Character Analysis of Miss Brill

             "Miss Brill” by Katherine Mansfield is a short story about how a lonely woman's idealist behavior and optimistic outlook on life eludes her apparent loneliness and naivety. Miss Brill has made a ritual of going to the park every Sunday afternoon to observe and include herself in the lives of the patrons. She sits down in her usual "special seat” and observes the patrons as if it were a staged performance. Witnessing her thoughts and reactions throughout the course of the day, one may notice the suppressed feelings and concealed depression in her character.

             Miss Brill's character could be defined as a dreamer. Her conscious effort to bring to life the events she observes at the park, and the way she includes herself in the action is often realized. She allows herself to become a participant in the lives of others. For example: pg. 51, "Oh, how fascinating it was! How she enjoyed it! How she loved sitting here, / watching it all! It was like a play. It was exactly like a play!.No doubt somebody would have noticed if she hadn't been there; she was a part of the/ performance after all.” Miss Brill has convinced herself she plays a part in the lives of the patrons, and moreover that they actually note her existence. She often imagines these little scenarios where she is actually conversing with the patrons, or even sharing her experiences with her pupils. She prides herself in believing she plays a significant role, and embraces the notion that she would be missed.

             Miss Brill is obviously an idealist, but one may also notice her concealed sadness. The optimism and vitality of her imagination is used as a weapon to fight off her sadness and apparent isolation from the world. She often dismisses any sad thought or negative feeling. For example: pg. 50, "And when she breathed, something light and sad-no, not sad, exactly-something/ gentle seemed to move in her bosom-and yet there was a faint chill-a something, what was/ it?-not sadness-no, not sadness-a something that made you want to sing.

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