Tuesday, 29 January 2013


Norm:                       Life in the big colonial house,  upper middle class speech, values, silences
                                   This includes the garden party.
Unusual event             Death of Scott

Problem                  How to respond.  Cancel the party or not
(1) Attitude to the working class. 
(2) Laura’s moral isolation   (twice)
Actions                    (1) Fudge issue by ref to upper middle class customs  
(2) Hat as ‘bribe’ 
(3) Left-overs gift (‘bribe’ to conscience, implicitly vindicating Laura)
Resolution                              Laura’s epiphany.  Laura’s relative isolation confirmed.


Artistic one (false excuse from Jose) pushed into organising, but is organised
Responds to the workmen with nervousness,  affection,  surprise at sensitivity
Responds the mews of the accident with moral certainty
Moral certainty poo-pooed, then undermined and bribed away
At the party itself enjoys her beauty in the hat
After the party morally questions mothers idea of sending left-overs
Mother’s gesture implicitly confirms her earlier moral certainty
Now she has scruples again and feels always on the other side
Overruled with bad logic from mother
She (not not because ‘artistic’) goes to the cottage
Is unnerved by the atmosphere (as on previous trips) and hell dog.
Feels her class privilege exemplified by the hat (now an accusation)
Sees family’s actual grief and is controlled by them, their rituals
Sees death and has an epiphany,  asks for forgiveness
Is  morally and emotionally isolated: can’t explain even to Laurie, who can’t understand.
Is still part of her class, but ‘no longer at ease in the old dispensation’  (Eliot)


1              What does Laura actually learn?  
2              How is power exercised?  What kinds of power?
3              What kinds of self-deception are there?
4              Why is the story called The Garden Party?
5              Is Mrs Sheridan really a kind of monster?
6              What moral issues does the story pose?
7              How does Mansfield use imagery of weather and times of the day?
8              How do we understand “she couldn’t explain” at the end of the story
9              Is there any genuine love in the story?


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