“As she drove the familiar route to the school, she considered her magnificent new age. Forty… Such a colorless age… Nothing would matter all that much when you were forty. You wouldn 't have real feelings when you were forty, because you 'd be safely cushioned by your frumpy forty-ness,” Liane Moriarty in her novel Big Little Lies remarks on the colorless way it feels to be forty no doubt based upon other’s opinions of the age. Though people cannot stop the natural process of aging the woman still feels less valuable than she would have at a younger age. Forty is in no way a terribly old age, but she still feels “frumpy” and “colorless.” In “Miss Brill” by Katherine Mansfield, Miss Brill is a middle to older aged woman who sees herself, and is seen by others, just as the woman from Moriarty’s novel does. The symbols of a cupboard, colors, and an ermine fur represent Miss Brill’s desire to be accepted by society though she is an outcast.
In Miss Brill, a cupboard symbolizes the way Miss Brill sees elderly people (herself included) as dusty, odd, depressing objects that have just emerged from an old cabinet and do not quite fit in with society. When Miss Brill is sitting observing her surroundings, she notes the older people surrounding her and thinks, “they were odd, silent, nearly all old, and from the way they stared they looked as though they 'd just come from dark little rooms or even--even cupboards!” (Mansfield 176). The old people have come out of their dark cabinets on this Sunday to enjoy the beautiful day, but because of their appearance others see them as ugly creatures that are just now seeing the light. Miss Brill thinks of these people much as one might think of a moldy loaf of br...
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... changing mindset in response to the criticism of others; it shows the contrast of her happiness changing rapidly from giddiness into a depressing denial. The ermine fur signifies her desire to appear as happy as the youth she wishes to find approval from.
The symbols of the cupboard, colors, and the fur represent the Miss Brill’s desperate desire to be approved by the beau monde, even though she suffers enormously when doing so. From being criticized on not only her appearance, but also her fashion and her mind, her struggles to find her accepted place in society. These are struggles that women in today’s modern society still face. After a woman begins to approach middle age, she is criticized by society more harshly than ever and tends to face many of the same struggles as Miss Brill did in the early 1900s, struggling to regain acceptance often in the same manner.
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