Maybe I’m strange, but I find clothing choices quite telling and now I have learned that I’m not the only one.

It turns out that this past week in London at the Design Museum an exhibit called “Women Fashion Power” opened. (Of course, I saw this in the NYTimes.) It’s co-curator, Donna Loveday, is quoted as saying, “’It felt like it was the right time to look at the rise of women in contemporary power roles, and how they view and use fashion to facilitate their place in the world.’”

According to Times Fashion critic Vanessa Friedman, “the show includes 25 high-profile women happy to go public with their thoughts on clothing. This includes the usual suspects: fashion professionals like Natalie Massenet, the executive chairwoman of Net-a-Porter; the designer Vivienne Westwood; and the model Naomi Campbell. But it also includes Wei Sun Christianson, a co-chief executive of Morgan Stanley Asia Pacific; Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris (who also opened the exhibition); Alfiya Kuanysheva, the chief executive of the Kazakhstan finance group BATT; and Kirsty Wark, the British broadcaster.

That, it seems to me, is an enormous and meaningful change in the conversation about achievement and gender. The idea that women whose power is undeniable and exists in traditionally male sectors like banking and politics may stand up and say, for the record and posterity, that clothes matter and require (and deserve) thought is, in my experience, unprecedented.” Vanessa should know, “Friedman was the Fashion Features Director for In Style UK, a position she held since 2000 to 2002. Prior to this, she worked as a Fashion Correspondent for the FT, as an Arts Contributor at The Economist and was the European Editor at Elle (magazine) US. She has also written extensively on a freelance basis for Entertainment Weekly, Vogue magazine, The New Yorker and Vanity Fair.” (Wikipedia)

Friedman goes on to say, “what women wear is an embodiment of their voice, and identifying it helps identify their agenda (as it does with men, for that matter).”

So, when I tried to start a conversation about Louisa and the clothes she wears, I wasn’t just making a silly side comment. I really consider her clothes an important feature of her as a woman. I would submit that Louisa is put in dresses that identify her immediately — we see the dress, we know it’s Louisa. (We also identify her through her hair, especially her ponytail.) What do these dresses tell us about her? Is she the rural country woman, quintessentially English because her clothes are filled with flowers and have that classic cut? Do they say independence and individualism are her hallmarks? Are they conservative in that they hark back to Victorian times, or are they merely professional and modest? In S6, Louisa has totally left the blue jeans and sneakers behind and now dresses in more sophisticated versions of her former flowered dresses or even wears a more contemporary look of leggings and jacket with scarf. She has married the doctor who always wears a suit. Perhaps this is a way to mirror him and his social status in the community.

I find it significant and noticeable. Isn’t there anyone else who thinks there is something important going on in terms of Louisa’s clothes?

Originally posted 2014-11-04 17:06:23.

41 thoughts on ““See the garment, think the person”

  1. Carol

    I think that Louisa’s wardrobe does seem to express who she is deep down. I think, like a lot of people who have been brought up the way she was, she wants “home and hearth” so much. Therefore even though her clothing doesn’t always seem to reflect her independent streak, I think she subconsciously dresses in a slightly old-fashioned manner. (Although I will say that I almost always like whatever she wears. )

    But I definitely noticed a difference in wardrobe in series 6 but I felt it made sense. Assuming she and Martin have combined their finances, at least in some way, this would give her more money to spend on clothing probably, and I would think that being around a man who always wears suits could quite definitely make you more aware of clothes in general and she may feel that she “should” dress up more. I would liken it to my life in this way. I am a stay-at-home mom (and, I hope, budding novelist) and I wear jeans most of the time. However, my husband is a research engineer at a large company and, though he certainly doesn’t wear a suit every day, he doesn’t wear jeans either and if I am going to his office, I will dress up a bit more than usual.

    My biggest thing in relation to clothing on DM however is that I want to see a therapist get Martin out of a suit, even if it’s only once :). Polo and khakis, polo and khakis. 🙂

  2. Santa Traugott

    To get a full review of Louisa’s wardrobe, check out http://portwennonline.com/Wardrobe.html — it has every costume from every episode, I believe, with Kate Kennedy’s usual thoroughness. You can also review Martin’s attire, which may have gotten somewhat more formal over time.

    Especially check out the flowered number in S1E4 — white with green and yellow flowers — which I think is the only perfectly hideous thing she has ever worn.

