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The Daughters of The Late Colonel

An Analysis of Katherine Mansfield's Short Story

Peter Bovell

on 12 August 2010

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Transcript of The Daughters of The Late Colonel

Constantia Josephine ONE OF THE BUSIEST WEEKS OF THEIR LIVES Historically, Constantina was a Byzantine saint and daughter of emperor Constantine. The nature of her sainthood is very questionable and built largely around medieval legend. A later Constantina became an Empress, along with her sister, when her father, the Byzantine General Tiberius, was appointed emperor. Following his death, she retained this title through marriage to another Emperor, and was later executed for conspiracy against the Roman Empire. Historically, the very famous first Empress of France by her marriage to Napoleon. She was barren and they were later divorced as a result. She had, however, previously borne children, many of whom begat leaders and other notable people. The Daughters of The Late Colonel bodies lay down... minds went on... trying to remember TIME! Mansfield weaves a non-linear narrative that reveals the
attachment of the daughters to their father, who clearly
exerted much control over his daughters, even after death.

Klein says 'the daughters are trying
to break free from [their father's]
tyranical use of time. Grenfell-Williams says that Mansfield's
use of time in this story highlights the concept of "women's time" as used by the French theorist, Julia Kristeva. Do you think father would mind... by Katherine Mansfield It's much nicer to be weak than strong. Daughters of... Even the title suggests a lack of individuation of the protagonists from their father, forever condemned to be subjugated to him. VIEWPOINT multiple perspectives indirect free style if we postpone it this time - some little trouble about the time they were not hurrying enough isn't your clock a bit slow everything is so changed now But no. One eye only... It glared... the stick would not thump The Norse God Odin only has one eye and carries a staff or spear. He is considered the leader of the gods and is often associated with fury and war. It is said he sacrificed his eye to gain knowledge of past present and future. The death of their father has caused much disorientation for the sisters. The displacement of time is not unlike Hamlet's 'Time is out of joint'; a precedent perhaps for a child's loss of a god-like, ruling father. Josephine even 'sternly' echoes King Hamlet's 'Remember', out loud in the darkness. Much like Hamlet, the the death has caused much questioning in the pair, creating a particularly disoriented dialogue. What did it mean? What was it She was always wanting? What did it all lead to? Now? Now? We see plight of the girls from a omniscient third person narrator who judges the 'dreamy Constantina' and 'poor Josephine'. 'I should like it to be quite simple... At the same time I should like - A good one that will last.' One suitable to our father's position.' Josephine Constantina 'Was the door just behind them? Josephine knew that if it was it was holding itself shut; Constantina felt that, like the doors in dreams, it hadn't any handle at all. It was the coldness that made it awful. Or the whiteness - which?' 1 A detachment of mind and body
Decapitated heads
The pair as black cats
23 repetitions of mourning
Constantina's somniloquy: The mouse who doesn't know there aren't crumbs
Josephine's fetal/mummified sleeping position 2 The reality of their father transcends death, hence the colonel is not dead but merely 'late'. The complication of the story centres on their father's room and his lingering presence. Their father is metaphorically 'in the top drawer', and it is not so much him being there that worries them but that 'He was watching' them and therefore judging them. The contrast of light and dark, warmth and frigidity; the latter polarities imply an absence of the former, both of which are masculine in their connotation.
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