Discussion Topic

Mrs. Drover's actions and motivations in Elizabeth Bowen's "The Demon Lover."

Summary:

Mrs. Drover's actions and motivations in "The Demon Lover" are driven by her attempt to reclaim normalcy and her suppressed fear of a past lover. Returning to her abandoned house in wartime London to collect belongings, she encounters a letter from her former fiancé, triggering her anxiety and ultimately leading to her mysterious disappearance.

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How does Mrs. Drover react to her past in Elizabeth Bowen's "The Demon Lover"?

In Elizabeth Bowen's short story, set during World War II, the protagonist, Mrs. Kathleen Drover, has returned from the countryside where she and her family had taken refuge to avoid the bombs falling on London. The familiar streets and house make her reflect back on her past life. When she goes into the house and starts assembling her belongs, she notices a letter on the table, oddly in a plain envelope with no stamp. The letter, signed with the initial "K.", stirs up memories of a previous war, World War I, when she was engaged to a soldier who went missing in action. The narrator treats the engagement as somehow uncanny, although without precise details. 

The letter reads:

Dear Kathleen: You will not have forgotten that today is our anniversary, and the day we said. ... In view of the fact that nothing has changed, I shall rely upon you to keep your promise. I was sorry to see you leave London, but was satisfied that you would be back in time.

Her reaction to the letter is intense. First, she acutely remembers every detail of their final meeting except her lover's face. No matter how she struggles to recall his face, it remains blank. She remembers her lover as "not kind" and unnerving in a way, and is frightened by the letter. When she is spirited away by the taxi at the end of the story, she is terrified and screaming.

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Why does Mrs. Drover return to the house in "The Demon Lover" by Elizabeth Bowen?

During the bombing of London in World War II, people were forced to abandon their homes, and Mrs. Drover is one of these people. But one day Mrs. Drover decides to return to her house in order to gather some of the family's belongings.

Mrs. Drover went round to her shut­up house to look for several things she wanted to take away. Some belonged to herself, some to her family, who were by now used to their country life.

When Mrs. Drover arrives, she looks around and finds some cracks in the walls from the bombing. As a shaft of daylight makes its way into the hallway, she finds on the hall table a letter addressed to her. She wonders why a letter has come to this address, as she has been having her mail forwarded to the country. When Mrs. Dover reads this letter, she is startled because it reminds her of a meeting she had planned with her lover of years ago. Disturbed at the thought of meeting her former lover, Mrs. Dover leaves the house to hail a taxi. As the taxi pulls away, the driver turns around.

Through the aperture driver and passenger, not six inches between them, remained for an eternity eye to eye. Mrs. Drover’s mouth hung open for some seconds before she  could issue her first scream.

Mrs. Drover continues to scream as the taxi accelerates and takes her into the "hinterland of streets that are deserted." But the reader is left wondering if there were not some force urging Mrs. Drover to return this particular day, the day she had arranged with her lover, who had gone off to war and disappeared years ago.

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Why does Mrs. Drover return to the house in "The Demon Lover" by Elizabeth Bowen?

In the story, Mrs. Drover returns to the house to check on her home and to retrieve some of her family's personal belongings. Her family is currently staying in the country in order to avoid the daily bombings in London.

The story is set during World War Two, and the condition of Mrs. Drover's home is indicative of that of many London homes during the London Blitz of 1940. The London Blitz describes the German campaign to terrorize London and to force the British to surrender. Originally, Hitler had ordered bombings on military installations but soon changed to bombing cities in order to bring about Britain's capitulation to his will.

The state of disrepair and air of isolation within Mrs. Drover's home is representative of so many homes Londoners had to flee from during the London Blitz. Those who could not flee to the country had to content themselves with hiding in underground shelters. Periodically, homeowners like Mrs. Drover braved the bombings to check on their homes and to retrieve personal belongings or needed supplies. Also, the caretaker Mrs. Drover has employed does not often check on the home, so Mrs. Drover feels more assured if she checks on her home personally.

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Why has the Drover family left their home in London in "The Demon Lover" by Elizabeth Bowen?  

The story begins when Mrs. Drover arrives at her house, which has been not been occupied for some time.  She has plans to "look for several things she [wants] to take away."  Mrs. Drover and her family had left their London home to live in relative safety in the country.  They had done this to escape the London Blitz.  

Blitz was short for Blitzkrieg, which meant "lightning war" in German.  Blitzkrieg was an attack strategy of bombing raids.  Nazi planes flew over London and other major British citizens.  These planes dropped bombs, causing enormous amounts of destruction.  Mrs. Drover notes this when she observes the "damage of war" in her neighborhood.  

During the Blitz, British citizens of cities had to evacuate to bomb shelters or London Underground stations in order to escape death or injury.  People who could not easily access such shelters were issued Morrison shelters, which were steel tables that they could hide underneath.  

