The Demon Lover

by

Elizabeth Bowen

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The Former Fiancé Character Analysis

Mrs. Drover’s first fiancé was a soldier during the First World War. Readers never encounter him directly (only in Mrs. Drover’s flashback), but in her memory, he was cold, cruel, and mysterious. She never saw his face directly, he scarred her hand cutting it with his button, and she always felt uncomfortable and even frightened by him. Though Bowen never makes this entirely clear, it seems he is also the sender of the letter, signed with a “K”, and the demon lover of the story’s title. If this is the case, he has returned twenty-five years later to make Mrs. Drover keep an unspecified promise that she presumably made during the First World War. He provokes a breakdown of sorts in Mrs. Drover, causing her to act in an irrational way in the present. Throughout the story, he is consistently sinister, but as the plot develops there’s a suggestion he has somehow, at least in Mrs. Drover’s mind, transformed into a supernatural figure. At the end of the story, when Mrs. Drover gets into a taxi and reacts in horror upon seeing the driver’s face, the implication is perhaps that she has come face to face with her old lover and he has come to deliver a horrible fate.

The Former Fiancé Quotes in The Demon Lover

The The Demon Lover quotes below are all either spoken by The Former Fiancé or refer to The Former Fiancé. 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

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:

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:

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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The Former Fiancé Character Timeline in The Demon Lover

The timeline below shows where the character The Former Fiancé appears in The Demon Lover. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Demon Lover
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
...imagining being returned to the company of her mother and sister. She tells the man, her fiancé , that she is concerned that “You’re going away such a long way.” He replies,... (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: she handled the situation well, partly because she was... (full context)
Reality, Illusion, and Trauma Theme Icon
Love and War Theme Icon
Identity and Alienation Theme Icon
Time and Repression Theme Icon
...like smoke” and she looks to her palm expecting to see the woundmade by her former fiancé’s button still there. She also remembers how their relationship brought about the “complete suspension of... (full context)