Innocence In Elizabeth Bowen's The Demon Lover

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Rarely when a story is rewritten does it get more ambiguous, and even more rare is the occasion where the more ambiguous piece is longer. However, such a problem is exactly the case in Elizabeth Bowen’s rendition of an age-old ballad “The Demon Lover”. This short story’s ending is left up for debate as to who and what occurred, especially in regards to the lover himself. To look at Bowen’s story through the lens of the ballad, the missing details seem to tell a larger picture. Although Mrs. Drover’s ex-fiance is never properly introduced in “The Demon Lover”, there is sufficient evidence to support the assumption that he is a demon, and he took her away in the end. One idea that seems to be implied as the focus of the story is the breaking…show more content…
By all accounts he doesn’t seem to be caring or loving, like one would be lead to believe by the title “Lover”. Instead we are imbued with a sense that the man is more like his former title of “Demon”. As with our last assertion, we get most of our information from young Kathleen. Her description of her fiance was something of a nightmare; Someone with “...intimidating looks…”, cold eyes, without feeling, and that she wished him gone (Bowen 1408). If this description is not enough, she also speaks of an ordeal that has to do with his physical behavior. “...putting out a hand, which he each time pressed, without very much kindness, and painfully pressed to one of the breast button of his uniform.” ( Bowen 1408). Her remembrance of these events and the description that we’re given coupled with the supernatural prescience of the letter and the Taxicab, leads us to see this lover as not only a man of bad character, but as a literal demon. This is only backed up by the ballad, where the man in the poem also acted as a villain and was later revealed to be a demon himself. This is told on lines 39 and 40, “When dismal grew his countenance / and drumlie grew his ee” (Demon lines 39 &40) as explanation of his poor will, and a description of his intimidating looks paralleled in Bowen’s story. On line 43, she discovers his “cloven food” to reveal his true nature (Demon line 43). While, this proves the suspected…show more content…
When Mrs. Drover gets in the taxi, she immediately looks at the eyes of the driver, which frightens her. She describes these eyes in the same way she regarded her lover’s, as “spectral glimmers” (Bowen 1408). It would be fair to assume that this was not mere coincidence, that the eyes of the demon in the ballad, which were without soul, matched the eyes of the lover in the story. Since we’ve proven the lady’s lover to show several characteristics of the demon, it’s fair to assume that they’re the same. Thus, we can also look back into the ballad’s ending where the demon lover broke the ship to kill them both (ballad line 60). This act could not have been done for no reason, and it's possible the fate of Mrs. Drover probably stemmed from the promise she made and broke, that she told him that she would wait for him. The demon, in both stories seems to be entirely revolving around the woman’s past choice, and even goes as far as wanting retribution or revenge. The ending, being similar, shows that this is merely the same consideration as the demon gave the woman in the
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