The Archetype Of Mother In Elizabeth Bowen's Death Of The Heart

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Elizabeth Bowen’s novel, Death of the Heart, follows the life of sixteen-year-old Portia, who goes to live with her aunt and uncle after the death of her mother. Unaccustomed to high society living, Portia awkwardly tries to navigate the upper class and her new home. Just as she placed her home in her mother, Irene, since they never had a singular home, she tries to find a new motherly figure to represent a home. "…Miss Bowen's protagonists are searching for a home, or for what to them is the same thing, the principle of order that governs their world and that will provide for them a sense of identity by allowing them to fit themselves into that order" (McDowell 6). At the beginning of the novel Portia has no principle that governs her world. By being denied a maternal figure through Anna, Portia believes she is denied a home. The archetype of mothers representing house and home is present…show more content…
For instance, as Matchett tells Portia about her parent’s affair, Portia becomes distressed and exclaims “But we were happy, Matchett. We had each other; he had mother and me—Oh, don’t be so angry: you make me feel it was my fault for having had to be born” (Bowen 83). Even though Matchett is her only constant within the novel, always at the house, she still fails as maternal figure by having Portia feel as if her identity is invalid or not worth something. Matchett is confirming Portia’s belief that Anna and Thomas would “forgive [her] if [she] were something special” (Bowen 83). The ending of the novel, the most clearly to exemplify Bowen’s goal of showing the connection between the mother and daughter to be slightly deconstructed. Even though Anna is in want of a child, and Portia is in want of a mother, Anna till is unable to even bring herself to return Portia back to the home that she has now denied. Portia consoles herself in Major Brutt,

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