Compare three of the short stories and examine their treatment of love and marriage.

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Compare three of the short stories and examine their treatment of love and marriage.

        The three short stories I have chosen to compare are “News of the Engagement”, “The Unexpected” and “Twenty-six Men and a Girl”. All the stories were written around 1900 and at this time women were still viewed as housewives and mothers. Divorce was still socially unacceptable. Arnold Bennett the writer of “News of the Engagement” was a journalist who aimed his work at women. He grew up in Staffordshire in a not particularly well off family. Kate Chopin lived in New Orland’s when she wrote “The Unexpected”. Her short stories were viewed as being quite controversial when they were first written and were often been refused publication.  Maxim Gorky who had a terrible childhood wrote “Twenty-six Men and a Girl”. He ran away at twelve and lived with the poorest people in society. He worked in a bakery in Russia, which is the setting of “Twenty-six Men and a Girl”.

        In “News of the Engagement” Philip does not see his mother as something that could be loved in a sexual way. Nor that someone could possibly fall in love with her and she with him. As she is maternal and her role is to be his cuddly mother waiting for him to arrive home with open arms.

        “My little plump mother”.

He assumes that everything she does is for his benefit. Even when there is a third place set at the table he presumes it is for his partner not for his mother:

        “In some way or another she must have discovered the state of my desires towards Agnes.”

        He does not see that she might want to re-marry and get on with her life. It is obvious Philip considers himself above his mother and that he was her sole purpose for living.

        “You see, I wrote to my mother regularly every week, telling her most of my doings. She knew all my friends by name.”

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As Arnold Bennett did not grow up in a particularly affluent environment it may explain his portrayal of Philip.  A pompous, boring, narrow-minded man who was spoilt by his mother from birth.        

“She had always other things to do; she was ‘preparing’ for me.”

        It is possible that Arnold Bennett saw the stereotypical role of the rich (Philip) and used this to show that people can learn from their mistakes and grow as a person. As at the end of the novel Philip recognises his mother as a separate person and matures considerably.

        “I said nothing about my own ...

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