Bliss – A Short Story by Katherine Mansfield

This short story revolves around a dinner party given by Bertha Young and her husband Harry. It shows Bertha as a happy girl, but quite naive about the world and the people closest to her. The story gives us a bird’s eye view of the dinner party, which is attended by a couple, Mr. and Mrs. Norman Knight, who are close friends to Bertha and Harry. Guest, Eddie Warren, is an effeminate gentleman, who adds an interesting mix to the party. Another guest, Pearl Fulton, is someone who Bertha is mysteriously drawn to for reasons unknown to her. Bertha’s husband is presented as Bertha perceives him, but not as he really is. Because Bertha is so naive, we get the impression that Harry is a crude, disinterested person who has a strong dislike for Pearl. This is felt by his conversational tone and curtness towards her as the conversation unfolds. As the dinner party progresses, Bertha questions her own interest and fascination towards Pearl. The fact that Eddie, who is most likely homosexual, is present, lends an air to the possibility that Bertha’s interest in Pearl is more than a platonic feeling one has towards a friend of the same sex. It is only after Bertha analyzes her feelings towards Pearl that she realizes that the connection she feels with Pearl is their mutual attraction for Harry, and coming out of her “blissful” reverie she makes the discovery that Harry and Pearl may be having an affair.

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  1. A Short Story by Katherine Mansfield Bliss  

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