Miss Brill: Reality Vs. Perception, Which One?

966 words - 4 pages

In the short story, “Miss Brill” by Katherine Mansfield, the author introduces Miss Brill as a lonely and a putting on her fur scarf, and getting ready to go to the park. As she sits on the bench and listens to other people talk, she imagines herself as an audience watching the people in the park as if they are on stage. Miss Brill believes that all the action going on in the park, such as the little boy giving the thrown-away violets back to the woman is just a play. However, a closer look at Miss Brill reveals a character that is unable to distinguish between perception and reality.
For example, Miss Brill’s fur scarf represents more than just an important piece of clothing to her. To Miss Brill, this fur scarf is a companion which Miss Brill can share feelings with and talk to. Mansfield’s use of personification in, “What’s been happening to me?” said the sad little eyes. Oh, how sweet it was to see them snap at her again from the red eiderdown!” (241) depicts Ms. Brill revisiting her fur scarf that she had during her youth years. As Miss. Brill brings the fur scarf back to her life, she is no longer a rogue. Towards the end of the story when Mansfield mentions, “The box that the fur came out of was on the bed. She unclasped the necklet quickly; quickly, without looking, laid it inside. But when she put the lid on she thought she heard something crying” (246), Miss Brill starts to put the fur scarf back into the box after she was teased by the boy and the girl in the park for her age. This represents a sense of rejection that Miss Brill is feeling the rest of the world. Miss Brill thinks that she is young, beautiful, like the children in the park that is running around. However, she does not realize that her time as a young woman is over and now it is time for her to focus on becoming an old couple sitting on the bench like a statue. All the memories that Miss. Brill had with her fur scarf as a young woman are just perception.
Besides the fur scarf being just a perception in Miss. Brill’s mind, another example which Miss Brill does not realize the difference between fiction and reality is when she is sitting at the park and sees little boy giving the thrown away violets back to the young woman. According to, “A beautiful woman came along and dropped her bunch of violets, and a little boy ran after to hand them to her, and she took them and threw them away as if they’d been poisoned. Dear me! Miss Brill didn’t know whether to admire that or not,” (242), Miss Brill does not realize that young woman rejecting flowers from the little boy also relates to her own experience when she was young....

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