There were periods of time when London was bombed every single night.  This caused fear and anxiety for citizens.  Many people found it difficult to endure the constant fear of bombings.  Some people sent their children to live with host families in the country.  Others moved themselves and their entire families to the country, which was the case with Mrs. Drover.  These people locked their houses up or appointed a caretaker, as the Drover family did.

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Why has the Drover family left their home in London in "The Demon Lover" by Elizabeth Bowen?  

The family left London because of the bombings during World War II.

During World War II, there were many serious bombings in London, England.  The Nazis were close enough to reach the country by plain, and people lived in fear of the next raid.  The Dovers and others went to the country, where there are fewer people clustered together and they are less of a target.

The house is boarded up, but Kathleen Dover is coming to check on it.

She had been anxious to see how the house was …There were some cracks in the structure, left by the last bombing, on which she was anxious to keep an eye. Not that one could do anything...

Mrs. Dover has cracks in herself as well.  She is clearly suffering from post-traumatic stress as a result of her experiences in the war, and she is frightened and confused.

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In "The Demon Lover," why has the Drover family left their house in London?

Mrs. Drover returned to a London that had been badly damaged by bombings.  As she walked toward her home, she noticed the "broken chimneys and parapets."  In 1940 and 1941, the Nazis bombed London and other British cities by airplane.  Many buildings were damaged.  Some people lost their homes to the German bombs.  Others found their homes damaged by the bombings.  Residents who were able to chose to leave London to escape the stress and danger of the bombings.  They went to the English countryside to live.  This was what the Drover family did, leaving their house to be watched over by a caretaker.  The Nazis strategically chose to bomb cities and large towns, which were densely populated.

Once Mrs. Drover reached her house, she found that her front door had warped and "there were some cracks in the structure, left by the last bombing."  After she left her house, she observed "the unoccupied houses... [which] continued to meet her look with their damaged stare."  As she walked through her neighborhood, she found there to be a "silence exaggerated this summer by the damage of war."  Many of the houses were empty because other neighbors had fled London.  

There was significant evidence in the story of how much London changed after the bombings.  These repeated descriptions of the damage and the mention of empty houses showed the impact of the bombings.  These drastic changes revealed some of the reasons why the Drover family chose to relocate to the country.

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In "The Demon Lover," why has the Drover family left their house in London?

In "The Demon Lover," the Drover family has left London for the countryside because of the war. The city has been bombed many times, and the people who live there feel safer living in the country. Mrs. Drover has come to London to retrieve some things from their home to take with her back to the city. She talks about how the city is desolate and that there is nobody there to see her go into the house because everyone has left the city. 

She had been anxious to see how the house was- the part-time caretaker she shared with some neighbors was away this week on his holiday, known to be not yet back. At the best of times he did not look in often, and she was never sure that she trusted him. There were some cracks in the structure, left by the last bombing, on which she was anxious to keep an eye. Not that one could do anything-

The whole story is set so that Mrs. Drover is completely alone in London. When she gets the mysterious letter, we see the fear creep in, and that the isolation is in itself a danger to her. 

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In "The Demon Lover," why has the Drover family left their house in London?

We are not expressly told why the Drovers left, but it is easy enough to work out from the information we are given. The story is set in the time of the Second World War - 1941, to be precise. At this time many mainland British towns and cities were liable to be bombed, so that families would evacuate to the countryside. Mrs Drover has returned after a recent bombardment to collect some family belongings from their old residence.

The streets around the house are more or less deserted, which would not be the case, particularly on a sunny summer afternoon, in normal times. They also bear the signs of war-devastation; and Mrs Drover notes of her own old residence that 'There were some cracks in the structure, left by the last bombing, on which she was anxious to keep an eye.' Her own house, then, has not escaped damage, and it could be said that the cracked house also reflects her own somewhat troubled state of mind.

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In "The Demon Lover," why has the Drover family left their home in London, and why does Mrs. Drover return home?

This is one of those questions that can be answered by a close reading of the text.  If you haven't read the story yet, I highly recommend it; it is super suspenseful and haunting.  Near the very beginning of the story, it states that the Drover family left London because of all of the bombings that had occurred in the city; it wasn't safe to stay there anymore.  During World War II, London was aerial bombed pretty badly.  A lot of families left to go to the countryside to live until things settled down.  However, Mrs. Drover needs to return to their home in the city; the text of the story says that she returns "to look for some things," but never gets more specific than that.  She goes alone, and enters the house, which has been locked and sitting there for quite some time.  Everything is dusty and the air is "dead," and she had a hard time even turning the key in the rusty lock.

It is at this point that the story really picks up, because sitting on a table in the hallway is a letter, addressed to her.  She wonders who could have gotten in to put it there, and then the story takes off from there, leading us into her past, and ending in an ominous future.

I hope that those thoughts help; it's a great story well worth the read.  Good luck!

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