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A Cup of Tea by Katherine Mansfield

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on 10 March 2015

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Transcript of A Cup of Tea by Katherine Mansfield

A Cup of Tea by Katherine Mansfield
About the Author
A New Zealand modernist writer of short fiction.
14th October 1888
Katherine Mansfield Beauchamp Murry.
Settled in United Kingdom
Passed away in 1923 at the age of 34
The Garden Party (1922) and Millie (1913)
Imagery
Dialogue
Build up the suspense and reflects each character’s personalities.
In the shop, this section of the story coneys how vulnerable and insecure Rosemary is, and the shopkeeper realizes that.
Rosemary: hypocritical, shallow, class conscious and self absorbed
Philip adopts a cleverer approach by using Rosemary’s jealousy.
Setting
Time
First published in 1922
Big scale: early 1900s.
Small scale: “one winter afternoon”.
Visual Images
Simile
Priscilla Yeo, Jeanette Chan and Anita Sang
Genre:traditional short story
Place
Central London.
Regent Street and Curzon Street
Further emphasizes Rosemary is extremely modern and rich.
Implies the existence of social disparity in London
Characterization
Rosemary
Materialistic/shallow
‘astonishingly pretty’
“To-day it was a little box.”
Class conscious -
“I picked her up in Curzon Street. Really. She’s a real pickup. She asked me for the price of a cup of tea and I brought her home with me”
“And besides, she wanted to spare this poor little thing from being stared at by the servants; she decided as they mounted the stairs she would not even ring for Jeanne, but take off the things by herself.”
“There was something simple, sincere in that voice; it wasn’t in the least the voice of a beggar”
Miss Smith
Poor,arouse readers' sympathy
“Would you let me have the price of a cup of tea?”
Scared/frightened/afraid
“You’re—you’re not taking me to the police station?”
“Don’t be frightened.”
“I daren’t, madam”
“you mustn't be frightened, you mustn’t, really” “Why are you afraid?”
Themes
Social Classes
Rosemary can afford to get exactly what she wants and she is very demanding of people below her status
People from lower class were willing to please her because of her wealth
General disregard for others in the lower classes
Clear social boundaries by class
Hypocrisy
Not born out of her genuinely compassionate character.
A sudden urge to indulge in an adventure and so she could boast about it to her friends later.
Materialism
Insecure about herself
Rosemary is a rather shallow person, views her status as an upper class woman quite highly, and living a life of materialism.
Feminism
Women are considered as rational, weak, submissive and dependent.
Other short stories written by Katherine Mansfield
"Bliss" (1920)
Insecurities of women
Discussion Questions
Weather and surroundings
"Rain was falling,and with the rain it seemed the dark came too, spinning down like ashes. There was a cold bitter taste in the air, and the new-lighted lamps looked sad. Sad were the lights in the houses opposite. Dimly they burned as if regretting something. And people hurried by,hidden under their hateful umbrellas."
Rosemary's house
"Warmth,softness,light, a sweet scent"

"The fire leaping on her wonderful lacquer furniture,her gold cushions and the primrose and blue rugs"
Rosemary’s internal thoughts and feelings
“It was like something out of a novel by Dostoevsky, this meeting in the dusk”

“Her heart beat like a heavy bell”
Portrayal of Miss Smith in Rosemary’s perspective
“She was like the rich little girl in her nursery with all the cupboards to open, all the boxes to unpack”

“She seemed to stagger like a child”,“bird-like” and “and shivered as though she had just come out of the water”
Symbols
"Little Enamel Box"
corresponds directly with Rosemary and represents materialism.
echoes with the perfect image of Rosemary mentioned in previous paragraphs
No practical use.
Rosemary’s emptiness and her hypocrisy.
Names of Characters
Rosemary:dignified,beautiful,wealthy
Miss Smith: common name, ordinary,secret identity
“A cup of tea”
Recurring motif and the title of the short story
Personal satisfaction for both characters.
Literal imagery (five senses)
Figurative imagery
Simile
Symbols
What do we think of Phillip’s attitude? Is it one of social importance or simply naivety?
What characteristics does the antique dealer show?
What would have happened if Rosemary had not hesitated in buying the box?
What are the implications of Rosemary's class consciousness?
Full transcript