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Compare The Methods Used To Present A Similar Theme In Two Short Stories You Have Studied

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The two short stories I have studied are The Garden Party and The Doll's House, both written by Katherine Mansfield. The main theme in both short stories conveys the idea of class conflict. This general theme has been broken down into similar focus points in each story. The Garden Party addresses the insensitivity of the rich thinking that the poor have no feelings whereas The Doll's House refers to the society's acceptance of cultural and economic boundaries. The various methods that have been used to present these emotional aspects of class conflict have been used effectively though somewhat differently in each text.

All is well as the Sheridans are enjoying their posh Garden Party until they hear of Mr Scott's death, which plays an important part in the development of class conflict. Laura being the only thoughtful member of the Sheridans asks for the party to be called off but Mrs Sheridan's shallowness and insensitivity becomes apparent when she demands that the party must go on for "It's only by accident we've heard of it." The Sheridans are living in luxury with all their wants fulfilled effortlessly because they are of higher class. Their neighbour the Scotts on the other hand are of lower class but do not long for a lavish lifestyle either. However Mrs Sheridan is oblivious of this when she prepares a needless gift basket: "People of that class are so impressed by arum lilies." Truth is that none of the superficial things are important to the Scotts. As Laura approaches Mr Scott, she realises the true beauty of life: "What did garden parties and baskets matter to him?" and becomes content with understanding: "This is just as it should be. I am content."

The less privileged Kelveys in The Doll's House are excluded from all the other girls in school. No one will give them a chance except for Kezia. Mansfield voices her attitudes and understanding through Kezia, the only character in the story who sympathises the vulnerable Kelveys. Social hierarchy plays a deep meaning to all the other characters: "The line had to be drawn somewhere. It was drawn at the Kelveys." The significant relationship Kezia shares with Lil Kelvey helps the reader to understand that even the extravagant can appreciate life and understand more of it no matter what their class or age. The little lamp has been symbolised as the true meaning in life. Everyone fails to understand this except for Kezia and Else who both notice the significance of the little lamp immediately.

Although Mansfield has written the narration of both texts in third person, it is evident that she has adapted the narrative style of projecting her own opinions and emotions through the main character's stream of the conscience. This is a typical stylistic feature of Mansfield and would especially be expected in these short stories where the main characters are most mature and could most likely represent the author herself. Mansfield has used the point of view of the narration to bring attention to the characters to help the reader to understand that the themes are developing around the character's thoughts and values. In The Garden Party, Laura is depicted a young Katherine Mansfield and we can easily relate to her views because of the style used to craft this short story. Mansfield leads us into Laura's mind and only hers do we live through. In the opening scene, we can already sense that it is described as it is in the protagonist's mind rather than the narrator's. Laura is affected immensely by the death of Mr Scott while Mrs Sheridan doesn't feel a soul for him. She feels so emotionally attached that she asks: "Mother, isn't it really terribly heartless of us?" However this leads on to her sweeping transformation in finding contentment within the natural beauty of Mr Scott's death. She matures and realises that there are more important things than garden parties and lace frocks thus allowing her to fully appreciate the true wonders of life. Mansfield has developed Laura's character significantly to communicate her ideas of class conflict and that the poor have even deeper and more important feelings than the rich.

Unlike The Garden Party, the perspective of the narration is not as clear in The Doll's House, and the protagonist is already the most mature of all the characters. Mansfield effectively goes about presenting the theme of class



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