The Aging Process in Katherine Mansfield's Miss Brill

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Katherine Mansfield's "Miss Brill" perfectly captures the phases one's mind goes through when faced with becoming old. Elderly people tend to be nostalgic, even sentimental about their youth. In later years, the nostalgia can develop into senility or fantasy. The ermine fur in "Miss Brill" is the catalyst of her nostalgia and symbolizes the passing of time in three stages: an expectant youth, a vital adulthood, and finally, a development into old age and fantasy. The story opens with Miss Brill's excitement that the "season" has arrived for social engagements; perhaps it is the tourist season when the ladies debut their latest fashions. With all the expectancy of a young girl looking forward to courtship, Miss Brill unpacks her prized and most fashionable possession, the ermine fur. While unpacking the fur, the reader is aware that Miss Brill is lapsing into elderly nostalgia because she speaks to the fur in such delighted tones. Miss Brill refers to her ermine fur as her "Little Rogue"(182). We learn that the ermine fur is fragile and in disrepair; we sense that Miss Brill is, to...

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