In "The Furnished Room," is there a theme of love as demonic/ destructive with death becoming the unseparable company of love?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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While the narrative indicates in its ironic twist that the only way the protagonist can be united to Eloise is through death, it is doubtful that O. Henry implied such a gothic theme in "The Furnished Room," even though it is his bleakest story. Rather than love as the destructive force, it seems that the author wishes to depict the antagonist more as the big city with its false lure of glamour and fame that destroys Eloise and takes her from the young man, generating in him a sense of hopelessness and death.

With its largess, New York is uncaring; it is a bleak, indifferent world. Moreover, the lower West Side represents also a transient environment where people who seeks fame leave bits of themselves behind in rented rooms until they have lost their belief in themselves.

In the tragic room that he rents, the sad young man searches through drawers and pokes into every crook and cranny of the room in the desperate hope of finding a trace of his beloved Eloise:

"She has been in this room," he cried, and he sprang to wrest from it a token, for he knew he would recognize the smallest thing that had belonged to her or that she had touched.

But, the room affords him no clue, and he loses hope, feeling that "[T]he room was dead." Perhaps, then, there is the lure of death about this seedy room and its cheap hopes that leave only their rancid vapors in the transient dwelling. For, the young man lies "gratefully" upon the bed as he waits for the gas to kill him. Indeed, it is the indifference, the mendacity, and the seductive illusions of New York City that lead both Eloise to her death and the young man to his despair and death.

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