Themes in Miss Brill by Katherine Mansfield

1896 Words May 10th, 2011 8 Pages
Themes in Miss Brill by Katherine Mansfield

Abstract: Fiction interpretation contributes to a more sufficient understanding and profound appreciation of literary works for readers. Miss Brill, a short story written by Katherine Mansfield, describes an afternoon in the life of a middle-aged spinster who visits the public park on a weekly basis, leading to her reassessment of her view of the world and the secular reality. Though short in form, it is really worth detailed interpretation and appreciation. This paper will mainly deal with the themes it conveys.

Keywords: Miss Brill, themes, loneliness, acceptance, belonging, estrangement, the elderly

1. Introduction

Miss Brill is one of Katherine Mansfield’s most popular stories
…show more content…
Another indication that Miss Brill lives a solitary life is in her lack of communication with the people she does have relationships with——“...she had a queer, shy feeling at telling her English pupils how she spent her Sunday afternoons”.

2.2 Seeking of Acceptance from Society

The second theme in Miss Brill is her keen need of acceptance from society. She adorns her prized fur to leave a younger and lovelier impression to others while on the contrary, she just receives a bitter sarcasm. She believes herself to be an “actress” playing the role of audience and spreading happiness and an active, important participant in the Jardins Publiques every Sunday afternoon while, instead, she is just a “stupid thing” in a young couple’s eyes. She is making all her efforts to acquire herself with social acceptance and a sense of belonging while her fantasy breaks thoroughly by the couple’s devastating comment.

2.3 Estrangement and Indifference in Modern Society

The third theme expressed in this story is estrangement and indifference in the modern society., which is illustrated by the abusive behaviors of the “gentleman in gray”—— “shook his head, lighted a cigarette, slowly breathed a great deep puff into her face, and even while she was still talking and laughing, flicked the match away and walked on”, the cruel saying of the young boy at the end of the story——“Because of that stupid old thing at the end there? ”, “Why does she come here at
Open Document