Alienation And Loneliness In Katherine Mansfield's 'Miss Brill'

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Katherine Mansfield’s short story, Miss Brill, is a well-written story of an elderly, unmarried woman in Europe. In Miss Brill, Katherine Mansfield uses stream-of-consciousness point of view to show alienation and loneliness, appearances and reality, and Miss Brill’s perceptions as she attempts to make herself fit in with the park goers. Miss Brill is an older lady who makes a living teaching English to school children and reading newspapers to an “old invalid gentleman” (Wilson 2: 139). Her joy in life comes in her visits to the park on Sunday where she is notorious for “sitting in on other people’s lives” (Wilson 2: 140). It is there that her ritualistic, monotonous journey that Miss Brill refers to as a “play” takes place. From the beginning of the story, it becomes apparent that Miss Brill is the epitome of the definition of lonely. She…show more content…
Miss Brill thinks of this couple as the “hero and heroine of her drama” (Mansfield 177). As irony would have it, the young couple that joins her at the end of the story on her special bench refer to her as “old’ and even question, “Why doesn’t she keep her silly old mug at home” (Mansfield 178). They also refer to her fur as “funny” and a “fried whiting”. The saying that one person’s trash is another person’s treasure resonates here because the fur is very special to Miss Brill. Additionally, she calls the fur necklet a "little rogue" in the manner of someone addressing a beloved pet or a mischievous young child (Devi 3). Just as Miss Brill imagines what the characters in the park are saying, she also imagines her dead fur looking at her through sad eyes as the animal asks her what is happening to him. “The tenderness that she shows the dead animal reminds us of the absolute loneliness enveloping her life; the only emotional outlet for her affection is a dead animal. She is rejected by the human world” (Devi
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