How do I compare and contrast the use of character as a literary element in "Miss Brill" by  Mansfield and "The Girl Who Was Plugged In" by Tiptree?

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

If I were you, I would want to focus on the way in which P. Burke and Miss Brill are both trapped in roles and societies where they experience intense loneliness and isolation. This is of course true of P. Burke because of her physical condition. Being a victim of dystrophy, there is a grim irony in the way that she is chosen to be exploited and transformed into the perfect individual of Delphi who is then used in television shows and films. In the same way, Miss Brill experiences isolation and loneliness because of society and the way that single women are often ignored and rejected. The description we have of her fantasising about her own importance and significance amply testifies to the way in which she is ignored and overlooked by society. Notice how she imagines that she is an actor in this Sunday "scene" and has her own important role:

Even she had a part and came every Sunday. No doubt somebody would have noticed if she hadn't been there; she was part of the performance, after all.

The major difference is of course the way in which Miss Brill stays ignored and overlooked, whereas P. Burke is selected cynically to be transformed and, to a certain extent, gains the fame and fortune that she always wanted. Miss Brill is left to gain that fame and fortune through her own hallucinatory ramblings, whereas P. Burke gains that fortune and fame, but only through a different virtual self that has no basis in reality.