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Impressionism In Katherine Mansfield's "Prelude", "At The Bay" & "The Garden Party".

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Introduction

Mikhail Rodricks 12 English "Impressionism is an emphasis on the process of perception and knowing, through the use of formal, linguistic and representational devices, to present more closely the texture, process or structure of knowing and perceiving. "Mansfield's short stories, "Prelude", "At the Bay", and "The Garden Party" are all vividly Impressionistic. Throughout these stories Mansfield seems to create a fractured and fragmented view point of life, while simultaneously blurring the line between her character's 'dream world', and reality. Throughout her stories, Mansfield creates episodic scenes, an array of sensory images and a constantly variable narrative stance, all characteristic attributes of Literary Impressionism. Through "Prelude", we see Mansfield's already emerging interpretation of Literary Impressionism. Images and symbols are a crucial aspect of Prelude, for through them, Mansfield introduces the characters and their lives. Few events of major importance occur, but the story is full of personal crisis that vividly affect each character's internal structure while leaving the atmosphere of amiable, conventional family life intact: Kezia witnesses the killing of a chicken; Kezia's unmarried and desperately timid Aunt Beryl recalls with horror leaning against her sister's husband when he was reading the paper; Linda, fearful of being swallowed by family life, imagines the wallpaper is coming alive. ...read more.

Middle

This phenomenological aspect of Mansfield's writing is an apparent link to nature, which flows throughout both stories. Following this notion is the idea of the bursting wallpaper, and the vivid dreams that Linda experiences, all sensations and emotions that serve to further help the reader interpret the characters. We can see that perhaps Mansfield's female characters seek solitude in nature, a diversion from their dreary lives. Juxtaposition is important in At the Bay, for Stanley is frequently juxtaposed alongside the character of Jonathan. His character creates tension in the plot, and indirectly influences the other characters, causing episodic sequences, unique only to Impressionism. Mansfield incorporates an immense psychological presence in her formation of these characters, giving them almost Freudian qualities. "all humans are endowed with an unconscious in which potent sexual and aggressive drives, and defenses against them, struggle for supremacy." By using these concepts in the above stories, Mansfield sheds a light on to her characters that makes them seen unordinary. She does this by focusing deeply on the characters themselves, and their placing in mundane everyday happenings that would do not usually evoke heroism. Impressionism seems more evident in At the Bay, for symbolism further envelopes the reader, shedding new light on the characters. The Manuka tree's flowers seem to be another metaphor for Linda's unfulfilled existence, "Why, then, flower at all? ...read more.

Conclusion

Impressionism is evident in the Garden Party through the presentation of the Sheridan mansion. Mansfield's descriptive language presents a "richly textured, suggestive world." The seemingly ethereal vision of the Sheridan house is quickly juxtaposed with the worker's dwellings, providing a swift representation of light and dark, which in turn influences the atmosphere in the story, as Laura enters the ominous worker's neighborhood. The Impressionistic notion of the process of "an apperceptive consciousness perceiving reality" is ever apparent in Laura's development and growth or awakening. In this sense the Garden Party can be viewed as a bildungsroman, for Laura "must journey to and return from as part of her initiation into life's mystery-death-and away from the dream world of her family." Throughout the three short stories, "Prelude", "At the Bay" and "The Garden Party", Mansfield has brought out the concepts of Modernism, Impressionism and many other movements such as Symbolism, Realism and Naturalism. By representing duality and unity in her works, Mansfield opens to us the inner framework of her characters, and thus concretes her belief that wholeness is to be acquired in order to become fulfilled. This quest of identity is central throughout her work, and through her narration of the stories and the experiences of her characters the reader too can journey along the path to fulfillment, a path that was critical to Katherine Mansfield herself, a path fundamental, "to the woman, to the writer and to her art." ...read more.

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