    There is no tweed in sight, which makes her less quintessentially English, imo. I do note a heavy reliance on flowered skirts and layered, solid colored tops.

    Not being particularly tuned in to fashion, I don’t know how I would characterize her style, although I completely agree with you — dress is a potent “signifier.” It tells us a lot, almost subliminally, about a person, and I imagine her wardrobe is very carefully selected.

    I don’t think it is particuarly fashionable or up to the minute — but sort of country timeless. It is quite modest, too, and conservative. It says, I am a nicely dressed, feminine person, modest, and of some status in the community. I make an effort. But one consistent with local mores and my budget.

    But others may get much more!

  3. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    It’s good to hear from you again Carol. I think we would all agree that we dress in appropriate clothing for each occasion. Within that scheme, however, there is a range or variety of choices we can make. I have a certain style that I gravitate towards and hope enhances my appearance. I’m not sure what Louisa wears for the majority of the series is all that flattering to her even though we can identify it as her style. Her clothes distinguish her from the other women in Portwenn and, to me, give her a somewhat young adult look or maybe tending towards too young, at least until she returns pregnant.

    There’s much to say about other characters too, although I am most interested in what they are trying to convey about Louisa by her clothes. Her femininity, for example, is really apparent in contrast to Edith. Edith wears quite severe clothing to go along with her no nonsense approach, with the possible exception of her shoes. Funny that. Also funny that Martin cares about shoes and notices them several times.

    Anyway, if Martin Ellingham ever wears a polo and khakis, we know which one’s MC would choose.

  4. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Thanks for mentioning Kate’s site. I should have referred people to it. I am no fashion authority, however, there’s no doubt that what women choose to wear tells others something about them. To a great extent in this show, what Louisa wears always looks much more pulled together than what the other women wear. She’s neat and attractively attired while most of the others look a mess, disheveled and with little concern for how they look. Ruth brings some sophistication and tidiness to the town, although her style is more professional and classic than Louisa’s, I think.

    We can’t say where Louisa shops, but it’s probably not in Portwenn. What else can we say?

  5. Maria

    Louisa’s clothing definitely evolves over the series, I think for all the reasons that have been mentioned. Another reason may be that she did live in London again for a time between S4 and S5. I would imagine that the teachers there dressed a little more formally or fashionably than she did in Port Wenn and that she followed suit. I think she may have also become more interested in her clothing now that she actually has someone looking at it. Not that Martin ever offers compliments voluntarily, but we know that she wants to look nice, and that he thinks she does.

    Although none of the other female characters are particularly stylish in the usual sense of the word, I wouldn’t exactly say that they are all disheveled and don’t care how they look, Mrs. Tishell’s clothing is frumpy and old-fashioned, but she is neat and we see her patting her hair or looking in the mirror. Pauline, and Morwenna (and to a lesser extent Elaine) all have ….shall we say unusual styles, which we could at first sight call ‘a mess’. But their clothes are not just pieces randomly thrown together without purpose. I think they each care about how they look, have what they consider a unique personal style and dress accordingly. They also both wear makeup. Actually, in a sense Aunt Ruth’s clothing is the least appropriate, especially when she was living on the farm. The traditional professional clothing were suitable for the workplace but not for feeding chickens! And now that she lives in town, her clothes are still quite formal for village life.

  6. Mary F.

    Yes, DM would probably choose khakis with those very unflattering pleats in the front, lol!

    As for Louisa, I think her clothes change gradually to reflect her increasing maturity, that is, she becomes a mother and wife and she chooses more practical and conservative items. She doesn’t want to stand out, but she wants to look “nice”…at least when she is out, like the school concert she attends with Martin or out with friends. But at home, she dresses down a bit, which would make sense, having a baby to deal with. While the writers do choose her wardrobe carefully, I don’t think they intend to make too much of a statement by her dress.

    I would never dress like Pauline, Morwenna or Elaine, especially as a receptionist to a doctor, but I think they do have a very personal style that comes across. I think they have been dressed this way to purposely tease the audience into judging them prematurely, because in time we realize they are each bright/intuitive in their own way and we should not assume just because they dress wildly that they are also dumb bunnies.

