The Garden Party, By Kathering Mansfield And The Myth Of Persephone

1090 words - 4 pages

In the words of author Thomas Foster, “There’s only one story.” Most, if not all authors will draw inspiration from other works of literature to illustrate their story. Even if one is not an expert on Greek Mythology, one must take notice and appreciate the striking resemblance between The Garden Party and The Myth of Persephone. Laura is Katherine Mansfield’s depiction of Persephone as the former loses her innocence by witnessing death. On the surface, both tales begin in a natural, ideal setting that implies a tragedy will come along to spoil it. Essentially, the short story and the myth both portray a character finding their niche and a deeper meaning of life by having to adapt in foreign surroundings. Inevitably, the resemblances between both stories are concealed within symbols that a reader may easily disregard, such as a character’s relationship with her mother.
The parallels between the protagonists, Laura and Persephone, are quite evident. First and foremost, Laura’s mother, Mrs. Sheridan, stands as a counterpart for Demeter, Persephone’s mother. Mrs. Sheridan chose to pass down her black hat to Laura, the youngest of all of her children (Masfield 251). Laura and her mother share an intimate relationship that mirrors that of Persephone and Demeter. This display of affection expresses how comfortable mother and daughter are around each other. Mrs. Sheridan thinks highly of Laura, she sees her as a mature young lady. In comparison, when Persephone is whisked away to the Underworld without her consent, Demeter is overcome with grief and depression. Demeter’s life was centered on Persephone; she had the sensation that something was the matter. When he daughter vanished, Demeter lost her sense of direction. In addition, both Laura and Persephone went to “Hell.” In When Persephone returned from the Underworld, she was no longer the same; she had gained knowledge and maturity beyond her years (Persephone Myth). In spite of it being against her will, Persephone acquired an understanding of herself and her mortality. In a sense, she breaks free from the captivity of her parents and is able to see the world in a new light. Likewise, Laura was the bird in her family that wants to leave the cage. When she goes down the hill and into “hell” to see the dead man, she obtains freedom from her family’s restrictions that have held her back from seeing the world beyond class distinctions. Nevertheless, Laura being one author’s interpretation of Persephone is only one of the parallels between these stories, as weather plays an essential role as well.
Mansfield’s use of weather symbolically to indicate a disaster parallels the events in the Persephone myth. The short story begins with the author describing an ideal setting with bountiful flowers and clear skies, and that is perfect for hosting a Garden Party (Mansfield 245). The author intended to use irony to challenge the reader’s expectations and make them ponder over what will happen next. Mansfield...

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