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The Demon Lover

    The Demon Lover
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Summary of "The Demon Lover"


"The Demon Lover" is a Scottish ballad set in the medieval era, reflecting the themes of betrayal, infidelity, and moral judgement in a feudal society heavily influenced by the church. It narrates the story of a woman's confrontation with a past lover and her moral downfall.

Themes and Analysis

  • Feudal Society and Church Influence: The ballad reflects the dynamics of a society where the church played a pivotal role in shaping morals.
  • Betrayal and Infidelity: Central to the ballad is the theme of betrayal, as the woman, now married, faces her past lover and the temptations he presents.
  • Moral Judgement: The narrative serves as a cautionary tale, emphasizing the consequences of infidelity and material greed.

Structure and Style

  • Oral Tradition and Accessibility: Composed in a simple, colloquial language, the ballad was easily memorized and transmitted orally, making it accessible to the illiterate masses.
  • Balladian Features: The use of repetition, alternate rhyme, and quatrain stanzaic form enhances its lyrical and narrative qualities.

Symbolism and Moral Lessons

  • Luxury and Vanity: Symbols like taffetie and gold represent luxury and vanity, questioning the value of material wealth.
  • Supernatural Elements: The inclusion of supernatural elements like the demon (cloven foot) adds to the ballad's allure, while also reinforcing moral teachings.


"The Demon Lover" is a rich, traditional ballad intertwining entertainment with Christian faith, belief, and moral teachings, reflective of its time and societal context.