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January 04, 2009


Image Source: http://www.bridgewater.edu/~sgallowa/450/mansfield/oldwomanonbenchseattle.jpg

KATHERINE MANSFIELD, “Miss Brill” (In the Edgar V. Roberts Text)

Posted by lhobbs at January 4, 2009 06:34 PM

Readers' Comments:

Dawn Serzanin
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 122 – CA17
26 January 2009
Mansfield, Katherine. “Miss Brill.” Writing About Literature: 11th ed. Written by Edgar Roberts.
Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education,2006. Pages 230-23
Katherine Mansfield’s short story Miss Brill is about an old woman who spends her Sundays at a park observing everyone. Not only does the main character Miss Brill observe every detail, she realizes that each detail helps to set up a real life play. The main character is given an outside look at everyday peoples’ lives and realizes they can do the same to her.
A play consists of many details and observations so that the audience can get a full picture of a scene. Katherine Mansfield used the detail an author writing a play may use, which allowed the reader to in a sense be incorporated into each scene. Mansfield talks about Miss Brill and her observations saying, “How she loved sitting here, watching it all! It was like a play. It was exactly like a play.” Miss Brill continuously passes judgment on others while enjoying her day. Each character or passerby that she sees is given a personality and a short background story. I believe that Mansfield does this to show the reader that everyone can be trying to figure out your story. While watching and observing others you can be enjoying yourself even if you are thinking negative. The saying “It’s better to be on the outside looking in,” can be closely related to this story because of the main characters upbeat personality and outlook on the others surrounding her. Similarly to a play, the audience is always being entertained, while the characters may be going through a negative conflict. Mansfield makes it a point to say how much Miss Brill is enjoying herself in her real life play, but only as a spectator at this point.
Katherine Mansfield has a great way of presenting this short story with such great detail that the audience can also form a vivid picture of what this scene would look like. She seems to make the reader feel as if they are sitting next to Miss Brill observing from somewhere else. Mansfield uses so much detail in describing each character, the setting as well as the music in the background to create a life like scene for the audience.

Posted by: Dawn Serzanin at January 26, 2009 09:05 PM

Brittany Thunberg
Dr. Hobbs
Academic Writing II CA16

The antagonist in the short story “Miss Brill” written by Katherine Mansfield is an old woman called “Miss Brill”. Miss Brill is a difficult character to pick apart because most of this short story is made up of Miss Brill describing others around her. Mrs. Brill is a round character. “They are the centers of our attention in most works of fiction.” (Roberts 68) Although she is hard to understand she is still considered “dynamic” as Roberts describes round characters. It’s difficult to understand her because it seems that she does not even fully understand herself and her own life. Throughout the short story the reader can see that Miss Brill is a lonely woman and she tries to spice up her life by listening to other people’s conversations.
Miss Brill’s name even has significance; Brill is the name of a deep-sea flatfish. Miss Brill can easily be related to a flatfish because she is almost empty inside because she is consumed with her loneliness. Miss Brill spends her Sundays in the park observing other people. She dresses up in her finest fur coat and “people-watches” throughout the day. Miss Brill not only watches people in the park but she ease drops on their conversations. She sits and listens projecting herself into their lives just for a short moment in time.
As Miss Brill sits on the bench observing everyone around her she sees many different people. “Two young girls in red came by and two young soldiers in blue met them, and they laughed and paired and went off arm-in-arm.” (Mansfield 232) Miss Brill enjoys observing these people because it reminds her of her youth. It makes her happy to see other people happy as well.
In the end of this short story Miss Brill sees a young couple come over to the bench. She sits quietly and listens to them. However what she hears is the young couple making fun of her. “Because of that stupid old thing at the end there? Why does she come here at all-who wants her?” (Mansfield 233) This is heartbreaking to hear and this is where the reader can see that she is also a creature of habit. Readers can also note the verisimilitude of the character at this point in the work. It is believable to the reader that this old woman is terribly lonely, and this point in the story readers can sympathize with her lonliness. Readers already know that she goes to the park every Sunday but they also find out that every Sunday she also stops at the bakery on the way home and gets a slice of honey-cake. This Sunday she goes straight home to her small lonely room and puts her fur in a box under her bed.

