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Bowen’s short story has been a highly acclaimed and widely anthologized short story. As it turns out, it is not a ghost story, but one of psychological drama. The setting of the story is during the World War II in London. The story focuses on the haunting of a woman, who is already in her middle age, who is caught up with her past, her old flame during her younger years, who was presumed to have been killed during the World War I. The writer has intricately played with the language used to make the story more appealing to the readers as they are left wondering whether there was a truly a ghost in the story, or it was just a product of imagination by the protagonist in this story. “It is a story of the dead returning to haunt the living or does Mrs. Kathleen Dover herself fallen prey to hysteria or delusion?” (Kessler 82). II. SUMMARY/PLOT The plot of the story tells of a young woman who has pledged her eternal love to her lover, who is a soldier and about to leave her to join the military forces at war time. When her lover did not return, she married someone else. The lover comes back for her after all in the form of a ghost, haunting her and making a revenge for breaking her promise. Mrs. Dover, the protagonist, after several years returns to her home in Germany, only to discover the letter that she wrote to her lover professing her great and undying love for him, but eventually broke off her promise. In the letter, she was supposed to meet her lover on that same evening. As Mrs. Dover was overcome by fright, she immediately hails a taxi cab to leave the house, for fear that the lover will come back for her to revenge. While in the taxi, she looks at the driver and screams, obviously frightened by what she has seen. The writer left the readers hanging by not revealing what exactly was the image seen by the protagonist. It is safe to assume that she saw the dead lover. III. PYSCHOLOGICAL DRAMA VS. GHOST STORY According to Dr. Wormhoudt, the Demon lover has made a systematic attempt to apply some of the newer findings of psychoanalytic psychiatry to Romantic poets (73). On the other hand, Reed stated that Bowen brilliantly uses the demon-motif to expose the rape of war, disruption of society, and the incomprehensibility of personal tragedy (91). Bowen’s title creates a contemporary demon-lover “ballad” to express fears during a time when the people in England felt victimized and vulnerable (91). The horror part in this story is when the dead lover stalks his victim mercilessly. That demon illustrated in this story is a person who casts evil and wickedness in the civilized world. In common, it is hard to distinguish between an actual ghost story and a psychological drama. Psychological drama is widely known as series work of art, representing an idea that accumulates to something greater than the sum of constituent superficial events. Classifying the story of Bowen as one of psychological drama is aptly put since the author exposes a “psychological dynamics involved in the pathological aggression and pathological victimization, having a primary psychic image in the collective unconscious” (Reed 92). The author leaves an open ended which can be interpreted in various ways depending on the readers’ comprehension of the story. According to Kessler, the author wrote the story during the World War II which explored the singular emotional
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Published in the year 1945 in Great Britain, the collection first appeared in the collection named ‘Ivy Gripped the Steps and Other Stories’ in USA. At its publication The New Yorker probably gave the most coherent and phenomenal explanation indicating the content of the book which made it perfectly explicit to its audience.
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