Was there ever a more tragic figure than Josette DuPres? Plucked like a hothouse flower from her island home in Martinique and deposited in frigid Collinsport, Maine only to have her maidservant betray her and her husband of 3 days murdered by his nephew. Let’s examine the tortured life of this Dark Shadows beauty.
Those of you familiar with Dark Shadows may remember Josette enters the storyline as Barnabus’ fiancé, but unfortunately they never actually marry. Her maid — the witch Angelique — places a spell on Josette to make her fall in love with Jeremiah Collins who is Barnabus’ uncle.
For this to work out, Angelique has to make Jeremiah reciprocate so she places a love spell on him as well, and the lovers run off to marry while poor Barnabus waits downstairs on his wedding day with the minister. Tragic stuff, but it gets worse.
The morals of the day demand a duel, and Jeremiah is killed by his nephew Barnabus. Now, you would think that after a respectable amount of time Barnabus and Josette might have another chance at love, but not while Angelique is around. Her machinations cause Josette to fall to her death from the cliff at Widow’s Hill.
Dark Shadows – Barnabus Collins and Josette DuPres
Barnabus never recovered from that emotionally which is why Josette’s portrait and the music box became such prominent touchstones for him – it was all he had left of her. Now imagine you wake up in the 20th century and find yourself looking at a dead ringer of your long lost fiancé. Wouldn’t you kidnap her and brainwash her into thinking she was Josette?
Well, maybe not but you probably haven’t spent a couple hundred years locked in a crypt . . . in a coffin . . . chained. I’m told it does strange things to the mind. In any case, Maggie Evans is Josette’s reincarnation whether she knows it or not.
The disappearance of Maggie Evans is one of the longer Dark Shadows storylines. It actually introduces Barnabus to us. Although it shows Barnabus at his most diabolical, perhaps you’ll have a little sympathy for him now that you know his backstory. But I digress.
Kathryn Leigh Scott, the actress who played Josette in the original series said it best. She was quoted in the London Times as saying,
Dark Shadows always came down to the story, and we borrowed from the best of classic English literature. . . The show went from Jane Eyre to Dorian Gray to Rebecca, Wuthering Heights and TheTurn of the Screw. And the kids who were watching it may not have got the references, but they recognized a good story, which was what really mattered.
If you’re not a fan of the series, you’re probably wondering what all the fuss is about. It’s just a campy old soap opera from the 70s, right? Yes, but sum of its parts equals more than the whole. Rather than me trying to explain it, why not buy a copy of the entire Dark Shadows series, and see for yourself?