3) Discuss the ‘pervading themes of loneliness and alienation’ that run through many of Mansfield’s short stories.
Throughout many of Katherine Mansfield’s short stories themes of loneliness and alienation frequently appear. It is more so elements of loneliness and alienation as opposed to themes, for the stories remain all very descriptive anddifferent from one another, with these elements being used in different ways.
Through the course of this essay the elements of loneliness and alienation will be discussed and revealed, while paying particular importance to their significance through Katherine Mansfield’s short stories.
To be able to explore these elements I will use three of some of her most acclaimed short stories: ‘FrauBrechenmacher Attends a Wedding’, ‘The Woman at the Store’ and ‘The Little Governess’. All of these strongly pervade the elements of being lonely and alienated in various ways, extending from the physical and emotional loneliness of ‘The Woman At the Store’, to the doubtful ‘Little Governess’, alien to her experience.
As it is the oldest of the three of these stories I shall start exploring the storyof ‘Frau Brechenmacher Attends a Wedding’. Frau B. wife of Herr B. are to attend a wedding of a friend of theirs. As they are getting ready the house is quite chaotic, with Herr B demanding various clothes and eager to rush off. On arrival at the party Frau B unfortunately is already quite embarrassed as someone points out to her that her skirt is undone at the back with her petticoat showing,much to everyone’s amusement. With Herr B sitting with his colleagues, Frau B is left to sit to socialise with the other women of the town. The women, excluding Frau B, nastily comment on the bride’s character and reputation as she had brought her out-of-wedlock child along to the festivities. The bride remains outside of the fun as the women who critically observe her reaffirm that she‘remained very still, with a little vacant smile on her lips, only her eyes shifting uneasily from side to side’. The women continue with various nasty comments of disapproval of the bride’s child and rumours of her love-life. Frau B remains quite indifferent to the conversation and observes her husband, who eventually stands up to make a speech. The response to the speech was raucous laughter on the partof all the guests. Frau B did not find it funny and as the laughter grew stronger, she felt more uneasy and longed to go home: “she imagined all the people were laughing at her …… because they were so much stronger than she was.”
The two victims of the story remain the bride and Frau B though the focus and view point is through Frau B. Once home Frau B and Herr B reflect on the night andtheir own relationship in which Frau seems unhappy and powerless. She thinks to herself: “Always the same, over the world the same; but, God in heaven – but stupid” which is a great sign of frau B’s current feelings of alienation and sadness in her life, and is shortly followed by her making her way to bed to prepare herself for whatever Herr b wants of her(sex).
The Woman At the Store takes placein New Zealand and it involves a woman living alone with her daughter running a store in the countryside. Three men, one called Jo already familiar with the lady, go to make a pit stop at the store. The element of loneliness comes immediately into context with the men asking where the lady’s husband is who explains he’s been away shearing for about a month; “’So you’re on your lonely, missis?’”The Woman suddenly is overcome by doubt and demands the men to leave her land. Jo comforts the men to not worry saying that she’ll eventually allow them to say, just that she’s lost it a bit: “’too much alone, you know’”.
As Jo had predicted she changed her mind and agreed to them stopping while offering they drink. The story also gives a small portrait of the surroundings, speaking of New...