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How does Mansfield explore ideas on marriage in two of her stories

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Introduction

Discuss how Mansfield presents her views on marriage in the stories you have studied. The ideas of marriage are explored by Katherine Mansfield in 'Frau Brechenmacher Attends a Wedding', 'Bliss' and 'The Woman at the Store'. In these two stories Mansfield conveys the destructive nature of men and how women are manipulated and exploited by their husbands within their marriages. A sense of overwhelming male dominance is created through Mansfield's descriptions of the authority and power which the men have over the women. Mansfield explores the self-centredness of man and the lack of affection they have for their wife in 'Frau Brechenmacher Attends a Wedding' through the characterisation of Herr Brechenmacher and the objectifying view in which he has towards his wife. Herr Brechenmacher's self centeredness is highlighted by Mansfield very early in the story when he just arrives home. He commands of 'where are my clothes?' and sarcasm tone of 'nothing ready, of course' conveys the lack of appreciation he has towards his wife's efforts. The commanding tone of 'where are my clothes?' along with the use of the pronoun 'my' conveys to the reader the dominance of the husband and his lack of affection towards his wife and children. His dialogue of 'there isn't room to turn. I want the light. You go and dress in the passage.' ...read more.

Middle

Frau like all other married woman knows that they are subjected to their husband's abusing as 'every wife has her cross' however she is also similar to the other married woman by the fact that she does not do anything to prevent this. Her loveless marriage results in her despair of 'what is it all for' showing to the audience that she is devoid of happiness. Mansfield then through the mouth of Frau uses the authorial voice and penalises 'all the woman around the world' by calling them 'stupid' for not retaliating against this injustice and mocks them by commenting that it is 'always the same'. The reader does not feel sympathise towards Frau and is also upset by her lack of retaliation against the situation. The last line as Frau 'put her arm across her face like a child who expected to be hurt' foreshadows that the vicious cycle will continue to go on and evokes a sense of anger inside the reader conveying to them the lack of control a wife has within her marriage. Mansfield uses 'Bliss' to present the reader with a different view of marriage, one that is superficial and shallow, she does this through the character-Bertha , her stream of consciousness and her epiphany at the end of the lovelessness within their marriage. ...read more.

Conclusion

The woman's response is also significant and contrasts strongly with the Frau as she does retaliate against the men. This is foreshadowed by the child's drawing of her mother shooting her father. This shows the woman is broken by marriage, child-bearing and solitude as she responds with violence. The theme of man is seen as a destroyer of the female in sexual relationships is connected to 'Frau Brechenmacher Attends a Wedding' where Frau's confidence is completely crushed by Herr as shown when she imagines 'that all these people were laughing at her.' Mansfield through this story presents her negative views of marriage and the effect of marriages on woman. The reader feels disgust as the woman cannot escape from her lust for men and is willing to let them use her as a sexual tool however her retaliation does regain her some redemption. Ultimately, Mansfield through her stories presents to the reader a negative view of marriage. She explores the superficialality of the marriages as they are all devoid of love and is only existent because of society regulations. She conveys the arrogance of man and the lack of affection they have towards their wife but is also upset by the lack of retaliation of the woman characters in the stories. Her authorial voice constantly mocks them of their lack of action and foreshadows the vicious cycle that will continue. The reader feels the unbalance within each different marriage and feels the powerlessness of the female characters. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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