The Garden Party Essay, Research Paper
The garden party by Katherine Mansfield
The personal development of Laura
Katherine Mansfield was born in Wellington, New Zealand in 1888. She went to London in 1908. Here she made friends with other authors, though she remained an outsider in English literary circles.
The garden party and other stories was her last work to be released before her death, and also the first one to be recognised among other artists. After her brother s death she started to write about life on New Zealand and The garden party is one of the stories from this period.
In The garden party we meet Laura, a young woman standing on the edge to adulthood. Through the story we can see the changes that she is going through, when she is seeking to find her place in life.
The story has an omniscient point of view, and it is the main character, Laura, who has her feelings exposed to us through speech, thoughts and actions.
We come into the story during the preparations to the party. There is a very bright atmosphere, and everyone seems exited. The children have been set to arrange everything, and Laura is really proud: she loved having to arrange things; she always felt she could do it so much better than anybody else. Obviously, all the responsibility given to her makes her feel older. This is shown when she copies her mother s voice, and also when she tries to get rid of her bread and butter. She doesn t succeed in any of these things; trying to use her mother s voice makes her feel awkward, and she doesn t find a place to put her slice of bread. Her failure shows that there are certain things that she is too young to handle.
When she starts talking to the workmen she feels better. Maybe the fact that she is of a higher class than they are contributes to her confidence, but it seems as she looks upon them with a kind of fear, or maybe even awe. she must be business like. Still, she finds out how nice workmen are and she even tries to lower herself to their level, so to speak. When one of the workmen comments on the band, she insures him that it s only a small band. She also tries to act like a work-girl, taking a big bite of her bread and butter .
Now we can see the conflict in her mind. She wants to be a work-girl, and to be with workmen, but still she wonders whether it was quite respectful of a workman to talk to her of bangs slap in the eye.
At this point she seems to have got a special connection with the workmen, and when she finds out that the young carter has died, she reacts by suggesting that they should call of the party. And she can t understand why everyone disagrees. Mrs. Sheridan even refused to take Laura seriously.
In return, Laura refuses to look at herself in the mirror. One might think that she is afraid to see who she really is, or who she was supposed to be. Her appearance, her status and behaviour is only a mask that covers who she really is. She has discovered something new about herself; she has found the Laura who have workmen for mates, and shows compassion when someone dies, no matter who they are.
Laura despised stupid conventions , but when she put on her mask, and looked at her reflection in the mirror, she realised that there was a distinction of class. And she, who belonged to the upper class, shouldn t worry if someone living in one of those little cottages died.
So she decides that she want to have the party, and she wears the hat that her mother wanted her to wear. The hat is a symbol of adulthood. When Laura strolls around in her beautiful hat, she feels confident like a grown-up woman. She looked stunning and striking and also quite Spanish , and happiness filled the Sheridan-garden once again.
Laura s happiness ends when her mother sends her down to the valley, to give some leftovers from the party, to the late carter s wife. She descends from her heavenly castle as the bright day turns to dusk. Instead of bright birds , there are now sick hens . Even though the poor people are practically neighbours, it seems miles away, because of the differences between them and the Sheridans.
And in this dark and cheerless place, she feels nervous. Perhaps she will take of her safe and comfortable mask again, and that might be exactly what she does. Forgive my hat probably means that she is sorry for not being able to act like herself earlier. Looking at that young man sleeping so soundly, so deeply made her realise something important which she can t quite express. Isn t life . She doesn t know what to say, but her brother understands. Maybe that life isn t weary, but quite easy; if you only see the beauty and the importance of it. Like Laura did when she saw the dead man that still looked beautiful and alive.