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Is the story "Daughters of the late Colonel" more comic than tragic for the reader overall? Be sure to comment on Mansfield's use of language.

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Is the story "Daughters of the late Colonel" more comic than tragic for the reader overall? Be sure to comment on Mansfield's use of language. The story "Daughters of the late Colonel", written by Katherine Mansfield takes place during Victorian times, based around two sister's whose father had recently died. Mansfield describes the struggles of these two women as they try to express their femininity and overcome the barriers of etiquette and the presence of their father, whom they feared. The story ends as the sisters Josephine and Constantia attempt to break free of their suppressed world but fail to, thus ending the story in tragedy. Despite this the path leading to the tragic ending is riddled in humorous moments. Therefore it might be said about the story that it is more comic than tragic for the reader. Mansfield often uses humor as a technique to reveal the darker, suppressed side of the two sisters and she often does it subtly. A casual reader might never discover this area of the story. ...read more.


She had that maddening habit of asking for just an inch more bread to finish what she had on her plate, and then, at the last mouthful, absent-mindedly- of course it wasn't absent-mindedly- taking another helping" This entire section is written in Josephine's voice, and thus allows the reader to view her opinion on Nurse Andrews. "fearful" is not very commonly used for such situations, and sounds amusing to the reader. This is also seen through the repetition of "absent-mindedly" as well as the use of dashes which allows the reader to visualize Josephine snapping at the gesture. However, even though she is pictured like this Josephine is unable to stop Nurse Andrews in real life. She merely "got very red when this happened, and she fastened her small, bead-like eyes on the table cloth". This again highlights the dismal state the women are in- though they are the masters of the house, a common nurse is able to dominate them, while the sisters are too weak to do anything against her. ...read more.


It is the final section which truly shows how tragic the situation surrounding the sisters is. It is here when the women have the opportunity to break free from the suppression of their femininity and etiquette imposed upon them by their father, yet they fail. "Josephine was silent for a moment. She stared at a big cloud where the sun had been. Then she replied shortly, "I've forgotten too."" During the final section, the sun represents their chance for freedom. "Golden rays" symbolized the richness and exiting new life which they could have taken. Yet, the whole new path the sisters might have taken was blocked out, symbolizing the cloud. It is thus that the story ends in tragedy- the sisters fail to break free, and remain stuck inside their self-imposed world. Their late father's influence is too great for them to overcome. In conclusion, it may be said that the story is both a comedy and a tragedy. However, because Mansfield cleverly disguises the tragedy to blend into hilarious moments the reader gets an overall sense of comic fun. Therefore, Daughters of the Late Colonel is more of a comedy than a tragedy ...read more.

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