ABSTRACT

This chapter reads figures of absence as functions of colonial and gendered oppression in Mansfield’s stories. After a reading of Mansfield’s “Bliss” as an instance of vertiginous “domestic sublimity,” I will consider how the dynamics in “Bliss” resonate with many of Mansfield’s other stories as counters to conventions of bourgeois domesticity, as shaped by John Locke’s version of liberalism. Mansfield frequently protests the violence exercised in Lockean priorities through her depictions of circumscribed, formal, and heavily choreographed sites of behaviour. Within such locations, feminine experience, topography, and foliage operate with semiotic density, as emblems, symptoms, and contrasts for pain linked to the physical elisions and restrictions that formality and normalization enforce.