Essay about Death Of A Heart

Submitted By juliaemartin
Words: 1104
Pages: 5

The Death of the Heart

For any young girl, growing up is a period of time filled with confusion and the search for a place of belonging. In The Death of the Heart, by Elizabeth Bowen, young Portia faces the reality of growing up without a mother or a father. With the passing of both, she is left with the predestined arranged living of one year with her step brother, Thomas, and his wife, Anna. Instead of being accepted, Portia’s every move is judged and questioned. She is unlike Tom and Anna, seeing that she is merely but characterized as a child to all. Portia, according to readers remains an outsider, while Anna is the insider. These two characters seem this way due to their view on life. Portia is indulged in thoughts, and the past, while Anna is consumed with the future and how childish Portia seems to be. The character of Anna is quite adamant on the fact that Portia is a child, and does not live up to certain expectations. Anna seems like an upright woman, who runs a household and lives almost an empty, but (money) filled life. Unfortunately, it seems that Anna’s sadness has come from her miscarriages. These “exposures to false hopes, then to [Anna’s] friends’ pity, had turned her back on herself: she did not want children now” (Bowen 46). From her conversations with the people around her, one cannot help but sense her envy surrounded around Portia. To Anna, Portia has a future. She labels her “lucky” and that “[her character] is still being formed” (31). She is disheartened by Portia when she finds that she has a diary, where she explores and writes her emotions. St. Quentin, a friend of Anna’s questions her, “The obligation to write it is all in one’s own eye, and look how one is when it’s almost always written – upstairs, late, overwrought, alone..All the same, Anna, it must have interested you” (8). It seems to Anna that to write down one’s feelings, that one has a connection with memories and the past. That disgusts Anna, and she cannot seem to understand or find a sense of why Portia would ever want to write in a diary. Anna dismisses the past, the memories and any mention to them. Catching a glimpse into the life of her sister-in-law, Portia is told by the housekeeper, Matchett, that “there’s no past in this house” (99). Tom and Anna run their household with the sense of “rather no past – not have the past, that is to say. No wonder they don’t rightly know what they’re doing. Those without memories don’t know what is what” (99). From her miscarriages, to her past lovers, Anna remains stuck on the now and life ahead. It seems to Anna that looking back at the past is a weakness. To Anna, Portia is more of a bother than any potential of good. To bring Portia into their home, is reliving the past of Thomas father’s affair. She understands that “Portia had grown up exiled not only from her own country but from normal, cheerful family life,” and she had wished that this time with them would change her (13). However, Anna is disappointed with Portia’s behavior and fixation on the past. Portia could be considered a naïve child, but she has experience far beyond her years. She has had to deal with the loss of both her parents, and the new environment of London’s countryside. She watched “life, since she came to London, with a sort of despair – motivated and busy always, always progressing: even people pausing on bridges seemed to pause with a purpose; no bird seemed to pursue a quite aimless flight” (72). London to Portia seemed to be filled with people consumed by life. Portia witnessed Anna and Thomas’ lives, filled with constant movement; they were always out and about. Anna is fascinated with thoughts and the emotions people feel. She keeps a diary that documents her feelings and daily tasks, which has been found by Anna. It seems that Portia is more intellectual than readers would think; she is treated like a child but seems more mature than most of the characters. She is at a