Katherine Mansfield set the scene for the most perfect garden-party in her story The Garden Party. The weather could not have been better; it was a cloudless and warm day with no wind and the flowers were divine. Mansfield’s common literary device of choice, personification, is used throughout The Garden Party to give humanlike characteristics to nonhuman objects with the vivid and beautiful descriptions like the roses. This section immediately caught my attention because of my own personal bias towards roses and their beauty. Mansfield’s beautifully written verse about the roses at the garden party that caused me to unconsciously smile was “You could not help feeling they understood that roses are the only flowers that impress people at garden-parties; the only flowers that everybody is certain of knowing” (1).
After the roses had made their point of importance, I was introduced to Meg, Laura, and Mrs. Sheridan. Mrs. Sheridan quickly reveals that she would like to be treated like a guest at this year’s party as she puts the party duties in the hands of her dear children this year. When workmen arrive to the garden-party, Mrs. Sheridan urges Meg to attend to them. Meg quickly passes this duty off to her Laura, who quickly became my favorite character early on in the reading. Laura fearfully addresses the men with bread and butter in hand, but she is put at ease by the tall man and his friends easy smiles.
The man referred to as tall was given an entire section by Mansfield where she explained how the man had stayed behind to smell a flower after the other men had walked away to find the perfect spot for the marquee. Laura’s inquisitive character began to wonder if any of the men she knew would d...
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...en know, Mansfield describes the experience beautifully. Mansfield says:
There lay a young man, fast asleep − sleeping so soundly, so deeply, that he was far, far away from them both. Oh, so remote, so peaceful. He was dreaming. Never wake him up again. His head was sunk in the pillow, his eyes were closed; they were blind under the closed eyelids. He was given up to his dream (11).
The way that Mansfield is able to present death is truly something that sets this story apart from others like it. Mansfield looks at the beauty behind death and eternal sleep. The young man is just simply given in to his dream and is peacefully removed far from this world. Mansfield’s ability to make death beautiful when it is commonly seen as scary and focused on how gruesome the death itself was in a lot of today’s media has made The Garden Party something that I will always cherish.
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