FROM STYLISTIC STUDY TOWARDS FEMINIST CRITICISM: “BLISS” (K. MANSFIELD) AND “MAGNOLIA BLOSSOM” (A. CHRISTIE)

Download PDF

Abstract. The article is focused on two short stories by outstanding writers – Agatha Christie and Katherine Mansfield. “Magnolia Blossom” (1926) and “Bliss” (1918), belonging to the same epoch, represent certain advanced ideas of that time, connected with woman’s self-awareness. The plot of the stories being different, the ideas expressed differ as well. Still, much in common is observed in the message sent. While the topic of a woman’s sensuality, quite provocative a century ago, is touched upon by the New Zealand writer, a manifest of an independent person on her way to freedom is put in the spotlight by the queen of the detective story. Focusing on the inner world of married women “in full bloom”, and surprisingly little on their husbands’ infidelity, the two stories undoubtedly head from patriarchy to feminism. The way the distinguished women writers present to us the topic of marital relationship, of love and the emotional state that it gives to a bright deeply feeling woman, and last but not least, the question of choice in a woman’s life make the stories special. Their brevity only sharpens the effect produced. Thus, bordering on literary criticism, the research is carried out in the field of stylistics, regarded as applied linguistics, and is based on the works of modern linguists – Peter Stockwell, Katie Wales, Marcello Giovanelly and Jessica Mason. The stylistic analysis of the body of the literary text is suggested, pointing out the main stylistic features at different levels of the language. Lexical and syntactical dominants are revealed in close connection with the commentary on the message of these pieces of prose fiction. The images of heroines are in the focus of our attention, as they are depicted as truly remarkable women, radiant, passionate and committed. Being similar in the culminating point of the story – the loss of faith in their husbands – the stories are completely different in tone and emotional colouring. The certain elements of symbolism used by the two female authors, very much alike, are dwelled upon in detail by us. Sustained metaphors as the key images of the story are discussed.

Keywords: stylistic analysis, literary criticism, feminist criticism, metaphor, Agatha Christie, Katherine Mansfield

Victoria V. Afanaseva

Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO University) Moscow, Russia
e-mail: afanaseva_victoria@mail.ru

Giovanelly, M., Mason, J. 2018. The Language of Literature. An Introduction to Stylistics. Cambridge University Press, United Kingdom, 134 pp. Christie, A. 2013. Magnolia Blossom. Harper Collins, United Kingdom, 35 pp. Lambrou, M., Stockwell, P. 2008. Introduction: The State of Contemporary Stylistics. In Contemporary Stylistics (Contemporary Studies in Linguistics), Lambrou, M., Stockwell, P. Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd, London, 302 pp. Mansfield, K. 2018. The Garden Party and Selected Short Stories. Alma Classics, United Kingdom, 408 pp.
Stockwell, P. 2006. Language and literature: Stylistics. In The Handbook of English Linguistics, Aarts, B., McMahoneditors, A. Blackwell Publishing Ltd, pp. 742-758. Wales, K. 2011. A Dictionary of Stylistics. Routledge, USA, 496 pp. Tyson, L. 2006. Critical Theory Today. User Friendly Guide. Routledge, USA, 482 pp.