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Katherine Mansfield and Psychology$
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Clare Hanson, Gerri Kimber, and W. Todd Martin

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781474417532

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474417532.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 19 September 2021

Feeling ‘Like a Work-Girl’: Class, Intimacy and Alienation in ‘The Garden Party’

Feeling ‘Like a Work-Girl’: Class, Intimacy and Alienation in ‘The Garden Party’

(p.68) Feeling ‘Like a Work-Girl’: Class, Intimacy and Alienation in ‘The Garden Party’
Katherine Mansfield and Psychology

Rebecca Thorndike-Breeze

Edinburgh University Press

This essay argues that ‘The Garden Party’ confronts us with the uncanny intimacy and alienation created by class relations in the upper-middle-class household at the turn of the century. The consequences of protagonist Laura Sheridan’s desire and failure to transcend what she calls ‘absurd class distinctions’ (288) are well established in Mansfield criticism, and psychological readings of ‘The Garden Party’ often consider how the working class Other influences Laura’s developing subjectivity. In this essay, I draw upon similar psychological frameworks to examine how ‘The Garden Party’ deals with the idea of working-class selves – not just Others. I contend that, though it does not render the inner lives of its working-class characters, ‘The Garden Party’ still raises important questions about the selfhood of the Other, and the uncanny, sometimes abject, sense of the Other within one’s self.Through a series of uncanny parallels between middle and working-class life, ‘The Garden Party’ collapses the distance between Laura and the working class. As it does, it confronts us with questions about what it means to stare the working class Other in the face – as Laura stares into the swollen, grief-stricken face of Scott’s widow – and to realize that the Other is at the core of the self.

Keywords:   Katherine Mansfield, Intimacy, Alienation, Class, Uncanny, Extimacy, ‘The Garden Party’

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