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Story - "Miss Brill"

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by

Alyssa Smith

on 24 September 2013

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Transcript of Story - "Miss Brill"

"Miss Brill"
by: Katherine Mansfield
Term: "Theme"

WHAT IS "THEME"
Theme IS...
The subject of a talk; a piece of writing, a person's thought or an exhibition; a topic.
(p. 304)
It is an aspect of human experience that the author wishes to express.
Theme is NOT...
moral (although it can include it)
subject
hidden meaning
A work of literature may have more than one theme. In some works the theme may be explicitly stated, and in others, it is implied.

THEMES in "Miss Brill"
No. 1
“…the band sounded louder and gayer….Wasn't the conductor wearing a new coat, too? She was sure it was new. He scraped with his foot and flapped his arms like a rooster about to crow, and the bandsmen sitting in the green rotunda blew out their cheeks and glared at the music…. Only two people shared her ‘special’ seat” (p.317)
Theme: "Remaining in a state of hyper reality distorts one’s view of what it means to live and find one’s true self.”
Brill was living in her own little world detaching her from reality because she cannot handle living outside of that world. Because Miss Brill is detached from reality, she has no relationships and lacks what humans need to live a happy and fulfilled life.

Questions;
Note how Miss Brill’s first name is never mentioned. Why do you think Mansfield does this? How does this contribute to the overall theme?
What is the significance of Miss. Brill’s fur stole? How does Mansfield’s use of personification reflect Miss Brill’s social interactions or lack thereof?
What is the irony in the protagonist’s name, Miss Brill? How does that relate to Miss Brill’s self-perception and the perception of others in the park?
Why does Miss Brill rountinely visit the Jardins Publique?
What is the importance of the last sentence in “Miss Brill”?
About the Author
Katherine Mansfield, born Kathleen Mansfield Beauchamp in 1888 in Wellington, New Zealand, established a literary reputation at a young age. "Her stories are full of detail and include small, yet significant, incidents in her characters' lives; while the surface of her stories often flash with sparkling detail, the underlying tones are sombre, threatening, and register the danger in the most seemingly innocent aspects of life.”
Katherine Mansfield
THEME TIPS
Kenneth Cole, Norae Woodard, Olufisayo Quadri, Raiya Hooks, & Alyssa Smith
THEMES (contd.)
No. 2
“The episode of the ‘ermine toque and a gentleman in grey,’ as it is interpreted by Miss Brill, is considerably more pre- posterous than her coloring of her fur and the orchestra. The woman in the ermine hat is obviously a prostitute who is propositioning the gentleman; but to the heroine she is merely a nice lady whose attempt to be friendly is rebuffed by a not- nice man. Miss Brill is sympathetic with the prostitute, but it is an unreal sympathy for she has not seen the woman for what she is”. In this case, Miss Brill creates a character that is completely different from the actual situation. (p.318)
Theme: “Words have the power to bring or destroy life.” (Prov 12:6)
At the end of the short story, the words that the young people say about Miss Brill kill her spirit and make her come out of hyperreality. She is in denial and cannot even admit that she was the one crying.
Summary
Miss Brill is an older woman who is alone and has no one but her and her stole. Her joy in life is her visits to the park on Sunday, where she observes all that goes on around her and listens to the conversations of people nearby, as she sits “in other people's lives.”
It is when she tries to leave her role as spectator and join the “players” in her little world that she is rebuffed by that world and her fantasy falls apart. In other words, Miss Brill is not to be apart of a world she’s not accepted in; she is only meant to watch from afar.
Miss Brill
Bee Attentive - pay attention to the title
Bee Careful - look for details
Bee Picky - does the protagonist change or develop insight
Bee Original - make the theme your own
Bee Certain - generalize your statement
Bee Wary - carefully use cliches
Bee Aware - know the purpose of a story; some stories may have no theme
Remember with the "Bees"
HYPER REALITY "is generally defined as a condition in which what is real and what is fiction are blended together so that there is no clear distinction between where one ends and the other begins."
wisegeek.org
Full transcript