Katherine Mansfield's "Miss Brill"

Essay by jumper_34 April 2002

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Katherine Mansfield's short story "Miss Brill" is an great example of how a writer can use various literary techniques to lead the reader to a better understanding of Miss Brill the character. Instead of merely stating the message of the story, Mansfield used various literary techniques to allow the reader to draw his own conclusions about the character. Using these literary aspects to reveal a truth about a character to the reader is often referred to as characterization. Four of the most easily recognized literary techniques used in Mansfield's "Miss Brill" are her use of symbolism, setting, allusion, and points of view used by different characters in her story.

Symbolism plays a very large part in understanding Miss Brill the character. This can easily be seen by the relationship between Miss Brill and her "alter-ego", the fur. A symbol is "a person, object or event that suggests more than its literal meaning."

In other words, it is something that has two levels of meaning: on the literal level it is what it is, for example, Miss Brill's fur is just a fur. It can also represent a more "hidden" meaning such as the fur being a symbol for Miss Brill herself. Miss Brill lives for the days that she spends in the park, this can be seen when she rubs "the life back into [her fur's] dim little eyes". This quote reveal that the trips to the park help to "rub" life back into Miss Brill. The condition of the furs eyes also imply that Miss Brill is not as full of life as he once might have been, but as long as she can see the beauty and worth still in her fur, she can retain her sense of worth. Mansfield uses...