The Fly by Katherine Mansfield

Topics: Emotion, Short films, American films Pages: 4 (1740 words) Published: June 28, 2008
Humiliation and enslavement for the sadist are simply the means to an end. However, suffering is the sadist's trademark as there is no greater power over another than that of inflicting pain and forcing them to suffer without the benefit of self-defence. In fact, the pure pleasure in the complete domination over another is the very essence of the sadistic drive. In her short, compelling story "The Fly," Mansfield details how a commonplace incident of fly killing defines the sadistic, arrogant, and shallow nature of a powerful businessman. The nameless boss's cruel disrespect for this simple but valid life form parallels his disrespect for the greater community of man. To further highlight his character deficits, Mansfield contrasts the egocentric, ambitious boss to others who have formed close interpersonal relationships in their community. Moreover, the boss's affluent lifestyle can never offset his absence of emotion. The fly also personifies the boss's inability to genuinely grieve the death of his son and reconcile the loss of a family member at a deeply personal level. The tragicomic aspect of the incident with the fly emphasizes the boss's internal drama rather than plot. Therefore, the killing of a fly in this story, however banal, mirrors the way this sadistic, cruel, God-like boss treats others, and also illustrates the extent of his emotional disconnection to his surrounding world. As a successful businessman, the boss thoroughly relishes his status and the power he wields over others. He flaunts his prosperity and takes particular pleasure in impressing "that frail, old figure in the muffler"(73), Mr. Woodfield, who counts his pennies and even comments on the "price of jam." (74). However, upon closer scrutiny, the goal-oriented life of the aggressive business magnate compares poorly to the people-oriented one of the passive stroke victim, Mr. Woodfield. The senile retiree is cared for by a loving family who pamper and keep him "boxed up in...
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