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Analysis of Captivity in “The Daughters of the Late Colonel”
Transcript of Analysis of Captivity in “The Daughters of the Late Colonel”
Katherine Mansfield was one of the first authors in the history of literature to utilize the technique of short-story writing (Soule, 3).
Mansfield published “The Daughters of the Late Colonel” in her book Garden Party & Other Stories in 1922.
Mansfield wrote about captivity often in her works, and so did her major influence, Anton Chekhov (Reisman, 1).
Two middle-aged spinster sisters, Josephine and Constantia Spinner
They've always lived with their father, who was a Colonel, and was demanding/a bully
Their father recently died and they are unable to cope
Mansfield expresses the theme of captivity by:
They Cannot Accept the Colonel's Death
The sisters act in a manner that the reader can assume they still believe their father is present in some form or even alive in their home (Kaščáková, 96).
Unable to give the hat to the porter, "But father's hat!"
Fear of what their father will say when he finds out he's been buried, as well as the expenses.
Constantia and the mouse
She says, "I can't think how they manage to live at all"
Symbolizes the sister's situation since their father died
Constantia felt helpless, like a mouse with no one to provide a piece of biscuit for it. Without her father's guidance, what would the sisters do? How would they manage to go on with life?
The sun comes out and shines on the sisters
They think of the what-ifs in life/ marriage/travel/their mother living
They can listen to the organ grinder for the first time in their lives without their father telling them to go make him take his noise somewhere else
They are on the brink of independence and it is hopeful that they can escape from their passive lives
They start to speak to one another about their feelings but somehow cannot finish their sentences
The sun hides itself behind the clouds and they are cast back into psychological captivity
Indecisiveness Cripples Them
The sisters are unable to make a decision on anything/have the boldness to carry out on what they know is the right decision
Most apparent example: Kate, the dominating maid
The sisters agree that they want to fire her and that they don't need to depend on her anymore
They are too afraid of their own maid to carry out this decision
Giving examples on how the sisters still have not comprehended that their father is gone, therefore keeping them from living free from his judgement
Using subtle symbolism/metaphors that correlate with imprisonment
Showing their indecisiveness and how it cripples their independence
Placing the sisters in a setting they've never physically left or plan to leave
Katherine Mansfield's short story, "The Daughter's of the Late Colonel", is about psychological captivity. It urges readers to use the sisters as an example of who not to be. It encourages readers, with a focus on women (Kanthak, 149), to lead independent lives by describing the sisters' timid, encaged lifestyles and what specifically keeps them from freedom and happiness.
Mansfield placed her two protagonists in a setting that even physically keeps them from living their lives
The sisters have lived their for a very long time and even with their ray of hope at the end of the story, it is clear that because they cannot work up the boldness to tell their thoughts to one another, they will never leave that house
The house is a literal prison, and their minds have made it one
Katherine Mansfield effectively demonstrates a clear theme of psychological captivity by:
Showing a pair of sisters who are imprisoned by wanting to please their dead father
Using symbolism and metaphors for imprisonment throughout the story
Expressing the indecisiveness of the sisters and how it cripples them
Placing them in a setting that they have physically never left or plan to leave
The story sends a message to readers, particularly women, that they should break down their mental barriers to live life freely and make their own choices- or end up like the spinster Pinner sisters- alone, unhappy, and walked all over.
Damrosch, David, Kevin J.H. Dettmar, Christopher Baswell, Constance Jordan, and Stuart Sherman. Masters of British Literature. New York, NY, Etc.: Pearson Longman, 2007. Print.
Mansfield, Katherine. "The Daughters Of The Late Colonel." Garden Party & Other Stories (1922): 39-52. Literary Reference Center. Web. 30 April 2015. i
Kanthak, John F. "Feminisms In Motion: Pushing The "Wild Zone" Thesis Into The Fourth Dimension." LIT: Literature Interpretation Theory 14.2 (2003): 149. Literary Reference Center. Web. 1 May 2015.
Kaščáková, Janka. "Speaking Silence In "The Daughters Of The Late Colonel." Anachronist 15.(2010): 93-103. Literary Reference Center. Web. 1 May 2015.
Reisman, Rosemary M. Canfield. "The Daughters Of The Late Colonel." Masterplots II: Short Story Series, Revised Edition (2004): 1-3. Literary Reference Center. Web. 30 April 2015. hi hi hi
Soule, George. "Katherine Mansfield." Critical Survey Of Short Fiction, Second Revised Edition (2001): 1-7. Literary Reference Center. Web. 1 May 2015.
Soule, George. "The Stories Of Katherine Mansfield." Masterplots II: Women’s Literature Series (1995): 1-3. Literary Reference Center. Web. 2 May 2015.