TL Question #7 - The Death of Downs

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TL Question #7 - The Death of Downs

Unread postby Liz » Sun Dec 11, 2005 10:44 am

Comment on the death of Downs.

How did it make you feel?

Is the Earl a coward?
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Unread postby Jackslady » Sun Dec 11, 2005 12:37 pm

Unfortunately although this scene is pivotal to the plot, in the film I feel the incident was not portrayed very well and could be very confusing I think, for those who have not read the play or anything about Rochester.

From the books I've read it appears Downs was killed because John, rather than letting the incident with the constable pass, plunged back into the fight. Downs tried to defend him, was struck down and Rochester and the rest left him to die.

No one could describe this as honourable behaviour, but my feelings about it are tempered because by this time Rochester is said to have been almost habitually drunk and, certainly by now he would have received mercury treatment for his disease. It is known these treatments could affect the mind - I don't think Rochester was therefore entirely responsible for his own actions. Having said that, I feel it shows the aristocrat's disdain for people of lesser standing - Downs was not a nobleman, and therefore, expendable.
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Unread postby Liz » Sun Dec 11, 2005 1:02 pm

Jackslady wrote:Unfortunately although this scene is pivotal to the plot, in the film I feel the incident was not portrayed very well and could be very confusing I think, for those who have not read the play or anything about Rochester.

From the books I've read it appears Downs was killed because John, rather than letting the incident with the constable pass, plunged back into the fight. Downs tried to defend him, was struck down and Rochester and the rest left him to die.

No one could describe this as honourable behaviour, but my feelings about it are tempered because by this time Rochester is said to have been almost habitually drunk and, certainly by now he would have received mercury treatment for his disease. It is known these treatments could affect the mind - I don't think Rochester was therefore entirely responsible for his own actions. Having said that, I feel it shows the aristocrat's disdain for people of lesser standing - Downs was not a nobleman, and therefore, expendable.


That is the way I look at it, Jackslady. I was appalled at first, but then realized he was drunk and may not have been in his right mind. That doesn't excuse him, but explains a little more why he did what he did. I do believe that he felt it was wrong when it was too late and left due to that, but also due to his condition.

And it was very unclear in the movie. :-/
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Unread postby Gilbert's Girl » Sun Dec 11, 2005 1:12 pm

In the play did he not want to help Downs or at least he seemed to come to his partial senses but was hurried away, maybe it was just how I am thinking of it now.I was also quite confused by the incident the first time I read the play something about it seemed out of character in some ways. But I think Jackslady is right his mind was adversly effected. Not having sen the film I can't comment on that :bawl:

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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Sun Dec 11, 2005 1:39 pm

It is hard for me to comment on this one because seeing this scene in the movie has totally changed the way I see it in the play and I don't want to get into spoiler territory. What I will say is that he has taken "going too far" to the extreme and really ceased to care anymore.
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Unread postby Liz » Sun Dec 11, 2005 1:53 pm

Gilbert's Girl wrote:In the play did he not want to help Downs or at least he seemed to come to his partial senses but was hurried away, maybe it was just how I am thinking of it now.I was also quite confused by the incident the first time I read the play something about it seemed out of character in some ways. But I think Jackslady is right his mind was adversly effected. Not having sen the film I can't comment on that :bawl:


In the book (pg. 60-63) it appears that Rochester does not think at all of helping Downs as he and his cronies are pursued by the Staffman. It appeared that none of them appeared to help Downs. They were more concerned about their own hides. It is unclear from the play as to whether they realized the seriousness of Downs's injury.

And DITHOT is correct that Wilmot took going too far to the extreme that night as he just wouldn't let it go. The others tried to make ammends with the Constable, but not Johnny. He went too far, and drew his sword. Downs, in trying to stop him caused confusion at which point the Staffman smashes Downs's skull instead of Rochester's.
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Unread postby suec » Sun Dec 11, 2005 2:22 pm

I don't believe he was a coward. I think he was drunk and not in control of himself. Maybe he didn't realise that Downs was fatally hurt. Maybe he did, and just had gone past caring. I do think he regretted it afterwards.
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Unread postby Endora » Sun Dec 11, 2005 3:20 pm

I think that the concepts of bravery and cowardice meant very little to him. They were part of society's conventions, and he chose to ignore them. In choosing to live for pleasure, he was unlikely to want to do something that benefitted him so little as saving a companion. Altruism in any form was to him, theroretically, pointless. So it doesn't matter if he was a coward or not, to him cowardice was as meritorious or as foolhardy as bravery
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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Sun Dec 11, 2005 3:32 pm

There is also a line in the play where Wilmot tells Downs he will die of this company, probably foreshadowing by Dunmore. I am going to put a spoiler alert on this next part so don't read it if you don't want to know...


**SPOILER**















There is a scene in the movie that alludes to a physical relationship between Wilmot and Downs that I don't recall in the play. I need to see the movie again to remember where that scene falls in relation to the death scene. I would like to revisit this part of the play once the movie is out and more of you have seen it.
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Unread postby Gilbert's Girl » Sun Dec 11, 2005 3:53 pm

Unfortuneatley that will not now be possible for me until the DVD comes out.

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MERCURY POISONING SYMPTOMS

Unread postby depphead12 » Sun Dec 11, 2005 5:00 pm

I am sorry, I do not know how to include a link. But if you put in "mercury poisoning" in Google, the second listing will give you an extensive list of the symptoms, thereby giving us an idea what Wilmot would have been up against.
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Unread postby Betty Sue » Sun Dec 11, 2005 5:09 pm

I just felt terribly disappointed in Wilmot, that he would stir up trouble after a pleasant accord had been reached and then take off when someone else was suffering because of him. It surprised me. I agree with everyone on what probably caused him to do this and wonder if this was just to portray how low he had gone. Mr. Betty Sue concluded that he was a man of mighty words but not mighty actions.
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Unread postby dharma_bum » Sun Dec 11, 2005 6:10 pm

I think that Johnny Wilmot was a mean, angry-at-the-world (and himself) drunk. Angry, that instead of “being on the verge of greatness,” he was broke and in hiding with only Etherege, Sackville and Downs for companionship. When Etherege and Sackville become so obsequious with the constable begging for leniency, I think it turned his heart cold that his life had become so mean and small—he, after all, had challenged the monarchy. He didn’t care anymore. I think he wanted to die at that point, or at the very least, didn't care if he lived. He hesitates leaving Downs, but ultimately I hink he viewed him as a regrettable loss who had been forewarned of his poisonous company.

**SPOILER REPLY…. DITHOT**






Yes, in the movie a wigless Etherege and Sackville are playing cards, discussing, I think, Etherege’s progress on his play. JW fondles Downs, who is draped across his lap. I think the scene came after his initial meeting with Barry, but before the payoff of the bet. I remember that it included dialogue from the play, but out of sequence. Rumor was that there was more than “a suggestion” of a relationship between Downs and JW was filmed, but it was cut.
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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Sun Dec 11, 2005 6:27 pm


**SPOILER ALERT REPLY**

















[b]Thanks, db. I remember those rumors!
[/b]
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

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Unread postby karla » Mon Dec 12, 2005 1:04 am

Jeremy Lamb suggests that "Rochestor's drunken aggression caused the death of a friend". He also reminds us that Rochestor was not the only person to run off and leave Down's, they all did and that it was likely that they did not even notice that he was not with them until they stopped running. It was late at night, there were no streetlamps, and they were all drunk.

This section of the play holds true to the above theory. Downs is hit and the rest run off. Down's screams take place after they have run.


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