Miss Brill


Katherine Mansfield

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Themes and Colors
Loneliness and Alienation Theme Icon
Delusion and Reality Theme Icon
Connectedness Theme Icon
Youth and Age Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Miss Brill, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Loneliness and Alienation

Miss Brill, the protagonist of the story, is a spinster – a word used, at the time of the publication of the story, to refer to an unmarried woman – who spends her days teaching schoolchildren and reading the newspaper to a half-dead man who cares little for her presence. Miss Brill yearns for conversation, yet both the students and the old man don’t listen to her.

Her weekly visits to the park are…

read analysis of Loneliness and Alienation

Delusion and Reality

“Miss Brill” alerts us to the title character’s tendency towards delusion and fantasy from the very start, when she starts speaking fondly to her fur coat. Miss Brill is not actually out of her mind, but she is desperate for communication with others. In order to feel a part of something, she goes to the park each week, where she enjoys watching all the people who come to enjoy the band and play on the…

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Miss Brill, during the time she spends in the park, constantly looks for connections between people. She notices how two young girls and two soldiers meet each other and laugh. She sees a boy picking up a bunch of flowers a woman has dropped. She notices a woman in an ermine torque and a gentleman speaking to each other and imagines what they are saying to one another. These are not Miss Brill’s imaginings…

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Youth and Age

Miss Brill’s strange behavior of talking to her fur coat can be seen as her nostalgia for a lost youth, when her coat was new and she was at the hopeful age of marriageability (in Mansfield’s time women were married at quite a young age, and not getting married was so looked down upon that spinsters were pitied and shut out of a great deal of social life). As Miss Brill sits in the stands…

read analysis of Youth and Age