Instructor: Carl Hanh
Monday, May 29, 2013
Backpack Literature: X.J. Kennedy, Dana Gioia
In Katherine Mansfield’s short story “Miss Brill,” Mansfield describes Miss Brill as a woman who is in deep denial of her situation. Miss Brill is an elderly woman who is not aware of the distress in her life; because she doesn’t want to face the reality of getting old. Miss Brill shows the personality of a woman who is vain, detached, and over sensitive as she goes through her specific Sunday in the park wearing her favorite “Dear little thing” fur (65).
Because Miss Brill struggles to admit the reality of getting old, her vanity makes her thinks she’s a special person and an actress in the play. Miss Brill believes she has a “special seat” (65) in Jardin’s Publiques the park where she sits every time. This particular Sunday afternoon is quite special for Miss Brill, because she has taken out her favourite fur from the box. Her “little rogue” (65) is like a pet “biting its tail just by her left ear” (65), and she imagines it as her companion. As Miss Brill goes through her day on watching and listening other people in the park she thought, “She had become really quite expert . . . at listening though she didn’t listen, at sitting in other people’s lives just for a minute while they talked round her” (65). She fantasizes about reading a newspaper to an invalid gentleman snoring besides her, pretending to be on stage and believing she was a good actress. “An actress ---are ye?” (67) thought Miss Brill, which again shows her vanity.
Although Miss Brill is a teacher and is around people in the park every Sunday, her detachment is revealed by her not making any actual contact with her patrons. She is always distant, reserved and aloof. The only companion she has is her fur, she “laid it on her lap and stroked it” (65). When the band started to play again, she thought the music “was warm, sunny,...
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