Works Cited

Mansfield, Katherine. “Miss Brill.”Writing about Literature by Edgar V. Roberts. Brief 11th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson 2006. 230-3.

Posted by: Brittany Thunberg at February 3, 2009 01:50 AM

John Winans
Eng 122 CA16
Dr. Hobbs

Reliable Miss Brill

As a reliable source in the story “Miss Brill” Katherine Mansfield uses the voice of the old lady to tell her story in third person as Miss Brill being the first person and of course from her point of view with a distinct authorial voice. If Miss Brill herself were the narrator, we would get the intimacy that encourages us to sympathize with her, but we would lose the distance that permits us to see her objectively (Roberts, 89). This according to “Writing About Literature” by Edgar Roberts helps the reader understand what he/she is reading and who is telling the story.
Miss Brill is a descriptive story about the life of an older lady alone living in her own little world experiencing her own simple life in a way that she depicts as a theatrical play. Not only do we understand this story just by the title alone but by the narration from the point(s) of view used otherwise known as objective whereas Miss Brill is omniscient in that she is witness to all that is happening to her and around her as this is her life story as told by her and written by another.
Miss Brill does not get any more straight forward than this. If any one of us would tell our story as we see it and as it happens around us and someone records this for us, this would be the same understanding as we understand this story. It is reliable, from a voice of personal experience otherwise known as third person point of view from a first person perspective.
Works Cited

Roberts, Edgar V. Writing About Literature 11th ed.
Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson, 2006

Mansfield, Katherine. “Miss Brill”.
Roberts, Edgar V. Writing About Literature 11th ed.
Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson, 2006

Posted by: john at February 9, 2009 09:05 PM

Katie Ganning
English 122 CA 17
Dr. Hobbs
23 February 2009
Ms. Brill’s Theatrical Performance
Katherine Mansfield’s Ms. Brill, is based on the atmospheric setting that surrounds the main character, Ms. Brill, on her Sunday afternoon. The short story begins with Ms. Brill arriving to the “Jardin’s Publique” (Mansfield 230) for an afternoon of entertainment. Satisfied with her choice of attire, her fur, Ms. Brill scans the crowd of people while enjoying the band. The atmosphere brings out the setting’s description and Ms. Brill’s own opinion.
The story begins by explaining what type of season Ms. Brill is living in. It is possible to be around the beginning of fall time because of Ms. Brill’s choice of the attire, “The air was motionless, but when you opened your mouth there was just a faint chill, like a chill from a glass of ice water before you sip…” (230). Because of how beautiful the band was playing and the atmosphere made Ms. Brill extremely happy and her description of everyone and everything around her gave her an idea of her life at that moment was just like a play. To her, the setting was perfect, how everyone was placed in position, the performance of the band and even the way she is placed in the setting made her think of a play.
The band plays a significant role in this short story. According to Roberts’ text,” objects also enter directly into literary action and character” (Roberts 110). Since the atmosphere surrounding Ms. Brill was perfect, made her think of a scene from a play and the band that was playing in the park contributed to her thought of the setting. In every play or movie, music plays in the background to show the affect of a certain situation and the band in Ms. Brill, gives the setting a real feeling that the townspeople acting in a play.
Since Ms. Brill thought of the setting as a play because of how perfect everything fell into place, she considered herself part of the play and the fur shawl as her costume. When she walked home late afternoon, she took off her fur and placed it into its box as if her performance has ended until the next. Even in real life, we can notice certain situations are affected because of setting. For example; a rainy day setting causes a soccer game to be cancelled. Without the type of setting for Ms. Brill, she would not have been able to relate the scene to a play and would have most likely just considered it to be a typical Sunday afternoon.

Works Cited
Mansfield, Katherine. “Ms. Brill.” Edgar V. Roberts. Writing About Literature. Brief 11th ed. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 2006. 230-233.
Roberts, Edgar V. “Writing About Literature.” Brief 11th ed. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall: 2006.