    I’m also willing to bet that Morwenna’s wardrobe matures ever so slightly as her relationship with Al progresses. I have noticed that she has become much more savvy with regard to patients and the doctor over time. Her common sense is becoming more apparent. But that is getting off subject a bit…

    Great comments by all, and so nice to see Carol and Maria back!

    And now I am busy searching for that dress that Santa thought was perfectly “hideous” because I can’t ever remember Louisa looking unattractive!

  7. Mary F.

    Oh my yes! that green and white dress does nothing for Louisa! She looks as if she is not quite comfortable wearing it either…..good eye Santa!

  8. Santa Traugott

    There’s a picture on a FB page — maybe Caroline Catz fan group page, which shows her wearing one of her S6 dresses to some public event. I think it was the premiere of a movie she directed. She was wearing the orange flowered, full-skirted number, with a blue shrug. So maybe CC has some input into what she wears? They may actually shop with the wardrobe designer.

    I do think a lot of thought goes in to how to make the clothes (as the set dressing) convey information to us.

    I agree with those who say she dresses slightly more fashionably in S6. Interesting to think of how she and Martin manage their money. I have to believe that she keeps hers separate and may not even want to buy clothes on Martin’s credit cards. But since he is likely paying the mortgage on the cottage, and she has less living expenses, probably more disposable income for clothes.

  9. Maria

    Agreed – that dress is terrible on her! Googling Caroline Catz and then clicking on ‘more images’ brings up a whole page of thumbnails. In one she is wearing a dress with a similar pattern – green with white stylized flowery things and red centers. Also worn with a green cardigan. She is sitting, so you can’t see the fit. Maybe the cardigan is supposed to cover that up 🙂

  10. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    I’m surprised to learn that you don’t think that Louisa’s wardrobe is important. You and I certainly differ on that. I think it’s the choice of the costume department as to what each character wears and they determine each outfit with a lot of thought behind it. In every show, the costume department plays a significant role and often receive awards for their efforts.

    Anyway, I can agree wholeheartedly with what you say about the receptionists and their clothing. The costumers have had lots of fun with them. I remember seeing where Jessica Ransom is surprised to find out what she will be wearing for each episode and that they have decided to use animal prints for her clothes. Of course the excessive amount of jewelry she wears is pretty conspicuous too.

    I checked out the dress Santa mentions and think she is absolutely right about it. It’s awful and does nothing to flatter Caroline Catz/Louisa. Sometimes mistakes are made, as they say!

    I may have a few more comments about clothing in the show because I do consider it important as a canvas and indicator of a variety of traits pertinent to the characters.

  11. Mary F.

    Yes thats true, she has a bit more money to play with in S6. (and they probably do keep money separate, remember the one where Joe Penhale asks for money to help the kids in Africa, she doesn’t ask Martin for a few pounds, she instead tells Joe she’ll run to the bank later.)

    I know she helped pick out the wedding dress. She was very impressed with it and it looked beautiful on her. I think she does have a good amount of input as far as her clothes go. It would be hard for her to stay “in character” if she felt her clothes didn’t feel right for her character.

  12. Linda D.

    Are you talking about the dress she wore when trying to talk Martin into going to the Port Wenn Players Dance? I loved that dress on her and thought she looked fabulous! The dress she appeared on at some event – the blue flowered one – now that was hideous! It was what my Mum would have call a “housedress”. This is really an interesting topic and Port Wenn On-line is a great site to look back at the wardrobe changes over time.

  13. Linda D.

    Louisa definitely dresses better than the crowd in Portwenn. She takes pride in her appearance. I enjoy Portwenn On-line and go to the wardrobe section often. I wonder if her London look was much different? Martin must have approved of her look when he first came to Portwenn. It was quite eclectic then and I imagine he would have been used to London fashion if indeed he ever noticed. It IS funny that he notices women’s shoes- although only three times to my knowledge.

    Ruth is DULL. How else can you describe her? She is DRAB and I wonder if she dresses differently when in London? She wears the same colours and style but in so many ways, is quite representative of my image of an elderly British woman. That is undoubtedly, not at all fair.

    Edith looked appalling to me – the skinny bi–h! When she gave the lecture at the BMA, one would have expected her to be in a “power suit”. Her look is so different from Louisa! Not one outfit was fashionable or attractive. Did Martin notice this? I’m unsure. But, thankfully, he didn’t fall for her “wiles” and it was clear he was reminded of Louisa when the maid went to turn down the bed.

