“Miss Brill” by Katherine Mansfield

The main style of the brief piece Miss Brill by Katherine Mansfield is the discomfort of solitude and undeniable efforts individuals who are alone make to live their lives vicariously and insidiously through others and the environment around them. Instead of discovering company through interaction with others the lonely amongst us discover fulfillment by experiencing life’s enjoyments through others. A mix of the scenarios and misery of the time Miss Brill was born in result in the English teacher to a lonesome existence out of school hours. To the point of admittance that she is unpleasant to even reveal to her own pupils how she passes time on the weekends. The scene setting made by the author is essential, the ironic appeal of a fall day as life around her begins to reveal first signs of passing away and bed linen down for the cold months.

Miss Brill’s solitude is a reflection of the time, the years leading up to and around the 1920s were challenging for women, the disrespect was still definitely there. The traditionalist views still raged and females were quite oppressed in that society, Miss Brill as an assumedly single female might not at all live her life with absolute flexibility. The stern foot of oppression was a main reason Miss Brill fell into her ways of living vicariously through others. Society limited her chances to find her fulfillment through her own life and her environment by restricting what she might and could not do via social norms.

Miss Brill’s theory about the world and everyone in it belonging to a fancy phase production provides a rationalization for how she spends her life. She is irritated by her employment, and her theory gives her a method to think of that even as she is reading to him while he neglects her, that she is at the exact same time part of something higher than herself. Miss Brill’s self-delusion ends up being more obvious to the reader as she has these self-justifying, self-protective thoughts, which she does not recognize as self-justifying or self-protective. Miss Brill is imaginative and optimistic about the way she sees the world. Though she has just spoken with her fur coat so far in the story, her concept of a kind of universal play displays her sense of deep connection in between all individuals. And she asserts her own essentialness in this world as well– if all the world is a play, then every star is essential, is critical to the scene.

The manner in which Miss Brill speaks to her coat– a distinctly odd thing to do– suggests to the reader that she might be crazy. Yet the accuracy of her observations quickly makes it clear that she isn’t actually crazy, while the details about bringing her coat out of storage and “rubbing the life into it” plainly describe Miss Brill herself also. Therefore it becomes clear that Miss Brill is somebody who has herself remained in a sort of “storage”– who is intensely alone and lonely– and these journeys to the park are what “rub the life into her.” Yet her isolation appears not completely apparent to her, and she appears to extremely like this trip to the park, and to feel a type of power in her connection to what’s going on. Whether it actually is incredible that she can anticipate the next note, she feels that it is.

Endlessly curious, Miss Brill pays really very close attention to the world around her and notices the minute interactions people have with one another. Miss Brill’s observation of the people in the stands reveals the difference in between those in the stands and those on the field. Individuals in the field are all distinguished and lively, whereas those in the stands are meek, lonesome, old. In one method or another, Miss Brill notices, life has passed these individuals by. Yet at the same time that Miss Brill makes such acute observations, it is apparent to the reader that she has no such ability to observe herself. She, too, is in the stands. However she sees herself as different from those seated around her.

The part of the story in which more negative events start to take place begins to foreshadow the twist that Mansfield throws in the reader’s path later on. It turns out that not every human interaction that Miss Brill notifications around her is a favorable one. The kid’s generosity is not acknowledged, and in fact it is rebuffed. A male almost gets knocked over. Nor are all individuals glamorous: the ermine toque– the white hat that is the sole descriptor applied to a woman, as if to indicate the midpoint of clothing to one’s appearance and even social position– ends up being shoddy.

The boy and the lady, who appear so perfect in the beginning, end up being arguing; and there is an implication in their words that maybe the argument is sexual– the young boy wanting something, the lady stating not here– and not Miss Brill’s romantic idealization of love. The young boy, in anger, then blasts Miss Brill, and the two youths then unite against Miss Brill in mockery. It almost appears as if the method for them to resolve their argument is to turn versus someone else. Miss Brill herself. Rejecting Miss Brill, they discover a method to concur with each other. Yet in doing so they likewise break the romance of Miss Brill’s illusion of people unified in a universal play, and of her own important function because play. Through the eyes of the young boy and girl, Miss Brill discovers her sense of her own specialness punctured. Her precious fur coat is actually shoddy, not unlike the ermine torque.

The climax of the story, the discovery to Miss Brill of how others see her, changes her. She can no longer delight in the little surprises that she waits on and hence manufactures for herself. The repetition of the “cupboard” image shows that Miss Brill now sees herself as the kid and lady see her: as simply another of individuals in the stands, as “odd, silent, old.” Her fur coat, which in the past seemed to connect her to a time when it was new and she was younger, now becomes a symbol of her embarassment and solitude. When she presses it back into its box she dedicates the very same sort of rejection of which she is herself a victim. No longer can she think the illusions of inclusiveness and splendour that constantly accompanied her en route backward and forward from the park every Sunday. And the noise of crying that she hears suggests that she knows that in shutting away the fur coat she is devoting likewise to shutting herself up in her “room like a cabinet,” in her lonesome life.