Miss Brill, a short story written by Katherine Mansfield, ideally captures the phases of what mind thinks when a person is becoming older. Elderly people often tend to be nostalgic and sentimental about their youth. The nostalgia can even develop into fantasy. The ermine fur in the story is the catalyst of lady’s nostalgia. It symbolizes how the time passes in three stages: a youth, adulthood, and, finally, an old age and fantasy.
Miss Brill is happy that the season suitable for social engagements has arrived. She, as a young woman, is looking forward to courtship. She unpacks her most fashionable possession, the ermine fur. Since the lady speaks to the fur nicely, the reader can understand that she is lapsing into elderly nostalgia. She refers to the ermine fur as her "Little Rogue." The reader learns that her ermine fur is in disrepair.
Talking to her fur is also the way of Miss Brill, an old lonely woman, to deny her loneliness. This is how elderly people can alter their perception of the world. She goes to the park and eavesdrops on other conversations. She strokes her fox pelt as she listens to other people’s conversations. Although she is a lonely foreigner, she does not realize it which helps her to distort the world around her.
Miss Brill continues stroking her fur, which clearly shows that she does not have any other acquaintances or friends to talk to. That is why she is eavesdropping on other’s conversations.
The author also uses emotions and reactions of Miss Brill toward the actions and conversations of the other people to characterize her. When she sees the old couple, she does not react much initially. She compares them to forgotten dishes that just come from cupboards. Miss Brill uses various details to describe other people walking in the part, which shows her as a sagacious observer. Even the music being played in the park is cleverly used by Mansfield to show Miss Brill’s emotions. Miss Brill keeps listen to the band playing the music and connects it with the situations that she can see.
Miss Brill eventually realizes the truth about herself. Mansfield adds some irony when Miss Brill enters her room like a cupboard. This shows how Miss Brill compares herself to the old couple from the park, realizing they are the same.
When the old lady puts her fur back into the box and closes it with the lid, she hears like something is crying. It is Miss Brill crying, which is how the author makes the reader feel sympathy for the lady.
Miss Brill, a short story written by Katherine Mansfield, ideally captures the phases of what mind thinks when a person is becoming older. Elderly people often tend to be nostalgic and sentimental about their youth. The nostalgia can even develop into fantasy. The ermine fur in the story is the catalyst of lady’s nostalgia.