In many countries, taking care of the elderly is one of the top priorities. Some feel that our nation neglects the elderly. The older generation is often left to live in nursing homes or remain in their own homes with no loved ones around. This has the potential to make a person feel that he would like to shut out all of reality. The short story ”, by Katherine Mansfield, is about an older woman who doesn’t have any people around her that love her.
Because of this isolation she makes things up in her mind to compensate. A person who doesn’t have any significant others in his / her life may create an alternate reality to make up for what they don’t have. If Miss Brill realizes that what she believes isn’t reality, she can become broken and emotionally devastated. Through the setting, Miss Brill herself, her values, and the theme Mansfield is able to easily and clearly show how this happens to Miss Brill. One way in which Mansfield tries to exemplify the distinction of reality and Miss Brill’s altered reality is through point of view. The story is told in third person limited omniscient which helps give the reader a clear point of distinction between what is happening versus what Miss Brill views it as.
She views the entire park as a stage and herself an actress. This method of looking at things seems to give Miss Brill a sense of being needed or wanted. She actually looks down on the other people at the park as if they were less than what she is. While looking at the different people in the park Miss Brill overhears a conversation where a couple is talking about her and how funny she and the fur look. The man in the couple says: ‘ ‘Why does she come here at all-who wants her? Why doesn’t she keep her silly mug at home?’ ‘It’s her fu-fur which is so funny’ (82). Until now, nothing has contradicted any of the things that Miss Brill has thoughtPottern 2 about herself.
Now, however, there is a clear comprehension of what reality is because of the point of view from which the story is told from. In the example of the young couple, a dramatic change occurs in the way Miss Brill acts. She suddenly realizes that she has been creating all of these things in her mind. The realization emotionally destroys her and she quickly goes home and cries.
By using a limited omniscient narrator to tell the story, the reader gets a clear sense of how a person can perceive life differently to help them cope with their age and loneliness. Another way that the author supports the theme is her description of the woman in the ermine toque. This character is used not as a symbol but more as a characterization of Miss Brill. The narrator shares the details of the woman by saying: ‘she was wearing the ermine toque she’d bought when her hair was yellow’ (81). Obviously this is to create a tie between her and Miss Brill as both being old. It can also be deduced that the two are similar by comparing the fact that the woman is wearing an ermine toque which is a fur, similar to Miss Brill wearing her fur.
Both these connections lay the groundwork for what the author intends to be the main theme of the woman in the ermine toque. Miss Brill watches an incident happen to the woman where she flirts with a tall distinguished man who stands there while she talks and then abruptly leaves, showing his disregard for her by blowing a puff of smoke in her face. This is a characterization of how Miss Brill is rejected by society. The couple that Miss Brill overhears making fun of her is a perfect example of this. All of these points are carefully created to subtly teach the reader about Miss Brill and the effects of rejection. People are sometimes forced to create a distorted view of reality to avoid the pain of rejection.
Miss Brill, however, was eventually not able to sustain this image. A final part of the story that shows Miss Brill’s alternate reality is a very descriptive piece about the fur that Miss Brill wears throughout the story. The fur acts as Pattern 3 a symbol of how Miss Brill feels about herself. The narrator describes how Miss Brill hasn’t taken the fur out of the box in a long time and she had:’s haven out the moth powder, given it a good brush, and rubbed the life back into the dim little eyes ‘ (79). A connection is now drawn between the two as both being old and having been stored away for a long time.
She views the fur as a beautiful possession, when actually it has become worn down and is coming apart. Miss Brill is an old lady who doesn’t have anyone around her that loves her or thinks anything of her. Miss Brill even goes on to imagine the fur asking: ‘What has been happening to me?’ (79). This action symbolizes how she wonders what has happened to herself. She has become old and broken. The couple that she hears in the park exemplifies this by making fun of her fur which in turn means that they have been mocking her.
To avoid this realization she must believe that the fur is beautiful. After her encounter with the couple, she begins to grasp reality and, in despair, hurries home not even stopping at the bakery where she always stops. She gets home and sits there for a while with the fur and as she begins to put it away, she hears a crying. When she.