Elizabeth Bowen - the Evil That Men Do

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Elizabeth Bowen - The Evil That Men Do

This novel by Elizabeth Bowen clearly deals with a kind of nostalgic feeling about what is the real meaning of passion, and the clash between individual and society shown by the love and hate feelings that the woman is facing with her husband, who is presently called Harold.

We can see in Bowen’s writing a brilliant and romantic interpretation of love with this particular sentence: “For the first time in her life she had the uncomfortable sense that somebody has done so, that somebody had not only glanced but was continuously staring. Her husband did not make her feel like this.” It is also important to notice that this woman is a typical Bowen female character: she seems like a young woman who is living under the domination of her husband (even if he is not cruel or violent) and who is searching a real meaning about her life, her feelings (“Living”, she said aloud “for years and years on the defensive”).

This woman find herself trapped with her tasks that compose a domestic life, her passion for poetry seems contained (“Poetry! […] Fancy him having guessed. I read it!”). She is also kept in a traditional plot which seems to resist social evolutions. She plays a role of moral and social actor but a lot of elements about her true feelings in the text structure show her frustration, that she is kind of bored (“The sight of a lonely sausage decided her. She opened the letter.”) and want to change her routine. It is easy to argue that the plot is a really romantic one.

This short story appears like a new, modern one for a text written in the first part of the 20th century. The author really possesses a great imagination for the identity and the deep psyche of the main character (the woman). She write hungrily about one feeling, one little though and directly go to the next, finding her story about this wasted time, this lonely life in this lonely house with her husband always out for work, only dreaming and...
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