Comparative Analysis Of “Diary Of A Madman” And “The Garden Party”
Many modernist writers and poets created stories and poems when there was war, financial crisis, and social change. Modernists writings were written to question and re-examine traditional ways of thinking. According to class notes, most modernist writings were created after wars, such as the Russian Revolution and World War I. Writers of this style choose to write modernistic stories and poems to change the perspective of the people during that era. The authors’ purpose in writing these pieces of literature was to show others what modernism was during that time. The two pieces of literature that will be discussed are “Diary of a Madman” by Lu Xun and “The Garden Party” by Katherine Mansfield. In the “Diary of a Madman,” the man believes that everyone he is around is insane and needs help. He believes all people, including children, are harboring cannibalistic thoughts. The man reads about the history of cannibalism and finds the words “Virtue and Morality” and later reads two words, “Eat people”. The book he read was a book about Confucianism. Confucianism was created so the Chinese society would return to traditions during the early Zhou Dynasty (Costly). The man believes that Confucianism is cannibalism and should be changed or outright destroyed. He also believes there is no saving the cannibalistic adults’ minds but would rather change the Confucian tradition in society for the children. He does not want the children during this period to fall under the same route as to their parents. This character believes there should be a new Chinese culture so children in the future do not fall under the same philosophy and authority their parents fell under.
Lu Xun’s purpose in writing this modernist text was to attack the traditional Chinese culture and start a New Culture Movement. “The Garden Party” opens with a middle-upper-class family preparing for a traditional garden party. Laura, one of the Sheridan children was super excited about being able to help prepare for the garden party. When Laura hears about the tragic death of one of the lower-class neighbors, she insists on canceling the party. She speaks to her mother and sister about canceling, but they disagree. They continue with the party but afterwards, her mother tells her to take a basket of leftovers to the mother and children of the deceased. Laura is scared while walking through the neighborhood but eventually finds the house. She gets to Scott’s house and a woman makes her come inside against her wishes. She sees the corpse as merely sleeping and imagines death as something calm and beautiful. Laura leaves that house and heads home. She meets up with her brother and tries to say something but cannot find the words. Katherine Mansfield created this piece of literature to illustrate Laura’s loss of innocence and experience of reality compared to her dreams of the world. Innocence in Laura is when she believes her family would honor the dead by canceling the garden party. Laura’s experience of reality is when she is going to the Scott’s house to give the family a basket of leftovers. She believed that life was only happiness and calmness, but once she sees the grief and sadness by the Scott family, her perception of life changes. There are many similarities and differences in these two pieces of modernist text that follow the conventions of the modernism era. Both pieces of literature present a crisis in culture and society.
The madman in “Diary of a Madman” struggles with the Chinese Confucian tradition. He believes that every man, women, and child have cannibalistic thoughts, but their thoughts are really about their culture. Lu Xun wrote this to attack the Chinese tradition and to create a new culture for China. In “The Garden Party,” Laura struggles with the reality of her culture and society after seeing the dead man. She originally believed that everything is happy and calm but soon realizes that there are death and sadness. Both pieces indicate a change in human nature. Lu Xun wrote this to change human nature. He wanted the Chinese people to be freer with what they believed without having to abide by the Chinese authority. Laura experiences a change in her human nature by seeing hardship of those less fortunate than herself. She also had a change in human nature when she heard about the man dying. She begged her mother to cancel the party for the sack of the family because she felt it was morally wrong to celebrate when death overshadowed the gathering. There is a change in tradition while reading both modernist writings. Lu Xun uses the madman to tell readers do not stick with the status quote. He does this so the Chinese children are saved from the Confucian tradition.
The madman believes that if people do not change their ways of thinking, then the issues of the Chinese culture will not be fixed. Change in tradition in “The Garden Party” happened at the beginning of the story when Laura first heard about the man dying. Laura pleaded with her mom to cancel the party because she felt it would be wrong to celebrate with friends and family while a family is grieving a loss of a father and husband. Even though Laura was excited to help prepare for this party, she was willing to change tradition for a family she barely knew. There are some differences in how these writings present modernism. The “Diary of a Madman” is different compared to “The Garden Party” because the story of the madman lasts for many years, but the garden party only last a day. Another difference between the two writings is the madman wants to save the children’s lives from becoming man-eaters but in “The Garden Party” there are tears because of the man’s death. The authors’ purposes in creating the two pieces of literature are different. Katherine Mansfield created “The Garden Party” to change human nature and qualities but Yu Xun created “Diary of a Madman” to bring change the Chinese tradition. In conclusion, these types of modernist text are used to not only share the authors’ beliefs but to also show the different elements of modernism. Both of these writings stick to the convention present during the modernistic era. The authors used their creative writing to change the perspective and nature of their readers. For readers of “The Garden Party” the author intended to change how people look at each other and how to treat each other. For the reader of “Diary of a Madman” the author intended to change the traditional Chinese culture. Both of the author’s goals were to change the viewpoint people had on various issues so the problems could be rectified.
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