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Miss Brill

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1. There is evidence in the story that Miss Brill might be experiencing some mental or emotional problems. What parts of the story support this interpretation? At the beginning part of this story Katherine Mansfield wrote ” “What has 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! But the nose, which was of some black composition, wasn’t at all firm. It must have had a knock, somehow.” In this parts of story we can see that Miss Brill might be experiencing some mental or emotional problems. Because she actually talks with an object, with a fur!

2. On a related note, throughout most of the story, Miss Brill seems to experience reality not as it is but as she would prefer to see it. What parts of the story support this interpretation? In the story the writer wrote about ” fine old man in a velvet coat”, and she imagined that people were dancing along to the band for her, and also she imagined a girl who was throwing violets as if they had been positioned. Miss Brill also imagined herself performed on the stage. At the end, she realized everything was just her imagination.

3. What do we know about Miss Brill’s life? How might some of the facts of her life contribute to her problem with reality?
Miss Brill’s life is one of shabby gentility and pretense, this impression commences in the opening paragraph as she lovingly takes an old­fashioned fox fur out of its box for her usual Sunday outing to the gardens.

4. Discuss the significance of the story’s setting in a public park in a French seaside town. What ideas about the story does this setting help to convey? She finds great drama in the love affair between different members in the park.

5. Identify and discuss the significance of at least three symbols in the story. The fur stole is the symbol of Miss Brill, she does not see that the way people look at the fur is actually the way that people look at her. Also the women in the ermine torque is a symbol of the rejection that Miss Brill is to face. In the story, when Miss Brill puts the fur stole in the box and hearts it “crying” she failed to connect with the fact that the fur was actually her crying in herself, because she was the one who was rejected by her fellow “cast mates” not the fur.

6. Discuss the use of irony in the story.

”‘But why? Because of that stupid old thing at the end there?’ asked the boy. ‘Why does she come here at all­ who wants her? Why doesn’t she keep her silly old mug at home?'” Throughout the story Miss Brill considers herself to be quite extravagant and wonderful.

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