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Essay Argumentative Essay: Miss Brill by Katherine Mansfield APA Click To ViewClick To Download

Argumentative Essay: Miss Brill by Katherine Mansfield

Page 1
The protagonist of Miss Brill, a short narrative written by Katherine Mansfield,
is an elderly middle-aged woman who has very peculiar perception of the world. Katherine
Mansfield short narrative Miss Brill is a very simple and yet truly deep story. The story
is simple because there is little action in the plot and the plot itself is relatively
straightforward. When I first read it I thought there was nothing special about the
narrative and it was only later when I read the story the second time that I really
grasped the little inconspicuous elements and details that constitute the essential
meaning that the author intended to convey. What the author wanted to communicate to the
reader is the perception of the outside world and the inner self of Miss Brill. This
woman is a very special person in the sense that there is so much similarity between her
perception and that of a little child.
          Miss Brillís perception of the world is very peculiar and subtle. It is similar
to that of an infant who only notices the good things and not yet affected by the
negative aspects of life. Miss Brill is naive and unsophisticated; a character trait that
is so much akin to young children. Yet she is very vulnerable and cannot withstand the
emotional pressure imposed on her by the cruel society. Her life is very dull and every
single day of it is very similar to all the others. Every Sunday she seems to engage in
the same activity. All she ever does is put on her fur stole and go out to a park nearby
to listen to a band. The day described in the story is just like all the other days in
the life of Miss Brill. She puts on her fur stole and goes to the park. The reader is
given a chance to perceive the world directly through the eyes of Miss Brill, see people
around her the way she sees them and hear their conversations the way she hears them. She
takes a seat in the audience and begins her observation. She imagines herself on the
stage which is probably a very deep-seated desire she has had for years. I would argue
that this inner desire illustrates how lonely she has been all these years. She wants to
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Page 2
be in the center of attention which might be something that she has never had and badly
craves for. Her perception of life and consciousness are so much similar to those of a
child because she likes the idea of being socially accepted and acclaimed by other
people. She imagines herself having a central part in an imaginary performance that takes
place on the stage in that nice serene park because she so badly needs that social
acceptance. Then she starts chatting with people just to show how entertaining she can
be. There is a great deal of symbolism in the narrative. The underlying purpose of
everything she does is to express herself in the way that would contribute to her
self-esteem. It is not that Miss Brill is complacent; she just badly wants other people
to like her and what others think of her is too important to disregard. At the end Miss
Brill inner vulnerable world shatters as she hears two youngsters talk about her: ďBut
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?" Such a
response on the part of a teenager that Miss Brill has probably never met before crushed
that subtle reality that she deliberately created in her mind. The author does an
excellent job conveying the emotions that overwhelm Miss Brill after she heard that.
Usually she stops by the bakery on the way home from the park. This time she forgets
about it. This illustrates how deeply she was hurt and offended by the boyís comment. All
of a sudden, Miss Brill realizes that everything that she has strived for and all her
dreams are destroyed by an abrupt comment of a stranger. This illustrates that Miss Brill
is an excessively vulnerable and overly sensitive person.
          There are two main themes that the author attempted to get across to the reader.
The first one has to do with the society that we live in. Miss Brill is a harmless person
who is incapable of hurting a fly and yet she is treated so unfairly by the society. The
other theme deals with Miss Brillís perception and her inner world. What we see in this
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Page 3
story is that the storyís protagonistís life too dependant on the opinion that society
maintains regarding her personality. Definitely, a person should not be so vulnerable and
sensitive to the world around because it poses many trials and hardships for people to
deal with. In this story, the reality turned out to be much harsher than that ideal image
that Miss Brill created in her consciousness. The moral of this story is multifaceted.
For one thing, it is her mistake to form an idealistic image of the world and then expect
it to operate in compliance with that ideal. For another, Miss Brill does not deserve to
be ridiculed.

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Nariman Hormasji. (1967). Katherine Mansfield: An Appraisal. London: Collins.
Sylvia Berkman. (1951). Katherine Mansfield: A Critical Study. New Haven: Yale UP.
Katherine Mansfield. (1975). Miss Brill.
T. Beachcroft. (1968). The Modest Art: A Survey of the Short Story. London:
      Oxford UP.
H. Bates. (1971). The Modern Short Story. London: Nelson.

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