The Characterization of Miss Brill in Miss Brill by Katherine Mansfield

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In the Bedford Introduction to Literature, Characterization is defined as "... the process by which a writer makes that character seem real to the reader"(2126). In order to do this a writer has multiple tools at their disposal that add to the depth of a character and simplify roles in a story. This includes the use of Protagonists and Antagonists, static and dynamic characters, showing and telling, and motivated and plausible action, as well as many others. The short story "Miss Brill" by Katherine Mansfield is no exception to this and displays the main character of Miss Brill as the protagonist, who is confronted with the reality of her existence.

In order to bring us closer to Miss Brill, Mansfield uses the technique of showing, by
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This is also a nice example of the fore mentioned method of showing, allowing the reader to draw the conclusion of the situation alone.

One of the most vital elements of the story though is the classification of Miss Brill as a dynamic character. Being a dynamic character entail that the knowledge about the character grows and that some kind of change takes place because of the action occurring in the plot. In "Miss Brill" this hinges on the fact that Miss Brill spends her time alone, with almost no actual human contact. Her only means of living life is through that of those around her, she watches their actions, listens to their conversations and acts like a hidden parasite, drawing her own meaning in life by observing others, or as she put it "... there was always the crowd to watch" (Mansfield 259).

The tragedy of the story rests in that she does not see herself as this. She describes some of the other people in the park as "... they were nearly always the same, Sunday after Sunday, and - Miss Brill had often noticed - there was something funny about nearly all of them. They were odd, silent, nearly all old, and from the way they stared they looked as though they'd come just come from dark little rooms or even - even cupboards!" (Mansfield 259), this is exactly what she is. Not only does this
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