Bliss

by

Katherine Mansfield

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Pearl Fulton Character Analysis

Pearl Fulton is a friend of Bertha Young’s, whom Bertha has invited to her dinner party and who is secretly engaged in an affair with Bertha’s husband, Harry. Pearl is a mysterious and reserved woman who is depicted ambiguously throughout the story. The reader does not receive much insight into Pearl’s internal state, and most of the information the reader receives about Pearl is either about her external appearance or comes from Bertha’s perception of her friend. Pearl is associated with beauty throughout the story. Named for a precious object, she is dressed in a silver outfit reflective of her name, and this silver outfit is further connected to the symbols of the pear tree and the moonlight in the story. Bertha describes Pearl as reserved and notes that there is a point of familiarity that Pearl will not go past with her. Bertha interprets this reserve as mysterious and believes that it implies that Pearl is feeling the same attraction to Bertha that Bertha feels for her. This is not confirmed by the events in the story however, and the revelation of Pearl’s affair with Harry suggests instead that Pearl is a dishonest person who uses her friendship with Bertha, and Bertha’s obvious admiration of her, to get close to Bertha’s husband.

Pearl Fulton Quotes in Bliss

The Bliss quotes below are all either spoken by Pearl Fulton or refer to Pearl Fulton. 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

What Miss Fulton did, Bertha didn't know. They had met at the club and Bertha had fallen in love with her, as she always did fall in love with beautiful women who had something strange about them. The provoking thing was that, though they had been about together and met a number of times and really talked, Bertha couldn't yet make her out. Up to a certain point Miss Fulton was rarely, wonderfully frank, but the certain point was there, and beyond that she would not go.

Related Characters: Bertha Young, Pearl Fulton
Page Number: 146
Explanation and Analysis:

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:

The windows of the drawing-room opened on to a balcony overlooking the garden. At the far end, against the wall, there was a tall, slender pear tree in fullest, richest bloom; it stood perfect, as though becalmed against the jade-green sky. Bertha couldn't help feeling, even from this distance, that it had not a single bud or a faded petal. Down below, in the garden beds, the red and yellow tulips, heavy with flowers, seemed to lean upon the dusk. A grey cat, dragging its belly, crept across the lawn, and a black one, its shadow, trailed after. The sight of them, so intent and so quick, gave Bertha a curious shiver. “What creepy things cats are!” she stammered, and she turned away from the window and began walking up and down. . . .

Related Characters: Bertha Young (speaker), Pearl Fulton
Related Symbols: The Pear Tree, Cats
Page Number: 147
Explanation and Analysis:

And then Miss Fulton, all in silver, with a silver fillet binding her pale blond hair, came in smiling, her head a little on one side. “Am I late?”

“No, not at all,” said Bertha. “Come along.” And she took her arm and they moved into the dining-room. What was there in the touch of that cool arm that could fan—fan—start blazing – blazing – the fire of bliss that Bertha did not know what to do with. Miss Fulton did not look at her; but then she seldom did look at people directly… But Bertha knew, suddenly, as if the longest, most intimate look had passed between them—as if they had said to each other: “You, too”—that Pearl Fulton, stirring the beautiful red soup in the grey plate, was feeling just what she was feeling.

Related Characters: Bertha Young (speaker), Pearl Fulton (speaker)
Related Symbols: Moonlight
Page Number: 150
Explanation and Analysis:

At that moment Miss Fulton “gave the sign.”

“Have you a garden?” said the cool, sleepy voice. This was so exquisite on her part that all Bertha could do was to obey. She crossed the room, pulled the curtains apart, and opened those long windows. “There!” she breathed. And the two women stood side by side looking at the slender, flowering tree. Although it was so still it seemed, like the flame of a candle, to stretch up, to point, to quiver in the bright air, to grow taller and taller as they gazed—almost to touch the rim of the round, silver moon. How long did they stand there? Both, as it were, caught in that circle of unearthly light, understanding each other perfectly, creatures of another world, and wondering what they were to do in this one with all this blissful treasure that burned in their bosoms and dropped, in silver flowers, from their hair and hands.

Related Characters: Bertha Young (speaker), Pearl Fulton (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Pear Tree, Moonlight
Page Number: 152-153
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:
Get the entire Bliss LitChart as a printable PDF.
Bliss PDF

Pearl Fulton Character Timeline in Bliss

The timeline below shows where the character Pearl Fulton appears in Bliss. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Bliss
Sexuality and Desire Theme Icon
Aesthetics, Appearance, and Performance Theme Icon
...it is currently fashionable to invite to dinner. Bertha has also invited a woman called Pearl Fulton, whom she has become friends with recently and “fallen in love with,” as she... (full context)
Sexuality and Desire Theme Icon
Women’s Roles and Social Constraint Theme Icon
Although Bertha has met Pearl several times and has had long conversations with her, Bertha still feels that there is... (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 refuses to agree with him on this until... (full context)
Sexuality and Desire Theme Icon
Enjoying the company of her guests, Bertha almost forgets that Pearl Fulton is still to arrive. When Pearl does arrive, Bertha tells the other guests that... (full context)
Sexuality and Desire Theme Icon
Pearl Fulton enters the party. Her outfit is all silver and she asks Bertha if she... (full context)
Sexuality and Desire Theme Icon
Aesthetics, Appearance, and Performance Theme Icon
During the dinner, Bertha feels an inexplicable certainty that Pearl is feeling the same way that she is. The guests discuss theatre and Bertha thinks... (full context)
Sexuality and Desire Theme Icon
Women’s Roles and Social Constraint Theme Icon
Aesthetics, Appearance, and Performance Theme Icon
...whose nickname is “Face,” describes the burned down fire as a “nest of baby phoenixes.” Pearl asks Bertha to show her the garden and Bertha feels that this is a “sign.”... (full context)
Sexuality and Desire Theme Icon
Women’s Roles and Social Constraint Theme Icon
Bertha loses track of how long she and Pearl stand by the window but feels that they share a connection; bathed in the “circle... (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... (full context)
Aesthetics, Appearance, and Performance Theme Icon
...that they need to leave to catch the last train and begin to say goodbye. Pearl and Eddie Warren agree to share a taxi. Pearl goes to get her coat from... (full context)
Sexuality and Desire Theme Icon
Aesthetics, Appearance, and Performance Theme Icon
...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 Pearl smiles... (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 Eddie say goodbye and as Pearl takes... (full context)