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Miss Brill: One Sad Old Lady

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Miss Brill: One sad old lady

In the short story Miss Brill, by Katherine Mansfield, Miss Brill is introduced to the reader with as an elderly French woman enjoying a very special Sunday afternoon. However, this false mirage would soon crumble. It then becomes obvious to the reader that Ms. Brills is a senile old lady, egocentric and in denial about herself and the relationship between her and everyone around her.

Miss Brills likes to spend her Sunday afternoons at a local French garden. She kept herself busy by listening to the band play, watching people come and go and yes, what every senile old lady does, eavesdrop on people. Seeing as "she had become really quite expert, she thought, at listening as though she didn't listen, at sitting in other people's lives just for a minute while they talked around her" (307). So insane is this poor excuse for a human that she pretends the people in the park are putting on a play JUST for her. "It was like a play. It was exactly like a play. Who could believe the sky at the back wasn't painted?" (308-309). The thing about senile people is just that, they are freaking insane! When does an almond mean life or death? Everyday to a crazy person. "Sometimes there was an almond in her slice, sometimes not. It made a great difference" (309). The reader can only assume that if one day, god forbid, there not be a almond in her cake, Ms. Brill would cry herself to sleep, hoping that next time she got her "tiny present" (309).

A common trait of lonely people is an egocentric personality, possibly explaining why they are lonely in the first place. "No doubt somebody would have noticed if she hadn't been there" (309). Really? Does Ms. Brill believe that she is such a spectacle? Or has her ego confused itself with that of the sun's? Miss Brill thought herself separate from the people at the park. She had grown accustomed to portray them all as actors according to their appearance and attire. "They were beautifully dressed; they were in love. The hero and heroine" (309). Miss Brill assumes that she is as relevant to everyone as everyone is to her. "No doubt somebody would have noticed if she hadn't been there; she was part of the performance after all" (309).

Denial, a word not found in Ms. Brill's vocabulary, for this word alone makes up the very fabric of her reality. The truth is that Miss Brills is so hopelessly lying to herself every day. "yet there was just a faint chill - a something, what was it? - not sadness - no, not sadness - a something that made you want to sing" (309). She abruptly changes her mind, as if she almost caught herself in her reality, a reality much lonelier and sadder than her current illusion. Poor Miss brill, she eventually discovers "she was part of the performance



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