Symbolic Application of Language in "The Fly"

Topics: Short story, Anton Chekhov, Fiction Pages: 3 (1044 words) Published: July 30, 2013
In “The Fly” Katherine Mansfield works by suggestions rather than explicit statement. Explain. OR
Write a note on Mansfield’s symbolic application of language in “The Fly”. OR
How does Katherine Mansfield employ symbols and psychological method in handling the story “The Fly”? Comment on her style.

“The Fly” by Katherine Mansfield has been considered as one of the fifteen finest short stores ever written. Whether or not this is so it must surely the shortest of good stories. In the briefest possible space, an appropriate atmosphere of tender pathos has been built up. But its brevity is deceptive. There is far more in it to discuss than in many works ten times its length. The authoress banks on suggestive application of language rather than explicit statements.

Mansfield achieves fame by raising short story to a new level of artistry and injecting into it a great psychological depth. Two remarkable features of her technique pointed out by H. E. Bates in The Modern Short Story are that, influenced by Chekov, the Russian short story writer, she “ saw the possibilities of telling the story by what was left out as much as by what was left in, or alternately describing one set of events and consequences while really indicating another”; and secondly, “she delights in making her characters show their thoughts by a kind of mental soliloquy fluttering, gossipy, breathless with question and answer. Michael Thorpe himself, the editor of Modern Prose, adds a third outstanding aspect of her method – which she shares, notably with D. H. Lawrence – is her sensuous aliveness by means of which she creates an intense atmosphere through clearly observed and suggestive details.

Beginning from the title, the story is packed with suggestions. We are at once reminded of a Shakespearean statement in which we hear the pessimistic voice of old King Lear: “As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods/ They kill us for their sport”. The gods indeed kill men for their...
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