Use of Interior Monologue in “The Singing Lesson” :Narrative Technique


“The Singing Lesson :Narrative Technique/ Interior                                                            Monologue

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Question:   Describe the narrative technique in ‘The Singing Lesson’ .


      Comment on the use of interior monologue in ‘The Singing Lesson’.

Answer: The short story “The Singing Lesson” is written in the third person and the narrator seems to be peeping into the protagonist’ consciousness. The narrative style makes use of interior monologue which reflects Mansfield’s  unique talent for realistically capturing a moment in time.

Interior Monologue

Interior monologue is a device often used by the modernist in dramatic fiction to exhibit the thoughts passing through the mind of the protagonist.

     In the story, Mansfield is careful to concentrate on Miss Meadows’ internal struggle rather than the perception of others. Basil’s letter acts as an intrusion upon Miss Meadows’ mindset and through the use of internal monologue , her thoughts are revealed though actions around her continue. 

     The structure of the short story supports the protagonists’ inner struggle as the narrative shifts between what Miss Meadows is thinking versus what she is doing and how quickly the two  come into conflict.

    All her inner turmoil is the after effect of a letter from her fiance Basil who called off the marriage. This induced a stormy gust of emotional turbulence in her. This continuously reflected in her behaviour with her students at school.
      Although she is deeply injured emotionally from the letter ,but still she is combative to not to disclose her inner existential crisis. Such monologue is the stream of thoughts that constantly comes out in her expression. 
     While on the other hand, Miss Meadows is instructing the girls to sing  “A Lament” without feeling and expression, on the other hand, she is wondering what could have possessed Basil to write such a letter.

      The thought of the letter persistently ailed her mind
“……I am not a marring man…..”
Now she instructed her students to sing with expression and imagination. She wanted the girls to find out the exact feelings behind the lyrics. She asked them to “make that Drear sound as if a cold wind were blowing through it”.
 She sang it so awfully that Mary Beazley, ” wriggled her spine “.

    The music and her inner turmoil run parallel to each other. While singing  ” Fast ! Ah too fast”,the narrative immediately shifts to Miss Meadows’ mind which is preoccupied with the fact that the “idea of settling down” fills Basil with “disgust”. She perceived that she was fed up with every thing as felt very sad . 

    We can feel to what extent she is persistently preoccupied and the words of the letter flash across her mind. 

    This is how Mansfield has employed the use of third person narrative voice along with interior  monologue.

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