Modern Short Story Essay

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Modern Short Story Essay
Early 20th Century authors often wrote about the strange things and discrepancies found in society and used irony to criticize them. Katherine Mansfield’s “A Cup of Tea” and Virginia Woolf’s “The Duchess and the Jeweller” both use irony to condemn and show inconsistencies in social classes. The short stories demonstrated how being upper class or rich doesn’t necessarily mean you are secure, generous or a good person. A main topic found in the two stories is that money can’t buy someone self esteem if they never had it. Both main characters seem to have everything but use material things to fill their insecurity and neither of them have what they really want. The Jeweller had become very wealthy and admired. He was envied by every man he encountered yet inside the Jeweller still felt inferior and as though “…he was a little boy in the alley where they sold dogs on Sunday.” (Woolf 6) At the end of the story the Jeweller sits back and thinks of how he was tricked and is the same fool he will always be. In “A Cup of Tea” Rosemary is “[A] young, brilliant, extremely modern, exquisitely well dressed, amazingly well read in the newest of the new books,” (Mansfield 1) woman. The only thing Rosemary lacks is physical appearance. She was not the best looking female and unfortunately that flaw bothered her and was one of the reasons she was so insecure. Rosemary is also rich and able to purchase anything she wanted. The only thing Rosemary couldn’t purchase was self esteem and this showed at the end of the story when she asks Phillip the simple question of “‘Am I pretty?’” (Mansfield 8) Both stories show how the main characters satisfy their selfish needs instead of just doing the right thing. The Jeweller is an experienced and successful jeweler and knows he should make sure the pearls presented to him to purchase are authentic. The Jeweller didn’t see what he was losing, “…he saw not the houses in Bond Street, but a dimpling river;...
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