Miss Brill: Reality vs. Perception, Which One?

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In the short story, “Miss Brill” by Katherine Mansfield, the author introduces Miss Brill as a lonely and a putting on her fur scarf, and getting ready to go to the park. As she sits on the bench and listens to other people talk, she imagines herself as an audience watching the people in the park as if they are on stage. Miss Brill believes that all the action going on in the park, such as the little boy giving the thrown-away violets back to the woman is just a play. However, a closer look at Miss Brill reveals a character that is unable to distinguish between perception and reality. For example, Miss Brill’s fur scarf represents more than just an important piece of clothing to her. To Miss Brill, this fur scarf is a companion which Miss Brill can share feelings with and talk to. Mansfield’s use of personification in, “What’s been happening to me?” said the sad little eyes. Oh, how sweet it was to see them snap at her again from the red eiderdown!” (241) depicts Ms. Brill revisiting her fur scarf that she had during her youth years. As Miss. Brill brings the fur scarf back to her life, she is no longer a rogue. Towards the end of the story when Mansfield mentions, “The box that the fur came out of was on the bed. She unclasped the necklet quickly; quickly, without looking, laid it inside. But when she put the lid on she thought she heard something crying” (246), Miss Brill starts to put the fur scarf back into the box after she was teased by the boy and the girl in the park for her age. This represents a sense of rejection that Miss Brill is feeling the rest of the world. Miss Brill thinks that she is young, beautiful, like the children in the park that is running around. However, she does not realize that her time as a young w... ... middle of paper ... ...oman that is part of nothing. All in all, Miss Brill is a character in her own perception of watching other people’s lives, but a lonely woman in reality. Through the actions of Miss Brill using her fur scarf as an inanimate object to become her friend, to watching the woman rejecting the flowers from the little boy, Miss Brill has created her own fantasy world of actors and actresses getting on and off the stage, making her not wanting to discover the woman who she is right now. As Miss Brill hears the teasing of the young couple and wakes up from her fantasy world and imagination, she has finally understood how the world is not perceived as she wanted it to be. Works Cited Mansfield, Katherine. "Miss Brill." Compact Literature: Reading, Reacting, Writing. Ed. Laurie G. Kirszner and Stephen R. Mandell. Compact 8th ed. Boston: Wadsworth, 2013. 241-244. Print.

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