The theme of Katherine Mansfield's short story, "Miss Brill," is the contrast of illusion and reality, and is based on the need of the story's eponymous namesake for constructing romanticized illusions as part of her personal denial of reality. Miss Brill, an Englishwoman and spinster in a foreign country who tutors children, compensates for her loneliness by projecting herself into the lives of the strangers she observes around her. She has a need for love and a connection to others, but her needs remain repressed and frustrated.Know More
Miss Brill views the macrocosm of her life as a "theater" in which dramas unfold as she watches and listens to the activities and conversations of the people around her while she sits at her "special seat" during her Sunday visits to a local park. Her inner pretensions are fueled by her romanticizing and elaborating upon the smallest details of the personal interactions she observes taking place in the park. In this way, Miss Brill has been able to live a vicarious existence that reflects her love for the world, even though she is only a part of that world through the constructions of her personally idealized and self-serving illusions. At the close of the story, she hears herself referred to as "a stupid old thing" and finds her illusory perception of the world shattered by the cruel words. She retreats back to her room which, through the author's previous use of foreshadowing, the reader is led to believe resembles "a darkened cupboard."
Mansfield's short story first appeared in the English literary magazine, "Athenaeum," on November 26, 1921, and later appeared in "The Garden Party and Other Stories." The story is written in the third-person limited point of view, in the modernist style and without a set structure.Learn More
There are several methods to identify the theme of a short story, including reading the title and noticing repeating patterns and symbols throughout the story. The theme of a story never completely explains the meaning of it; instead, it just points to the most important idea or the controlling belief.Full Answer >
The short story "The Dog of Pompeii" is historical fiction, meaning the story takes place in historical times, yet characters and plot elements are exaggerated or invented by imaginatively reconstructing historical events. In this case, the eruption of Mount Vesuvius is a real event, but the dog's story is fictionalized.Full Answer >
As with most works of fiction, "There Will Come Soft Rains," a short story by science fiction writer Ray Bradbury, cannot be said to contain a single theme. However, among the themes present in the story are the threat of nuclear war, both the benefits and dangers of scientific and technological innovation and the supremacy of the natural world over human achievement.Full Answer >
The short story, "How I Met My Husband" by Alice Munro is centered around themes of social class and memory/storytelling. The main character, Edie, actually has an advantage as a modest farm girl because she is able to see things more truthfully and realistically. The memory/storytelling aspect comes in because Edie tells the story looking back on her life as a younger girl.Full Answer >