The Singing Lesson – 3 character Traits of Miss Meadows / character sketch of Miss Meadows


The Singing Lesson : by Katherine Mansfield

Question: State the three characteristic traits of the protagonist of the story “The Singing Lesson”.

Answer : Miss Meadows was a thirty year – old singing teacher at a girl’s School who was engaged to Basil.

  • Physical Appearance –
Katherine Mansfield did not give any account of physical appearance of Miss Meadows in the story. The only description provided is that she was wearing a cap and gown and carrying a little baton and trod the cold corridors that led to the music hall. 
  • Popular Teacher – 
Miss Meadows appears to be a popular teacher as is evident from the yellow chrysanthemum that her student Mary Beazley brought for her. The child was devastated when the teacher ignored her gift.
” what was Mary’s horror when Miss Meadows totally ignored the chrysanthemum made no reply to her greeting”.
     Also the students seemed happy to be in her class “with bobbing pink faces and hands” and “music books outspread”.
  • Jealous and despiteful – 
Miss Meadows used to feel jealous of the Science Mistress and hated her for her cheerfulness, her beauty and charm. The day when the action in the story took place, Miss Meadows hated her for her sweetness, as she thought – 
” you would not have been surprised to see a bee caught in the tangles of that yellow hair”.
Here she pointed on her fake sweetness.
    Miss Meadows resented the Science Mistress, she grimly replied to her greetings that was made “in her sweet affected drawl”. She was filled with so much resentment for the Science Mistress as if she was hugging a sharp, wicked knife in her heart. She even stared at her with eyes full of hatred.
  • A Stereotypical school Teacher –
Miss Meadows is a stereotypical teacher in an all girls’ school of that time. 
     She used to teach music and carried a small ‘baton ‘ in her hands.
    The ‘baton’ a sign of her power, was used to conduct music as well as her class. When she entered into the hall that day she planted the brass music stand in front of her and ” gave two sharp taps with her baton for silence.”

     The baton was a symbol of her authority and control.
Her student were deeply Influenced with Miss Meadows so they reflected her moods instinctively. When she felt heart broken , she chose the song to play was – A Lament. In a cold, dictating  voice she asked the girls to open page fourteen and to sing the depressing song. The students instinctively pick upon Miss Meadows’ emotions to become angry and afraid. 
  On the other hand, when she received Basil’s telegram, she became ecstatic as if she were on “the wings of hope, of love and of joy”. As a reflection of her happy and excited mood she started teaching them a gleeful song.
  • Impressionable – 
The term impressionable is used to describe the person who easily gets Influenced or swayed by situations.
  The protagonist of the story, Miss Meadows was no different. On receiving Basil’s letter she was heartbroken. She resented her colleague, the  Science Mistress – 
” Miss Meadows hugging the knife, stared in hatred at the Science Mistress “.
      She allowed her inner turmoil to influence the choice of song for her class. Basil’s opinion that their marriage would be a mistake influenced her so much that she spreading her despair, ignored the chrysanthemum given to her by her favourite student Mary Beazley. 
     However, when she received a telegram from Basil saying that his letter was a mistake, she instantly became happy as if she were on the wings of hope, love and joy. The song she chose then reflected her happiness, and it was then that she finally picked up the yellow chrysanthemum.
  • Insecure –
 Miss Meadows seemed to be very insecure about her position in society at large. She was a thirty year old spinster – past marriageable age for a lady in those tomes. She wanted to get married to Basil, not for love or companionship but to be accepted in society. She was not concerned by how much (or little) Basil loved her, as she reflected – ” I don’t mind how much it is. Love me as little as you like.”
When Basil sent the letter to call off their upcoming marriage, the thoughts that troubled her most were that she would never be able to “face the Science Mistress or the girls after it got known.”

    People had already been surprised enough at her engagement. Thus to escape public embarrassment, she thought of disappearing somewhere.

1 thought on “The Singing Lesson – 3 character Traits of Miss Meadows / character sketch of Miss Meadows”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top