Illusion versus Reality in Miss Brill Essay

Illusion versus Reality in Miss Brill Essay

Length: 1130 words (3.2 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Illusion versus Reality in Miss Brill         

Is it really "okay" to talk to yourself as long as you don't talk back? Well, what if your fur piece talks back? In Katherine Mansfield's short story, "Miss Brill," it is a quickly established fact that Miss Brill has an odd relationship with her fur necklet (440). But it is the author's descriptive use of symbolism that provides a deeper understanding of Miss Brill's personality. Katherine Mansfield creates the woman in the ermine toque (441) in similarity to Miss Brill to reveal Miss Brill's identity in connection with her own fur piece and invite comparison, which further illustrates Miss Brill's perception of reality.


Introduced in the story as simply "an ermine toque" (441), Ms. Mansfield establishes the woman wearing this fur hat as a symbol that assists in defining the relationship of one-ness Miss Brill has with her own fur. Through Miss Brill's description of the woman in the ermine toque, it is clear that Miss Brill perceives the woman in connection with the fur she wears (441-442). Miss Brill compares the woman's coloring to the color of her fur by pointing out that everything, her hair, her face, even her eyes, [is] the same colour as the shabby ermine"(441). Miss Brill goes on to describe the woman's hand as being "a tiny yellowish paw" (441). And when the woman exits Miss Brill's attention, she does not walk away as a human would, but she "patters away" as a small animal might (442). Miss Brill's inability to differentiate clearly between the woman and the ermine toque she wears reinforces Miss Brill's identity in connection with her own fur. Mansfield employs this description as a technique to suggest the need to interpret Miss Brill from the descri...

... middle of paper ...

...nly a secondary symbol, it assists in enriching our understanding of Miss Brill's peculiarities while pointing out primary symbols, like her own fur necklet. How Mansfield employs the "ermine toque" to foretell the plot of the larger story demonstrates a difference between those who interact and constructively deal with conflict and those who run away, refusing to accept the realities of life. Miss Brill, who does not interact with life, chooses to interact with her fur which, though genuine, is not alive. Instead, she chooses an imitation for her own life by "sitting in other people's lives" (440) which, though reality, cannot remain her reality.


Works Cited

Mansfield, Katherine.  "Miss Brill."  Introduction to Literature: Reading,  Analyzing, and Writing. 2nd ed.  Ed. Dorothy U. Seyler and Richard  A. Wilan. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice, 1990.  440-43.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Essay about Examples of Illusion in Every Reality

- Albert Einstein, a world renowned scientist, once said, “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one”. It is interesting to wonder what, in fact, is real or what makes up a reality. While people take different stances on whether or not an illusion makes a reality, like Einstein said, every reality is an illusion. However, some sources may try to convince otherwise. In this sense, an illusion is a misperception of the assumed reality seen through the eyes of the person experiencing it....   [tags: reality, illusion, dream]

Strong Essays
1512 words (4.3 pages)

Illusion versus Reality Essay

- Illusion versus Reality Illusion versus reality is often referred to as deception of appearances. This is when something or something portrays itself as what it is not. Just like disguise, deception of appearances is an appearance in order to conceal one's true attitude or identity. This is related to the idiom "Do not judge a book, by its cover" and the metaphor "A wolf in sheep's clothing." In the play Macbeth, most characters deceived others by their outward appearances. An example of a character that was deceptive with his appearances was main character Macbeth....   [tags: Shakespearean Literature]

Strong Essays
1027 words (2.9 pages)

The Illusion of Youth Essay

- Katherine Mansfield’s Miss. Brill written in 1920 is a short story a part of Mansfield’s The Garden Party and Other Stories. It is a short story about a middle-aged teacher, who finds joy in spending her Sunday afternoons, sitting in the park. At the park, she finds joy in observing others around her and pretending, they are all actors and actresses on a stage. Miss. Brill finds joy in the illusion that she creates at the park. She is a woman, who lives a very humdrum life and finds joy creating an unrealistic world, where she envisions herself as an actress....   [tags: Katherine Mansfield's Miss Brill]

Strong Essays
2830 words (8.1 pages)

