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What is the conflict in "Miss Brill"?

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bgambogi | eNoter

Posted February 5, 2011 at 12:29 PM via web

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What is the conflict in "Miss Brill"?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted February 5, 2011 at 10:07 PM (Answer #1)

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I would say that the primary conflict in the Mansfield short story is the collision between an individual's perception of self and the external judgments of others.  If one wanted to draw this out as a battle between conflicting subjective notions of the good, that too would work in terms of assessing the conflict.  Essentially, Miss Brill sees herself in one particular way on Sunday afternoons.  She envisions the world in accordance to her own subjectivity and this vision comes into direct collision with how the couple on the bench perceive her.  In the end, the conflict exists between Miss Brill and the world, in the form of the romantic couple who do not act in accordance "to the roles" that Miss Brill has designed in this configuration.  The conflict might also exist between Miss Brill and herself, when she fails to acknowledge that her perception of reality might be different from what "reality" actually is.  This is seen when she blames the fur stole for everything that went wrong.  Miss Brill's perception of the world is the seat of the conflict in the short story.

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