    It is funny that Martin does not comment on the wardrobes of his receptionists! They have all been quite “out there” in their fashion choices! One might think Martin must have noticed and would have preferred a more professional look! Of course, we love Elaine, Pauline, and Morwenna and really couldn’t see them in scrubs or ordinary clothes. I don’t think they are representative of the village, any more that Louisa is. If they were, they’d be wearing short shorts and t shirts like the “gaggle” of girls that roam the streets! I loved them, each and every one!

    I love this topic! It was a great one to pull out of the hat when it seemed we might be bottoming out! Well done Karen!

  14. Linda D.

    Which one would he choose? I’m not in the know! I see him in nice cords, an Aran sweater with a casual collared shirt underneath and a pair of nice, more casual shoes. It would be a sort of L.L.Bean look. Do you guys know L.L. Bean?

  15. Mary F.

    Well, ladies, to each his own! If you put three women in a room, (or more, in this case) you’re likely to get three completely different opinions when it comes to clothes. I don’t mean to sound trite but I think they are all valid opinions.

    I actually like Ruth’s clothes, yes, they are indeed drab, but somehow, it suits her (no pun intended). She doesn’t seem like the type to fuss over clothes and she is rather cerebral….there are other things that she’d rather occupy her mind with. She is the type of gal who, when her feet hit the floor in the morning, just reaches for the simple and comfortable. Not all elderly are like Ruth of course, my mom is 87 now and looks amazing…she loves color and style as much as my 14 year old. ( In fact that is the one area in which they get along famously) She dresses elegantly for her age, no mini-skirts, mind you, but she can be rather flamboyant. She always says “you only live once!”

    I don’t think Miss Louisa is headed in that direction. I think she seems more concerned about whether her husband approves of her taste and sometimes we find her fishing for a compliment.

    As for Martin, I think he notices shoes mostly because he wants to avoid locking eyes at an uncomfortable moment. It gives him a point of reference that takes attention away from himself.

  16. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Thanks for all your comments. As for the reference to what MC would choose if he were to select the casual wardrobe for ME: my joke was that when we see pictures of him in casual clothes either on TV programs or at his own Buckham Fair, he’s usually wearing a black polo with white collar trim and he’s often wearing khakis that are not very flattering. I guess it’s on Facebook that many women have remarked about the frequency with which he wears those same clothes. I almost wonder if at this point he wears them just because it’s become such a “thing.”

    As for how I see his casual wear, if I can imagine it at all, I think it would be very bland yet carefully pressed. Whether they know L.L.Bean in England or not, I think that would be too woodsy for him and too beyond his comfort level. Even short sleeves seem hard to imagine.

  17. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Mary, she does fish for compliments fairly often, doesn’t she? I think that magnifies her effort to get him to say something nice to her, and he fails quite often. At least now and then he almost inadvertently tells her she always looks nice or appears to come close to giving her a compliment. Before the concert he tells her he’s sure she’ll find something pretty to wear, but when he picks her up, he doesn’t realize that’s when to say how nice she looks. I love that brief scene because it encompasses so much about their interaction-their miscommunication, his cluelessness, her need for some expression of appreciation from him, and his default to a comment about the practicality of her shoes. Very well written.

    Your view that he prefers looking down makes a lot of sense, but he can’t help making some observation about shoes at the same time. What he does is neglect to say anything about either woman’s clothing yet not refrain from making some critical comment about their shoes. To me that’s another sign of his potential Aspergian symptoms. He’s unable to be dishonest and can’t help blurting out truisms.

    Louisa seems headed in the direction of much more straight lines in her skirts and dresses. That gives her a more serious and possibly severe look with greater emphasis on being professional. I would guess they are also matching her clothes to Martin’s to a greater extent too.

  18. Mary F.

    Yes, agreed; too woodsy! I’m sure the Brits have heard of LLBean, since they’ve been around for over a hundred years, nearly as long as Brooks Brothers.

    I imagine MC dresses simply because he owns a working farm and he doesn’t mind getting down and dirty. He even helps with birthing the sheep in the middle of the night. He does dress up now and then but for the most part he is decidedly and happily unpretentious.

    I haven’t said anything about Miss Edith because she is dressed exactly like her personality, all right angles and… that hair!! Reminds me of a pin cushion! Wonderful actress though, you just can’t help hating her.

