Essay on Katherine Mansfield's Miss Brill

Essay on Katherine Mansfield's Miss Brill

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As humans, much of our lives are based around social interaction. We are taught to live through various means of socialization from the time of our birth . Without this socialization and interaction among each other we can become very disillusioned and confused about how to function as a part of society. One would tend to isolate ourselves, exiled in this place we call the world. In Katherine Mansfield’s short story “Miss Brill,” one such person, herself a kind of outcast of society, creates a fantasy world in which she is at the center. “Miss Brill” is the story of a woman battling with loneliness. She partakes in a ritual in which every Sunday she would spend the entire afternoon at the local park eavesdropping and observing the people around her. In her mind everyone around her is apart of her unadorned existence when in fact Brill only sits alone seemingly frantically in search of companionship. She scorns anything and anyone that may cause her to realize the truth about her pathetic existence. The story conveys a message, expressed through the character of Miss Brill, that those who do not communicate with others but idealize them, and those who do not act in the real world lose touch with reality.
     Miss Brill’s character can be described as one of an idealist. The story begins as she prepares herself for her Sunday ritual in which she speaks to herself using words like “sweet” and “dear” (Mansfield 98) to describe her stole, an lifeless object. She also describes the fur as “Little Rogue” (Mansfield 98) with “sad little eyes”(Mansfield 98). One can clearly understand that the stole is an inanimate object, but through Brill’s eyes it is very alive. She even makes mention that the fur asks her, “What is happening to me?” (Mansfield 98). To give life to a fur and refer to it as “sweet” is surely idealizing that animal. Her method of giving importance to minor things like her “special seat” (Mansfield 98) illustrates a sense that she sees the world in a more positive way than her life really is. Brill lacks the companionship she desires thus turning to those everyday items to keep her composure. As Brill returns home she takes her weekly trip to the bakery where she usually stops to pick up a slice of honey cake describing it as “...her Sunday treat...” (Mansfield 101). Brill took joy in the anticipation that “If there was an...


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...she has to deal with her reality because there is nothing and no one she could use to dramatize her life. Brill is forced to accept the idea that she is no more significant to the world than any one she encountered in the park. She is the old person who comes from a little cupboard. She is the person which she never wanted to be and all her attempts to preserve her false image were now null. The truth has become clear to her thus having to accept sorrow.
     When faced with a danger that may mar our existence, as humans we have the instinct to defend ourselves against destruction. Miss Brill’s character illustrates this human trait. Mansfield's intent in this story was displayed through Brill. Miss Brill made no effort to communicate with others but instead observed them through a goggled imagination. She took no effort to accept what and who she is, but believed she was something different. And when she was faced to deal with the reality of the world her expectations set her on a path to disappointment. Her ideals and beliefs made her naive about the world, eventually causing her to be hurt making her realize the world is not at all a play.






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