How is Miss Brill portrayed in Mansfield's story?

Quick answer:

Mansfield portrays Miss Brill as a lonely, poor, older woman trying hard to deny her unhappiness by focusing on the small pleasures of her outing to the park. But in the end, Miss Brill cannot keep reality from intruding.

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Mansfield portrays Miss Brill as a woman trying to live in denial over her loneliness, aging, and poverty. As the story opens, Miss Brill has arrived on her weekly outing to the park, where she can sit in the sunshine and listen to the band play. She quickly suppresses any feeling that she might be sad. "No, not sad, exactly—" is how she tries to repress one such thought, and she thinks instead with affection about the little fox fur she wears around her neck, a dead creature with which she identifies.

We see that Miss Brill tries to write her own narrative and make the best of her unfortunate situation. She focuses on everything positive about her outing, finding joy in small pleasures, such as listening to other people's conversations and watching children play. She even decides to consider herself as an actor in a play that is performed every week in the park.

She differentiates herself from the other old, lonely people who come and sit stiffly in the park, denying to herself that she is like them. She finds these unrecognized mirrors of herself odd and disturbing. However, she can only live in denial so long, and when she overhears a young woman insulting her and her fox fur, her facade—her narrative—crumbles, and she is left to face the reality of her own unhappiness.

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