    I think it is also wonderful how in a mere glance the Doc can communicate nothing more than passive interest in Edith, as if she were a type of intelligent insect. Not so with Louisa. And I just love how he blows off Edith at the end of “Not the RIght Goodbye”; notice how he chooses to look straight at her and not down at her shoes.

  19. LindaD.

    You are right about what he says to Edith at the end! She totally did not accept it though – preferring to insult Portwenn and suggesting “things will seem very different” once they are both in London. I wonder what Martin thought about that comment? Clearly, she was expecting to continue the non-relationship! She simply did not get that he had no romantic feelings for her at all. I imagine their original relationship was very similar, with her driving the whole thing and not really being in tune with him.

    Wasn’t she rude and unprofessional when she asked Louisa when she had sex with Dr. Ellingham? This, right in front of the tech? Did she want to know about their love life or did she really want to know if the baby was SGA? I was surprised Louisa didn’t remark that it was unprofessional to bring his name into the conversation instead of referring to him as her partner. She was flustered though.

  20. Mary F.

    Excellent point! Why DOES Louisa allow Edith to be so rude to her? Louisa doesn’t hold back when Martin is being rude…its really a mystery why she doesn’t tell Edith off. So insulting too; to speak that way in front of a technician! I guess Louisa was completely taken aback by her indiscretion and didn’t know how to respond.

    I really think though that this showed Edith as being quite jealous of, or at least overly nosy about Louisa’s prior relationship, although she probably tends to think of Louisa more as a minor irritation rather than as a true rival in her pursuit of the doc. She is very dismissive of Louisa right from the beginning.

  21. Linda D.

    She was dismissive of Louisa! She didn’t ask Martin how he felt about Louisa or about the news. She assumed Louisa was some kind of “bumpkin”. She didn’t question Martin about his sexual relationship with Louisa – perhaps assuming Louisa seduced him for a one night stand. She clearly did not think Martin needed to be involved, saying that Louisa was a grown woman who chose to have a baby. As a specialist in fertility and OB, she is AWFUL! She has no feelings for her patients and not an ounce of warmth. I loved it when she called Joan “Jill” and neither Joan or Louisa corrected her! Sweet!

  22. Linda D.

    Not so much. He really looks quite “comfy” when off screen and God knows he deserves to dress anyway he likes. We all look a bit rumpled when we are at home and not expecting to be seen.

  23. Linda D.

    That WAS just awesome! What a great triumph for Martin. Sadly, she didn’t twig a bit. She no doubt, thinks she is about to have a tryst in London in spite of all he did say – DIRECTLY to her! I just loved it! She is simply a dyed redhead with no tact or couth and clearly, she is desperate to have him back in her life. She IS a great actress though. It takes talent to be hated so much! The whole thing was well written and clearly intended to raise our hackles! I am smiling while imagining her face when she hears that he was present for the birth, and renewed his relationship with Louisa, and stayed in Portwenn! Justice!

  24. Linda D.

    I hated the one she wore when she and Martin met on the street and they went together to see Mrs. Tishell! It was too long and her sweater was just hanging. Now THAT one I didn’t like!

  25. Linda D.

    Martin looked as if he were about to say Louisa looked lovely in that, scene opting for a polite, “good evening” instead. Since she had commented on not being sure what to wear when she was at the surgery giving blood, and he said he was sure she’d look lovely or something like that, it is odd that he didn’t comment on her dress. She was waiting for a compliment but at least didn’t say what Edith would have said, “Compliment me”. Louisa complimented Martin on looking nice and noted that she had not seen his suit before. He muffled the moment of course, opting to comment on the suitability of her shoes and missing the chance to thank her for the compliment and give her one in return!
    Did he seem annoyed with Penhale? Joe said, “Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do” ? Louisa got it but Martin seemed insulted. Did Martin hope the evening would end in her bedroom and was insulted that Joe might have also thought the same? Martin was clearly “mooning” over Louisa at the concert and she would have liked to lock gazes or have some touch as they sat and listened. Perhaps both of them had high hopes for this first “official” date!

  26. Mary F.

    Yes, justice indeed Linda! Do you really think that her hair is dyed that color?! lol! I haven’t seen a photo of her off screen yet… I know you all probably live thousands of miles away but it would be such great fun to sit down and watch a show together. I’m sure we’d all be laughing hysterically at each others comments. I haven’t seen a show that generated this much interesting commentary since…oh I don’t know when!

