Explore How Katherine Mansfield Treats The Idea Of The Opposition Of Nature And Convention In 'bliss'

1223 words - 5 pages

Katherine Mansfield, who revolutionised the English short stories of the 20th century, explores the opposition of human nature and conventions through many of her prose. In 'Bliss', this idea is mainly navigated through the experiences of the main character Bertha. The conventions of the Britain intelligentsia confined and controlled Bertha in all aspects of her life, restricting her from behaving the way she would like to during her bliss and bringing up her baby. The conventions also influenced her in her marriage and her choice of friends, and forced her to exhort a perfect, modern life. The impacts of the pressures and expectations of the society can also be seen in some of the minor characters, and the suppression of human nature by society is evident in 'Bliss"At the start of the story, an obvious example of convention versus nature appears as Bertha experiences 'absolute bliss'. This 'bliss' makes her want to 'run instead of walk...take dancing steps on and off the pavement, to bowl a hoop... to stand still and laugh at nothing." But the society, which was described as 'idiotic', does not allow a women of the age thirty do all of that without labelling her as "drunk and disorderly". Bertha felt as if her body was "[kept] shut up like a rare, rare fiddle". Her coat was also a symbol for the confinement she felt- "she could not bear the tight clasp of it another moment." The pressure that she feels from society's conventions is apparent. When she tries to suppress her over -excited mood, she scolded herself as being 'hysterical' and 'absurd', giving examples of what others would think of her as . She does not express her bliss, despite the 'fire of bliss...blazing' furiously in her , pushing her to let it loose. She does not even confide this bliss to her husband, Harry. Bertha did not let her nature prevail over convention.In the second part of the story, readers see that Bertha is prevented from bringing up her baby herself, despite her obvious desire to do so. Instead, the nanny controls the nursery, symbolizing her power over the baby. The society clearly doesn't approve of a woman of her status- as being in the intellectual class - to take care of their own children, as that is not a 'modern' practice. Because of these conventions, she is denied of the maternal pleasure she should have. She watched the nurse taking care of her baby 'like the poor little girl in front of the rich little girl with the doll.' Her nature tries to take control as she questions why she is allowing this to happen: 'why has a baby if it has to be kept...in another woman's arms?' The restrictions that Bertha faces whilst caring for her baby is reflected when she had to ask the nanny twice before having 'permission' to handle her baby. Again, Bertha does not fight to go in the way of her nature.In 'Bliss', the pressure of the society on everybody to strive for a 'modern' life is portrayed widely throughout the story. For Bertha we can see that she is heavily...

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