A Cup of Tea by Kathleen Mansfield

Topics: Short story Pages: 6 (2227 words) Published: December 9, 2010
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 NZ 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 extrapulmonary tuberculosis which rendered any return or visit to New Zealand impossible and led to her death at the age of 34. I am to analyse  a piece of literary text written by Kathleen Mansfield  in the format of a short story titled “A CUP OF TEA” and I will try to criticise  the text objectively in  relation to its stylistical features .         Before this , I’d like to give a brief information about the content of the story.      

Scanning the story first, we come across with a rich couple named Rosemary and  Philip leading an untroubled, desirable life and they  seem  to love each other since- we have no implication whether they love each other for money or not – and  everything goes well in their lives. Rosemary spends money without getting into trouble and giving no reason or excuse to her husband in doing this. Everyone in a society admires Rosemary not maybe for her beauty but for her remarkable features such as  being interested in current movements from every aspects, seeming as an intelligent young woman, reading the modern books. Philip is not as bright character as Rosemary but he makes himself realize as soon as he enters the story towards the end.         Apart from the couple, there is a girl who meets Rosemary in a street by asking for money to have a cup of tea then  is picked up by her to have a cup of tea at her home. At the last scene, Rosemary is jealous of  her, the girl is easily disappeared without giving no sign for us to follow the reason of her disappearance.        And we have one more character  having a part in the story :the shopkeeper. He is also under the effect of Rosemary; we can understand this from his polite behaviour. He tries to draw her attraction on the enamel box and succeeds it; he promises her to keep the box for her because he knows her and he knows that she will come to buy it; she has the power of money and gets whatever she desires without acconting for anything to anybody.        Not only  we  encounter with her weakness in her dialogue with the shopman but also in her being  jealous of Miss Smith  when he utters lovely words for  this girl and behaves as it is predicted by Philip who knows directing her and makes her behave as he desires taking advantage of  her faulty character  successfully. In that sense Philip is an intelligent man and effective on Rosemary who is also obviously the symbol of possessive female by being jealous of the girl she has met in the street; so she has no self-confidence ,she is a little bit credulous. She asks directly-having no hidden meaning in her words- ‘Am I PRETTY?’, which ironically reveals her ex-behaviours to Philip  even she supposes that Philip is not aware of the truth.

Rosemaryis obviously the main character of the story, flat and dynamic. When we count all the sentences describing her or the ones in which she takes place  we realize her dominancy  at once. The other participants I’d like to analyse on this text  -apart from  ‘Rosemary’- are the girl,Miss Smith, and Philip.  Even though Philip hasn’t got as many turns as Rosemary and Miss Smith, I’d like to examine  the processes of him  in order to display the currents of events as a whole- he is the efficient figure in the sequences of events in the story-; in other words it is vital to handle it here to maintain the entirety of the text.        In...
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