The short narrative, Miss Brill, is a perfect illustration onthe use of symbolism as a literary technique. The technique leads thereader to an improved comprehension of Miss Brill, the protagonist.It is through symbolism that readers are able to understand the themeof the story. Mansfield uses Miss Brill’s fur to symbolize thecharacter, as a sad and lonely person. In addition, the protagonistis a symbolic representation of the predicaments senior citizensexperience in today’s society, as they live alone.
Miss Brill’s Fur
The fur is a symbol of Miss Brill. This means that as the narrativedescribes the fur, it is describing Miss Brill. The fur makes itpossible to understand how the character lives her life, what shedoes and her emotions. She leads an isolated life, in the comparablemanner that the fur is kept in a little box, on its own. It isobvious because in the conclusion of the narrative the author says,“She went into the little dark room – her room like a cupboard”(Kirsznerand Stephen 244). Itis apparent that Miss Brill stays alone and all she has is the fur.She communicates with it as she takes the fur from the box, strokesit and refers to is as her “little rogue” as she plans to visitthe park. Symbolically, Mansfield personifies the fur to Miss Brill.This is because the only time the fur is not in the box is the onlytime that Miss Brill leaves her house.
When Miss Brill leaves her house, her emotions are apparent throughthe way she handles the fur. She is sad and lonely and longs for thedays when she can go to the park. This is depicted when “she rubsthe life back into her fur’s dim little eyes”. The quotedemonstrates that the trip, as she goes to the park, helps to “rubback life” to Miss Brill. It is also apparent that the eyes of thefur are not in good condition, “what has been happening to the sadlittle eyes” (Kirsznerand Stephen 241).This symbolizes Miss Brill’s sad life, as she is no longer full oflife.
Mansfield employs the bond amid Miss Brill and her fur indemonstrating the intense need to belong. For instance, all throughthe narrative, Miss Brill’s sadness is also apparent in her fur.When the fur is angry Miss Brill is annoyed, and when she is happy,the fur is also contented. The perfect illustration of the bondhappens as the narrative concludes. When Miss Brill leaves the park,she feels sad because she has been insulted. The same happens to thefur, because when she places the fur in its box, she presumes that“she hears something crying” (Kirsznerand Stephen 244).
Plight of Senior Citizen
In today’s society, many senior citizens are seen as odd people. Asa result, most of them live alone and are unable to fit in with therest of society. Although they may try to come out and mingle withother people, the society is harsh, which compels them to continueisolating themselves. Miss Brill best illustrates this when shedecides to leave her house to visit the park. As she approaches thepark, she feels happy and comfortable, because she is in a newsetting. She even visualizes herself to be in a weekly play. However,the happy mood changes after overhearing the young couple insult her.They refer to her as stupid and funny, which is illustrated by thequote “because of that stupid old thing at the end there, it is herfu-fur which is so funny” (Kirsznerand Stephen 243).After hearing the insult, she rushes back to her house.
It is possible to tell that Miss Brill lives alone and at times feelslonely. This highlights the life that many old people lead insociety. For instance, while in the park, she notices the differencebetween the old and young people. Most of the old people are alone.Contrary, many of the young people come to the park in two. Shenotes, “The young ones, the laughing ones who were moving together,they would come in with a kind of accompaniment” (Kirsznerand Stephen 243). Shecompares this to “the old invalid gentleman to whom she read thenewspapers four afternoons a week while he slept in the garden”(Kirsznerand Stephen 243). Thecontrast helps to explain how society fails to cater for the needs ofthe elderly, even in simple manners as offering them accompaniment.
A symbol is an individual or event, which conveys more than theliterary meaning. The use of the fur in the narrative is important insymbolizing the character, Miss Brill. Miss Brill lives in anapartment likened to a cupboard with her fur, hence, the use of thefur in explaining her isolation. The fur is also symbolic of MissBrill’s emotions. In addition, the narrative uses Miss Brill torepresent the challenges the elderly experience in society. They livealso and have to endure ridicule from young people.
Kirszner, Laurie G, and Stephen R.Mandell. Literature:Reading, Reacting, Writing.Boston, Mass:Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2012. Print.