Mr. Reginald Peacock’s Day by Katherine Mansfield
In Mr. Reginald Peacock’s Day by Katherine Mansfield we have the theme of discontent, ego, control, disrespect, conflict, arrogance, selfishness, connection and insecurity. Taken from her Bliss and Other Stories collection the story is narrated in the third person by an unnamed narrator and after reading the story the reader realises that Mansfield may be exploring the theme of discontent. Reginald is not only unhappy with the way his wife wakes him in the morning but he is also displeased with her attitude when it comes to his artistic endeavours. It is as though Reginald does not feel appreciated by his wife which is somewhat ironic considering Reginald if anything may not appreciate his wife. He treats her with disrespect throughout the story and in many ways tries to control his environment. This could be important as Mansfield may be highlighting how dominant men were at the time the story was written. Reginald’s wife is also financially reliant on him. She has no other income apart from what Reginald gives her. It is also interesting that Reginald expects Adrian to shake his hand every morning. The reader suspecting that Reginald does so in order to feel better about himself.
In fact everything in the story is about Reginald. He likes to be praised by others and is upset by the fact that he feels as though his wife is disrespecting him by not telling him how great a man he is. It is also noticeable that Reginald makes no time for his family. The responsibility of parenting is left entirely to his wife. Reginald’s work takes precedence over everything else. There is also a possibility that Reginald could be unfaithful if the opportunity arose. He is unhappy in his marriage and he allows for his ego to be pampered by other women rather than focusing on his marriage and trying to resolve any conflict that may exist in the marriage. If anything the reader gets a sense that Reginald is not in love with his wife. If this is the case it would explain as to why he treats her so cruelly. She has become a hindrance to his progression or at least that would appear to be Reginald’s perception. The fact that Reginald doesn’t understand why his wife might be upset that he is having a private dinner with another woman may also be important as Reginald may be blinded by his own arrogance.
The most important person in Reginald’s world is Reginald himself. He considers himself to be an artist rather than being a father, husband and then an artist. This too could be important as it leaves the reader suspecting that Reginald may be selfish man. The fact that Reginald would also like his wife to be his friend is interesting as it is possible that Reginald no longer considers his wife to be his wife. He would much prefer if they were friends. Someone that he had no martial obligation to. Which may again suggest that Reginald is open to the possibility of being unfaithful to his wife. He does after all consider that he could have any woman that he wanted. At no stage in the story does Reginald take a look at himself critically. It is as though he is blinded by his own self-importance. He scorns his wife because she doesn’t want a servant. Considering it to be game playing by his wife in order to irritate him. To shed an unfavourable light on him. It doesn’t register with Reginald that his wife might prefer to do her own cooking or that she herself might like to bring Adrian to school and maintain her connection with him. Considering that she has no connection with Reginald.
If anything the image of Reginald that Mansfield portrays is unflattering. Reginald not only wishes to control his environment (and wife) but he believes the approvals he receives from others. The reader also senses that Reginald may not be living in the real world. He will not take a closer look at his life and consider that he needs to be a better father and husband rather than just focusing on his artistic endeavours. Throughout the story Reginald has thought of nobody but himself. True he may be the bread winner in the family but family life consists of more than just being able to provide financially for your family. Reginald shows no kindness to his family yet he manages to be kind to others. It may also be a case that Reginald is so insecure he needs the praise from others including from his wife. Though he appears to be confident on the outside. Inside Reginald may not necessarily be as confident as people may think he is. He also seems to have difficulty distinguishing between being a father and husband and being an artist. This might explain as to why he wants praise from his wife. In reality Reginald may not be suitable to be a father or husband.