Katherine Mansfield

American International Journal of Contemporary Research

Vol. 1 No. 2; September 2011

Laura’s Lessons in Katherine Mansfield’s “The Garden Party”
Şebnem Kaya, PhD Department of English Language and Literature Hacettepe University Beytepe, 06800, Ankara Turkey Abstract
In her short story “The Garden Party,” Katherine Mansfield concentrates on the conventional but false education given to an upper-class girl child named Laura in order to explore, or rather refute, the Victorian socio-moral values which restrained women by means of influencing their way of looking at life. The education in question that by design avoids initiating Laura to the realities of life, such as poverty and death presented as experiences lived by people outside Laura’s privileged social class, leaves her unprepared to face these facts, rendering her confused and inconsistent.

Key Words: Katherine Mansfield, “The Garden Party,” Victorian values, a girl child‟s education, class, poverty,

1. Introduction
Katherine Mansfield (1888-1923) may have defined the short story she penned as merely “a cry” against corruption (qtd. in Wattie, 1989, p. 149), but “The Garden Party” (1922) is in truth a pointed social satire, or, if the term is appropriate, a “short story à thèse” designed to refute the Victorian socio-moral values which figured prominently in Britain for the most part of the nineteenth century and managed to maintain their validity during the early twentieth century. It does so through an emphasis on an upper-class girl child‟s education. The short story has so many things to say about this education that, although heretofore chosen as the subject of an extensive body of scholarly publications, it still seems to be open to further exploration. On these grounds, this article too undertakes to interpret “The Garden Party” and approaches its subject from a psychosocial perspective, dealing with various elements of conventional Victorian education, together with their...