Garden Party: When Heaven and Hell Collide

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One may often refer to a specific event, place, or instance in time, as either heaven or hell on earth. This has become a common phrase in today's society, but many may argue its true meaning, and what heaven or hell on earth really represents or symbolizes. What qualities or characteristics ultimately decide whether something can be considered heaven, or its opposite, hell? The phrase itself is more metaphorical than literal, comparing both euphoric and joyful experiences, and dangerous and destructive experiences to the two divine realms of heaven and hell. In the short story The Garden Party, Katherine Mansfield successfully symbolizes, personifies and displays heaven and hell on earth, and their ultimate human interaction through the story's setting, characters, and events which take place.

The contrast between the Sheridan residence and the poverty stricken neighbourhood of cottages below is quite evident and distinct. When one is introduced to the Sheridan residence, it is on a completely ideal day. The weather is perfect, windless, warm and clear. The skies are blue, and sunlight immerses everything around. Our immediate association here is positive. The ideal summer setting allows us to associate the setting here with things such as light, youth, joy, and romance. The home itself is described as enormous, elaborate, and evidently upper class. The garden where the party takes place is quite extravagant. It is lined with flowers of all different varieties, the grass is a rich green, and there is room for leisure and display with a tennis court, a band and a marquee. The Sheridan garden also symbolizes much more than just beauty and perfection, but also relates to the biblical setting of the Garden of Eden. The Garden of Eden represents flawlessness and excellence. It was literally the closest man ever came to a heaven on Earth. Both gardens are lined with nature and all it's beauty, and Mansfield even mentioned many trees bearing fruits, similar to the...
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