Statement: Writers consistently use short stories as a lens through which they view society
The lens in which writer’s view Mansfield’s short stories, are through the way she portrays the gender roles and expectations in the early 20th century. In comparing two of Mansfield’s stories from different decades, we can see a shift in the views of gender roles and expectations in the early 1900s. Examples of this view can be seen in two of her short texts, such as Frau Brechenmacher attends a wedding (1910) and Marriage a la mode (1921). Throughout these texts, the development of Mansfield’s view on expected gender roles is evident.
In the early 20th century it was deemed a man’s role to take care of the family and be the provider, while a women’s role was to take care of the family and submit to the authority of her husband within a marriage. Frau Brechenmacher attends a wedding depicts a snippet of a family’s life in the early 1900s. In the text Frau Brechenmacher attends a wedding, the Frau is the wife of an esteemed Postman. As a postman, Herr, her husband, was the breadwinner in the family and therefore was looked up to and respected. The frau was a stay at home mother who looked after the kids and did all the needed housework. The Herr can be seen as very demanding and ungrateful. A perfect example of this is in the line “Nothing ready, of course, and everybody at the wedding by this time. I heard the music as I passed. What are you doing? You’re not even dressed. You can’t go like that.” Within this quote you can almost hear his condescending tone of voice making it seem like she had nothing to do all day and that these things should have been done. When in fact the frau has had to cook and clean and take care of the kids as well as try and get her self ready. The Herr makes it seem as though the frau’s job is easy, when in fact she had many domestic tasks to complete in a limited amount of time. Mansfield crafts this piece so that you can see the expectations of women in a 20th century home. Although this is just one story you can see the general stereotype being pushed on women in this time. The stereotype that everything must be perfect, and that if you stray from this you will be looked down upon. The insight that a reader has in Mansfield’s texts show that men and especially husbands were given, and it was expected for them to have authority in a marriage or domestic relationship. Women on the other hand were stereotyped into the representation of dutiful domestic workers, and quiet passive spouses.
Almost a decade later in 1921, Mansfield produces another piece of work entitled Marriage a la mode. This short text is about a man named William who is trying to come to terms with the way his wife Isabel wants to live. Williams wife Isabel has found a new way of looking at the world and therefore her views clash with his. The lack of communication in this relationship was the downfall and therefore William is trying to...