    With regards to Edith, it is quite astonishing that a woman of her intellect is so absolutely clueless about the people around her. You’d think she’d have questioned Martin more closely about his relationship instead of going on the assumption that it was a one-night stand or that he was no longer interested in Louisa. I mean she saw him run out the back door after her and she knew he was quite stunned by the pregnancy news. Wouldn’t most reasonable women bow out at that point or at least give them some space? But then she says to him “well, don’t do anything hasty!” Arrrghh!

    On the day of the concert, Martin was perhaps so nervous about the idea of going on a real date with Louisa, who he didn’t feel worthy of, that he was doomed to over-reaction and one awful blunder after another.

    I was so upset by his behavior that day that I actually went looking for fan fiction re-writes to get some relief. Didn’t find much though. As frustrating as it was you could still sense why he acted the way he did. And the only solution he could come up with at the very end was to ask her to marry him.

  27. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    I think it’s supposed to look like Edith saw Martin at the hospital with his patient who ended up having diverticulitis and had in mind that she could reignite their relationship. Louisa’s appearance puts a definite crimp in those plans and Edith’s not one to give up so fast. Part of Edith’s inappropriate behavior when talking to Louisa is due to her desire to snoop and to shake things up between Martin and Louisa. Any doctor treating a patient should be professional, and any woman who discovers that a man they’ve got some feelings for has a love interest who is pregnant should be decent and bow out, as you say. Because she doesn’t do either of these, we see Edith’s personality as devious and unpleasant.

    I think there are other ways they have created her so as to make her dislikable and I am going to offer more on this soon. Thanks for the continuing discussion.

  28. Linda D.

    It WOULD be so much fun to be able to watch Series 7 together!!!! Where do you live? I live on Vancouver Island, in a small city called Campbell River, B.C. We are right on the Salish Sea. The trouble is that we often get it much later and can’t even buy it ahead. It would be neat to blog together after every episode! I’d love that!
    Yes, he blew it on the big date! No doubt he knew after things went south, that he had insulted her and of course, he was helpless to know how to fix it.. It was so sad to see how upset he was. Too bad Louisa didn’t see any of that. When he accepted her invitation, he said,”Everyone has to start somewhere.” I think he was hopeful that he and Louisa were headed in the right direction. He was quite sincere about what he told her but of course, had no idea he was being insulting. She could have stopped him and explained why she kissed him but she missed the chance. Poor Louisa. It was pretty hard to understand him. Do you think the marriage proposal was the only thing he could think of to do?

  29. Mary F.

    Well Miss Linda, it is always lovely to commiserate over Doc Martin together but I’m afraid sharing a bowl of popcorn will have to wait since we live about 3000 miles apart. We are in the small town of Beacon, New York, overlooking the mighty Hudson, just north of NYC. I have never been to the Northwest but would love to as it is so beautiful and fascinating with all its mix of east-west culture. You are very lucky to live in such a place!

    We get to see DM in Sept or Oct of the year of filming but only on Acorn TV. I think you can get it a bit early on Hulu too. Ah, the wonders of technology! I’m always complaining that it has ruined everything and I still refuse to carry a smart phone, but am very thankful for its perks like Doc Martin and this blog!

    As for the proposal, I don’t think DM could help himself really, especially when they had just gone through that horrid near-death experience with Holly. (or is it Polly? lol!) It brought them together and he must have decided this was an opportune moment for him to “fix” things. It was quite startling and romantic but really he should have thought twice before proposing. It was as if he decided that courting Louisa was just too difficult for him and he would simply cut to the chase. He “couldn’t bear to be without” her so why mess around with the devil of real communication and risk losing her completely?

    I wonder what he would have done if she had come to her senses and said “Thanks, but we need more time.”!

  30. Linda D.

    Well dear Mary. Perhaps we shall meet one day! I would like that! I hope to see your part of the world one day. It is such a beautiful part of the world! I enjoy your comments very much and if you are a fan of Doc Martin, you must be a friend of mine! Thanks for the heads up about Acorn and Hulu. I will look into both of those options!

