In “Miss Brill,” Katherine Mansfield uses a mix of meaning and mood to portray an old woman’s veiled loneliness and loss of innocence. In the story, the lead character Miss Brill keeps the quiet life of an individual who is material to enjoy the occasions of others’ lives unfold around her while she stays a figure on the borders of the action. Miss Brill encourages herself that her life consists of an important element of the greater whole of her community, a resolution that is shattered when she is challenged with evidence of her own insignificance.
Mansfield uses a variety of literary devices to illustrate the nature of Miss Brill’s reality. From the start, Mansfield utilizes descriptions of the weather and music in the park to develop a state of mind that parallels her lead character’s feelings and mental state. On the surface area, this weather seems enjoyable and “brilliantly great.” Miss Brill sets out from her home with a carefree and pleased manner. Nevertheless, there is an undercurrent of “something light and unfortunate.” Miss Brill rapidly rejects the existence of this sadness, justifying it instead as a mild sensation. Likewise, when she listens to a band, Miss Brill recognizes a subtle melancholy in the otherwise enjoyable tunes, however she dismisses the “faint chill” in the music as an alternate contented energy. In both cases, the weather and music represent Miss Brill’s own life, in which she automatically quelches her sensations of isolation to preserve the impression of her own meaning.
Mansfield likewise establishes an example in which Miss Brill compares her life to a play, where she satisfies the responsibilities of a starlet and occupies one of the important roles “on the stage.” Miss Brill muses that if she did not perform the motions of her regular, specifically coming to the park at the right time every Sunday, “no doubt someone would have observed.” Regardless of Miss Brill’s self-assurance that her function in the action is essential, Mansfield portrays her as absolutely more of an audience member, somebody who views the other people engaging in her environment while never ever in fact engaging in any of the conversations or interactions herself. Miss Brill is lastly confronted with the awareness that she is not considerable when she overhears a young man ask “Who desires her here?” and hears his girlfriend laugh at her look. It is at this minute when Miss Brill experiences the very first rush of the revelation that nobody in fact looks after her or would regret or question her lack.
The most impactful representation of Miss Brill’s life is the fur that she chooses to wear, which functions as a symbol of the hollow nature of her presence, and by extension acts as a sign of Miss Brill herself. As the fur has suffered some wear and been made more shabby due to its age, its owner has likewise been worn. The nose has lost its firmness, and Miss Brill keeps in mind that it must have “suffered a knock somehow.” This addition of the blow to the fur represents the aging that the older woman has experienced at her advanced stage in life, but also foreshadows the emotional blow that she will get in the park. In the end, after overhearing the young man and lady gossiping about her, Miss Brill silently retreats to her “room like a cabinet,” unwraps the fur from around her neck, and stuffs it back into its dark box. Like the fur, Miss Brill is positioning herself in a dark space, away from the business of others. The reader can assume that she and the fur are both unlikely to reemerge to experience the happiness of lack of knowledge and self-delusion that had actually formerly been related to the outer world.
This story wields a powerful impact over its reader by depicting a compelling picture of what no one wants to become. Miss Brill is the embodiment of a deluded and lonely old female who has nobody to care for or miss her. For me, the most troubling (and most reliable) element of the work is the last line, which explains how when Miss Brill places the cover on the fur’s box “she thought she heard something sobbing.” At the initiation of the story, she is in her mind an essential figure in the operation of society; by the end, she has actually ceased to even be an essential figure in her own life, and is consigned to the role of audience member because sphere also. This is evident in the fact that she does not even actively weep, however instead just distantly observes her own tears. Further, she purposely disregards going to the bakeshop, (a ritual that held excellent value in her routine prior to), due to the fact that she now understands that she would not be missed out on. This story applies its impact in the mind of the reader by highlighting a downplayed picture of a character who is resulted in question their previously inflated picture of self-worth. Both stories take advantage of the idea of legacy, and the notion that a private experiences an ultimate failure when her life consists of no intrinsic value or purpose.