Catherine Mansfield (1888-1923), who was only 34 years old, began her creative career with an essay published in the school newspaper when she was 9 years old. She kept writing until the end of her life journey. In 25 years, she completed more than 100 works. Short stories, included in five collections, “The German Flat” (1911), “Happiness” (1920), “The Garden Party” (1922), “The Pigeon’s Nest” (1923) and “Children” (1924) . Mansfield does not like to depict grand narratives with broad social backgrounds, but prefers to sculpt the trivial details and ordinary characters of ordinary life. In her novels, it is difficult to see the scenes of war, bloody and bloody war scenes and ups and downs, exciting storylines, and most of the protagonists are ordinary little people, and the stories revolve around people’s daily life, behavior and psychological activities, but ordinary The epiphany in the middle, and the epiphany in the details, reflects the unique vision and superb writing skills of the young female writer. According to the memories of relatives and friends, she has been a calm and deep child since childhood, and likes to observe, think and record. In order to enrich her writing themes, she has actively experienced the various lives of different characters. She can discover valuable and powerful connotations from trivial and subtle life fragments, and create many full and vivid characters, presenting readers with a picture of color. A colorful and meaningful picture of life. His works, with fresh and simple language, light and elegant brushstrokes, sparse and elegant writing and seemingly absent plots, gradually make the short story, a literary style that has never been valued, gradually known to people.
Throughout Mansfield’s work, a striking feature is the focus on women, portraying women and speaking for women. She describes the various difficulties faced by women, and the difficulty of finding a job, such as the struggle and depravity of the middle-aged singer Miss Moss in “A Day in the Life of Miss Moss”, and the vulnerable position of the governess who is bullied in “The Job Search Girl”; The confusion about love, such as the hazy and beautiful youthful love in “A Page of the Picture Album” and the helplessness in “Dill Pickles” that the situation has changed and the love is no longer; the pain of childbirth, such as Linda’s love for the child in “Prelude” Disgust and anticipation of the birth of a boy in “Birthday”; about the hardships of survival, such as the tragic childhood of the little maid in “The Tired Child” and the tragic life of the white-haired man sending the black-haired man in “The Life of Mama Buck”. These “pure little girls”, “confused girls”, “sexually awakened young women”, “confused middle-aged women” and “lonely old women” constitute groups of women of different ages and classes. A well-known short story writer in the history of modern English literature, Katherine Mansfield, along with Joseph Conrad, James Joyce, and Virginia Woolf, laid a solid foundation for the development of modernist fiction. She is not only a pioneer of inner monologues and perspective shifts in short stories, but also a pioneer of stream-of-consciousness writing techniques and androgyny. As one of the few female writers in literary history who only writes short stories, her achievements in the field of short stories can be compared with Joyce and Woolf in the field of novels. And Mansfield’s emotional world is like her novels. Although it is short in length, it is rich in content.
Mansfield was born in New Zealand. When he became an adult, he voluntarily wandered in England alone, chasing his literary dream, and was a double exile away from his home country and his family. Precocious since childhood, she has a bisexual temperament that can attract both men and women, and has become bisexual. The starting point of her creation is to express the complexity of life and reveal the truth of life. Britain at the beginning of the 20th century was quite conservative. If the “marginal people” from the more closed and backward colonial New Zealand wanted to make a living by writing in London, they were destined to be unable to publicly expose and criticize the various oppressions suffered by women. Express. Her masterpiece “Happiness” (1918), by describing a complex and unique “triangle relationship”, reproduces the dreamlikeness of life and the incomprehensibility of a happy life from the limited perspective of the heroine Bertha. 1918 was just an ordinary year in the history of mankind, but it was an important turning point in the short life of a female writer: it was Mansfield’s “happy year”, because of the end of the First World War, the turbulent life of poverty and the ugly ” She was officially replaced by her marriage to Murray and her stable hostess: her “unfortunate year” when she was diagnosed with “the terminal disease of the century” – tuberculosis, with black spots on her lungs. Big Bird reminded her that her death was not far away, and her new husband was rumored to have ambiguous relationships with others; also in 1918, in view of women’s outstanding contributions to the country in the war, the coalition government agreed to grant women over the age of 30 the right to vote— — In this sense, 30-year-old women have finally achieved political “adult” status. Against this complex background, Mansfield’s story of Bertha, a “thirty-year-old woman” who was the same age as him at the time, has a special meaning. After reading the text carefully, it is not difficult for readers to find that the author has used tactful but vaguely recognizable metaphors and symbols to express his views on marriage, love and life.
The story begins with the heroine Bertha first appearing. Since the dinner that day was something Bertha had been looking forward to for a long time, she not only actively went out to purchase and set up the dinner scene, but also chose the dress for the night in advance, “a white dress, a string of jade beads, green shoes and green socks”— – This dress is like a pure and flawless bride, creating a warm and sweet atmosphere. But Bertha, who appears to be the hostess of the garden house, is unhappy in her marriage (she has trouble communicating with Harry), her children are not her own (the nanny “owns” them), and her friends are not noble (more A decadent artist who is empty of spirit and doing nothing). The specific expression is that Bertha, who is full of joy, returns to the door of the house, but as usual forgot to bring her key – a pass and a status symbol to enter her garden house, suggesting that Bertha’s “hostess” status is unstable: when Bertha came to the nursery, she thought When making out with her daughter Beckham for a while, the nurse repeatedly refused Bertha’s reasonable request, implying that Bertha’s “mother” status was unstable. So the opening chapter points out the irony of the title “happiness”.
