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“Those Winter Sundays” by Hayden R., “Miss Brill” by Mansfield C. and “Trifles” by Glaspell S.

Literature is the most responsive kind of art. Moods of society, people and changes in cultural and political life primarily appear in works of writers, dramatists and poets. Modernist literature is controversial and arguable. Nevertheless, it has some basic assumptions on the top. These very assumptions may be applied to all three works: Those Winter Sundays by Robert Hayden, Miss Brill by Catherine Mansfield, Trifles by Susan Keating Glaspell. In all these works we see that social progress is keeping up, but individuals are still detached from one another and become more estranged with every coming day. Miss Brill feels lonely in the crowd of people. Father in Those Winter Sundays works much, but it will never be appreciated by his son, and he is alone in his industrious heart. Mrs. Wright and other women are lonely in their efforts to overcome existing unfairness and turn their personalities to be equal with men’s ambitions to rule the world. In such way Susan Glaspell investigates “themes of American identity, individuality vs. social conformity” (Ozieblo). Such messages sound also in the works of Catherine Mansfield and Robert Hayden.

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The problems of human’s freedom and responsibility in principle characters are raised. Even if in case of Trifles he never comes to stage, they are individuals, which are responsible for the meaning of their lives. For Miss Brill it comes not only to watching other people in the park, but also to imagining herself a part of their lives, although it is quite obvious that she was not a free person. She had invisible ropes of society on her body, which prevented her from being happy and telling about her problems. Remember “Sundays to my father got up early…the cold splintering, breaking” (Hayden). These lines introduce a serious point to the reader: a father sacrifices so many things and even his own health to create wealth and well-fed future for his son and his family. Despite nasty weather and poor conditions, the father realizes his duties and has to find more powers to help his family to start this new day more or less comfortably. Even if his actions are not noticeable for his family, somewhere inside, he knows that his efforts will be soon appreciated. So Father is responsible not only for himself, but also for his family. But this responsibility makes him not free to choose what to do the next day. All his deeds are prescribed by this very responsibility. Women in Trifles are afraid of responsibility, although they long for it and for freedom and independence and are much cleverer than their husbands. Only angst makes them decline a possibility to fight for their rights.

We can also highlight the drama of each situation described in above mentioned works. Authors do not lay claim to know everything, to give recipes or judge, they are not somewhere on the boundary between a world of fiction and the reality of the reader, but totally inside depicted reality. It helps to avoid prejudices and makes the reader decide for himself. This causes tension and makes us sympathize to the characters of the works.

We can find not only mood of angst, sometimes even anguish, in front of the future, but also doom. Doom not only because of fate, but doom caused by blind society, indifference from near and dear people and own unwillingness to change anything.

Miss Brill is a bittersweet story of a sickly woman leading an ephemeral life in Paris, which consists of observations and simple joys. Her fur stole lacks life as well as she does. Every morning she gives herself a good brush, as if she were a fur stole which spends lots of days in the wardrobe. Miss Brill lives her life in a closed space that she has made herself. And we pity this woman, because nobody sees her in spite of crowds of people around. She has been walking to the park on Sundays, where she has her “special seat” (Mansfield 135). Being lonely, Miss Brill has the only entertainment in her live but sharing different roles, which she takes up according the creativity of her imagination (Brown, Danson and Gupta 104). Coming to the park, Miss Brill becomes the part of the society, the part of people’s life, who walks round, but only in her imagination. Trying to watch people without being noticed, Miss Brill has created her personal reality where she is not alone and surrounded by people.

Susan Glaspell also reveals “the disillusionments and hopes of aging” (Ozieblo). And this unites her with themes of Catherine Mansfield. One more common feature is universal importance that all three works gain. In Trifles it is achieved by means that main characters never appear on the stage, and universal struggle between genders is transmitted by three man-characters and two women-characters. So ordinary things become unusual and draw attention. On those Winter Sundays we may apply the message of the story to all the parents in the world. Each father has to think about his family’s comfort. However, this family has to take care about the father as well, but in the case depicted in the poem “no one ever thanked him” (Hayden). Miss Brill is quite a universal story. If we go to any park of the world, we may see old women loving in their world under confused smiles.

Loss of hope and despair are immutable, they are substituted by the values of society, but they are short-lived like everything in the world. The foreign values become one’s own values, but the society is too much concerned about its own problems and it has no time to look in the souls of every individual. These works teach the reader to treat everybody carefully and sympathetically.

