Unsettling Language in Elizabeth Bowen’s The Demon Lover Essay

1256 Words 6 Pages
Unsettling Language in Elizabeth Bowen’s The Demon Lover

Elizabeth Bowen retells a popular folk tale in her short story, "The Demon Lover." The title suggests that the plot consists of a woman being confronted by a demon lover from her past. Bowen does not stray far from this original tale. Instead of originality, Bowen's prose relies on the use of subtleties to keep the story interesting. The story's subtleties feed us questions that continually grab our interest.

Bowen immediately begins to create a sense of uneasiness in the first paragraph. As Mrs. Drover, the protagonist, walks toward her London house, "an unfamiliar queerness had silted up; a cat wove itself in and out of railings, but no human eye watched Mrs. Drover's
…show more content…
The descriptions build up to what was creating all this uneasiness-the letter. "She stopped dead and stared at the hall table-on this lay a letter addressed to her" (36). As she stopped, we did also, wondering what was the cause of her uneasiness. Then, our apprehension became focused on the letter. Why did the letter make Mrs. Drover stop dead in her tracks?

If Mrs. Drover's response to the letter had been simple fear, we readers probably would have lost interest, assuming that we then knew exactly how the story was going to play out. But, she did not express fear upon finding the letter; instead she showed annoyance. The caretakers negligence in placing the letter on the table, "leaving it to wait in the dusk and the dust, annoyed her" (36). And then "Annoyed, she picked up the letter" (36). The use of the word "annoyed" two times so close to each other accentuates the fact that Mrs. Drover was not immediately overcome by fear of the letter as she should have been. How did the letter startle Mrs. Drover so much yet cause more annoyance than fear?

The fear that we expected only came after the reading of the letter. The letter itself was very cordial and on its own was not in the remotest way scary. But, immediately after reading it, Mrs. Drovers lips began to go white. She stared into the mirror at a reflection of a boring, middle-aged woman. Her pearls, V neck sweater, and "normal expression... of controlled worry" all contributed to the portrait of a very

More about Unsettling Language in Elizabeth Bowen’s The Demon Lover Essay

Open Document