    I like your thinking about Martin’s motive for the proposal. He DID cut to the chase with no prompting from Louisa. She had to be impressed about that. Yes, she should have said they needed more time to get to know one another, which would not preclude intimacy. I think they had one of their happiest periods when engaged and they should have made it a long engagement rather than feeling pressure to take the early date at the church. I am still confused about WHY they each decided to hang the other out to dry by not showing up for the first wedding! It was totally out of character for both of them to be so disrespectful! To not talk it out, even if they decided to call it off is unthinkable. It caused such future heartache! I also wonder who paid for everything in the end? I know that is silly, but my mind works like that sometimes!

  31. Linda D.

    I am wondering how many times they were intimate? Surely, more than twice since they were engaged for at least 3 weeks?

  32. Mary F.

    Their first engagement period did strike me as rather odd because they seemed to spend so little time together and the doc appeared to have reservations about getting married right from the start. Recall how he seems alarmed that Louisa has spread the news about their engagement, or how uncomfortable he is when Pauline asks to be a bridesmaid or even the fact that his aunt is the last to know. Most newly engaged couples would be excited to share their news and to shower each other with affection but we see little evidence of that here. I think Louisa is confident at first but her initial flush of excitement appears to fade as her friends begin to whittle away at her decision and she starts to realize that perhaps she hasn’t really thought this through. By the time the big day arrives they both have developed serious reservations. Its painful when they realize that they can’t go through with it without acknowledging those doubts.
    So, no, I don’t think it was unrealistic that they did not marry the first time around. The show’s writers really thought this through by keeping the characters true. They both realize they are rushing into making a commitment neither is ready for.
    But like yourself Linda D, I had hoped to see some sort of heart to heart about it later on, as their brief encoumter at the surgery wasn’t nearly enough.

  33. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Although I agree with much of what you write, I think the difference in the manner in which Martin and Louisa treat their engagement reflects how their behavior differs in general. He’s very private and not prone to wanting to talk about their plans with anyone while she immediately tells her colleagues and shows excitement. Martin has told Louisa he can’t bear to be without her and she’s thrilled to hear him say that. She wants to marry and the opportune time for that is passing quickly. Although Martin is the one to take the step to express his yearning for Louisa, it scares him to feel this way (much as we’ve been saying for a while), and the whole plan is going too fast for him. But the wedding day episode especially, and some of the examples you cite in earlier episodes, really do set up the likelihood that their marriage won’t take place.

    We certainly don’t have any evidence that they spoke to each other for the 6 months they were apart while Louisa was in London. In some ways that makes sense too though because Louisa would probably have had to be the one to initiate any communication and, once she found out she was pregnant, she wouldn’t have been too comfortable calling him and not telling him. I would imagine her decision to return to Portwenn was partly her way of trying to finally reach out to him, and it had to be in person. To me it’s not surprising that she waited until it was too late to end the pregnancy because she wants the baby and wants to make sure there’s no possibility of aborting it.

    The time for them to have a real heart to heart might have been once she returns, but then Edith complicates things and makes Louisa even less inclined to let down her guard. One thing I’ve been thinking for a while is that we see Martin break down and express his true feelings for Louisa, e.g. when he asks her to marry him, when the baby is born, at the Castle, but we’ve never seen Louisa reach a point where she allows her emotions to take over and express her love for him. She has several moments when she’s the one to start a passionate embrace/kiss, but she never says outright to him how she feels about him. I think that needs to happen now.

  34. Santa Traugott

    Karen said: “but we’ve never seen Louisa reach a point where she allows her emotions to take over and express her love for him. She has several moments when she’s the one to start a passionate embrace/kiss, but she never says outright to him how she feels about him. I think that needs to happen now.”

    Absolutely. Think how different things would have turned out if, at the moment when she had confronted him about his difficulties, she had said, not only “but I’m you’re wife” — but in a firm tone “I’m your wife and I love you and I need to know what’s going on with you.” (Leave aside for the moment that the doorbell would still have rung just at that moment!) It’s the most natural thing in the world to say, but she couldn’t or wouldn’t. That’s largely, I guess, for reasons of plot.

    The bewildered tone in which she said, at that moment, “but I’m your wife” suggests a degree of insecurity, a suggestion that he would have told her if he really loved her and cared about her as his wife. That may explain some of what happens later. That is. there are those who suggest that Louisa’s real unhappiness is because she interprets his behavior as that he no longer loves her and is disenchanted with their marriage. I can’t quite buy that, but I do think she is more concerned about his behavior as it relates to her, than to what actually might be going on with him.