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“We all go through the same things – it’s all just a different kind of the same thing” (Susan Glaspell Quotes). This very quotation by Susan Glaspell never better shows the message which unites all these works. Nevertheless, they also bear some peculiar features, which make them differ from each other. Those winter holidays can make the audience cry, so deep the depicted drama is. Moreover, racial problems are raised in this poem. It is full of simple but true to life epithets, which make it sound authentic. Miss Brill shows an internal monologue and we can see two worlds – imaginable and real, which are in conflict with each other. Miss Brill was non-native in France, and this deepened her loneliness from the very beginning. We understand that she could never feel at home in the circle of strangers. Miss Brill is a stream-of-consciousness narrative that gives us an excellent opportunity to look inside the principle character. Trifles show how ladies can be smarter thinking about little things than gentlemen thinking generally and solving important problems. The peculiarity about this play is that Mrs. Wright at the beginning is an unfair rude murder, but at the end of the play our view are changed, and we realize why she killed her husband. So here we can experience a metamorphosis of a principal character, a murderer becomes a victim.

Investigation of the symbols in the works helps us to look into the thesis. In Miss Brill symbolic feature is gained by the fur stole. We see that Miss Brill’s soul is enclosed in this fur, as it is dusty and dead like poor animal. Besides, it is mocked by strangers because it is out fashioned. Miss Brill also drags behind. By every step she drops behind, never catching up. Other people go further; she remains still on her seat for every coming day. In those Winter Sundays the symbols are cracked in Father’s hands. Industrious, reliable hands, but not appreciated by anyone. They as if live beyond the body, such a huge attention they draw. The sense of Father’s life is in these hands. Bad weather outside symbolizes life, full of dangers, obstacles and efforts. But Father is a mythic hero who is sure to overcome them. And in Trifles symbolic outline is represented in the very title of the story. As we have mentioned, trifles gain huge importance. One more symbol is knotted quilt. It bears a strong resemblance to the Gordian knot that should be cut. So many misunderstandings in the society between women and men have accumulated that they should be solved as soon as possible. Otherwise, it will lead to a disaster like in the play.

The authors experience the loneliness of their characters in front of the hostile world like their own. The depiction of ordinariness and routine helps to make quite different general conclusions from which we would have expected. In all the works a special viewpoint on the individuality and personality and the world as a whole opens due to the unsurpassed skills of the authors. The principal characters are ordinary little people but we can see a burst of emotions and rich sole in everybody. Maybe, to live without realizing a reason for life is the cruelest punishment. That is why these people find sense in everyday things, like work, stroll or relations with husband. Old world will never be the same, everything changes, and if one cannot get used to it, it will lead to disappointments and delusions. One should also learn how to become indifferent to ungrounded offenses of other people, like Miss Brill was ridiculed by a young couple, Father was dismissed by his son, and women are neglected by their husbands. This will continue until people realize that living only for others they are destroying their lives, their future and themselves because virtues are the same but differently understood by people. It is very hard to rebel alone, but only in such case one can lead other people.

To conclude, we may assume that all three works are united under the stream of modernism and have common features, but the individuality of each author makes his work sound peculiar and incomparable to other works.

Works Cited

Brown, Danson Richard and Gupta Suman. Aestheticism & modernism: debating twentieth-century literature 1900-1960. London: Routledge, 2005.

Hayden, Robert. “Those Winter Sundays.” Poet Seers. Web.

Mansfield, Katherine. ‘Miss Bill’ in The Garden Party and Other Stories. London: BiblioBazaar, LLC, 2008.

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Susan Glaspell Quotes. Web.

Ozieblo Barbara. Susan Glaspell: A Critical Biography. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2000. Web.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, November 18). “Those Winter Sundays” by Hayden R., “Miss Brill” by Mansfield C. and “Trifles” by Glaspell S. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/those-winter-sundays-by-hayden-r-miss-brill-by-mansfield-c-and-trifles-by-glaspell-s/

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StudyCorgi. (2021, November 18). “Those Winter Sundays” by Hayden R., “Miss Brill” by Mansfield C. and “Trifles” by Glaspell S. https://studycorgi.com/those-winter-sundays-by-hayden-r-miss-brill-by-mansfield-c-and-trifles-by-glaspell-s/

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"“Those Winter Sundays” by Hayden R., “Miss Brill” by Mansfield C. and “Trifles” by Glaspell S." StudyCorgi, 18 Nov. 2021, studycorgi.com/those-winter-sundays-by-hayden-r-miss-brill-by-mansfield-c-and-trifles-by-glaspell-s/.

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StudyCorgi. "“Those Winter Sundays” by Hayden R., “Miss Brill” by Mansfield C. and “Trifles” by Glaspell S." November 18, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/those-winter-sundays-by-hayden-r-miss-brill-by-mansfield-c-and-trifles-by-glaspell-s/.

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StudyCorgi. 2021. "“Those Winter Sundays” by Hayden R., “Miss Brill” by Mansfield C. and “Trifles” by Glaspell S." November 18, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/those-winter-sundays-by-hayden-r-miss-brill-by-mansfield-c-and-trifles-by-glaspell-s/.

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