The Garden party, ‘break free from her enclosed middle-class world’? Laura, the protagonist in Mansfield ‘The Garden Party, is a young middle- class woman who tries to break free from her enclosed class word but as ambivalent as she is, she does not succeed and does not go beyond trying. On the one hand, she feels sympathetic for the lower-class and even joins them but on the other hand, she still sticks to middle-class conventions and she does not face reality when being with the lower-class people.
The young woman tries to break class conventions when she feels sympathy for the dad’s family and even goes over to them with a gift. Upon the news that across the street, in the lower-class neighborhood, a young and beloved family man was killed by accident, Laura has compassion for the man and his family. She even wants to cancel the garden party planned for that day since she thinks celebrating the same day, someone from across the street died, would be very inappropriate. She is serious with canceling the party but does not encounter support by her family.
This contrast between Laura and her middle-class shows that Laura is not the typical middle-class woman that does not care about others, especially about socially lower-positioned people. Laura is the opposite, which can be seen very clearly when she even goes over to the dead man’s and shows them her compassion by bringing a basket full of food left over from the party. This act of leaving her enclosed neighborhood and entering the lower- class world shows in a quiet metaphorical manner that she tries to break free from her narrow-minded social world.
Besides, she feels pity for the workers when they build up the marquee and she even accepts orders from the workers when they disagree with her about the position of the marquee. In conclusion, Laura feels sympathetic for the workers and the dead man’s family, which is outstanding for a woman from her class. However, Laura does not succeed in breaking away since she generally still sticks to her middle-class life and conventions.