Katherine Mansfield Questions and Answers

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Was Katherine Mansfield a powerful or powerless women in real life? How does her writing about women in her short stories relate to her life? Was Katherine Mansfield a powerful or powerless women in real life? How does her writing about women in her short stories relate to her life?

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Katherine Mansfield was privileged and sent by her parents from New Zealand to London to be educated. She studied music and writing. After returning to New Zealand, her rebelliousness and adventuresomeness prompted her to reject the expectation of marriage and embrace the artist community. She returned to London, associated with the bohemian artist set there and engaged in unsanctioned romantic relationships that led to a pregnancy. Her mother sailed to London to rescue her after a marriage that lasted less than 24 hours to a man she barely knew. While resting at a spa in Germany that her mother sent her to, Katherine had a miscarriage. It is from this wild, bohemian nature, which threw commonsense and restrain to the winds, that the inspiration for her writings came. It may be concluded that her stories do not reflect her life but do reflect the opposition she so strongly felt toward the social and cultural constraints of the expectations for women.

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Sometimes we can express in a story what we cannot say about ourselves.  By exploring the relationships of fictional characters, especially with intensity in her short stories, allows Mansfield to reflect on her own life and relationships.  Her characters can be and do what she isn't and can't.

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Clearly Katherine Mansfield was only able to write so eloquently about the position of women and its various challenges and opportunities based on some serious experience herself of occupying such a position in patriarchal world. In addition to the excellent points made above, I would add that a key element of...

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