Discussion Topic

The description and atmosphere of Mrs. Drover's house in "The Demon Lover."

Summary:

Mrs. Drover's house in "The Demon Lover" is described as eerily quiet and abandoned, contributing to a haunting and unsettling atmosphere. The house's empty and neglected state reflects a sense of isolation and foreboding, enhancing the story's tension and supernatural elements.

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In "The Demon Lover," why does Mrs. Drover's house seem strange to her?

Mrs. Drover's house appears strange to her because the scene that greets her inside is incongruous with what she sees outside. Essentially, the German bombing campaigns have failed to destroy evidence of previous human activity in the house.

Yet, outside the house, there is destruction everywhere. Parapets and chimneys are broken, and architectural damage in buildings is evident. Meanwhile, an eerie stillness pervades the street where Mrs. Drover's house is located. The only evidence of life appears to be a stray cat, and Mrs. Drover does not see another human being on the streets.

Inside the house, evidence of previous human activity has been preserved. There is a yellow smoke stain above the white marble mantlepiece, a ring left by a vase atop a writing table, and a bruise in the wallpaper left by a china door handle.

Mrs. Drover sees traces of her old life everywhere, and she is besieged by her memories. However, no one can live in the house under the present circumstances. There is the feeling that life is fragile and can be rendered meaningless in the midst of war. So, Mrs. Drover's house appears strange to her because the ambiance inside the house is totally incongruent with what's outside. Essentially, destruction is juxtaposed against a previously normal existence: the two are mutually exclusive in nature.

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In "The Demon Lover," why does Mrs. Drover's house seem strange to her?

In "The Demon Lover," Mrs. Drover's house appears strange to her because she is no longer in residence. This is because World War Two has broken out and it is far safer to be in "the country" than in the bomb-threatened city.

The house also seems strange to her because its appearance has changed significantly: the windows are "boarded up," for example, the piano is in storage and all of her furniture is covered in a "film," akin to a smattering of dust. 

By portraying Mrs. Drover's house in this way, Bowen is foreshadowing the appearance of the mysterious letter, purporting to come from her former (and deceased) fiancĂ©. Just as she feels "perplexed" by her dank and dusty house, Mrs. Drover is at a loss to explain the origins of this strange letter. This sets the scene for the story's dramatic climax, in which she flees her house, only to meet with the demon lover himself. 

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In Elizabeth Bowen's short story "Demon Lover," why is Mrs. Drover somewhat reluctant to return to her house in London?

In the beginning of Elizabeth Bowen's short story "Demon Lover," the protagonist Kathleen Drover shows reluctance at returning to her house in London because the story is set during the middle of World War II in which Germany has just launched its Blitzkrieg campaign. The word blitzkrieg is German for "lightning war" and refers to Hitler's military tactic of using air raids to weaken the enemy ("Blitzkrieg").

The setting of the story influences Kathleen's hesitancy to return to London for a couple of different reasons. First, London, being the capital of England, was a dangerous location during World War II, and at any moment, Germany could launch another air raid. Second, Kathleen is very hesitant to be in a house that feels thick with death due to the toll the war has taken on the house, the neighborhood, the city, and even the whole country, as her observation in the last sentence of the opening paragraph indicates: "Dead air came out to meet her as she went in."

What's more, she is particularly hesitant to see the damage of the house caused by prior air raids. For example, she observes that not very much dust has entered the house because all windows are boarded up, yet "each object [in the drawing room] wore a film of another kind." In saying "by another kind," the writer is referring to the soot and debris left over from the bombings. The bombings have even left "some cracks in the structure" of the house.

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How is Mrs. Drover's house described at the start of "The Demon Lover"?

At the beginning of the story, the author describes Mrs. Drover's house as deserted and dilapidated. Because of the bombing, there are a few cracks in the structure and the door is warped. The protagonist, Kathleen, notes that the tell-tale marks of the family's past occupancy still stands in familiar places. The old smoke stain is still apparent on the marble mantelpiece, the escritoire still bears the mark of the bottom of a vase, the wallpaper still displays a bruise mark from the door handle, and the claw marks left by the piano on the parquet floor are still visible.

The author describes the air in the house as stale and the atmosphere, eerie. Whether this is due to a supernatural presence in the house or to Kathleen's state of mind, the author does not say. However, when Kathleen discovers a letter on the hall table that is addressed to her, she becomes visibly anxious and frightened. The letter is not stamped but bears the current day's date. As the story continues to its resolution, the reader senses that the state of the house may possibly bear a direct correlation to the state of Kathleen's psyche.

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How is Mrs. Drover's house described at the start of "The Demon Lover"?

In "The Demon Lover," the author begins by describing Mrs. Drover's London house as "shut-up." In the second paragraph, she elaborates on this by showing that the family abandoned the house rather hastily when they moved to the country, leaving it looking neglected and bare, with various signs of its former inhabitants. There is a yellow smoke stain by the mantlepiece and a ring left by a vase on the escritoire. The wallpaper is stained, and there are marks on the floor where the piano used to be. These signs of dilapidation are all clearly visible because the house has largely been stripped bare.

The war has also left its mark on the house, since there are some cracks in the walls caused by the bombing. It is not clear how serious these are, but they cause Mrs. Drover some anxiety. These prosaic details at the beginning of the story help to built up a picture of desertion and even semi-dereliction. It is clear that Mrs. Drover is completely alone in a house that has been empty for some time. This contributes to the sinister atmosphere and also makes the careful placing of the letter on the hall table appear even more incongruous and inexplicable.

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