The Garden Party, by Kathering Mansfield and The Myth of Persephone

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In the words of author Thomas Foster, “There’s only one story.” Most, if not all authors will draw inspiration from other works of literature to illustrate their story. Even if one is not an expert on Greek Mythology, one must take notice and appreciate the striking resemblance between The Garden Party and The Myth of Persephone. Laura is Katherine Mansfield’s depiction of Persephone as the former loses her innocence by witnessing death. On the surface, both tales begin in a natural, ideal setting that implies a tragedy will come along to spoil it. Essentially, the short story and the myth both portray a character finding their niche and a deeper meaning of life by having to adapt in foreign surroundings. Inevitably, the resemblances between both stories are concealed within symbols that a reader may easily disregard, such as a character’s relationship with her mother.

The parallels between the protagonists, Laura and Persephone, are quite evident. First and foremost, Laura’s mother, Mrs. Sheridan, stands as a counterpart for Demeter, Persephone’s mother. Mrs. Sheridan chose to pass down her black hat to Laura, the youngest of all of her children (Masfield 251). Laura and her mother share an intimate relationship that mirrors that of Persephone and Demeter. This display of affection expresses how comfortable mother and daughter are around each other. Mrs. Sheridan thinks highly of Laura, she sees her as a mature young lady. In comparison, when Persephone is whisked away to the Underworld without her consent, Demeter is overcome with grief and depression. Demeter’s life was centered on Persephone; she had the sensation that something was the matter. When he daughter vanished, Demeter lost her sense of direction. In addition, bot...

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...arity as the former parallels the latter in several aspects. Laura and Persephone are essentially the same person, with their resemblances being present in their close relationships with their mothers and their desires to break free from confinement. The setting in both stories is embellished as too perfect, almost unreal, which is evidence that a dreadful event will occur later on. In The Myth of Persephone, a young girl discovers her calling and transforms into a stunning, admirable Goddess, while in The Garden Party, Laura transitions into adulthood, both by witnessing death. Over time, stories have developed a connection to each other – they are all inspired by the story of humanity. If one author was able to interpret and borrow so many aspects from one myth to enrich the reader’s experience, the list of other writers that have taken the same path is endless.

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