Katherine Mansfield's "Miss Brill" Essay

1194 words - 5 pages

Katherine Mansfield's short story "Miss Brill" is an great example of how a writer can use various literary techniques to lead the reader to a better understanding of Miss Brill the character. Instead of merely stating the message of the story, Mansfield used various literary techniques to allow the reader to draw his own conclusions about the character. Using these literary aspects to reveal a truth about a character to the reader is often referred to as characterization. Four of the most easily recognized literary techniques used in Mansfield's "Miss Brill" are her use of symbolism, setting, allusion, and points of view used by different characters in her story.Symbolism plays a very large part in understanding Miss Brill the character. This can easily be seen by the relationship between Miss Brill and her "alter-ego", the fur. A symbol is "a person, object or event that suggests more than its literal meaning." In other words, it is something that has two levels of meaning: on the literal level it is what it is, for example, Miss Brill's fur is just a fur. It can also represent a more "hidden" meaning such as the fur being a symbol for Miss Brill herself. Miss Brill lives for the days that she spends in the park, this can be seen when she rubs "the life back into [her fur's] dim little eyes". This quote reveal that the trips to the park help to "rub" life back into Miss Brill. The condition of the furs eyes also imply that Miss Brill is not as full of life as he once might have been, but as long as she can see the beauty and worth still in her fur, she can retain her sense of worth. Mansfield uses the bond between Miss Brill and the fur the show how deeply she needs to belong. For example, throughout the story when Miss Brill is happy the fur is also happy, and when the fur is insulted then Miss Brill is also insulted. Perhaps the best example of this bond is when Miss Brill is sitting in her cupboard-like room and puts her fur away, and thinks that she hears "something crying". Rather than facing the sadness and disappointment of the day, she attributes her sadness to the fur.The setting of "Miss Brill" is an important feature of the story because Miss Brill defines herself in relation to the setting. As she walks about the park, she feels more and more in tune with her setting, as she notices that all of the people at the park, including herself, are actors in a weekly play. Her sense of herself in relation to the setting changes drastically, of course, when she overhears the young couple ridiculing her. As the story opens, she is upbeat and happy watching the other people in the park. After the young couple mock her, we see the sadness as she walks slowly back to her apartment, her "cupboard".Mansfield also uses allusion to reinforce the theme of the story. We first see Miss Brills allusions to a cupboard as she describes the other elderly people in the park. She seems to sympathize with them because they are not a part of this grand play...

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