"Miss Brill" follows an older woman who lives in France as she goes on her traditional Sunday outing to the park. Once there, she begins to eavesdrop on the people around her and thinks that her ability to sit "in other people's lives" without being noticed is quite a skill. Miss Brill makes note of the people sitting all around her, realizing that they are "nearly all old [...]." She listens to the band play and people-watches. Soon, she begins to imagine that everyone, herself included, is actually part of a grand theatrical performance, and that she plays a vital role. This thought seems to give her great comfort. Then a young man and woman sit down next to her and speak rudely about her, believing that she cannot hear, calling her a "stupid old thing" and suggesting that everyone would be happier if she kept "her silly old mug at home." The narrator tells us that Miss Brill always stops on her way home to buy a slice of cake as a treat, but, today, she doesn't stop. Instead, she goes home and cries, and it seems as though she has realized that she is, actually, as old as all the other people she saw and of as little importance in the world as they.
Thus, the setting of the story is a bright spring day in a park in France, called the "Jardins Publiques." The mood of the story is quite tragic and sad. At first, readers don't really realize that Miss Brill's life is as empty as it is because she does not seem to be aware of it herself. However, in the end, when she skips one of the very few joys she has in life, we understand how deeply she's been affected by the young man's harsh words. She has realized that she is old and very alone.