Imagery is description that uses the five senses of sight, sound, taste, smell, and touch. In "The Demon Lover," Bowen uses visual images as the story opens to offer the reader a clear view of the scene entering the house:
[A] cat wove itself in and out of railings . . . Shifting some parcels under her arm, she slowly forced round her latchkey in an unwilling lock, then gave the door, which had warped, a push with her knee.
We can see a cat, a creature often associated with the supernatural, and the woman carrying packages as she forces open the door with her knee.
Bowen highlights another visual image by placing it in its own paragraph:
A shaft of refracted daylight now lay across the hall. She stopped dead and stared at the hall table—on this lay a letter addressed to her.
We see in our mind's eye the ray of sunshine falling on the hall table and lighting up the letter—an odd thing to find if nobody has been in the house for a long time.
Sound imagery is used in the following, which emphasizes how dead and silent the house is otherwise:
Through the shut windows she only heard rain fall on the roofs around.
Touch or feeling imagery occurs in the quote below, where the
air of the staircase was disturbed by a draft that traveled up to her face. It emanated from the basement: Down where a door or window was being opened by someone who chose this moment to leave the house.
Bowen uses imagery liberally throughout the story to build her eerie, supernatural mood.
In the short story, "The Demon Lover," Bowen uses imagery to build suspense. First of all, the house itself embodies the image of darkness and decay. When Mrs. Drover enters the house, "dead air came out to meet her." The weather is also foreboding with dark clouds "piling up." The reader is then told the story in flashback of Mrs. Drover's dead fiancee. The cold, stillness of the house sets the scene for Mrs. Drover's breakdown.
Furthermore, the image of her dead fiance also builds suspense. Mrs. Drover remembers how he cut her hand on his uniform buttons with his tight grasp as they said their goodbyes. Later in the story, she even looks for the return of the welt on her hand after all the years that have passed. Also, in the same flashback of their parting, she remembers imagining "the spectral glitters in the place of his eyes." The fiance is painted as a demon in Mrs. Drover's memory. The suspense builds when she recalls thinking, "She could not have plighted a more sinister troth" when she makes the "unnatural promise" to wait for his return, no matter what.
The images of the house and Mrs. Drover's demon lover serve to build suspense until the end of the story when, what appears as the supernatural taxi driver, takes off with his terrified passenger.
Bowen uses imagery throughout her story, "The Demon Lover." She opens, for instance, with an image of a "steamy, showery" day to depict the hot and humid weather. This is immediately followed by a contrasting image of darkness:
"Against the next batch of clouds already piling up ink-dark."
By creating this contrast, Bowen alters the mood of the story so that it becomes more serious. She also foreshadows the dramatic events to come.
In addition, Bowen uses imagery to describe the interior of Mrs Drover's former home. She mentions the smell of "cold heart," for example, to convey to the reader that the house has been abandoned for some time. This is reinforced by an image of a "film" which covers the furniture and suggests that these items have not been dusted or cleaned for some time.
Finally, after Mrs Drover has discovered and read the letter, Bowen employs an auditory image of crashing rain. This is effective in adding drama to the scene and creating a sense of suspense as the reader waits to see what will happen next.