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Unit One. A Cup of Tea. A Short Story: A Cup of Tea. A Cup of Tea is a 1922 short story by Katherine Mansfield. It was first published in the Story-Teller in May 1922. It later appeared in The Dove's Nest and Other Stories. Literary Elements. Setting ( 背景 ) Character ( 人物 )

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Unit One

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Unit One

A Cup of Tea

A Short Story: A Cup of Tea

  • A Cup of Tea is a 1922 short story by Katherine Mansfield. It was first published in the Story-Teller in May 1922. It later appeared in The Dove's Nest and Other Stories.

Literary Elements

  • Setting (

  • Character

  • Plot

  • Point of view

  • Theme

  • Style

  • Symbolism

  • A Cup of Tea is set in England at the beginning of the twentieth century.

  • At this time, people from different social classes did not socialize with one another, and it was considered improper for upper-class women to work inside or outside the home. (The socio-economic characteristics of the location)

a. Setting of the story

  • Rosemary Fell, a rich woman

  • the antiquarian on Curzon Street

  • Miss Smith, the poor girl picked up and fed by Rosemary

  • Jeanne, a housemaid

  • Philip, Rosemarys husband

b.Characters in A Cup of Tea

What kind of person is Rosemary?

a. Snobbish (buying flowers)

b. Vain (She couldnt help noticing the charm of her hands against the blue velvet, while she was shopping in the antique shop.)

c. Romantic: she was always lost in the world of dreams, fantasy and romanticism. (taking a beggar home)

d. Rosemary was an impulsive woman. She didnt think before she acted. She did prove this when she took the beggar-girl home without thinking of the reaction of her husband and other servants at her house.

e. Jealous:( send the girl away)

Omniscient Point of View

Limited Omniscient

c. Point of view used in the story

  • For limited omniscient, the narrator tells the story in the third person, but stays inside the confines of what is perceived, thought, remembered and felt by a single character (or at most by very few characters) within the story.

  • In A Cup of Tea, all the events and actions are presented as they unfold before, and filter to, the reader through the particular perceptions, awareness, and responses of only one character, Rosemary.

  • (1) And her husband absolutely adored her. (2) They were rich, really rich, not just comfortably well off, (3) which is odious and stuffy and sounds like ones grandparents. (4) But if Rosemary wanted to shop she would go to Paris as you and I would go to Bond Street.

  • (1) (2) (3) (4)

  • Analysis:

  • Sentences (1)&(3) adopt the limited omniscient and sentences (2) & (4) use the omniscient point of view.

d. Theme:

  • This is the message about life from the author to the reader.

  • It is like a lesson for life, something you can learn from the story and apply to other life situations.

  • Q1. What can you see of Rosemarys character from the first paragraph of the text?

  • Original text: Rosemary Fell was not exactly beautiful. No, you couldnt have called her beautiful. She was young, brilliant, extremely modern, exquisitely well dressed, amazingly well read in the newest of the new books, and her parties were the most delicious mixture of the really important people andartistsquaint creatures, discoveries of hers, some of them too terrifying for words, but others quite presentable and amusing.

  • ---

  • Q2. What do the exhibits, the conduct of the attendant, his language and appearance join to create the atmosphere of the antique shop?

  • . He beamed whenever she came in. He clasped his hands; he was so gratified that he could scarcely speak. Flattery, of course. All the same, there was something


  • You see, Madam, he would explain in his low respectful tones, I love my things. I would rather not part with them than sell them to someone who does not appreciate them, who has not that fine feeling which is so rare


  • But the shopman had already bowed as though keeping it for her was all any human being could ask. He would be willing, of course, to keep it for her for ever.

  • The discreet door shut with a click


  • Q3. What are some of the reasons for Rosemary to take the girl home?

  • How more than extraordinary! And suddenly it seemed to Rosemary such an adventure. It was like something out of a novel by Dostoevsky, this meeting in the dusk. Supposing she took the girl home? Supposing she did one of those she was always reading about or seeing on the stage, what would happen? It would be thrilling.


  • And she heard herself saying afterwards to the amazement of her friends: I simply took her home with me


She was going to prove to this girl thatwonderful things did happen in life, thatfairy godmothers were real, thatrich people had hearts, and that women were sisters.

Q4. Why does Rosemary let the girl go? How do you understand Rosemarys question to her husband, the question whether she was pretty? Suppose you were Rosemary, what would you do?

  • Shes absolutely lovely. Look again, my child. I was bowled over when I came into your room just now. However I think youre making a ghastly mistake. Sorry, darling, if Im crude and all that. But let me know if Miss Smith is going to dine with us.

  • Pretty! Absolutely lovely! Bowled over! Her heart beat like a heavy bell. Pretty! Lovely!

  • class consciousness

  • feminism

  • materialism

  • shallowness

  • jealousy

  • greed for ownership of possessions

d. Major themes of the story

  • class consciousness

  • Why couldnt the couple keep the girl at their home?

  • Feminism:

  • Patriarchy: the male oppression of women

  • Analysis:

  • 'I say,' said Philip, when they were alone. 'Explain. Who is she? What does it all mean?'

