A Study of the Conscious and Unconscious Perception of the Status of Happiness in Katherine Mansfield's Short Story Bliss

Ala Eddin Sadeq


Kathleen Mansfield is one of the outstanding twentieth century short story writers. Her short story Bliss (1922) describes a day in the heroine, Bertha Young’s life who is preparing for a grand dinner party to be held in the evening in her own house. She intends to reveal to all her guests her utter exultation and contentment with husband Harold. She imagines that she has everything she hopes for in her marriage to him. Eventually, the experiences of the party climax into a disastrous realization both of her husband’s deception of her and her own naive and unconscious perception of the true  meaning of the status of the bliss in her life with him. She also discovers that complete happiness or rapture is either non–existent or superficially achieved within the social reality of male domination and female role playing.
 As a modern writer, Katherine Mansfield adopts different means, such as magic realism, symbolism, psychoanalysis, Marxism and feminist theories in delineating her female protagonist’s real dilemma. This paper attempts to examine the different techniques that are used by Mansfield in dealing with her central character’s dilemma. The paper also aims to shed light on the female predicament in the late Victorian era and to promote a clear understanding of the true meaning of happiness in human life. The nature of the heroine’s moral, personal and social crisis and her progression to a state of maturity will be thoroughly investigated in the paper.
Key words: Conscious; Perception; Self–Delusion; Magic realism; Romanticism; Repulsive self deception and contradictions; Feminism


Conscious; Perception; Self–Delusion; Magic realism; Romanticism; Repulsive self deception and contradictions; Feminism


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3968/n


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