A schoolteacher from England who is in France, Miss Brill is a lonely woman with a vibrant imagination. She likes to sit in the public gardens every Sunday and watch and listen to the people around her. She seems to be somewhat delusional about her own importance to the scene, deciding she is an "actress" and everyone there is playing a part. Her loneliness becomes apparent at the end, when a young couple says rude things about her and she goes home in a sober, melancholy mood.
He is a "fine old man in a velvet coat" who carries a large walking-stick. He and his wife share Miss Brill's bench but do not speak.
She is "big" and "old" and sits upright with a "roll of knitting on her embroidered apron." She and her husband, the Old Man, say nothing to each other or Miss Brill.
Two Peasant Women
Two peasant women with "funny straw hats" bring beautiful donkeys through the gardens.
A man in a "dreadful Panama hat" came to the gardens with his wife the prior Sunday. He listened patiently to her while she talked about getting spectacles and how likely they'd be to break.
The Englishman's Wife
Wearing "button boots," this woman sat with her husband and talked to him about how she needed spectacles but was afraid to get them because they'd just slide down her nose and break.
Two Soldiers and Two Girls
The soldiers wear blue and the girls red, and they pair off and go arm in arm.
A beautiful woman carrying violets walks through the gardens. When she drops them, a little boy hands them back to her but she casts them off in disgust.
A well-dressed young man, he comes with his lover to the gardens, sits next to Miss Brill, and proceeds to say cruel things about her.
A well-dressed young woman, she comes with her lover to the gardens and sits next to Miss Brill. She doesn't want the "hero" to say flirtatious things to her because Mill Brill might hear, but then offers her own rude comment about Miss Brill's fur.
A "high-stepping" woman, she, "like a young hen," swoops in to protect her child when he falls over.
A child plays in the park.
A little boy tries to hand the violets back to the woman who dropped them, but is rudely treated as a response.
She is described as "cold, pale" and in a hurry.
This man is dressed in gray and is "tall, stiff, dignified." He does not want to engage with the woman in the ermine toque and thus walks away, after blowing a puff of smoke in her face.
Four rowdy girls in the park walk abreast and almost topple an old man.
Miss Brill reads the newspaper to this elderly, invalid old man four days a week. According to her description, he has a "frail head," "hollowed eyes," an "open mouth," and a "pinched nose." She assumes he'd be tickled to know she was actually an actress.
Funny Old Man
A man is nearly knocked over by the four girls walking abreast.
Woman with Ermine Toque
Though this woman is obviously a prostitute, Miss Brill does not notice this fact and simply describes her as any other woman. Her hair, eyes, skin, and the toque are all the same shabby yellowish color. She is cheerful and bubbly, "talking and laughing" to one man before he walks away, and another after that.
Miss Brill Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Miss Brill is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.