Miss Brill

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Miss Brill is a very lonely old woman who enjoys
going to the park on Sunday afternoons and
watching people from a park bench. She enjoys
this activity because it gives her a feeling of
connection to others despite the fact that no real
connection occurs.
Her fur stole is her best and only friend. Rather
than participating in conversations, she instead
eavesdrops on those of others, “sitting in other
people's lives just for a minute while they talked
round her.”
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The central theme of “Miss Brill” is the pain of loneliness, and
inadvertent attempts lonely people make to experience life
through the experiences of total strangers. Some of your evidence
that Miss Brill is starving for warmth and companionship would
include that she tenderly caresses her fur as if it were a beloved
pet when she rubs “the life into the dim little eyes” of the old fox
stole.
Another important them is the idea of illusion versus reality and
the way people often construct false realities in an attempt to
escape or improve an unsatisfying life. Miss Brill creates a fantasy
world in which she is an “actress” as a means of coping with her
loneliness and lack of companionship.
Lastly Mansfield is also making comment on society’s treatment of
the elderly. As people age they become redundant and
increasingly isolated or pushed to the margins. Younger
generations lack proper respect and find the elderly burdensome
while the elderly mainly want company and to feel of worth.
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Short stories are highly constructed pieces of
literature. Every detail has significant meaning.
Small details and objects in Mansfield’s stories
take on significant meaning.
Techniques used for effect in Miss Brill include:
Symbolism, Simile, Metaphor, Irony, Contrast,
Parallel characters and Inner Monologue.
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“What has been happening to me?”
“She had taken it out of its box that afternoon…and
rubbed the life back into the dim little eyes”
“The old people sat on the bench, still as statues"
“They looked as though they’d just come from dark little
rooms or even cupboards”
“She knew she needed them; but that it was no good
getting any”
“It was like a play, exactly like a play”
“even she had a part and came every Sunday”
“They were in love. The hero and heroine”
“Why doesn’t she keep her silly old mug at home”
“today she passed the baker by…went into her dark
little room – her room like a cupboard”
“when she put the lid on she thought she could hear
something crying”
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