is the most significant literary movement in England and America during the
twentieth century. Though out British literature history numerous of
progression trends, and which many of them found in British Literature. It
shows an expansive of terms that describe the artistic movements and challenged
traditional representational art forms and tested new styles and types.
Modernism is one of the trends seen in some of British greatest novels, by way
of “The Mark on the Wall,” “The Garden Party,” and many more. Modernism has
transformed the way reality was perceived and portrayed. “Modernism is
extremely challenging to define clearly because the term encompasses a variety
of specific artistic and philosophical movements including symbolism, futurism,
surrealism, expressionism, imagism, vorticism, dada, and others.” (Modernism) A
few characteristics of Modernism are nihilism, allusiveness, inconsistent in
metaphors, narration through fragmented, and primitivism.
Modernism put in
place a series of culture shocks, the first being World War 1, which showed
that in scientific and technological progress as the path to a better world was
tragically misguided. Becoming the approach that civilization viewed life and
influenced social, political, historical or cultural issues. Modernism changed social problems threw
nihilism which personal association redefined the relationship between Western
and nonwestern cultures. By shifting from an imperialist perspective to the
exchange and diversity. Political and historical influence from modernism was
already apparent in the 19th and 20th century.
Modernism has dramatically influenced the rise of totalitarian
ideologies, such as communism and fascism, and the resulting social unrest.
In “The Mark on the Wall” by Virginia Woolf is a great
representation of showing modernism through uncertainty, religion, change,
trust and gender roles. Woolf uses
fictional narration and a stream of consciousness as a first person by an
unnamed female narrator. The reason being, that the narration in “The Mark on
the Wall” shows a deep reflection of life, which encourages the reader
imagination. Modernism can be seen in “The Mark on the Wall” when the narrator
starts to question themselves for example “No, no, nothing is proved, nothing
is known. And if I were to get up at this very moment and ascertain that the
mark on the wall is really—what shall we say?” (Virginia Woolf 9). A clear
example of self-consciousness, what is a notable characteristic of modernism.
Virginia Woolf uses interior monologue to make “The Mark on the Wall” modernist
experimental fiction. The narrator starts by wondering how the mark on the wall
got there. There are much speculation
and curiosity as to what the mark and how it formed. Virginia then takes us on a journey into the
subconscious, to places where you may not have gone before. Nothing in this
writing exemplifies Modernism more than the passage “Knowledge? Matter for
further speculation? I can think sitting still as well as standing up. And what
is knowledge? What are our learned men save the descendants of witches and
hermits who crouched in caves and in woods brewing herbs, interrogating
shrew-mice and writing down the language of the stars?” (Wolfe 9)
Katherine Mansfield showed great
examples of Modernism throughout her writings. She wrote of social evils,
things unordered, destruction, challenging the belief of the absolute truth,
gave a little description of the characters, and even disregarded tradition.
The Garden Party is an excellent example of several of these components of
Modernism. There are a lot of evident themes of Modernism in “The Garden
Party.” Katherine Mansfield uses fragmented sentences as a Modernist
technique to convey the inability to articulate the narrator epiphany and
explores consciousness in “The Garden Party.” The narrator gives
little descriptions of the characters in the novel, describing the workmen at
the party as impressive, wearing sleeveless shirts carrying staves. When Laura
notices one of the workmen, the narrator describes him as having “nice eyes he
had, small, but such a dark blue!”
(Mansfield 60). “The Garden Party” never give too much
description of any characters, leaving the reader left to guess the characters’
description. The uses of improper grammar by Katherine Mansfield is used to
reflect dialect in many scenes in the novel.
For example, when Laurie says “you might just give a squiz at my coat
before this afternoon. See if it wants pressing” (Mansfield 63). Another example is when Sadie asks Mrs.
Sheridan for the sandwich flags, “If you please, m’m, cook says have you
got the flags for the sandwiches?”(Mansfield 67).
In conclusion, Modernism characterized by a deliberate
break with classical and traditional forms, dealing with issues with class, the
battle for information, sexual orientation, pointless and estrangement of the
time. Also, the most significant literary movement in England and America
during the twentieth century. The literary trend adopted social, political,
historical or cultural issues. Notable authors such as Virginia Woolf,
Katherine Mansfield, and W. Somerset Maugham found modernism to be influential.
Becoming one of the most prominent trends used in British literature, changing
the way reality was perceived and portrayed. Modernism is
presented as fragmented view of human subjectivity and history, however gives fragmentation
as something tragic, something to be lamented and mourned as a loss.