On a Sunday Afternoon
Katherine Mansfields Miss Brill is a story about an old English woman that lacks companionship and self-awareness. Miss Brill lives by herself and goes through life in a repetitive manner. Each Sunday, Miss Brill ventures down to the park to watch and listen to the band play. She finds herself listening not only to the band, but also to strangers who walk together and converse before her. Her interest in the lives of those around her shows the reader that Miss Brill lacks companionship.In addition, the story uses indirect presentation to allow the reader to create his or her own opinion of Miss Brill. Mansfield describes her as a woman who lives in a small house, somewhat the size of a cupboard and that she is living in a state of false consciousness. Miss Brill struggles with her loneliness and lack of reality while living vicariously through others.
Loneliness plays an extremely large part of Miss Brills life and can be proven by things in the story. For instance, Miss Brill was glad she had decided on her furMiss Brill put up her hand and touched her fur. Dear little thing! It was nice to feel it again. She had taken it out of its box that afternoon, shaken out the moth powder, given it a good brush, and rubbed life back into the dim little eyes. This shows that Miss Brill had developed a friendship with the fur and after it had been put up for a while she is concerned on how it is. She referred to it as dear and in her perspective the fur has sad little eyes instead of glass ones. In addition, in Miss Brills imagination the fur asks her What has been happening to me? In a sense Miss Brill feels guilty because she has kept the fur in storage for so long and has been slightly damaged. Another example of Miss Brills lack of companionship is when she visits the park on Sundays. Not only did she look forward to listening to the band but she also looks forward to seeing what is going on with the lives of the others.She had become really quite expert, she thought, at listening as though she didnt listen, at sitting in other peoples lives just for a minute while they talked around her. The reader can clearly see that she has perfected eves dropping as if it was a talent. Unlike those who take interest in chess or a game of spades her game consist of listening in on others and then acting as if she isnt. She has found herself living vicariously through others by eves dropping in on conversations that do not include her. Sometimes she finds herself taking parts of these conversations and begins to role-play as if she is an actress.
In addition to loneliness Miss Brill also struggles with a lack of reality she has become an actress. Oh how fascinating it was! How she enjoyed it! How she loved sitting here, watching it all! It was like a playshe was on stage. Yes, I have been an actress for a very long time. This shows that Miss Brill has lost perspective on whats real and whats not. She seems to be happy but in reality is very sad. She keeps theses feelings away by thinking of herself as an actress so that she can act gaily. She thinks of the people as actors so that she can pretend they dont want to talk to her but just doing their jobs. In relation, the young couple that sits in front of her is extremely rude to her, Its the fu-fur which is so funny, giggled the girl. Its exactly like fried whiting. Ah, be off with you! said the boy in an angry whisper. But this time Miss Brill did not continue to act happy; this time it hurt her feelings and she went straight home instead of her usual routine. This time it seems as if reality sinks in. The reader at this point might seem to think that Miss Brill has come to grips of her actual life and her role in society. On the contrary, Miss Brill once again looses herself. As she tucks the fur away she thinks she hears it crying.
In closing Miss Brill does come into realization of her habits but chooses to suppress them. After all she has no one to talk to because she is lonely. Although people surround her she chooses not to speak to them but does infringe on their privacy. She makes their lives her life and acts them it in a play in her mind. Along with this loneliness creates a friendship with her fur, which may never seem to end. She has compassion with the fur as if it lives and breathes.
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