    BTW, I like how the toss around the terms “husband” and “wife.” At first, it’s like they enjoy the feel of it in their mouths, but we’re not convinced that they understand what they’re saying. By the end, at Martin’s “and you are my WIFE” I think that he at least has got it.

  35. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    I do think they handled Louisa’s behavior the way that worked best for the story arc. They often keep these two from being able to talk to each other, so that’s one reason. On the other hand, they have given Martin several moments of being able to finally express his feelings for Louisa. It’s rather ironic that the character who is disinclined to talk is the one who opens up about his feelings, while the character who is usually quite open about her feelings never tells him how much she loves him. The only time that she says she loves him directly to him is when she has come to his house to leave him a note that tells him she doesn’t want to marry him. She explains the note says she loves him, and she really does, but that he wouldn’t make her happy.

    I have to think how they have let things play out is deliberate, but at this point I think there is a glaring gap she needs to fill with her own moment of emotional declaration of love for him. I’m not sure how he would handle that, but I have to imagine it would come as a welcome surprise at this point.

  36. Mary F.

    Excellent points! Its true he is an exceedingly private man and would be loathe to share anything but at some point you do have to let people know you’re getting married to the love of your life. He did seem genuinely happy that she agreed to marry him, or perhaps it was more relief that they were no longer apart?

    What is really odd is that I’ve never noticed that glaring omission of Louisa’s, the fact that she almost never tells him she loves him! I have almost always focused on how he expresses his feelings with the assumption that she is much more comfortable about expressing hers. Perhaps this lack of expression on her part has only added to his insecurities about her true feelings. It is likely a plot device, because I can’t imagine Louisa not saying “I love you” to him on a regular basis. She is much more open than he is. I do remember feeling glad when she told him so after the failed wedding.

    I also agree she decided to come home after the point-of-no-return…she had no intention of aborting that baby and didn’t want it as an option that Martin might suggest to her. And he doesn’t offer it up initially, the first thing he suggests is marriage. He only wants to do right by her, even though the news has brought on a slew of emotions which Edith naturally tries to stomp out like a smoldering fire.

  37. Linda D.


    Great comments about the different way Martin and Louisa dealt with the news of the engagement. He WAS very private about it but he must have realized that it would be all over the village in seconds! That is the way it works in Portwenn, and Martin, being the only doctor in town is especially prone to gossip. But, he is not accustomed to sharing things about himself with others, no matter how good the news. Louisa would probably have liked some public displays of affection and clearly wanted everyone to know her news! In fact, even she is not outwardly affectionate. This is not uncommon I think – even in the real world. I think a lot of couples fall into the trap of romanticizing the wedding only to discover they don’t know each other very well and haven’t had the important conversations that would allow their union to be solid for years to come. I think it was odd that they never kissed in public or held hands, even in the first heady days of their engagement. Even when they met for dinner, there was not even a peck on the cheek! The writers sure left us with a lot questions during those last episodes. I think there were some very large gaps between the engagement and the wedding. Was that done on purpose or was it because of time constraints. It made the calling off of the first wedding very painful because we had all envisioned them having a very good few weeks ahead of the wedding and wished for it to come off well. Of course, we know that the marriage was doomed from the start but we didn’t get that until they called it off and went their separate ways. It seemed harsh that they didn’t talk at all for 6 months. Then, Edith appeared and I personally was gobsmacked!

  38. Linda D.

    I can’t seem to figure out how to reply to Santa’s excellent comments above. I sometimes reply and my comments end up in the wrong place. You are so right about how she expressed her concerns when she caught him talking to Ruth about therapy. She wasn’t sure how she played into that scenario and immediately went to doubt about his love. He did a poor job of explaining the situation and as always, rushed off to save a life instead of reassuring his wife! Of course, she knows that a husband and wife should share everything and when they don’t, she is offended more about the sharing issues thanabout what is wrong with him. You hit that on the nail head Santa!

  39. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Linda, I’m so sorry about any problems you have with replying to comments. I’ve been trying to figure out what to change and still haven’t come up with the solution. I want you to know that I am working on it and really hope it’s not discouraging anyone from making a comment. I see everything differently from what you see, and that makes it even harder to know how to fix a problem.

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