On studying the texts Bliss and Miss Brill by Katherine Mansfield and
Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin I have associated all the stories with
a sense of female repression. All the short stories feature a main
female character and this character is being repressed in various ways
such as by another character or their lives in general.
In all the stories the awareness of repression appears towards the end
mainly due to an event that has taken place. This event brings forth a
realisation of their lives, which is so far from the rest of the
The realisation that occurs in ‘Bliss’ is that Bertha finds out that
her husband, Harry, is having an affair. Throughout the rest of the
short story Bertha appears overly happy and joyous. This is shown
through Mansfield’s choice of language predominantly at the start of
the story. Examples of this are things such as ‘she wanted to run
instead of walk…’ and ‘…is there no way you can express it without
being “drunk and disorderly”. These are examples of where extreme
happiness is shown, and she mentioned how this happiness could not
possibly be explained without seeming ‘drunk and disorderly’.
The extreme happiness has then been contrasted with the confusion,
which is brought on at the end by the affair. ‘But the pear tree was
as lovely as ever and as full of flower and as still.’ This is how
Mansfield ends the story as the ‘still’ part symbolises her life, as
the pear tree does. Her life is inert and has come to a halt, as she
feels numb. The numbness is also symbolised by the word ‘still’ as
when you are numb you generally cannot move.
This shows how the act of knowing about t...
... middle of paper ...
... wanted to ask…’ showing she
didn’t ask but would have liked to. She is being restrained by the
nanny into having a full motherly relationship with her child.
One example of how Harry subdues her is how he bullies her into
believing Pearl is a dull, boring, and a typical blonde. Harry seems
to have obtained the ability to demystify and trick Bertha. Which is a
sign he has been doing this for a while and he has become quite expert
at it. I think Mansfield did this to prepare the reader slightly for
what is going to happen at the end n the revelation that is the
The theme of repression therefore runs throughout these stories all
written by female authors that have a female view on the world. It is
typical of female characters to make men out to be the cruel
characters and the women who are the vulnerable main characters who
are being repressed.
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