Please explain the major motifs in "Miss Brill."

Expert Answers
Michael Foster eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Clothing:  Miss Brill notices how each person is dressed, which is described in detail.  Clothing represents outward appearance, the image that is presented to others, our "audience."

Fur:  Like clothing, an animal's fur represents how it is viewed by others in its environment, whether to attract attention (like a human's clothing) or to camouflage it to make it invisible.

The sea: Set in a French seaside town, with the sea containing as much variation of "wildlife" as a human community.  The name "Brill" comes from a (very) common deep-sea flatfish.

Music: representative of emotions, which can be based on false illusions. 

The stage: We are actors on a stage.  How we play the part is one thing; how the critics view it is another.  Despite our best efforts, the critics may pan us.

Each of the motifs play a part in developing the theme of how we see ourselves is not necessarily how others see us.  The image we think we are presenting is usually much more than is actually conveyed.