Miss Brill

Miss Brill Summary

Sunday afternoon at the public gardens in a French village finds Miss Brill enjoying the crisp air of early fall and showing off her fur stole. With the long summer finally drawing to a close, this stroll to the Jardins Publiques is the first opportunity for Miss Brill to wear her beloved stole in some time. After a good cleaning, she had managed to bring so much life back into the creature’s eyes that it almost appeared to be communicating with her.

Taking her seat on her favorite bench, Miss Brill begins to enjoy watching and listening to the people around her. The sound of the music from the band seems somehow not just louder, but more vibrant than on recent Sundays. Her only disappointment is that the old couple who sits next to her is not speaking today, and she so loves practicing her skill of pretending like she is not listening when she actually is.

And so, Miss Brill sits silently, enraptured by the various dramas playing out before her. Miss Brill’s imagination begins to kick into gear as she pictures her part in the scenes playing out before her, all from the perspective of being an actor in a stage play. The park becomes the stage and Miss Brill becomes another character in the narrative. She begins to wonder whether her weekly absence would be noticed like the absence of a familiar character from a performance of a play.

A young couple approach Miss Brill and take a seat close by. For Miss Brill, these two attractive lovers take on the roles in her imagined fiction of the hero and the heroine. She listens closely to their conversation in an attempt to work what they are saying into her constructed dramaturgy. The actual dialogue of the actors does not jibe with her own narrative, however: they scornfully make fun of her fur and her age and wonder why she insists on regularly appearing in public when it is obvious she is so dreadfully out of place. The young woman even dares to compare Miss Brill’s beloved fur to a dead fish.

In response, Miss Brill makes the decision not to stop by the bakery she usually visits as part of her Sunday ritual. Instead, she hastily returns to the small dark room of her home, sitting quietly for some time before finally removing her fur and placing it back inside the box. As she does this, Miss Brill imagines she hears the sound of something crying.