  • Rosemary, laughing, leaned against the door and said: 'I picked her up in Curzon Street. Really. She's a real pick-up. She asked me for the price of a cup of tea, and I brought her home with me.'

  • 'But what on earth are you going to do with her?' cried Philip.

  • 'Be nice to her,' said Rosemary quickly. 'Be frightfully nice to her. Look after her. I don't know how. We haven't talked yet. But show her--treat her--make her--feel--'

  • 'My darling girl,' said Philip, 'you're quite mad, you know. It simply can't be done.'

e. Style: A New Kind of Short Story

  • Mansfield is credited with writing a new kind of short story one more concerned with the emotions and psychological makeup of its characters than those of the past. Through the use of images, dialogues, monologue, and metaphors, Mansfield focuses on her characters emotional states, subtle shifts of mood and epiphanies( that is, their sudden, significant realizations.

f. Symbolism

A symbol represents an idea, quality, or concept larger than itself.

  • E.g.

  • The box that Rosemary admires and the salesperson would rather not allow to fall into the hands of the mindless rabble is a perfect symbol of the consumerist mentality.

  • The box, like the girl, is pretty, but other than that it possesses little in the way of utilitarian necessity for Rosemary.

  • An exquisite little enamel box with a glaze so fine it looked as though it had been baked in cream. On the lid a minute creature stood under a flowery tree, and a more minute creature still had her arms round his neck.

  • Rosemarys dependence on her husband

  • Title: a cup of tea

  • Girl Rosemary

  • Rosemary Philip

g. Plot

  • Plot is the organized pattern or sequence of events that make up a story. Every plot is made up of a series of incidents that are related to one another.

Plot Structure






1). Exposition (introduction)

  • This usually occurs at the beginning of a short story. Here the characters are introduced. We also learn about the setting of the story. Most importantly, we are introduced to the main conflict (main problem).

2). Rising Action

  • This part of the story begins to develop the conflict(s). A building of interest or suspense occurs.

3). Climax

  • This is the turning point of the story. Usually the main character comes face to face with a conflict. The main character will change in some way.

4). Falling Action

  • All loose ends of the plot are tied up. The conflict(s) and climax are taken care of.

5). Resolution (conclusion)

  • The story comes to a reasonable ending.

  • identify these parts in our story: A Cup of Tea.

Its your turn to

1). Exposition

  • From the beginning of the story to the moment when a poor girl stops Rosemary for the price of a cup of tea.

2). Rising Action

  • Instead of offering the poor girl money, Rosemary brings her home and plans to take care of her.

3). Climax

  • Philip tells Rosemary that Miss Smith is very attractive (actually it is a tactic because he doesnt agree to keep Miss Smith at their home).

4). Falling Action

  • Rosemary gives Miss Smith 3 pound notes and let her go.

5). Resolution

  • Rosemary asks her husband, Am I pretty?

Additional introduction to plot

  • A sequence of events, causally related;

  • What happens in the story.

Plot Arrangement

  • Chronological

    • 1st event happens first, etc

  • Flashback

    • Past events are experienced as a memory

  • In media res

    • The story begins in the middle of the action

  • Foreshadowing

    • Suggesting, indicating, hinting or showing what will happen later in a story

What is Conflict?

A clash between opposing forces, usually forcing the main character into a dilemma.

Conflict is the dramatic struggle between two forces in a story. Without conflict, there is no plot.

Character vs Character

Character vs Nature

Character vs Society

Character vs Self

Types of Conflict

Character vs. Character Conflict

This type of conflict finds the main character in conflict with another character, human or not human.

Character vs. Nature Conflict

This type of conflict finds the main character in conflict with the forces of nature, which serve as the antagonist.

Jane leaves Thornfield and sleeps outside.

Character vs. Society Conflict

This type of conflict has the main character in conflict with a larger group: a community, society, culture, etc.

Im tired of living in a hole, said Jenny.

Lets fight for freedom! cried Bouncer. Well be soldiers! Rough-riding Rowdies! Ill be the general and commander-in-chief!

The Island of the Skog by Steven Kellogg

Character vs. Self Conflict

In this type of conflict, the main character experiences some kind of inner conflict.

Finally, Sams father said, Go to bed now. But before you go to sleep, Sam, tell yourself the difference between REAL and MOONSHINE.

Sam, Bangs & Moonshine by Evaline Ness

  • Please identify different kinds of conflict in our story and find out evidences to support them.

  • Character vs. Character Conflict

  • Rosemary vs. Philip

  • Rosemary vs. Miss Smith

  • Character vs. Society Conflict

  • Miss Smith vs. society

  • Rosemary vs. society

  • Character vs. Self Conflict

  • Rosemarys inner struggle (keep the girl or not?)

Further reading

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katherine_Mansfield

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Cup_of_Tea

  • http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/kmansfi.htm

  • http://www.quotationspage.com/quotes/Katherine_Mansfield/

  • http://www.katherinemansfieldsociety.org/

  • Thanks!

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