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Miss Brill’s character clearly demonstrates her solitary nature. She is a foreigner in Paris, living by herself in a “little dark room” (Mansfield, V-8). She lives a life of unvaried, dull routine, visiting the park “at just the same time each week” (Mansfield, IV-1). She is obviously of modest means - her stole is shabby and a slice of honey cake is her Sunday treat. She is a teacher who is introverted even with her pupils and has “quite a queer, shy feeling at telling her English pupils how she spent her Sunday afternoons” (Mansfield, IV-1). The invalid gentleman she visits, sleeps through her newspaper readings and does not interact with her. Miss Brill is so isolated that she develops the habit of eavesdropping: “She had become really quite expert, --- at listening” to other peoples’ conversations (Mansfield, II-1). Miss Brill is portrayed as a lonely, friendless character whose self-perception is in conflict with reality.
Miss Brill sets up a conflict within herself by taking a romanticized point of view towards her life. She imagines all the people in the park as actors in a play and gives herself an indispensable role: “No doubt somebody would have noticed if she hadnt been there; she was part of the performance after all” (Mansfield, IV-1). She asserts that she is not merely an onlooker but is an active participant in the drama of life. This version comes into conflict with the reality as represented by the setting of the story. Miss Brill is not a part of the cheerful, noisy crowd of pleasure seekers who throng the park. On the other hand, she belongs to “the old people (who) sat on the bench, still as statues” (Mansfield, II-3). Miss Brill’s clinging to fantasy, and her refusal to accept the reality of her situation, only emphasize her loneliness.
Miss Brill’s loneliness is further highlighted by the author’s use of
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Human emotions seem to be unknown to Miss Brill. The protagonist seems to be from the other planet in terms of her psychological workings of mind and way of her surrounding perception. A number of characteristics of Miss Brill like talking to oneself indicate that the protagonist is somewhat ‘unhealthy’ perception of reality and herself.
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