The Garden Party

Literary Devices in "Miss Brill" 12th Grade

In “Miss Brill,” Katherine Mansfield uses a combination of symbolism and mood to portray an old woman’s veiled loneliness and loss of innocence. In the story, the protagonist Miss Brill maintains the quiet life of a person who is content to watch the events of others’ lives unfold around her while she remains a figure on the outskirts of the action. Miss Brill convinces herself that her life comprises an important aspect of the greater whole of her community, a resolution that is shattered when she is confronted with evidence of her own insignificance.

Mansfield uses a variety of literary devices to illustrate the nature of Miss Brill’s reality. From the beginning, Mansfield utilizes descriptions of the weather and music in the park to establish a mood that parallels her protagonist’s feelings and mental state. On the surface, this weather appears to be pleasant and “brilliantly fine.” Miss Brill sets out from her house with a carefree and happy manner. However, there is an undercurrent of “something light and sad.” Miss Brill quickly denies the presence of this sadness, rationalizing it instead as a gentle sensation. Likewise, when she listens to a band, Miss Brill...

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