The Complex Mind in The Garden Party Essay Example

​The story “The Garden Party” by Katherine Mansfield starts off with the main protagonist Laura getting ready for a garden party. Laura who even though is a high middle-class maiden varies from the rest of her family. Laura’s thoughts are a representation of modernism, which shows us exactly how society has changed and how class standings have also changed. Throughout the story, Laura’s complex thought is shown when she wants to put off the party only to have the party continue again.

Complex thoughts can also be seen through her thoughts about the workers, Mr. Scott’s death and having complex feelings about going to the Scotts and seeing Mr. Scott's body. While Laura’s mother and sister represent how high middle-class maidens are supposed to act dogmatic and play their part as women in a higher class. After world war two modern fiction made an appearance, “The Garden Party” portrays modernism through Laura the complexity of Laura’s thoughts about how aura should act towards the lower classes and the events going on around her.

One common aspect of modern fiction is the human thoughts, or more specifically Laura’s attitude towards the workers. Modern fiction has a characteristic of thought and this can be proven, “Psychoanalysis helped to enable concentration; to narrate the reality of a person’s life of the mind in all its complexity and inner tumult…” (Fiction 21). The quote says that the human mind is full of complex things and is constantly turning and wondering what to do. In the story “The Garden party” Katherine Mansfield represents modernism through Laura. Laura is a Naive, pampered woman who has a good heart.

At the beginning of the story, Laura sees the lower-class workers and is conflicted because she doesn’t know how to act towards the workers. Since Laura is raised as a high-class woman, Laura was taught to command, but ends up doubting this method. Laura tries to act like her mother who is an example of a perfect higher-class woman, “‘Good morning,’ she said. Copying her mother's voice. But that sounded so fearfully affected that she was ashamed…” (Mansfield 712). The quote shows Laura’s conflict in how she should act around these workers who are considered to be a lower class than her. Laura shows that she has these emotions and doesn’t follow people’s rules about how people in her society should act. Laura basically has a hard time thinking about class and how others are supposed to be treated.

Laura’s Mother

Laura's thought process towards the lower class is more complex than her mother and sister who throughout the short story focuses on the party even after hearing about Mr. Scott's death. Laura feels the need to cancel the party and finds it unfit to continue with Mr. Scott's death. However, her mother and sister say that the party must go on. Laura’s mother represents this by saying “‘Stop the garden party? My dear Laura, don’t be so absurd. Of course, we can’t do anything of the kind. Nobody expects us to’” (716). This passage shows the differences between Laura and her family.

Laura is a kind-hearted person who after finding out about Mr. Scott's death found it unfit to continue the party. While Laura’s mother disagreed with canceling the party, saying that no one expected them to feel sorry for the Scotts and cancel the party for them. But despite wanting to cancel the party, her family soon convinces her to continue the party. Despite feeling bad about Mr. Scott's death Laura shows her complex thought process about doing what she thinks is right and doing what her family expects her to do. But even with Laura having different thoughts then her family, she still has trouble with her thoughts about the subject of class.

Laura seems that her thoughts are conflicted about wanting to see Mr. Scott’s dead body. At the beginning Laura does feel sad about Mr. Scott’ s death Laura but that conflicts with the idea of seeing the dead body. Laura thinks about turning around many times when she thinks about going over to Scott's house. This could have been because she felt it was a mistake to go over to a family’s house that just experienced this hardship and that she barely knew the people. Laura is then forced to go over to the Scott’s, when she is forced to go over after Laura’s mother makes fun of her for wanting to cancel the party, she instead says that they can bring the Scotts a basket of leftover food. Laura reacts to this by thinking, “Again, how curious, she seemed to be different to them all.

To take scraps from their party. Would the poor women really like that'' (719)? Laura is questioning her mother on the fact that she is basically saying the Scotts are only worth their scraps and leftover foods. This shows the concept of class and the fact that Laura’s mother still considers herself better than the Scott’s and her family doesn’t need to really show sadness and remorse to the Scott's family. After Laura’s actually going over to the Scott’s Laura changes her mind about wanting to see the body. After seeing the body Laura starts to think and enjoy actually being over at the Scott’s. When seeing the dead body, she thinks about death and life. She realizes that she did the right thing going over to the house and her complex thoughts are put to rest about M. Scott’s death.


Lastly, “The Garden party” is shown as a modernist fiction. It portrays the complex thinking of the human minds and the thoughts it has. Mansfield shows Laura’s mental conflicts throughout the story. The author probably does this because she wants the reader to experience and see how the modern mind works. Through the changing times class and social standing is being challenged and is changing. By knowing these conflicts, the reader also understands the story better and understands the problems with class that Mansfield illustrates. Such as the concepts of lower and higher classes and Laura having complex thoughts about being better than the lower classes and because of that not supposed to worry about the Scott’s loss since they are of lower class. 





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