Analysis of Katherine Mansfield's 'The Garden Party'

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1. In his analysis of Katherine Mansfield's "The Garden Party," Thomas Foster argues that Laura's trip to the impoverished lane at the bottom of the film is a symbolic trip to Hades, along the lines of Persephone's trip from Greek myth. Foster claims that the descent signifies a kind of social and sexual maturing for Laura, because by the end of it she has matured, although into what is not exactly clear. Foster sees evidence for interpreting Laura's descent as a trip into Hades throughout the story, but he relies mostly on Mrs. Sheridan's possible connection to Demeter and the description of the journey from house to lane itself. Foster begins his discussion of Laura's trip by claiming that Mrs. Sheridan can be viewed as a version of Demeter, "the goddess of agriculture, fertility, and marriage" (Foster 274). In the story, Mrs. Sheridan embodies these themes, most obviously because she is hosting a garden party, but in the details of her character as well. She has many children, which insinuates both fertility and the possibility of marriage, and she even has a whole bunch of canna lilies brought in to further liven up the party. Foster further argues that "the guests admiring the flowers at Mrs. Sheridan's garden party go about in couples, as if she has in some way been responsible for their pairing off," making a further connection between Mrs. Sheridan and marriage (Foster 274). Foster has far less evidence demonstrating that Laura represents Persephone except for
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