Miss Brill

A Changing of Seasons: Aging and Generational Change in "Miss Brill" College

In her short story, Katherine Mansfield a carefully sculpted account of the changing of seasons as youth grows older and is replaced by new generation. Our protagonist, Miss Brill, is a self-appreciating elderly woman who views herself as a young-spirited and valued member of her community. The first and most apparent symbol of her self-image is that of the fox fur. “She had taken it out of its box that afternoon, shaken out the moth-powder, given it a good brush, and rubbed the life back into the dim little eyes.” The fine fur typically stored carefully away was pulled from its shelf and carefully restored, just as Miss Brill preened herself in order to enjoy a lively Sunday afternoon. “‘What has been happening to me?’ said the sad little eyes,” as Miss Brill seems to have woken from a slump and is optimistic about this new season of her life. She remarks about the nose of the fox having seen better days, but is unbothered by its condition, as it can be easily remedied when the time comes. She is aware of her own less-than-youthful state but does not view herself as elderly or quite yet in need of remedy. She is just beginning to acknowledge “a tingling in her hands and arms,” that “came from walking, she supposed.”


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