Discuss the depiction of women and women's lives in the short stories of Katherine Mansfield.

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Katherine Mansfield wrote all of her work between the years 1911 and 1925. This was a transitional period for women, where women began to fight for their right to live as equals to men, who up until then had dominated society. In 1915 she started writing what she hoped to be a novel, entitled `The Aloe', which was published in 1918 as a short story with the title `Prelude'.

    In Prelude Katherine Mansfield focuses on the women and the girls, and their struggles to come to terms with their identities. Each of the sections in Prelude tells of a small part of the Burnells' life. The children in Prelude are all exaggerated versions of the adults, except Kezia. Kezia experiences dominance of men early on in the story: she is
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. . . What am I guarding myself for so preciously?'
Linda seems to be confused as to whether she should be the wife and mother she believes she ought to be or the woman she wants to be. There is a terrific alienation between the real Linda and the Linda in bed with Stanley. She desperately needs anything to hold on to: ` "grasp me" ' and she divorces herself from herself to be the persona of the loving wife. While Stanley is largely unaware of his insensitivity,  `"The thing that pleases me," said Stanley, leaning against the side of the bed and giving himself a good scratch on his shoulders and back before turning in, "is that I've got the place dirt cheap, Linda . . . . . . . .  Not asleep - are you?"'  Linda is constantly aware of the imprisonment she feels within a life that she partly wants and partly rejects. This awareness torments Linda so much that her mind is devoured by it and she spends her time doing little else but reflecting on her miserable confusion. The general unease with which Linda goes about her life constantly threatens to lapse into madness and usually exhibits itself as physical illness:

        Linda seems to think the whole world is conspiring against her:

`Sometimes, when she had fallen asleep in the daytime, she woke and could not

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