The Lonely Miss Brill

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With a unique blend of symbolism, imagery and setting Mansfield brings us into the world of ”Miss Brill”. The story is narrated in the third person; the narrator primarily acts as the voice of Miss Brill. By telling the story through the eyes of Miss Brill, Mansfield is able to convey to the reader the loneliness and the lack of self-awareness of the main character. She gives no explanation as to the Miss Brill’s past, leaving it to the readers to draw their own conclusions. At the same time the author provides clues from which the reader can derive the theme of this story. The central theme of “Miss Brill” is the pain of loneliness, and inadvertent attempts to experience life through the experiences of total strangers. Miss Brill, has many symbols that clearly point out that Miss Brill is an old maid without close contacts. Firstly, Miss Brill lives in northern France teaching English. She is an immigrant everyone she knows, with the exception of her students and a elderly man, lives in England. This makes Miss Brill a stranger in a strange land despite the fact that she speaks French. Another reason the reader can tell Miss Brill is alone stems from the title. She has never been married and therefore has no family. Also brill is French for bearded. Symbolically bearded people are old. These are some symbols that point the loneliness and age factor in Miss Brill. From the beginning of the narrative it becomes apparent that Miss Brill is starving for warmth and companionship. She tenderly caresses her fur as if it were a beloved pet when she rubs “the life into the dim little eyes” (p.50) of the old fox boa. Another sign of Miss Brill’s need for companionship is evident in her perception of the music which the band is playing at the Jardins Publiques: “It was like some one playing with only the family to listen (p.50).” Despite of her loneliness, she is considering herself a part of this family that the band is entertaining with...
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