Posted by: Katherine Ganning at February 24, 2009 09:11 AM

Allyn Tuff
Dr. Hobbs
English 122 CA 16
Main Idea of “Miss Brill” by Katherine Mansfield
In the story “Miss Brill” by Katherine Mansfield, the theme or in Edger V. Robert’s terms “Main idea” (Roberts 119) can be portrayed as life is a stage, and everyone is always acting.
The way I come about this thesis is by studying the way the characters represent their ideas, and through the setting.
According to Roberts, “Characters and their actions can often be equated with certain ideas and values” (Roberts 123). An example of characters in this story that are equated with their ideas is the band. Here are the words from the story, “And the band sounded louder and gayer. That was because the season had begun. For although the band played all year round on Sundays, out of season it was never the same” (Mansfield 231). This shows that the idea of the band was to perform for an audience, and since there was an audience this week they actually sounded good. This concludes that the band was acting for the audience because it normally doesn’t sound very well.
The setting of the story is in a park with a band playing and people walking, talking, and sitting around on benches. This leaves plenty of room for objects and characters to be props, and actors for the “play” of life that Miss Brill talks about. Miss Brill explains how “a little brown dog trotted on solemn and then slowly trotted off, like a little ‘theatre’ dog” (Mansfield 232). This takes place in the park where there is many other things that can be the audience for that dog such as birds trying to stay away from him, or even people like Miss Brill, who like to look at the dog. The setting makes the characters and props to give the “actor” such as the dog, or the band an audience, and that is why the setting is important to the main theme.
When talking about theme or “main idea” for this story, the topic of characters expressing their ideas and the ideas being equated, and the setting factor are brought up in my mind. Those two subjects are how I can prove the thesis that the story “Miss Brill” has a theme that means life is a stage, and everyone is always acting.

Works Cited
Mansfield, Katherine. "Miss Brill." Roberts, Edger V. Writing About Literature. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Hall Inc., 2005. 230-233.
Roberts, Edger V. Writing About Literature. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentive Hall, 2005.

Posted by: Allyn Tuff at March 2, 2009 08:23 PM

McLean 1
Jessica McLean
Dr. B. Lee Hobbs
ENG 122-CA 17
February 11, 2009

Miss Brill Conflict Analysis
The conflict in Katherine Mansfield’s Miss Brill was pretty hard to identify. Miss Brill is clearly the main character of the story, but there seems to be no real complications in the story until the very end. A young couple comes to sit by her and that’s when she encounters a problem. This suggests that the conflict in this story is the older generation versus the younger generation.
Miss Brill is a kind old woman who just sits in the public park “people-watching”. She is wearing her fur coat, which appears to be her most prized possession. Miss Brill is so proud to be wearing it and thinks that she looks great in it. She treasures her fur and treats it as if it were still alive. The narrator informs us that she calls it a “little rogue” (Mansfield 231) and goes on to tell us that, “She could have taken it off and laid it on her lap and stroked it” (231).
The problem doesn’t arise until a young couple comes over to sit by her on a bench. Miss Brill is listening in on their conversation when they start to make fun of her and her coat. The boy says, “Because of that stupid old thing at the end there?...Why doesn’t she keep her silly old mug at home?” (233). The girl goes on to say, “It’s her fur which is so funny, it’s exactly like a fried whiting” (233). This upsets Miss Brill and she rushes home to take off her fur and put it back in its packaging.
The conflict of the story changes Miss Brill’s attitude completely. The issue is also never resolved because the story ends with Miss Brill putting her fur in a box and closing the lid. Miss Brill is still crushed about the couple making fun of her and she never stands up for herself or scolds them. It is a very unconditional way for Mansfield to end her tale.

McLean 2
Works Cited

Mansfield, Katherine. “Miss Brill.” Writing About Literature. Comp. Edgar V. Roberts. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2006. 230-233.

Posted by: Jessica McLean at April 27, 2009 06:17 PM

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