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Poor Miss Brill! Katherine Mansfield’s sad story presents an unusual character--- a teacher “Miss Brill” alone in a foreign country who wants so much to have a friend or be a part of a group. The story employs a third person narration looking primarily into the mind of Miss Brill as she observes the world going past her.
Every Sunday, Miss Brill dresses in her finest clothes. Today, she decides to wear a fox stole which had the head of the fox still attached. She loves the fur and was glad that she had worn it on this day.
Miss Brill chooses a particular seat. She always hopes that someone will sit on the seat and talk to her. This Sunday provides no opportunity for conversation.
Her primary entertainment is to observe people---their clothes, the conversations, their peculiarities. She lives vicariously through the interchange between people.
Oh, how fascinating it was! How she enjoyed it. How she loved sitting here, watching it all! It was exactly like a play. They were acting. And yet it explained why she started from home at the same time each week---so as not to be late for the performance.
Miss Brill sits on the bench enjoying the band playing. A young couple sits on the other end of the seat. They were wonderfully dressed and in love. The boy wants to kiss, but the girl tells him no.
Miss Brill overhears their conversation:
“But why? Because of that stupid old thing at the end there? asked the boy. “Why does she come here at all---who wants her? Why doesn’t she keep her silly mug at home?”
”It is her fu-fur which is so silly,” giggled the girl.
Although she tries not to show her hurt, Miss Brill does not do the things that she ordinarily does on her way home. Today , she hurries home and goes into her closet and sits down.
Miss Brill is too proud to address the hurt that she just experienced. But, she was devastated! They even made fun of one of her prized possessions: her fur. Without looking at the fur and neatly folding it into the box, she stuffed in the box.
Miss Brill’s pride does not allow her to cry directly for the pain and sadness she feels. Cleverly, the writer ends the story with the protagonist thinking that she hears someone else cry…the reader knows the truth—Poor Miss Brill!
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