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The central symbol of the story is one that Miss Brill invests great significance in by personifying it to realm beyond mere object. Her sense that the fur is crying is a key bit of evidence leading to the conclusion that the reason the fur is such an essential symbol is because it is intended to symbolize none other than Miss Brill herself. Lending the fur human characteristics is a way of detaching herself emotionally even more.
As shall soon be obvious, symbolism of clothing is vital to the story and goes beyond the fur. The passing reference to the conductor wearing a new coat is actually more than trivial. The fact that Miss Brill has a keen eye for such a detail is clue to just how much importance she invests in attire and appearance. For Miss Brill, appearance is inextricably tied to how one is judged; clothes make the person.
The hat worn by the woman who observes being rejected by the man in the gray suit reveals yet another way that clothing is an important symbol for Miss Brill. The once fine fur cap has become worn with age and a logical connection in Miss Brill’s mind is that this applies to the woman as well. Thus, the woman is rejected because she has aged and grown shabby as well. This connection also proves important because while Miss Brill has a sharp eye for others, she fails to make the connection between the effects of aging on the toque and the same effects on her own fur and, by association, herself.
Clothing also plays a part in the young couple becoming symbolically significant. Miss Brill is given to casting the other people in the park into roles in little imaginary plays taking place inside her mind. Because they are nicely dressed, they naturally get cast as romantic heroes in Miss Brill’s imagination, but in reality they are anything but heroic. In fact, exhibit a cruelty that has the effect of transforming Miss Brill’s entire world. By doing so, they become the symbol of the disconnect between Miss Brill’s perception of the world and how the world actually is.
The fried whiting is a symbol not as immediately recognizable to most readers as those related to clothing and yet it, too, is charged with the significance of appearance. The cruelty of her supposed romantic heroes is underscored by the girl comparing her beloved fur to a common white fished that is almost always served fried and is remarkable for lacks of any remarkable characteristics. The implication is that the fur is not enough to make Miss Brill interesting by making her look especially foolish or pathetic. She might as well not even be there.
A Literary Analysis of Katherine Mansfield's Miss Brill Essay
742 Words3 Pages
In "Miss Brill," Katherine Mansfield describes an aging English teacher living in France who visits the Public Gardens every Sunday to listen to the band play and observe the other park visitors. On this particular Sunday, Miss Brill notices that it is just cool enough to unpack her favorite fur. She has not worn the fur in a long time and is delighted to wear it again. When she reaches the park she sits on her favorite bench and proceeds to observe the people around her and listen to the band. She is enjoying herself and living in her imagination, when a young couple intrudes on her fantasy and make hurtful comments that upset her. The comments cause her to end her fantasy prematurely and go straight home to her small…show more content…
Instead of listening to the couple she sits and watches as people walk by and observes the children as they run and laugh in front of flower beds. As she sits observing the people and enjoying the park's atmosphere, she notices as lonely lady is being rejected by a gentleman and imagines that the band performing in the background serves as the perfect accompaniment as it begins to play in low grumbling tones. She thinks, "But even the band seemed to know what she was feeling and played more softly, played tenderly, and the drum beat, "The Brute! The Brute!" over and over." Then, the as same lonely lady "raised her hand as though she'd seen someone else much nicer" Miss Brill notices that the band changes and plays "more gaily than ever." At the end, when the young couple insults Miss Brill and her favorite fur, she returns home to her "little dark room - her room like a cupboard" and sits down on the red eiderdown covering on her bed for a long time, then begins to quickly place her fur back into its box, which is in essence how she seems to feel about herself.
Miss Brill's fur, with its "dim little eyes", nose "that wasn't at all firm", and mouth that bites "its tail just by her left ear," assumes human characteristics in the story. Miss Brill refers to it as her ''Little rogue''. When its eyes ask the question, "What has been happening to me?" it seems to be asking a question that Miss Brill is not able to ask of