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 about Fiction
The symbols in the short story "Miss Brill" by Katherine Mansfield are Miss Brill's fur, the box that houses the fur, the young woman in the ermine toque and the orchestra. The fur that Miss Brill wears is a symbol of her life and her feelings of inadequacy about it.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 >
The setting of the short story "Miss Brill" by Katherine Mansfield is the public gardens of an unspecified French town. Every Sunday, Miss Brill walks to the gardens to sit on a bench and watch people go about their business. On this particular day, there is a band playing, and Miss Brill imagines that all of the people are actors performing on a stage, accompanied by the music.Full Answer >
The short story "Lady or the Tiger?" by Frank Stockton centers on themes of justice, barbarism and jealousy as well as the polar opposites of these themes. It is also a story about risk, civilization and generosity.Full Answer >