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Essay über das Buch "Harold and Maude" und Vergleich mit "Life of Ma Parker" von Katherine Mansfield

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LK Klausur Englisch: Essay writing

Literatur: "Harold und Maude" von Colin Higgins und zum anderen "Life of Ma Parker" von Katherine Mansfield


Discuss the relevance of this statement to Maude, one of the protagonists in “Harold and Maude” by C. Higgins and Ma Parker, the main character in K. Mansfield’s story “Life of Ma Parker”. Do an outline.

"Happiness is a conscious choice, not an automatic response."
Mildred Barthel, American poet


When you see happy people you might say they have always been happy and they cannot be in a bad mood but actually happiness is something you choose. This is what an American poet said. Referring to Maude, a protagonist in “Harold and Maude”, and Ma Parker, the main character in the short story “Life of Ma Parker”, the statement can be proved as true.

Happiness is a very general expression and is different for each person. To have a basis for a discussion I would define happiness as the ability to enjoy every moment, feel free to do what you want and share your feelings with other people. Furthermore a “conscious choice” has to be explained. A conscious choice is not something somebody tells you and you just accept it. You have to think about your aims, your needs, your confession and then you have to decide actively to realise them. With reference to the Oxford dictionary “conscious” means that you are aware of the things you do.

The following discusses how Maude consciously chooses to be happy.
Maude grew up in Vienna and spent a part of her life in Europe. There she experienced good moments as well as bad ones. This can be guessed from the scene where Harold sees a number on Maude’s arm and this may be a hint that she had been in a concentration camp. Now Maude lives in America. She has a tiny cottage full of trophies and memories. Maude herself is full of joy- you can call her a very vivacious old lady. However she holds some strange opinions, e.g. ownership is wrong. Her motto is “a new experience every day” and thereby she helps others, whether it is a tree or “just” humanity.

In this way she leaves her past behind and decides each day again to be happy. Moreover she is grateful that she has the chance to live and so she tries to do her best. According to the explanation of happiness and conscious choice it becomes clear that the statement fits Maude exactly.

The opposite is Ma Parker. She is an old lady who always worked for somebody else and now she is quite alone. While she is cleaning the flat of a young man, she remembers her life. It is stated that she left her home when she was young to become a kitchen-maid in London. She married, but later seven of her children and her husband died. The other children left her, too. Now she lives with one of her daughters and her grandson. The death of her grandson underlines the losses in her life. Accordingly you could see it is hardly possible to be happy and grief would be a natural response but in contrast Maude managed to live happily with her past. When Ma Parker walks along the streets, it begins to rain and letting out her pain she wants to cry. Since she worries what other people could think of her Ma Parker cannot cry and she finds no place to hide. As she is considered a brave woman it is a pity that she does not feel free to cry and she does not neglect other peoples’ thoughts. Thus you can understand if happiness was an automatic response, Ma Parker would be happy and perhaps thankful that she was able to spend a few years together with her wonderful grandson.

Another aspect is that at the end of the story which is left open she could “have a proper cry” and the start a new chapter in her life. Ma Parker reaches a point where she can actively decide to find friends or to have contact with her children again or to buy a pet to have company at home.
Concerning Ma Parker the statement is relevant in two ways. First even sadness is a conscious choice and second she has other opportunities to choose.

I want to point out that the statement is true for Maude as well as Ma Parker. The difference is in the way you interpret its meaning. You can take it either as a personal credo or as the moment to change your life.

Perhaps more people will read this sentence by Mildred Barthel and then you will see more people who do not pretend to be happy because they feel happy.


I introduction
short explanation of statement
thesis + relevance to Maude + Ma Parker
II basics
definition happiness
definition “conscious choice”
III Maude
her past
bad experiences (hint)
( number concentration camp
situation now
her attitude
no ownership
“new experience everyday”
helping others ( tree
statement fits her , siehe II
IV Ma Parker
her situation
past ( losses
now ( on the street – crying
referring to statement ( no automatic response
connection to II.2
relevance of statement ( two ways
V synthesis
VI ending
Die Klausur bezieht sich auf das Thema "20th century American literature" und es soll eine Aussage über Glück auf zwei der im Unterricht behandelten Werke bezogen werden. Das ist zum einen "Harold und Maude" von Colin Higgins und zum anderen "Life of Ma Parker" von Katherine Mansfield (zu finden in "Invitation to literature" bei Cornelsen). Es soll ein zusammenhängender Aufsatz geschrieben und eine detailierte Gliederung angefertigt werden. (897 Wörter)
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