Miss Brill

– Characterization Essay, Research Paper

Miss Brill – Characterization

We live in a real world where real people communicate and interact with one another. However, there are a few people in this world who seem to be out of touch with reality and live their life through dreams like the main character in Katherine Mansfield s short story Miss Brill. In this story, the author uses various ways to fully characterize Miss Brill, and in doing so reveals the many sides and complexity of Miss Brill s character.

In this story the character of Miss Brill is revealed through the details expressed through Miss Brill s point of view as well as the actions and dialogue of other characters. Mansfield s use of indirect characterization helps the reader fully understand Miss Brill. As Miss Brill s character is revealed she becomes both a round and developing character due to her complexity and abrupt change in personality, outlook, and character.

The complexity of Miss Brill s character is quite perplexing. Miss Brill is a round character with many different sides. In the beginning of this story, Miss Brill seems to be a part of the upper class and enjoys her Sunday afternoons in the Jardins Publiques especially during the Season (Perrine s Literature 98). However Miss Brill enjoys her time in the gardens for reasons that go beyond the casual conversation and social aspects of the Sunday gatherings. Miss Brill looked forward to the conversation of other people in the gardens because she felt as though she was sitting in on their lives for just a moment. She vicariously lives through the lives of other people. It was as though she was enjoyed living in their life for the moment because she felt as though her life wasn t exciting enough. Miss Brill also is quite observant while in the gardens. She believes that the people in the park are part of a great big play (Perrine s Literature 99). Miss Brill s imagination shows that she is isolated from the real world and what is going on around her. As Miss Brill observes the people in the gardens she makes the assumption that some of them were odd, silent, nearly all old, and looked like they were from little dark rooms or even cupboards (Perrine s Literature 99). However, throughout the story Miss Brill never communicates with anyone and keeps to herself which is a little odd. Towards the end of the story Miss Brill goes home to her room which was a little dark room like a cupboard. In reality Miss Brill is just like the other people but she is so caught up in her own world that she doesn t realize this reality. Miss Brill is also a very compassionate character who sympathizes with the character in which she sees in the gardens. She wanted to shake the woman who refused to wear the glasses even when the man had suggested the best of the best. Miss Brill also sympathized with the beautiful woman who was denied by the man as he walked away. Miss Brill couldn t understand this because the woman was very beautiful and dressed in flashy clothes. Miss Brill failed to realize that the woman was actually a prostitute.

Miss Brill underwent a major personality, outlook, and character. As a developing character Miss Brill was forced to face reality of who she was, where she came from, and what others thought of her. First of all, the fur that Miss Brill totes along to the gardens has important relativity to Miss Brill. In a sense, they are exactly alike. The fur came out of its box on Sundays and had to be brushed and made pretty to go out (Perrine s Literature 98). Miss Brill was a hermit who only really came out of her cupboard on Sundays to go to the gardens. When she went to the gardens she always tried to look her best. Miss Brill petted and stroked the fur as she sat in the park. Miss Brill gave the fur the love and compassion that she was missing in her life because she was alone and lonely. When the girl in the park refers to the fur as a fried whiting it gives a mental picture of a ragged, old, worn out fur. Miss Brill is also referred to by the boy as a stupid old thing who no one wants (Perrine s Literature 100). The fur and Miss Brill are not respected at all. At this point in the story Miss Brill is finally forced to realize who she is and what others think of her. At the end of the story when the fur is put away in its box it is inferred that the fur will not come out of the box again. Likewise Miss Brill will not likely go out to the gardens anymore because she did not stop for the special piece of cake she usually gets on Sundays on her way home. She hears the fur crying as she closes the box but in reality it was Miss Brill who was crying on the inside because she sees reality of life now and knows that she will not be going out anymore.

The character of Miss Brill is very imaginative, observant, compassionate, and out of touch with reality until an episode that helped her see the who she really was and how others really perceived her. Once Miss Brill saw reality she changed dramatically in every aspect of life. Katherine Mansfield fully characterized Miss Brill in a very complex and understanding way. This story demonstrates that it is better for all people to face reality than to live in a fantasy because of the pain it can cause to those who are forced to see the truth of the real world.


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