Man's Inhumanity to Man as Reflected in "The Fly" by Katherine Mansfield

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Man’s Inhumanity to Man as reflected in “The Fly” by Katherine Mansfield


An Analysis of the Concepts of Modernity as reflected in the short story “The Fly” by Katherine Mansfield --------

In Partial Fulfillment
Of the Requirements for the Course
Modern Literature (Lit 162)


Tan, Vincent Paul G.
B. S. Business Administration

“The Fly”
by Katherine Mansfield

I. Introduction: Katherine Mansfield
A. Life
B. Works
C. Influences
II. “The Fly
A. Synopsis
B. Analysis
1. Theme
2. Techniques
3. Concepts of Modernity
III. Evaluation
A. Relevance of the Theme in Modern times
B. Effectiveness of Techniques in relation to content
C. Social, Cultural Relevance in Modern times
IV. Conclusion

Kathleen Mansfield Beauchamp Murry (14 October 1888 – 9 January 1923) was a prominent modernist writer of short fiction who was born and brought up in colonial New Zealand and wrote under the pen name of Katherine Mansfield. Mansfield left for Great Britain in 1908 where she encountered Modernist writers such as D.H. Lawrence and Virginia Woolf with whom she became close friends. Her stories often focus on moments of disruption and frequently open rather abruptly. Among her most well known stories are "The Garden Party," "The Daughters of the Late Colonel," and "The Fly." During the First World War Mansfield contracted extra pulmonary tuberculosis which rendered any return or visit to New Zealand impossible and led to her death at the age of 34. Mansfield wrote the “The Fly” in Paris in 1922 while undergoing X-ray treatment for tuberculosis, and it is clear from her letters and journals that she was not wholly pleased with it. It is likely that she was hard-pressed for money to pay for her medical treatment at the time, and was working under the additional pressures of market requirements and publication deadlines. In a response to her friend William Gerhardi, who had confessed to her that he disliked the piece, Mansfield herself admitted that she “hated” writing the story. Writing the story might be the result of her brother dying during war. Emotions drawn up from her tragic loss might have influenced the themes and ideas presented in the story. Mansfield died less than a year following the story's publication and did not witness the intense critical and popular interest in “The Fly.” After its initial magazine publication in 1922, the story appeared in the highly regarded, posthumously published collection. The work began to receive serious critical treatment beginning in 1945, when a series of short articles sought to uncover the symbolic meanings and thematic concerns hidden in the deceptively simply tale. Ironically, most critics acknowledge that “The Fly” is not one of Mansfield's strongest works, and some have even suggested that it is the story's flaws that make it an interesting subject of scrutiny. However, the work continues to enjoy a reputation as one of Mansfield's most famous stories, and is regarded as a fine example of the complexity of method that is the author's great contribution to the short story form. Here is the summary of the short story. Woodifield, an old and infirm gentleman, is talking to the boss, his friend, who is five years older than he is and 'still going strong. The latter apparently enjoys showing off his redecorated office to Woodifield, with new furniture and electric heating, yet an old picture of his deceased son. Woodifield wants to tell the boss something, but cannot remember what it was, when the boss offers him some whisky. After drinking, his memory is refreshed and Woodifield talks about a recent visit that "the girls" (his two daughters) made to their sons' graves. We now come to know that both their sons had died in the war. After Woodifield leaves, the boss sits down at his table, calls the office boy and tells him that he does not want to be disturbed. He is extremely perturbed at the sudden...
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