January 14, 2013
The way you are on the outside can be different on the inside.
Why do people always want to belong or to feel as they are a part of something? Is it because they are lonely? Katherine Mansfield’s “Miss Brill” is a story about how she is expressed as a lonely, critical, and fragile elderly woman. As a round character, “Miss Brill” is forced to face a disturbing reality through her routine events. Mansfield describes Miss Brill as an elderly woman in denial from old age and her lack of human interactions. Miss Brill sits in her chair at the seaside park and watches and listens in on other people’s lives, as she watches her life pass her by. Mansfield points out that she finds her life empty, while finding excitement in the drama of other people’s lives. “Miss Brill” by Katherine Mansfield is effective in its use of symbolism, imagery, and her thoughts.
An effective way of characterization is the use of symbolism in this story. Take for instance her name, “Miss Brill” which means a fish of some sort. This means that she is a wonderer, just like a fish. This gives you an idea of what the story entails such as her sitting in on people and eavesdropping on their conversations. The story starts out as Miss Brill describing the sensation of her fur coat upon her skin and how it made her feel. The way the author describes the fur, “She had taken it out of its box that afternoon, shaken out the moth-powder, given it a good brush, and rubbed the life back into the dim little eyes…” “What has been happening to me?” said the sad little eyes. Mansfield uses Miss Brill’s thoughts to be endorsed into the fur when really it focuses on how Miss Brill is an old, lonely, and fragile woman. To explain this in further detail, the fur is a symbol of how dead “Miss Brill” feels inside, especially the way the Mansfield describes the fur, “… some black composition, wasn’t at all firm. It must have had a knock, somehow....
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