Miss Brill Background

Miss Brill Background

Miss Brill is a short story published in 1920 and written by Katherine Mansfield, a New Zealand writer. The story was published towards the end of the writer’s life while she was living in London. Mansfield's own life was characterized by illness, promiscuity and chaos; she entered in relationships with various women while also having relationships with men. Her personal life influenced her writing style and the themes she chose for her short stories and more than often her main characters have a chaotic life.

The short story Miss Brill takes place in a park where the main character, Miss Brill goes and watches people as they pass by. She imagines the passers-bye as being all characters in a play and she being a distant observer. The short story is written in a modernist style and has a number of symbols such as the fur and the orchestra that are both symbols for Miss Brill. As it major themes, we can mention alienation and separation from the society as Miss Brill feels separated from the world around her. She identifies herself as being an observer while those around her are heroes and heroines in the play she imagines for them.

The story was first published in Athenaeum, a literary magazine popular in England in the beginning of the 20th century and then it was included in her second collection titled The Garden Party.

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