Does Miss Brill experience an epiphany in "Miss Brill" by Katherine Mansfield? Explain.

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sagesource eNotes educator| Certified Educator

No, Miss Brill does not, properly speaking, experience an epiphany at the end of "Miss Brill." Epiphany, according to standard definitions, is a "sudden revelation of the whatness of a thing." The term entails coming to a new understanding of the way things are, perhaps by contemplation of some seemingly insignificant detail, so that the contemplator enters a new state of spiritual understanding.

This is not the case with Miss Brill. Instead of reaching a new understanding of things, she is simply numb with shock at the rude comments of the young couple in the park. She returns to her small, dark room like a robot and sits down:

She sat there for a long time. The box that the fur came out of was on the bed. She unclasped the necklace quickly; quickly, without looking, laid it inside. But when she put the lid on she thought she heard something crying.

It is, of course, Miss Brill herself who is crying, but the blow she has received has completely alienated her. She can no longer connect with her own feelings and instead stands outside herself in a dazed state. She may come to an epiphany later, if she can overcome her shock and reflect on why these casual remarks from a pair of strangers were such a blow, but for now she is simply one of the walking wounded.