Character of Rosemary Fell in 'A Cup of Tea'

Rosemary Fell is the main character in the story ‘A Cup of Tea’, written by Katherine Mansfield. She explored the inner recesses of the human psyche. Her short stories dramatize human emotions creating situations, which are at once tender and brittle. ‘A Cup of Tea’ is one of her most popular short stories. In this story Mansfield focuses on the working of a woman’s mind when her romantic dreams come into conflict with reality. In this way she dramatizes small the effect that small human failings like jealousy can have.
Rosemary Fell, the main character, is an extremely rich lady and not just comfortably rich. The author brings out this point by writing that Rosemary went shopping to Paris from London. She bought loads of flowers from one of the most fashionable streets in London. At the shop too she would throw her weight around by telling them her likes and dislikes. She was a snobbish kind of a person. She had the antique shop, from which she shopped, to herself and thus always preferred to go there. And the shopkeeper too kept flattering her by which she was carried away.
‘Rosemary ‘, according to the author, ‘was not exactly beautiful’, but she could be called ‘pretty’ if one examined her closely. She was young, brilliant extremely modern and a well-dressed lady. In addition to these qualities, Rosemary was a vain person. She couldn’t help noticing the charm of her hands against the blue velvet, while she was shopping in the antique shop.
Rosemary loved reading books and novels. She would read all the latest books. But the negative aspect of this habit of hers is that she was always lost in the world of dreams, fantasy and romanticism. She did not know about the realities of the world. When a beggar girl came to Rosemary for alms for a cup of tea, she was surprised at the poverty of the girl that she couldn’t even afford a cup of tea. She felt as if this event was a part of some novel and lost in her romantic world, she took the girl that wonderful things do happen and fairy godmothers were real. Also that, rich people too have hearts and all women were sisters.
Rosemary was an impulsive woman. She didn’t think before she acted. She did prove this when she took the beggar-girl home without thinking of the reaction of her husband and other servants at her house. The author points out certain superficial attitudes and lack of serious-mindedness in Rosemary. She present the picture of an extrovert at peace with herself and the world.
In the last part of the story the romantic world in which Rosemary lived, came into conflict with the realistic world. A word of praise for the girl from Rosemary’s husband, Philip, makes Rosemary jealous. She felt insecure although her husband adored her. She became restless. She forgot all the dreams she had for that beggar-girl and sent her away with a present of money. Thus jealousy, the universal human failing, turns her into a hard realist. Infact it is here that she succeeds in giving a humanistic touch to her character.
To conclude one can say that the character of Rosemary is well portrayed. One can find traces of realism in Rosemary as we do find shallow women around us. Yet her transformation into humanism in the end makes one feel sorry for her, though we may not like her. The main themes of class consciousness and feminism have been developed through the character of Rosemary Fell.

My Favourite Shakespearean Character - King Lear

King Lear as presented to us by Shakespeare in the first scene of his drama ‘King Lear’ is very rash and impulsive by nature. And in the end he has to suffer on account of this rashness. He has to pay a very high price for a small mistake committed by him. King Lear was not right in dividing his kingdom because in those times the idea of dividing the kingdom was something very strange. The love-test put to his daughters in also not a very sensible idea, I suppose. The love-test was only to satisfy his hunger for assurances of devotion. Otherwise, he should have known the genuine feelings of his youngest daughter, Cordelia, when she says “Nothing”. Instead he replies, “Nothing will come out of nothing”, and finally banishes her from his estate. He couldn’t see through the high-stated words of his other two daughters, Regan and Goneril. When Kent tries to curb his impulsiveness and checks him from taking harsh action against Cordelia he too is sent away. It is Cordelia and Kent (both banished by Lear), who come to Lear’s rescue when all other worldly supports melt away. Thus, Lear is a poor judge of character. He sends away those two persons who loved him the most in the world.
But when taken the other way round such type of behavior may be attributed to his being eighty years old. He wanted some sort of consolation, some reassurances. Critics are of the opinion that he had earmarked a largest portion for his beloved Cordelia. But he was let down by his favourite youngest daughter. He felt humiliated by her words. And the wrath afterwards was that of a wounded father.
Of all the characters of Shakespeare I have always liked Lear the most. He is the one who grows from being a King to being a man. This transformation brings him to realize what life is. But the realization brings in its wake death – the ultimate truth of life. The persons who were responsible for this education of Lear were the Fool, Kent (disguised), Edgar as a beggar. The Fool at one place tries to make the King realize his mistake:

“Then they for sudden joy did weep,
And I for sorrow sung,
That such a king should play bo-peep,
And go the fools among.”
(Act I, scene iv)

It is in the storm scene that Lear considers himself as a human being:

“…Here I stand your slave,
A poor infirm, weak and despised old man.”
(Act III, scene ii)
His knowledge grows further as we see in his authority speech where he has mouthed a great truth in the following words: “A dog’s obeyed in office!” (Act IV, scene vi)
His last words are simply marvelous. He is unable to cope up with the death of Cordelia after a brief reunion.

“Why should a dog, a horse, a rat, have life,
And thou no breath at all? Thou’lt come no more,
Never, never, never, never, never!
(Act V, scene iii)

Archetypes and Milton's 'Lycidas'

The term 'archetype' has been frequently used in literary criticism. But it was especially used since the publication of Maud Bodkin's 'Archetypal Patterns in Poetry' (1934). The word 'archetype' has been derived from the Greek 'arche' meaning 'original' or 'primitive' and 'typos' meaning 'form'.
The term was employed by C.G. Jung (the psychoanalyst). It has been used by the New Critics since 1930s to refer to a specific pattern fo plot or character which gives rise to what Jung calls a “racial pattern”. Generally in criticism ‘archetype’ is applied to narrative patterns, type of character or images, which are common to a variety of literary works, myths or dreams. The followers of archetypal criticism are Maud Bodkin, G.Wilson Knight, Robert Graves, Richard Chase, Joseph Campbell, Philip Wheelwright.
In this post I am only going to talk about the archetypes in Milton’s ‘Lycidas’. Milton’s ‘Lycidas’ is an elegy in the pastoral convention. It has been written n commemoration of Edward King, who died having drowned in the sea. In this poem, Lycidas is not an individual but an archetype. He is an archetype of Edward King. Although the use of a flower in poetry is not an archetype, yet the ‘sanguine flower inscrib’d with woe’ is one. This is so because of the tradition of associating a red or purple flower with the death of a young man.
In addition to it, Lycidas is not only the representation of Edward King, he is based on the same conventional form of Shelley’s Adonais, Daphnis of Theocritus and Virgil, and Milton’s own Damon. Then there are archetypes of the King as a poet and as a priest, Orpheus and Peter respectively. Further, there is the image of a dolphin, a conventional type of Christ.Milton’s Lycidas has been dealt in detail by Northrop Frye in his essay ‘Literature as Context: Milton’s Lycidas’.

Rohinton Mistry's 'A Fine Balance'

I just finished reading Rohinton Mistry's 'A Fine Balance'. I have here attempted to present my views about the novel. It is a heart-rending account of the suffering of the poor at the hands of the so-called upper-caste people and those who had the power. The condition of the slum-dwellers is pitiable – the conditions in which they live, the way they are treated. Life takes a turn for the worse for the two tailors, Ishvar and Om, when they are taken away by the officials to a work site mistaking them to be beggars. Even earlier they had suffered too much. First in the village because they belonged to a lower caste; then their struggle in the city. But the torture they have to undergo towards the end of the novel, in the name of the Family Planning Programme, is more than a human can bear. One doesn’t expect them to be alive till the end of the novel. But they are fighters just like their former employee, Dina Dalal. Both Ishvar and Om take to begging as their profession.
Even Dina Dalal’s character is that of a strong lady, given the tragedies she has faced in her life – especially after the death of her mother. Then there is the character called Maneck. A very finely carved and polished character, very sensitive one. One is very shocked when he dies suddenly.
Each character in the novel has suffering of his own but nobody knows how and where to pour out their grief. I was reminded of the line from Anton Chekhov’s story ‘Grief’: “To whom shall I tell my grief.”
There are deaths of Om’s family (burnt alive by the upper caste people of their village), his father (killed by the upper caste earlier), Shankar (the beggar), Avinash (Maneck’s friend), Avinash’s three sisters, and finally that of Maneck. Each death has a long tale of suffering behind it.
What I believe is that all human beings are born equal. God doesn’t differentiate because of caste, colour or creed. Who are we to do so? Life is very short-lived. We shouldn’t waste time over frivolous things and petty fights. After all, “Life is a tale told by and idiot full of sound and fury signifying nothing” (Shakespeare in ‘Macbeth’).

