War and Remembrance: How Dark Shadows Makes the Political Personal in 1795

One (or 8 for that matter) isn’t enough to satisfy y’all! So here’s another essay about the 1966-1971 gothic daytime soap opera Dark Shadows

In my previous essay about Angelique, I mentioned that Angelique had ambitions to better her station in life. Angelique, a lady’s maid to Countess Natalie du Prés, was raised from a young age as a servant. In the du Prés household in Martinique, Angelique learned the manners and mannerisms of the upper class, and wanted the lifestyle they lived.

So, where did Angelique learn to yearn for more? The French Revolution of 1789. We are told that Natalie escaped the Revolution. French history tells us that women like Natalie du Prés were being guillotined and killed. Natalie, being a talkative woman, must have nattered on and on about the France that she fled from. Angelique, being an impressionable young woman, must have listened to Natalie’s stories and thought, A revolution is being fought just so people like me can do better in life.

I’ve often wondered why Angelique, a native of a place of warmth and bright colors and luxuries that she could encounter but not experience, would fall for Barnabas Collins, son of a Puritanical fishing fleet owner, a New England man with whom, on the surface, she did not have much in common.

What they had in common was revolution. Joshua Collins, Barnabas’ father, wasn’t just a rich businessman, he was a veteran of the American Revolutionary War, wounded in its cause. Angelique, who was with Barnabas many nights in Martinique, must have done more than just doing the deed with Barnabas. The two of them must have also talked about their lives, dreams, ambitions, and backgrounds. Barnabas must have talked about the Collins family, must have talked proudly about his father’s exploits, the battles, and what was at stake for America in the revolution.

If so, is it any wonder that Angelique must have thought that an American, whose father fought for a nation where all people were created equal with the inherent rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, might understand when she thought Why not me? Am I not as pretty as Josette? Do I not know the correct manners a lady must have in society?

So, imagine Angelique’s shock and hurt when she discovered, when she came to America as Natalie du Prés’ maid, that the land of equal opportunity wasn’t quite so equal after all. Angelique, when she swallows her pride that Barnabas did not come to see her in her room, does not encounter a lover who has missed the woman he had an affair with, but instead, a man who wants to be “friends,” who wants Angelique to know her place, and who wants her to let Barnabas and Josette marry without a hint of protest. Angelique tells him that they are not their roles in life, but themselves, and begs him to be the man who saw her as a woman, not milady’s servant—but he doesn’t listen.

When she encounters Joshua Collins, the war veteran, she finds a man who is contemptuous and dismissive of her, since she’s only a servant.

Angelique is so hurt and angry with Barnabas that when he later comes to her room (and a crappy little room it is, too, in my opinion) to discuss where things stand, she makes a remark about whether Barnabas should be paranoid about being seen in the servants’ quarters. The way she says the phrase drips with sarcasm and emotional pain. Barnabas once again tries to tell Angelique that he’s marrying Josette and that that means it’s over between Barnabas and Angelique, but a sudden and exciting kiss between them (that he kinda starts!) shows us that this man is too conflicted in his feelings for moving forward with his marriage to Josette to be any kind of good idea.

It shows us, but not Barnabas. When he dismisses the affair between himself and Angelique as a thing of the past, because they have new roles to play now, Angelique is a picture of icy cold fury, and dismisses Barnabas from her room.

So when Josette shows up at last, Barnabas– in front of Angelique, mind you– gives Josette a very socially-improper-for-the-time kiss on the lips. The look on Angelique’s face is hurt, angry, and determined. She must have felt like: You are deliberately hurting me, deliberately putting me in my place. In Martinique, we were lovers, equals, ourselves, but here, you dismiss me as a mere maid, a mere friend. Oh, there’s gonna be hell to pay, dear sir…

Later, Angelique administers rough justice, voodoo style.

When I searched for images involving Martinique, this came up. Feel free to imagine Barnabas and Angelique walking romantically along this shore...
When I searched for images involving Martinique, this came up. Feel free to imagine Barnabas and Angelique walking romantically along this shore…

Cut to a month later, when Josette has (due to Angelique’s magical jiggery-pokery) married someone other than Barnabas and is widowed almost immediately after: Barnabas and Angelique are going to be married! Barnabas tells his father the news, and his father’s attitude is that Barnabas will just have to tell the servant girl that Barnabas has “made a mistake.” Really, Joshua? In an era where a woman could sue for breach of promise? Your son is just supposed to say, “My bad, no hard feelings, but Daddy won’t let me marry a mere servant?”

Somewhat later, Angelique says to Joshua, after being accused of having thoughts above her station, that she is in America now, a place where a war was fought so people could have thoughts above their station in life, where people, through hard work and dedication to the highest principles, could make something of themselves. She’s right, of course, but Joshua has lost sight of the highest principles of the revolution, because he only wants an upper-class marriage for his son.

Yeesh, no wonder Angelique turned Joshua into a cat earlier. You fought a war for equality and independence, Joshua, but you let money and class make you forget about those principles, and you think that your family is American royalty. If I’d been Angelique? After being insulted that way? I would have done as Ben Stokes’d asked, and turned Joshua into a mule, a work animal that’s as badly treated as a pretty maid with thoughts above her station, because Joshua was being stubborn as a mule, to say the least.