Miss Brill Questions and Answers
by Katherine Mansfield

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Why the name "Brill" is chosen in "Miss Brill" by Katherine Mansfield?

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Jay Gilbert, Ph.D. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I would add to the existing educator comments the fact that, while "Brill" is a real, although relatively uncommon, name in the United Kingdom, the word "brill" at the time of Mansfield's writing would have been far more commonly heard in another context—that of the brill fish. Mansfield's short story predates the use of "brill" as a common shortening of "brilliant," although the use of the word "brilliantly" in the opening line of the story does invite an association between this and Miss Brill's name. It is likely that the audience would have made a connection between Miss Brill and the North Atlantic flatfish brill, similar to turbot, which appears with frequency on menus in the United Kingdom.

This, in connection with the "motionless" air, the "faint chill" and the fact that Miss Brill is "glad that she had decided on her fur" leads to an association between Miss Brill and a "cold fish"—that is, someone both physically and emotionally cold or reserved. The idiom "cold fish"...

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yesimyilmaz | Student

'Brill' is the name of a common deep-sea flatfish having the ability to match its colour to the surroundings.