Essay about Illusion Versus Reality in Death of a Salesman

- Illusion Versus Reality in Death of a Salesman   A major theme and source of conflict throughout Miller's play, Death of a Salesman, is the Loman family's inability to distinguish between reality and illusion.  This is particularly evident in the father, Willy Loman.  Willy has created a fantasy world for himself and his family.  In this world, he and his sons are men of greatness that "have what it takes" to make it in the business environment.  In reality, none of them can achieve greatness until they confront and deal with this illusion....   [tags: Death Salesman essays]

Strong Essays
1527 words (4.4 pages)

Reality versus Illusion in Madame Bovary Essay

- Reality versus Illusion in Madame Bovary A central theme in Flaubert's novel, Madame Bovary, is that of reality versus illusion. In this story, Emma Bovary attempts to escape the mundane of normal life to fulfill her fantasies. By enjoying romantic novels, traveling from place to place, indulging in luxuries, and having affairs, she attempts to live the life that she imagines while studying in the convent. It is Emma's early education that arouses in Emma the conflict against what she perceives as confinement....   [tags: Papers]

Strong Essays
460 words (1.3 pages)

Reality versus Illusion in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Essay

- Reality versus Illusion in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf.        In his play, The American Dream, Edward Albee unveils a tortured family that is symbolic of the reality beneath the illusion of the American dream.  In Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Albee takes a more traditional approach than the theater of the absurd, and his language is more natural, but he returns to this theme with a vengeance.  For in all of drama there are few plays about domestic relationships that are as caustic, violent and as poisoned with the milk of human bitterness, cynicism and pessimism as is Woolf.  The story regards George and Martha, a married couple (he a history professor and she the University Presiden...   [tags: Who's Afraid Virginia Woolf]

Strong Essays
1969 words (5.6 pages)

Katherine Mansfield's Miss Brill Essay

- Illusion vs. Reality in Miss Brill "Miss Brill" by Katherine Mansfield is set the Jardins Publiques in France. Every Sunday Miss Brill looks forward to getting dressed up and visiting the park, where she enjoys people watching. Her weekly visits to the park are undoubtedly the highlight of her week, bringing her great joy and satisfaction. There are many illusions in this story, in this essay I intend to show three different illusions Miss Brill uses to make herself happy and how her reality is shattered at the end of the story by a chance remark....   [tags: Miss Brill Essays]

Strong Essays
625 words (1.8 pages)

Katherine Mansfield's Miss Brill Essay

- In many countries, taking care of the elderly is one of the top priorities. Some feel that our nation neglects the elderly. The older generation is often left to live in nursing homes or remain in their own homes with no loved ones around. This has the potential to make a person feel that he would like to shut out all of reality. The short story "Miss Brill", by Katherine Mansfield, is about an older woman who doesn't have any people around her that love her. Because of this isolation she makes things up in her mind to compensate....   [tags: Miss Brill Essays]

Strong Essays
962 words (2.7 pages)

Reality and Illusion in Richard Bach’s Illusions Essay

- Questioning Reality in Richard Bach’s Illusions The message of Richard Bach’s Illusions is based on the concept that the things we interpret in the world as reality are actually illusions. This is made evident to one of the main characters, Richard, through his interactions with his newly found friend, Donald Shimoda. Donald Shimoda is a “messiah”, and he has gifts that he uses to help mankind. A quote that Richard reads is “Here is a test to find whether your mission on earth is finished: If you’re alive, it isn’t” (121)....   [tags: Richard Bach Illusions Essays]

Strong Essays
1071 words (3.1 pages)

Reality and Illusion in Shakespeare's Hamlet - Appearance versus Reality

- Appearance versus Reality in Hamlet        Appearance versus reality is one of the central themes of Shakespeare's play, Hamlet. The characters in the play assume roles for the purpose of concealment - Claudius, in reality a murderer and usurper, plays the roles of grieving brother and rightful king; the adulterous Gertrude plays the role of a 'most seeming-virtuous queen' when she is, in her son's view, a 'most pernicious woman'. Even Hamlet himself assumes the role of a madman in his attempt to establish the reality of his uncle's guilt....   [tags: GCSE English Literature Coursework]

Strong Essays
1602 words (4.6 pages)