The Demon Lover


This study guide will help you analyze the short story “The Demon Lover” by Elizabeth Bowen. You can also find a summary of the text, as well as inspiration for interpreting it and putting it into perspective.

Presentation of the text

Title: “The Demon Lover” (1945)
Author: Elizabeth Bowen
Genre: Short story

Elizabeth Bowen (1899-1973) was an Irish-British writer. In her novels and short stories, Bowen often explored themes such as ordinary life, innocence, and betrayal, and many of her fiction is set in wartime London. Bowen is also known for her ghost stories, including “The Demon Lover”, which was published in the collection The Demon Lover and Other Stories in 1945.

Excerpt from the study guide: 

In the flashbacks, we also get several elements of foreshadowing that hint that something bad might happen and that increase the tension in the story. For example, Kathleen remembers her fiancé being unkind, something which is confirmed also by her parents. This hints at an obsessive character, that might not be understanding of Kathleen breaking her pact with him. As well as this, Mrs. Drover has been told many times she was not herself during the time of the brief engagement and now cannot remember her former fiancé’s face. This hints at a sinister, maybe even supernatural presence stalking Mrs. Drover. 

The narrative shifts to the present, when Mrs. Drover’s anxiety grows at the thought that she may not be alone in the house: 

Under the circumstances she did not care to consider, a house can be entered without a key. It was possible that she was not alone now. She might be being waited for, downstairs. Waited for—until when? Until ‘the hour arranged.’ At least that was not six o’clock: Six has struck.


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The Demon Lover

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