Bliss

by

Katherine Mansfield

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Harry Young Character Analysis

Harry, Bertha Young’s husband, is having an affair with Pearl Fulton, with whom Bertha is also seemingly in love. Harry appears, on the surface, to be a frank, daring person who does not care about propriety and pushes the boundaries of social decorum through his controversial sense of humor. Bertha admires this quality in Harry, particularly when he makes irreverent jokes about Pearl that undercut Bertha’s idealized image of her friend. Rather than being enamored with Pearl, as Bertha is, Harry claims that Pearl’s beauty and mystery have nothing behind them but “a good stomach” or “pure flatulence,” and Bertha admires such irreverence. Harry also seems to be a good husband and a sympathetic person because he has accepted the fact that Bertha is not sexually attracted to him and that they are merely “good pals” instead of lovers. However, Harry’s openness and amiability are called into question by the story’s ending, in which Bertha discovers that he is having an affair with Pearl. It then becomes apparent that much of Harry’s behavior has been a façade to hide his real emotions, such as when he offers Pearl a cigar and appears to “really dislike her.” This suggests that Harry is a manipulative person who understands how to construct his external appearance and manner so that Bertha will not suspect his infidelity.

Harry Young Quotes in Bliss

The Bliss quotes below are all either spoken by Harry Young or refer to Harry Young. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Sexuality and Desire Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of Bliss published in 1991.
Bliss Quotes

Was there anything beyond it? Harry said “No.” Voted her dullish, and “cold like all blond women, with a touch, perhaps, of anemia of the brain.” But Bertha wouldn't agree with him; not yet, at any rate.

“No, the way she has of sitting with her head a little on one side, and smiling, has something behind it, Harry, and I must find out what that something is.”

“Most likely it's a good stomach,” answered Harry.

He made a point of catching Bertha's heels with replies of that kind . . . “liver frozen, my dear girl,” or “pure flatulence,” or “kidney disease”. . . and so on. For some strange reason Bertha liked this, and most admired it in him very much.

Related Characters: Bertha Young (speaker), Harry Young (speaker), Pearl Fulton
Page Number: 147
Explanation and Analysis:

And she seemed to see on her eyelids the lovely pear tree with its wide open blossoms as a symbol of her own life. Really—really—she had everything. She was young. Harry and she were as much in love as ever, and they got on together splendidly and were really good pals. She had an adorable baby. They didn’t have to worry, about money. . .

“I'm absurd. Absurd!” She sat up; but she felt quite dizzy, quite drunk. It must have been the spring. Yes, it was the spring. Now she was so tired she could not drag herself upstairs to dress. A white dress, a string of jade beads, green shoes and stockings. It wasn't intentional. She had thought of this scheme hours before she stood at the drawing-room window.

Related Characters: Bertha Young (speaker), Harry Young
Related Symbols: The Pear Tree
Page Number: 147-148
Explanation and Analysis:

At those last words something strange and almost terrifying darted into Bertha's mind. And this something blind and smiling whispered to her: “Soon these people will go— The house will be quiet—quiet. The lights will be out. And you and he will be alone together in the dark room—the warm bed.”— She jumped up from her chair and ran over to the piano. “What a pity someone does not play!” she cried. “What a pity somebody does not play.”

For the first time in her life Bertha Young desired her husband. Oh, she'd loved him – she'd been in love with him, of course, in every other way, but just not in that way.

Related Characters: Bertha Young (speaker), Pearl Fulton, Harry Young
Page Number: 154
Explanation and Analysis:

While he looked it up she turned her head towards the hall. And she saw . . . Harry with Miss Fulton's coat in his arms and Miss Fulton with her back turned to him and her head bent. He tossed the coat away, put his hands on her shoulders and turned her violently to him. His lips said: “I adore you,” and Miss Fulton laid her moonbeam fingers on his cheeks and smiled her sleepy smile. Harry's nostrils quivered; his lips curled back in a hideous grin while he whispered: “To-morrow,” and with her eyelids Miss Fulton said: “Yes.”

“Here it is,” said Eddie. “‘Why Must it Always be Tomato Soup?’ So deeply true, don't you feel? Tomato soup is so dreadfully eternal.”

