...So I was at a baby shower this afternoon. (What a lame social ritual -- a party (unlike birthdays, anniversaries etc.) that is really about nothing deeper than the gifts). I hadn't been to a baby shower since I was about 8, but in this case I had married the parents and was pleased to be kept in the family loop, as it were. There were roughly 30 women ranging in age from teenagers to great grannies. Of course, being afflicted with Docmartinitis, a condition where all real life events somehow remind one of scenes in Doc Martin, (or it could just have been that I was bored out of my skull), I started comparing this baby shower with the one we see Bert give for Louisa in S4.
The kid at the shower today must have gotten (I do not exaggerate) 100 onesies. Some of the gift bags contained not one but 7 or 8 of them in different patterns and colours. Clothing predominated, but there were also a few toys including one stuffed monkey that looked very like the one given to Louisa, except that it was new and had both its eyes. What strikes me by comparison is how simple JH's entry to the world was. Perhaps Martin will prevail and he will end up a child of privilege, being put through St. Benedict's or someplace equally as expensive. When JH arrives, however, his creche is in a flat pack, he would have had no car seat were it not for Penhale, and he has no rocker or basinette at home. Instead we see him in A DRAWER! The gifts that Louisa is given -- a hand-me-down pram, a lot of hand-me-down junk at the shower, even Joan's gift of ONE onesie, not FIVE in co-ordinating colours on a string of interlocking hangers -- are making the point of simplicity.
Louisa, I suppose, is seen as "disadvantaged" at the shower by the other women in the village, because she has no husband. But there are many women in the village, eg. Mrs. Richards, Mrs. Lane etc. who may have had husbands at the time when their children were born, but do not enjoy that support any longer. Given that the position of head teacher in a village such as Port Wenn would be seen as fairly cushy employment (secure and well remunerated), I don't know what we are supposed to take from that shower scene, and the really quite pathetic gifts that Louisa is given by the other women. I do know one thing, she isn't enjoying herself at that shower, and it's not just because of the nasty things people are saying about Martin, it's about the way she is being caused to see herself. Are the other women of the village taking some sort of malicious pleasure in this, or are they being sincere in their sad gift-offerings, and in their offers of husbands-on-loan?
Going back to Biffpup's question about why Morwenna is so gratutiously insulting toward James Henry, I really think that girls in a community like Portwenn, far from finding babies adorable, see them as sort of the end of life -- the doom that has come too soon upon their mothers and grandmothers, which only a few of the lucky ones have ever managed to escape. Pauline says that the most her mother has expected of her was to be married by her mid twenties with "five brats." We sense her fear of this "doom" when Al presents the gift box to her which she first thinks is an engagement ring, and then realises is his invitation to move in with him. P: "It's really sweet of you Al, but...um.. A: I just thought if you moved in that you wouldn't want to leave, that's all. P: Oh it's not you, I just don't want to stay in Portwenn forever, A: What's out there that you can't get here. P: I just don't want to end up...A: Wot. P: I can see us moving in and getting married, getting fat, getting old, you'd be Bert and I'd be Mrs. Bert, and I've never done anything. I'll come back. You could go off if you wanted and it'd be okay with me." That doesn't explain why Morwenna looks at a rather attractive baby and calls it ugly, but it explains why she wouldn't be nearly so sentimental about babies as some of us on this forum.
All the characters in this show, and most of all the Doc and Louisa, are comedicly fractured in some way. If JH were treated by everyone as a little prince, I think it would actually compromise his ability to fit into this show and into his family. If he has to bear some of the abuse from the community that has been his father's portion ever since arriving in Portwenn, it makes him both more sympathetic as a character and more likely to elicit sympathy and solidarity from his parents. Parents tend to be in sympathy and solidarity with their own kids anyway (at least till they begin to grow up), but if there's one thing that would make Martin really fly off the handle, I imagine it would be someone levelling abuse at his son. (We saw that fierce protectiveness toward Louisa when Mr. Strain pushed her over on the beach). JH can't do much in the way of acting, so he truly is just a foil for other characters to play off, and he fulfills that role more interestingly if he is at least somewhat despised and mocked by the community than if he is universally cooed over and loved. He is the child of the community's doctor and its head teacher, so, at least economically, in comparison to other kids in the village, he is a child of privilege, but a decision seems to have been taken to portray him as NOT a child of privilege, because he is much more interesting and full of plot potential that way.