The Demon Lover

by

Elizabeth Bowen

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Kathleen Drover Character Analysis

Mrs. Drover is the protagonist of the story, a forty-four year old woman who has returned to her house in London during the Second World War to retrieve items for her family who are living in the English countryside. She prides herself on her dependability as a wife and mother, and when she first enters the house she seems practical and relatively well-adjusted. As the story unfolds, however, it becomes apparent that she is of a nervous dispositions and has experienced a substantial amount of trauma in her lifetime. She was previously engaged to an unnamed man, her former fiancé, during the First World War, and this man treated her badly. Following his presumed death, she experienced a long period of immense loneliness, during which time she struggled to attract other suitors, a necessity for women at the time. Though she did eventually get married at the age of 32, she continues to suffer on account of her past. When she reads a letter she believes has been sent by her former fiancé, her unresolved issues cause her to experience intense feelings of detachment and anxiety, believing that she is perhaps being haunted by the ghost of her former fiancé in fulfillment of some unnamed promise she made him many years before. By the end of the story, Mrs. Drover is quite unhinged and she gets in a taxi to return to her family, but it seems that the taxi is driven by someone she is afraid of, making her fate uncertain.

Kathleen Drover Quotes in The Demon Lover

The The Demon Lover quotes below are all either spoken by Kathleen Drover or refer to Kathleen Drover. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Reality, Illusion, and Trauma Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Anchor edition of The Demon Lover published in 1981.
The Demon Lover Quotes

Against the next batch of clouds, already piling up, ink-dark, broken chimneys and parapets stood out. In her once familiar street, as in any unused channel, an unfamiliar queerness had silted up; a cat wove itself in and out of railings, but no human eye watched Mrs. Dover’s return.

Related Characters: Kathleen Drover
Related Symbols: Houses
Page Number: 661
Explanation and Analysis:

…looking about her, Mrs. Drover was more perplexed than she knew by everything that she saw, by traces of her long former habit of life—the yellow smoke stain up the white marble mantelpiece, the ring left by a vase on the top of the escritoire; the bruise in the wallpaper where…the china handle had always hit the wall. The piano…had left what looked like claw marks...

Related Characters: Kathleen Drover
Related Symbols: Houses
Page Number: 661
Explanation and Analysis:

She felt so much the change in her own face that she went to the mirror, polished a clear patch in it, and looked at once urgently and stealthily in. She was confronted by a woman of forty­four, with eyes starting out under a hat brim that had been rather carelessly pulled down.

Related Characters: Kathleen Drover
Related Symbols: The Letter
Page Number: 662
Explanation and Analysis:

The young girl talking to the soldier in the garden had not ever completely seen his face… Now and then…she verified his presence for these few moments longer by putting out a hand, which he each time pressed…painfully, on to one of the breast buttons of his uniform

Related Characters: Kathleen Drover, The Former Fiancé
Page Number: 663
Explanation and Analysis:

Only a little more than a minute later she was free to run up the silent lawn. Looking in through the window at her mother and sister, who did not for the moment perceive her, she already felt that unnatural promise drive down between her and the rest of all humankind.

Related Characters: Kathleen Drover
Related Symbols: Houses
Page Number: 663
Explanation and Analysis:

But her trouble, behind just a little grief, was a complete dislocation from everything. She did not reject other lovers, for these failed to appear. For years, she failed to attract men—and with the approach of her thirties she became natural enough to share her family’s anxiousness on the score.

Related Characters: Kathleen Drover
Page Number: 664
Explanation and Analysis:

…her married London home’s whole air of being a cracked cup from which memory, with its reassuring power, had either evaporated or leaked away, made a crisis—and at just this crisis the letter writer had… struck. The hollowness of the house… cancelled years on years of voices, habits, and steps.

Related Characters: Kathleen Drover
Related Symbols: The Letter, Houses
Page Number: 664
Explanation and Analysis:

She remembered not only all that he said and did but the complete suspension of her existence during that August week. I was not myself—they all told me so at the time… Under no conditions could she remember his face.

Related Characters: Kathleen Drover, The Former Fiancé
Page Number: 665
Explanation and Analysis:

She heard nothing—but while she was hearing nothing the passé 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.

Related Characters: Kathleen Drover
Related Symbols: Houses
Page Number: 665-666
Explanation and Analysis:

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. After that she continued to scream freely…as the taxi…made off with her into the hinterland of deserted streets.

Related Characters: Kathleen Drover, The Former Fiancé
Page Number: 666
Explanation and Analysis:
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Kathleen Drover Character Timeline in The Demon Lover

The timeline below shows where the character Kathleen Drover appears in The Demon Lover. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Demon Lover
Identity and Alienation Theme Icon
Time and Repression Theme Icon
Kathleen Drover , a woman in her forties, has returned to her house in London during the... (full context)
Reality, Illusion, and Trauma Theme Icon
Identity and Alienation Theme Icon
Time and Repression Theme Icon
Once inside the house, Mrs. Drover reflects on how dirty and damp her family home has become. The absent furniture has... (full context)
Reality, Illusion, and Trauma Theme Icon
Love and War Theme Icon
Identity and Alienation Theme Icon
Promises and Punishment Theme Icon
Though reluctant to read the letter, Mrs. Drover does so upstairs in her bedroom. The sender writes, “You will not have forgotten that... (full context)
Reality, Illusion, and Trauma Theme Icon
Identity and Alienation Theme Icon
Promises and Punishment Theme Icon
Time and Repression Theme Icon
...contents of the letter and the fact that it is marked with that day’s date, Mrs. Drover attempts to ignore it. She goes to the mirror to study her own reflection, where... (full context)
Reality, Illusion, and Trauma Theme Icon
Love and War Theme Icon
Identity and Alienation Theme Icon
Promises and Punishment Theme Icon
Time and Repression Theme Icon
In a flashback, Mrs. Drover is a “young girl” talking to a soldier whose face “she had not ever completely... (full context)
Love and War Theme Icon
Identity and Alienation Theme Icon
Promises and Punishment Theme Icon
Mrs. Drover then recalls how she responded to news of her fiancé’s presumed death in the war:... (full context)
Reality, Illusion, and Trauma Theme Icon
Identity and Alienation Theme Icon
Time and Repression Theme Icon
Returned to the present moment, however, Mrs. Drover asserts that “dead or living the letter writer sent her only a threat.” She finds... (full context)
Reality, Illusion, and Trauma Theme Icon
Identity and Alienation Theme Icon
Time and Repression Theme Icon
Mrs. Drover refers to “the supernatural side” of the letter’s appearance: how did it get into the... (full context)
Reality, Illusion, and Trauma Theme Icon
Love and War Theme Icon
Identity and Alienation Theme Icon
Time and Repression Theme Icon
Mrs. Drover continues to consider “The idea of flight,” but cannot help but remember her former fiancé... (full context)
Reality, Illusion, and Trauma Theme Icon
Promises and Punishment Theme Icon
Time and Repression Theme Icon
Finally, Mrs. Drover decides that she will exit the house before “any clock struck what could be the... (full context)
Love and War Theme Icon
Time and Repression Theme Icon
Mrs. Drover is then on the street, still struck by the desolation of the deserted neighborhoodarea. The... (full context)
Reality, Illusion, and Trauma Theme Icon
Love and War Theme Icon
Identity and Alienation Theme Icon
Promises and Punishment Theme Icon
Time and Repression Theme Icon
Overwhelmed with relief at having escaped, it takes Mrs. Drover some moments to realize the taxi is moving without her having given any instructions as... (full context)