Who is Godot? in 'Waiting for Godot'

Critics have interpreted the identity of Godot in various ways, ranging from being a saviour and a god to being a rich employer. Critics have the life history of Beckett to establish the identity of Godot but Beckett's own reaction has been that if he knew who Godot was he would have mentioned that in the play. So let's interpret it ourselves. Godot symbolizes hope. It is only this wait for Godot, which is the only ray of hope for the tramps in the play.
The most popular and the strongest identity of Godot has been that of God. In the Bible God speaks to Moses, he fulfills the promises, he appears before Moses. But in 'Waiting for Godot' all this does not happen. Godot never comes, only his messengers appear - the two boys, one of them is treated fairly while the other is beaten up by Godot. So can we say that Beckett has portrayed the negative image of God in his character Godot? Godot is not just, impartial, true to his words. Beckett's Godot is the distorted version of God, so to say. Godot's not turning up even at the end of the play suggests probably the doubts in the mind of Beckett about the existence of God.

Beckett's 'Waiting for Godot'

'Waiting for Godot' by Samuel Beckett is one of my most favourite dramas. It is a typical example of an Absurd drama, although Beckett himself would have rejected that tag. The drama moves in circular motion - ending from where it all begun. The second act too is on the same pattern as the first one. The play begins with Estragon saying, "Nothing to be done." This is probably the conclusion of the play. So we have to be alive till we are dead.
Normally a play moves from point A to point B but the case of 'Waiting for Godot' is different. Another important part of any play is the characters. But there are no such characters in this play who grow, develop. Then witty dialogues like in other plays are absent here. There is repetition of dialogues, which are more like monosyllables or very short ones. There are more silences. The elaborate stage settings which are a part and parcel of any play are nowhere to be seen in 'Waiting for Godot'. There is a bare trees, country road; but no props, no stage.
Even in other absurd plays like Harold Pinter's 'The Birthday Party', Eugene Ionesco's 'Amedee', similar characteristics are displayed.

Concept of Time in Literature

German Nobel Prize Winner, Thomas Mann in his novel ‘The Magic Mountain’ writes: “What is time? It is a secret – lacking in substance and yet almighty.” The concept of time has been treated differently in different periods of time. In ancient Greece time was treated as a circle. Hesoid, the Greek historian of 8th century B.C. divided time into five ages of mankind, beginning with the golden age of the distant past when men lived in peace and continuing upto the contemporary Iron Age where fights and warfare prevail. But in medieval and modern times time has been treated as a linear process. Saint Augustine in his ‘City of God’ favoured the linear concept of time and labelled the Greek cyclic time as a mere superstition.
Time has been mentioned in literature in different ways. Even the mythical and cyclic depiction of time had influenced many writers such as Gabriel Garcia Marquez (‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’), Octavio Paz (his poem ‘Piedra de sol’). Even T.S. Eliot in his poem ‘Geronation’ gave to us the negative document on human life just as Paz. According to the linear concept time is an irreversible process; in Christianity from Creation to Judgment Day. An illustration of this in literature can be seen in Dante’s ‘Divine Comedy’. William Faulkner, the winner of Nobel Prize Winner in literature in 1949, in his celebrated novel ‘The Sound and the Fury’ – gives in detail the downfall of a wealthy and prosperous family in the southern United States.

Feeling of Alienation in 'The Namesake'

Jhumpa Lahiri's 'The Namesake' is a story of Indian immigrants in the United States the effect the immigration has on their offsprings. There is a feeling of alienation, a feeling of being lonely in the crowd all through the novel. Only once does Ashima Ganguli, Gogol mother, feel attached to America because of the memories of her husband after his death. She doesn't want that the house should be altered after it is sold to someone else. Her husband had made his living in this country.
The situation of Gogol is no better. He is a child who is born to Indian parents but is brought up in America. He is neither able to become an American at heart nor remains an Indian. He does not fully belong to anywhere. He is a 'nowhere man'.He tries to break away from the Indian traditions followed by his family. Once he had resented the trips made of Calcutta but finally he comes to wonder 'how his parents had done it ...All those could they have been enough?' This was the realization that dawned upon him after he lost his father.