Why is "Miss Brill" considered as a literary work of art?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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"Miss Brill" is another excellent story by Katherine Mansfield, who excelled in the medium of short stories. Why this is such an outstanding example in her collection of short fiction is because it presents us with a stream of consciousness narrative of the protagonist, Miss Brill, which reveals the amusing, sensitive and incredibly moving thoughts of this woman during one morning. What is interesting is that Mansfield chooses to reveal the character of Miss Brill through what she says and thinks about others as she sits on a park bench and watches the people around her. Although the focus is seeming on others, Mansfield reveals Miss Brill in all of her psychological complexity, painting a portrait of a very lonely, insecure woman who is affected so strongly by the opinion of a crude couple that she shuts her once-loved fur stole away and cries, even though she is not fully aware that it is she who is crying:

The box that the fur came out of was on the bed. She unclasped the necklet quickly; quickly, without looking, laid it inside. But when she put the lid on she thought she heard something crying.

It is for these reasons why "Miss Brill" is considered a literary classic. It represents Mansfield at the height of her talents as she is able to give us a complete picture of her protagonist in a very short space, and through what she thinks largely about others.

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