Characterization essay on “Miss Brill”
“Miss Brill,” by Katherine Mansfield is an ironic short story about a lonely, old woman, who lives vicariously through the lives of others, and the disastrous scene that changes her perspective on her life. Her only companion is her old, fur necklet that accompanies her to the Jardins Publique every Sunday to people watch, and listen to peoples conversations. She happily enjoys these moments until the day the casual comment of a rude couple crushes her and pushes her back into her “dark little room.”
The author characterizes Miss Brill as a lonely, old woman, oblivious to her isolation from the world. Going to the park every week, and eavesdropping into peoples conversations helps her feel included. She is an expert at not getting caught “sitting in other people’s lives for just a minute.” Miss Brill lives in this fantasy because she doesn’t want to face the truth: that she is old, and a social outcast. She likes to imagine herself having a connection with the people she watches to help her feel important and like she belongs. An example is when Miss Brill imagines that she is an “actress” and the people are the cast members for the scene. This idea makes Miss Brill believe that she is needed and important in society, but in reality no one even notices her, to them she is just another old person in the park. Although Miss Brill is a fully developed character, she remains static even when faced with her reality. When the young couple ridiculed, Miss Brill by referring to her as “that stupid, old, thing,” and making fun of her fur by calling it a “Fu-fur” it crushed her. Passing the bakery, she went straight into her dark little room, and quickly put the fur back into its box. Miss Brill thought she heard something cry, but it was really herself that she heard crying, because she was finally about to see that she was living in a fantasy , and the truth is her life is lonely and meaningless. A person –usually elderly-...
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