Mr. and Mrs. Williams by Katherine Mansfield
In Mr. and Mrs. Williams by Katherine Mansfield we have theme of happiness, innocence and love. Taken from her The Collected Stories collection the story is narrated in the third person by an unnamed narrator and form the beginning of the story the reader realises that Mansfield may be exploring the theme of happiness. Both Gwendolen and Gerald are happy to be going away to Switzerland. It is an adventure that they are looking forward to and will not let anything get in their way from going. Even if their neighbours cannot see what is in Switzerland that would be of interest. It might also be clear to say that Gwendolen and Gerald are wealthy and as such can afford to go to Switzerland. This may be significant because after WWI prosperity came to many, including Gwendolen and Gerald. So it seems fit that they should expand their horizons and go to Switzerland.
There is also an innocence in Gwendolen and Gerald’s marriage. Something that is noticeable by the word play they play with each other. However on a more important note this could be sign of true love between Gwendolen and Gerald. The like each other’s company and like to amuse one another. If anything they are very much in love. Despite the horrors of the war. It is Gwendolen who reminds Gerald of the word play of their names. A sign that she is a joyous and happy person. There is also a sense that Gwendolen and Gerald are fortunate to be able to go to Switzerland. A neutral country in the war and as such not as damaged or as dangerous as some of the other countries in WWI. Where other cities may have lost their beauty. Switzerland still shines brightly. Though no explanation is given as to why Mr and Mrs Williams’s adventure to Switzerland. It can be taken that they want to see a beautiful untarnished country. To put the war behind them. To forget the atrocities of WWI.
It may also be case that Gerald is keeping the peace when he agrees to go to Switzerland. He doesn’t argue with his life and leaves matters in her hands. Which may leave some critics to suggest that Gerald might be henpecked and he would be happy with a holiday in Margate rather than Switzerland. Though it is difficult to really say as Gerald never raises his voice throughout the story and is mot agreeable to everything that Gwendolen says. Which may be the point that Mansfield is attempting to make. She may be suggesting that the love in the Williamses marriage is one sided and that Gerald will do anything for an easy life. Even going as far as Europe at the end of the war. It is also noticeable that apart from the planned holiday, Gwendolen and Gerald don’t really do much together. Which may call into dispute the fact that they really love each other.
The end of the story is also interesting as Gwendolen appears to be the more excited of the two when it comes to the holiday to Switzerland. It is as though she may be believe her happiness is Gerald’s happiness. She does the thinking for the two of them. Perhaps because Gerald is so relaxed and looking for an easy life. He did after all fight in the war and he may not necessarily be too keen to go back to Europe. The memories of what has happened still fresh in his mind. This however doesn’t distract Gwendolen and she is still adamant that they are both going o Switzerland. A peaceful country but still close to the battlefields that populate Europe. In reality Gerald might prefer to go on holiday somewhere closer to home abut because of his wife’s stubbornness or keenness he may feel obliged to follow her to Switzerland. Only time will tell, just how successful the holiday will be, for both Gwendolen and Gerald. Though the reader suspects it will not necessarily be as joyous and occasion for Gerald. Fresh with memories of the war he might not enjoy himself but he is sure not to let Gwendolen know this. In fear of upsetting her.