Miss Brill

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THEME of "Miss Brill"

In the story "Miss Brill," an old, lonely lady spends her Sunday observing people in a park. Although ignored by everyone around her, Miss Brill manages to convince herself that she is really an integral part of the scene and would be missed if she weren't there. Her illusion is shattered by a chance remark at the end of the story, and she returns home, clearly devastated by her new understanding of her place in life. What this story is trying to illustrate is that sometimes people can be happy through living in an illusion. However, this kind of happiness is fragile and can be easily destroyed.

Unfortunately, modern society does not provide a place for everyone. Inevitably, there are those people, often elderly, who become marginalized; they live alone, friendless and mostly ignored. Miss Brill is one of these people, which becomes clear in her lack of communication with the people around her in the park. "They did not speak. This was disappointing, for Miss Brill always looked forward to the conversation. She had become really quite expert, she thought, at listening as though she didn't listen, at sitting in other people's lives just for a minute while they talked around her" (135). The prospect of actually engaging in conversation herself never crosses Miss Brill's mind; she has grown entirely accustomed to being only an observer. Another indication that Miss Brill lives a solitary life is in her lack of communication with the people she does have relationships with. "...she had a queer, shy feeling at telling her English pupils how she spent her Sunday afternoons" (137). Here we learn that Miss Brill is an English teacher, but the fact that she keeps her Sunday trips to the park to herself illustrates that there is a lack of connection between her and her students. The park visit is clearly the most important part of Miss Bril's week, yet she doesn't share her experiences there. Even her relationship with the "old invalid...
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