Kathleen Mansfield Beauchamp Murry (14 October 1888 – 9 January 1923) was a prominent modernist writer of short fiction who was born and brought up in colonial New Zealand and wrote under the pen name of Katherine Mansfield. Mansfield left NZ for Great Britain in 1908 where she encountered Modernist writers such as D. H. Lawrence and Virginia Woolf with whom she became close friends. Her stories often focus on moments of disruption and frequently open rather abruptly. Among her most well known stories are “The Garden Party,” “The Daughters of the Late Colonel,” and “The Fly. During the First World War Mansfield contracted extrapulmonary tuberculosis which rendered any return or visit to New Zealand impossible and led to her death at the age of 34. I am to analyse a piece of literary text written by Kathleen Mansfield in the format of a short story titled “A CUP OF TEA” and I will try to criticise the text objectively in relation to its stylistical features . Before this , I’d like to give a brief information about the content of the story.
Scanning the story first, we come across with a rich couple named Rosemary and Philip leading an untroubled, desirable life and they seem to love each other since- we have no implication whether they love each other for money or not – and everything goes well in their lives. Rosemary spends money without getting into trouble and giving no reason or excuse to her husband in doing this. Everyone in a society admires Rosemary not maybe for her beauty but for her remarkable features such as being interested in current movements from every aspects, seeming as an intelligent young woman, reading the modern books.
Philip is not as bright character as Rosemary but he makes himself realize as soon as he enters the story towards the end. Apart from the couple, there is a girl who meets Rosemary in a street by asking for money to have a cup of tea then is picked up by her to have a cup of tea at her home. At the last scene, Rosemary is jealous of her, the girl is easily disappeared without giving no sign for us to follow the reason of her disappearance. And we have one more character having a part in the story :the shopkeeper. He is also under the effect of Rosemary; we can understand this from his polite behaviour.
He tries to draw her attraction on the enamel box and succeeds it; he promises her to keep the box for her because he knows her and he knows that she will come to buy it; she has the power of money and gets whatever she desires without acconting for anything to anybody. Not only we encounter with her weakness in her dialogue with the shopman but also in her being jealous of Miss Smith when he utters lovely words for this girl and behaves as it is predicted by Philip who knows directing her and makes her behave as he desires taking advantage of her faulty character successfully.
In that sense Philip is an intelligent man and effective on Rosemary who is also obviously the symbol of possessive female by being jealous of the girl she has met in the street; so she has no self-confidence ,she is a little bit credulous. She asks directly-having no hidden meaning in her words- ‘Am I PRETTY? ’, which ironically reveals her ex-behaviours to Philip even she supposes that Philip is not aware of the truth. Rosemaryis obviously the main character of the story, flat and dynamic.
When we count all the sentences describing her or the ones in which she takes place we realize her dominancy at once. The other participants I’d like to analyse on this text -apart from ‘Rosemary’- are the girl,Miss Smith, and Philip. Even though Philip hasn’t got as many turns as Rosemary and Miss Smith, I’d like to examine the processes of him in order to display the currents of events as a whole- he is the efficient figure in the sequences of events in the story-; in other words it is vital to handle it here to maintain the entirety of the text.
In many ways Rosemary is presented us very active . There are descriptions both for her physical appearance and for her characteristic features and interests: “She was young , brilliant , extremely modern, exquisitely well dressed, amazingly well read in the newest of the new books … ” Even the words describing her are beatifully chosen ones – she is not a woman adored for her goddess beauty but she is an active figure in a society with her doings; however it is not clear whether she makes it to be seen like that or she is really the one known in a society . Her hat, really no bigger than a geranium petal, hung from a branch… ” The author of the text here uses metaphorical phrases while describing Rosemary’s hat. In fact, the writer doesn’t generally use such things , the language of the text is direct but here , in describing her appearance,she does this . Infact it is to reflect the prominence that is given for her. She is mostly ‘the actor’ where the girl is a helpless recipient: “I want you to. To please me. Here ‘I’ , Rosemary, takes part as an actor whereas ‘you’, Miss Smith, is the goal and ‘want’ is the process which is stated by Rosemary. We may infer that Rosemary is dominant and makes others do whatever she wants to. “I only want to make you warm… ” This time what she desires to be made by her is something good as a concept ; but even it is good for Miss Smith, it is directed by Rosemary and shows her power on her by regarding Miss Smith as a helpless creature which is to be pitied and looked after.
