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Compare/Contrast Essay On The Short Stories "Miss Brill" And "Prue"

1468 words - 6 pages

Lonely WomenAccording to the Columbia Encyclopedia, "Katherine Mansfield is regarded as one of the masters of the short story" (Columbia). She is known as a talented musician (Columbia). She uses music in her short story "Miss Brill" to help set the stage for the play that is about to begin. In addition to becoming "the first Canadian to win the Canada-Australia Literary Prize in 1977", Alice Munro preferred to write "about women's lives and motivations" (Encarta). Katherine Mansfield's story "Miss Brill" and Alice Munro's story "Prue" have similarities and differences between them by lonely women acting life out in imaginary plays (in which they are the main characters) and the use of symbolism.In both stories, the main characters are lonely. Miss Brill is a lonely old woman who enjoys going to the park every Sunday. She listens to the band, watches, and listens to all the people that come there. She tries to hide her "emotional isolation, by pretending she is a cast member in a stage production" (Mansfield 260). Miss Brill's only friend is her fur coat. She notices every detail among it, like the feel of the fur, the sad eyes, and the nose, which is not firm anymore. She even named the fur "Little Rogue." She has become accustomed to talking to it, and pretending it is talking to her: "'What has been happening to me?' said the sad little eyes" (259). Miss Brill does not talk about any family or friends during her time on stage; however, she was disappointed that "the old man in a velvet coat," and "a big old woman did not speak" (259). This shows her loneliness as well because "Miss Brill always looked forward to the conversation" (260). She also developed a habit that would end up hurting her in the end: "She had become really quite expert, she thought, at listening as though she didn't listen, at sitting in on other people's lives just for a minute while they talked around her" (260). In contrast to Miss Brill, Prue has many friends "most of them being Gordon's friends and his wife's friends" (Munro 467). Prue is very likable and her friends feel sorry for her because of how Gordon keeps switching from his wife back to her. Instead of having her friends feel sorry for her, "she laughs them out of it" (467). Prue also has an ex-husband and grown children. She refers to her grown children as "the products of an early Vancouver Island marriage...a cosmic disaster" (467). In contrast to other people's children, who come to get money, Prue's children "bring gifts, or make improvements for her house, and try to do her accounts" every time they visit (467). However, Prue is still lonely and she is going through life as a spectator, watching life go by. She is "bright and thoughtful, a cheerful spectator" (467). Prue is somebody who presents a big part of her life in: "anecdotes, and though it is the point of most of her anecdotes that hopes are dashed, dreams ridiculed, things never turn out as expected[...]" (467). This is where Prue's character in...

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