“If you prefer,” said Harry's voice, very loud, from the hall, “I can phone you a cab to come to the door.”

Related Characters: Harry Young (speaker), Eddie Warren (speaker), Bertha Young, Pearl Fulton
Related Symbols: Moonlight
Page Number: 155
Explanation and Analysis:

Miss Fulton held her hand a moment longer. “Your lovely pear tree!” she murmured. And then she was gone, with Eddie following, like the black cat following the grey cat.

“I'll shut up shop,” said Harry, extravagantly cool and collected.

“Your lovely pear tree—pear tree—pear tree!” Bertha simply ran over to the long windows.

“Oh, what is going to happen now?” she cried.

But the pear tree was as lovely as ever and as full of flower and as still.

Related Characters: Bertha Young (speaker), Pearl Fulton (speaker), Harry Young (speaker), Eddie Warren
Related Symbols: The Pear Tree, Cats
Page Number: 156
Explanation and Analysis:
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Bliss PDF

Harry Young Character Timeline in Bliss

The timeline below shows where the character Harry Young appears in Bliss. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Bliss
Women’s Roles and Social Constraint Theme Icon
...B back over to Nurse, who takes the baby back triumphantly. It is Bertha’s husband, Harry, on the phone. He tells her that he will be late for the dinner party.... (full context)
Women’s Roles and Social Constraint Theme Icon
Bertha’s husband Harry feels that there is not, and that Pearl is, in fact, cold and dull. Bertha... (full context)
Sexuality and Desire Theme Icon
Aesthetics, Appearance, and Performance Theme Icon
...she has that should make her happy with her life. She thinks that she and Harry are very happily married, they have good friends, and a beautiful child, they are financially... (full context)
Women’s Roles and Social Constraint Theme Icon
Aesthetics, Appearance, and Performance Theme Icon
Harry arrives and rushes upstairs to get dressed for dinner. Bertha knows that Harry is not... (full context)
Sexuality and Desire Theme Icon
...with a knowing manner, which she finds that she often develops with her female friends. Harry says that Pearl will get fat if she never walks anywhere and always gets taxis. (full context)
Sexuality and Desire Theme Icon
Aesthetics, Appearance, and Performance Theme Icon
...Bertha thinks delightedly what a “decorative” group they make, like characters in a play. When Harry compliments the food, Bertha again feels almost overwhelmed with tenderness and joy. Everything in the... (full context)
Women’s Roles and Social Constraint Theme Icon
Aesthetics, Appearance, and Performance Theme Icon
...Eddie Warren is talking about a play he wants to write for Mr. Knight’s theatre. Harry complains that modern playwrights are too “romantic” and that you can’t “put out to sea... (full context)
Women’s Roles and Social Constraint Theme Icon
Aesthetics, Appearance, and Performance Theme Icon
Pearl sits down, and Harry offers her a cigar. Bertha watches and thinks that, from the way that he is... (full context)
Sexuality and Desire Theme Icon
Aesthetics, Appearance, and Performance Theme Icon
...remembers that the guests will leave soon, and that she will be left alone with Harry. She has a moment of panic thinking about the bed which she and Harry share,... (full context)
Aesthetics, Appearance, and Performance Theme Icon
...agree to share a taxi. Pearl goes to get her coat from the hall and Harry follows her. Bertha thinks that he is trying to make amends for being rude to... (full context)
Sexuality and Desire Theme Icon
Aesthetics, Appearance, and Performance Theme Icon
...for Eddie Warren. As she comes back past the hall, she glances in and sees Harry take Pearl in his arms. He sees Harry mouth “I adore you” to Pearl and... (full context)
Sexuality and Desire Theme Icon
Women’s Roles and Social Constraint Theme Icon
Aesthetics, Appearance, and Performance Theme Icon
Bertha returns to the drawing room and hears Harry say loudly that he can call Pearl her own cab if she’d like. Pearl and... (full context)
Sexuality and Desire Theme Icon
Aesthetics, Appearance, and Performance Theme Icon
Harry goes to lock up the house and Bertha rushes to the window. She wonders what... (full context)