Self Realization In Katherine Mansfield's Miss Brill

904 words - 4 pages

In the short story entitled "Miss Brill," written by Katherine Mansfield, the reader spends a routine Sunday with Miss Brill, whose character is revealed through her thoughts about others as she observes a crowd of strangers and soaks up the atmosphere while sitting at a bench in the park. Miss Brill seems to enjoy her routine of sitting in the park and listening to the band play, but most of all she savors the ability to eavesdrop into other people's lives by listening "as though she didn't listen" (Mansfield 259) to their conversations and observing their every move. Through these senses, Miss Brill tries to create an alternate reality for herself to relieve her feelings of loneliness; although, she is forced into a self-realization, but remains the same, for the imposter is not who she truly is.

The short story gives the reader an everyday experience of Miss Brill's character and her life approach to searching for a sense of identity and a longing for human companionship. Miss Brill's pastime of eavesdropping and observing strangers is an attempt to compensate for the emptiness in her own life. By her being able to listen to other's conversations, she feels as if she is included into other people's lives. It seems as if Miss Brill is so used to this sense of security that if her daily routine were to change, her whole life would shatter before her. The weekly outing gives Miss Brill the opportunity to somewhat be in the company of others and, for a moment in time, leave behind her feelings of isolation when she's in her "room like cupboard" (Mansfield 261). She takes in every advantage of feeling connected to these individuals in order to achieve a sense a belonging.

Miss Brill, mentally seated in the shadows watching strangers from afar, although hoping that "somebody would have noticed if she hadn't been there" (Mansfield 260), still views the world in her own eyes in order to guard herself from realizing the truth of her lonely existence. In her own way, she alters the views of her own reality to avoid facing the truthful and unpleasant examination of her own life. For example, as Miss Brill sits on the park bench observing an old couple who, like herself, goes to the park every Sunday, she thinks there is something "funny" about them. "They were odd, silent, nearly all old, and from the way they stared they looked as though they'd just come from dark little rooms or even - even cupboards!" (Mansfield 259). Little did she know that they shared the same ritual, and at this time...

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