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Elizabeth BowenThe Enforced Return$
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Neil Corcoran

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780198186908

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198186908.001.0001

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Motherless Child: The Death of the Heart (1938)

Motherless Child: The Death of the Heart (1938)

(p.102) 5 Motherless Child: The Death of the Heart (1938)
Elizabeth Bowen

Neil Corcoran (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines Bowen's novel, The Death of the Heart, proposing that its analysis of class relations in 1930s England has affinities with the work of Waugh, Green, and Lawrence. This analysis is focused on the fate of the orphan and ingénue Portia, and emphasizes her various states of mind partly by concentrated close readings of particular passages. Portia's developing sexuality and her awareness of it impels the plot, and is extensively treated in the context of the history of the child and sexuality in the English novel. The chapter also considers a number of related themes, in particular those of survival, money, doubling, servitude, and writing itself (since Portia is presented as a putative writer), suggesting that Bowen's work may be profitably related to later writing by Harold Pinter and Kazuo Ishiguro.

Keywords:   class, close reading, sexuality, survival, money, servitude, writing, Pinter, Ishiguro, The Death of the Heart

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