An overview of [pic]The Garden Party[pic]
Critic: Jennifer Rich
Source: Exploring Short Stories, Gale Research, 1998
Criticism about: Kathleen Mansfield Beauchamp (1888-1923), also known as: Kathleen Mansfield Beauchamp, Boris Petrovsky, Mrs. John Middleton Murry
Nationality: New Zealander
[Rich is an instructor of literature, composition, and gender issues at Marymount Manhattan College. In the following essay, she examines ways in which [pic]The Garden Party[pic] uses contrasts between social classes to illustrate how the classes define each other.]
Most criticism of Katherine Mansfield's short story [pic]The Garden Party[pic] concentrates on the story as a truncated bildungsroman[pic]a story of the growth and maturity of a young idealistic character. Critics such as Daniel S. Taylor in [pic]Crashing the Garden Party: A Dream, A Wakening,[pic] for example, see Laura's initiation as a passage from the [pic]dream world of her parents and social class to the real world of the Sheridan's neighboring working-class.[pic] As Taylor notes, describing the symbolic significance of the garden party, [pic]The garden party epitomizes the dream world of the Sheridan women, a world whose underlying principle is the editing and rearranging of reality for the comfort and pleasure of its inhabitants. Its war is with the real world, whose central and final truth is death.[pic] Similarly, Clare Hansen and Andrew Gurr, in [pic]The Stories: Sierre and Paris,[pic] discuss Laura's evolution into adulthood as taking place in the context of a gulf between rich and poor[pic]a gulf that is indicated by the Mansfield's oppositional descriptions of the world of the Sheridans and the world of their less fortunate neighbors:
Words such as [pic]perfect,[pic] [pic]delicious,[pic] [pic]beautiful,[pic] [pic]splendor,[pic] [pic]radiant,[pic] [pic]exquisite,[pic] [pic]brilliant,[pic] [pic]rapturous,[pic] [pic]charming,[pic] [pic]delightful,[pic] [pic]stunning,[pic] convey the outward...