Looking at the appearance of Harry and Miss Fulton again, in the chatting and waiting of friends, the man dubbed “the groom’s officer” finally returned home and showed a particularly calm demeanor, followed by Fulton. The young lady appeared and smiled at everyone. This late arrival was actually a small foreshadowing. Bertha greeted Miss Fulton warmly, but the latter was indifferent, not even looking straight in the eye—besides her, suspiciously. During the whole dinner, the guest of honor was chatting and laughing, and she was the only one who ate and drank soup quietly, watching Bertha’s happy life almost invisible. When the song was about to end, Miss Fulton finally said, “Do you have a garden at home?” she murmured, as Bertha and Bertha admired the moonlit beauty of the garden, “Yes, that’s what it smells like.” A simple sigh is meaningful. Her silver dress blends in with the cold moonlight and the serene pear blossoms. Is the fit of the clothes, temperament and environment accidental or intentional? What’s even more strange is that Harry, after offering cigarettes to the guests one by one, came to her and asked her what kind of cigarettes she wanted, which made Bertha mistakenly think that he hated and hated Miss Fulton, and felt injustice for her friends in her heart. In fact, this episode of “respecting cigarettes” and “refusing smoking” is an indirect description of Harry and Miss Fulton’s eyebrows, which promotes the development of the story and indirectly stimulates Bertha’s lust in the dark. Feeling, “This fire! Fire! The word alone makes her hot body feel burning pain!” Then because there were guests leaving, Bertha could only interrupt her thoughts and suppress her sudden lust to see off the guests. Strangely, an inexplicable sadness suddenly emerged, and she felt as if she had said goodbye to everyone. And Harry, contrary to his previous intentional indifference to Miss Fulton, rushed over enthusiastically to help her put on a coat, leaving Bertha and the guests chatting by the fire. Before she left, Miss Fulton thanked Bertha for her warm hospitality: “Your pear tree is so lovely!” Her praise to the pear tree revealed her possessive desire and challenge to all of Bertha’s marital relationships and material wealth.
In Bertha’s walled garden with the bright moon, pear blossoms and tulips in full bloom, and the black cat chasing the big-bellied gray cat, it’s easy to think of sex. So much so that the “walled garden” itself is a classic image, representing the repressed and dormant female desire since the Middle Ages. Pearl Fulton is a mysterious girlfriend discovered by Bertha herself, a strangely beautiful woman. Because of her presence, Bertha feels that everything is beautiful and smooth. The pampered Bertha is pure and simple. She candidly and frankly spoke out about her indifference to Harry. She also thought that Harry had forgiven her, and even claimed that she and Harry were really a good couple. The pear flower is the most dazzling scene and central image in the story. In Bertha’s eyes, “the pear tree is slim and slender against the jasper-colored sky, and it seems to stand still. Even though it is so far apart, Bertha can’t help but feel that there is neither a budding bud on the tree nor a single bud on the tree. A withered petal.” The sight of the pear tree in perfect bloom was also projected into her life: “When she closed her eyes, she seemed to see the gorgeous pear tree, the pear blossoms on the tree were in full bloom, this is the symbol of her own life. “The positioning of pear trees in Western culture is from the perspective of reproduction. As a monoecious plant, the pear tree has another meaning. Bertha’s bisexual orientation is shown through Bertha’s psychological description, so Bertha and Miss Fulton enjoy the pear blossom in the moonlight together with a sexual suggestion: “Although this tree seems to be still, it can be seen in them In his eyes, the pear tree was like the flame of a candle, fluttering and flickering in the clear night sky. “From the perspective of Western cultural traditions and values, this depiction shows us the hidden sexual attraction and imagined sexual pleasure between the bisexual Bertha and Miss Fulton, and is the climax of the story.
To sum up, there are three exchanges between the novel and the pear tree/pear flower. The background of the first exchange is that Bertha is preparing a banquet. In anticipation of Miss Fulton’s arrival, Bertha’s heart lit up with fire, and in order to calm her excitement, she stood on the balcony and watched the pear tree. Under the jasper-like blue sky, Bertha felt that there was neither a budding bone nor a withered petal on the tree. This is of course unreal, but it reflects Bertha’s fanciful character, who lives by herself and endows flowers, plants and trees with rich emotional meanings. Isn’t this blossoming tree a symbol of a happy life? The second time was the pear tree mentioned above, which seemed to stand still. In their eyes, it was like the flame of a candle. It was masculine and became Harry’s image and a symbol of masculine power, almost touching At the edge of the moon (symbolizing women), Bertha’s lust for Miss Fulton is implied. The third time Bertha found out about Harry’s affair with Miss Fulton, her happiness disappeared immediately. When she went to confide in the pear tree that entrusted her ideals, she found that it was still so lovely and incomprehensible. The pear tree, which was previously endowed with spirituality and humanity, finally returned to the objective material, released the hands that blindfolded Bertha, and let her see the cruel reality: lesbianism is not a good way to improve a cold marriage, and must rethink way out of life.
There is no such thing as a banquet in the world. Bertha, who was hit by a double blow, became miserable and confused, and the story came to an end. The open ending leaves open space for imagination. Is “happiness” like a flower, illusory and impossible to grasp? At least one thing is certain, flowers can bloom, but it is difficult to escape the fate of withering. From the cheerful and bright opening to the dark and confused ending, Mansfield’s ingenuity and delicacy are vividly reflected. She bravely acted as a trailblazer and a taboo breaker, and based on her personal experience, she truthfully and delicately recorded the relationship between women and women’s sexual experience, which opened up new fields for women’s literature and provided the basis for later women’s writing. A model text, her unique female writing has made an indelible contribution to the development of women’s literature.