In the late 1960s on ABC’s Dark Shadows serial a story line was introduced which has intrigued fans then and now. It was the story of Barnabas Collins and his true love Josette DuPres, daughter of Andre and Marie.
Like any young couple in 18th century America, they would face more than human obstacles in their path to marital happiness. Barnabas had met Josette in the lovely French island of Martinique.
However, Josette’s servant Angélique Bouchard fell in love with Barnabas. It was an obsessive love from this woman who was a mistress of the dark arts.
Like any good gothic tale Angélique used her skill to sway Josette’s emotions away from Barnabas to his uncle Jeremiah. With tragic consequences Josette and Jeremiah played their roles covertly and were wed.
When Barnabas discovered the truth, he challenged his uncle to a duel. What else could a gentleman do when his ladylove had been swept away by another man, even a family member.
Jeremiah was fatally wounded by Barnabas. He died shortly after the duel.
A grief-stricken Josette blamed herself for the family tragedy. Barnabas attempted to win back her love, but, as with any good gothic story, in the unfolding events, tragedy would unfurl its sable banner of dark shadows.
Angélique gave Josette a vision of what her life would be with Barnabas. Fear replaced her love.
On a dark and stormy night Josette raced from the Old House to Widow’s Hill overlooking the Maine’s jagged coastline. She had learned the truth of what Angélique’s curse had done to Barnabas, making him a creature of the night.
Finding her near the edge of the sea cliff, Barnabas attempted to reason with Josette. In their final embrace she broke free from his arms and fell to her death on the rocks below.
On a stormy night in Episode 233 Barnabas told Victoria Winters, the Collins governess, and Carolyn Stoddard, his teenage cousin, about the night that Josette died. Here is his beautiful and sad soliloquy:
“It was on a night such as this that a young beautiful
woman was pressed to her limits. She could no longer accept
what the future held for her. She knew she had to destroy
herself before she became something she did not want to be.
She had quarreled with her lover. She tried to send him
away, but he would not be put off. He tried to put his
arms around her, but she broke away from him and ran off
into the stormy night. Her white dress contrasted against
the darkness. He ran after her as she headed to the one
place on earth that seemed to be designed for the termination
of human life.
“The rain drenched her, the winds buffeted her, blowing
her long hair wildly. Her clothing was torn by the low
branches. Her small, white feet were bruised and mud-stained
by the stony, cruel path to the summit of the cliff. The
shouts of her lover were lost in the wind as he ran swiftly
after her. Near the top, she stumbled over a large rock.
Crying hysterically, she limped and crawled to the edge of
the precipice. Her lover reached her, clutched at her, spinning
her around to face him.
“Her eyes were wide with terror as the lover held her tight,
lips pressed against her throat. Soon she grew limp and he
released her. Suddenly, with a last surge of energy, she broke
free and hurled herself off the cliff. Her screams reacted and
echoed as she plunged downwards. Her body was impaled on the large,
craggy rocks below. Her lover descended to the bottom
of Widow’s Hill and found her body, broken, lifeless, bloodless.
As violent as her death was, the expression on her face was
one of serenity, as if this were the best possible ending to her life”.
For Barnabas and Josette their love was never meant to be realized in the inimical dark shadows of Collinsport, Maine. Of course for almost a half a century fans have revisited and relived this story line.
Why? One may justly wonder why Barnabas and Josette, television characters from the 1960s, would hold such a spell.
Perhaps, it a tragic romance and loss of pristine innocence which captivates the listeners or viewers or readers. Love gained and lost so tearfully touches the spirit because human experience is very like this on this planet traversing the cosmos.
In time most of us find true love and happiness. Over the course of years we suffer loss. Grief embraces us like the sea winds enveloping Widow’s Hill on a dark and stormy night where fiction becomes reality with its waves of sadness and good-byes.
G. D. Williams © 2014
These photos and many others from this beloved and original series can be purchased from http://www.kathrynleighscott.com/
Josette’s Music Box