When Mrs. Drover returns to her family home in London, she finds an unstamped letter that is addressed to her on the hall table. The letter represents the past and the ominous power it holds over Mrs. Drover. After she first notices the letter on the table, she attempts to rationalize its mysterious appearance and she puts off reading it, as though she suspects the effect its contents will have on her. Once she reads it, it causes her to experience a powerful flashback about her former fiancé and the struggles she faced as a young woman in an incompatible (and perhaps abusive) relationship. When she returns to the present moment, Mrs. Drover is unable to maintain a clear boundary between the present moment and the past: despite her best efforts to focus on the present, she is absorbed by recollections of her former fiancé and the physical and emotional discomfort he caused her. Ultimately, her reading of the letter symbolizes an almost literal return to the past, as it re-establishes the anxieties of a relationship that ended 25 years previously.
The Letter Quotes in The Demon Lover
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.
…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.