Come and sit down,” she cried, dragging her big chair up to the fire,”in this comfy chair. ” Looking at how she sees the world around her, we realize that she can mention about what she likes or dislikes and reveals her ideas directly and freely; we have lots of verbs telling us about her cognition and affection: “Yes, she liked it very much, she loved it. ” “Rosemary admired the flowers. ”“Rosemary gave no sign. ”“Rosemary laughed out. ” “She decided… ” “She wanted to spare this poor little thing… “She saw alittle battered creature with enormous eyes… ” “I hate lilac. ” As for the girl, her physical descriptions are used to introduce her and these descriptions sometimes tell us about the life style of her and mostly show us inferiority of her when compared with ‘Rosemary’ basically: “… Rosemary turned. She saw a little battered creature with enormous eyes , someone quite young , no older than herself… ” “… a light , frail creature with tangled hair, dark lips, deep lighted eyes,… ” “… thin ,birdlike shoulders. ” “… oor little thing. ” And we have implications about her manner which are presented us from the eyes of the writer: “… she seemed dazed. ” “she seemed to stagger like a child,… ” As said above, she is ‘the goal’ where Rosemary is the actor: Rosemary says: “I simply took her with me. ” “I want you to. To please me. ” “She wanted to spare this poor little thing from being stared at by the servants. ” “She applied the poor little creature with ,everything,… ”: Even the girl says accepting her power: “You are not taking me to police station. ”:
Although her acts are mostly led by Rosemary, we have implications about her feelings as follows: “The girl almost cried out . ” “… burst into tears” “the girl gazed back at her. ” “she felt how simple and kind her smile was. ” Talking abouy Philip, there is no sign for his physical appearance and no utterance for his personality also . But we can only guess something by means of the sentences as follows: “Philip smiled his charming smile. ” The we can say that he has charming smile that makes effect on Rosemary. “But what an earth are you going to do with her? cried Philip. ” So, he accounts for something and she behaves in line with Philip’s desires. Even though he enters at the last scene , he is ‘the actor’ in the sentences where Rosemary is ‘the goal’: “I wanted you come… ’ Here Rosemary is the goal. “He came in… he said, and stopped and stared. ” Here the events are acted by him but this time As soon as he takes a part in the story, he behaves like an observor as it is understood from the sentences below: “.. he said curiously, still looking at that listless figure, looking at its hands and boots.. .. I wanted you to come… ” “Philip smiled.. ” Looking at the story from the point of the language use between the participants, we come across with variability making the text closer to real, authentic usage by means of questions, answers, requests, imperatives,exclamations and so on. To begin with turn, dialogues between Rosemary and Miss Smith, it is seen that there are lots of questions and answers: “May I speak to you a moment? ” “Speak to me? ” (And this also presents us a part from an authentic language use by shortening the statement.
It is also the indicator of bewilderment of Rosemary against the girl’s behaviour. ) “Would you let me have the price of a cup tea? ” “A cup of tea ? Then have you no money at all? ” “Do you like me? ” And sometimes Rosemary gives answers instead of the girl. She does most of the talking: “Of course , she will. ” There are imperatives uttered by Rosemary again ,which proves that she does and gets whatever she wants from helpless people : “Come along. ”“Come ,come upstairs. ”“Come and sit down. ”“Don’t cry. ” “Do stop crying. ” She also uses imperatives against ‘Philip’: “Be nice to her. “Kiss me. ” But Philip also gives commands to her: “Explain”“Look again, my child. ” However Miss Smith uses polite requests such as: “May I speak to you a moment? ” “ Would you let me have the price of a cup of tea. ” “… so ligthtly and strangely: ‘I’m very sorry, madam, but I’m going to faint. I shall go off ,madam, if I don’t have something. ’” (It is not in an exact polite request form but said politely. ) “I can’t go on no longer like this. I can’t bear no more” (Totally free in revealing her ideas and feelings not by consulting to politeness. Exclamations are used by Rosemary sometimes to express her ideas: “Charming! ” “How extraordinary! ” and sometimes to present her while thinking to herself: “How thoughtless I am! ” “Pretty! ”“Lovely! ”(By repeating Philip’s utterances angrily. ) Sometimes to demonstrate:“There! ” And for the time and place setting, the story takes place in London, because of some toponyms: Regent Street, Bond Street. Epithet is the most important and frequent figure of speech in the story, which forms the first impression: “young, brilliant, extremely modem, exquisitely well dressed, amazingly well read”.
Hyperbola: “in the newest of the new books”, intensified by this root-repetition: new. Metaphors: “delicious mixture”, “discoveries of hers” underlines that there is something extraordinary in this very society. And epithets used further complete this idea: “quaint creatures, presentable and amusing”. Parenthesis with repetition: “really rich”, epithets: “odious and stuffy”. Similes: “sounds like one’s grandparents”, “as you and I would go to Bond Street”. Again epithet, depicting Rosemary: “gazed in her dazzled, rather exotic way”.
This indirect description of the character I would say. The reader can be impressed and persuaded in richness of this family. Scenes in shops are described very brightly, proving that fact that the author used repetitions for this purpose, for example epiphoric: “I want those and those and those. Give me four bunches of those”, “No, no lilac. I hate lilac. ”. Asyndeton: and, and, which serves the same purpose. All the sentences are short, remind more strict orders, than buying something And that jar of roses. Yes, I’ll have all the roses in the jar.
It could be an exaggeration, but the author makes it clear that it is not: thin shop-girl staggering under an immense white paper armful. Where we can find a contrast: thin girl and huge, immense armful of flowers. Having read the story, I remembered those homeless children, trying to sell me something in the street. Just like Miss Smith, they are trying to be respectful to me. After I realised that, although I didn’t want, I treated them just like Rosemary did to Miss Smith. I think, when one feels superior, this is inescapable.
In that conversation between Philip and Rosemary, although Philip seems to be the stronger one, he could not change Rosemary’s mind. And I guess there is no one in the world can change this kind of a woman’s mind, except love. In conclusion, I can say that although a human is always a human, the instincts are always stronger than humanity. As we can see, at the very beginning, Rosemary was trying to be helpful to Miss Smith, but when jealousy came to the scene, she gave 3 pounds and simply kicked Miss Smith. I think this is the rule of the world, both in the wild animal life and in modern human life