Point of View in Katherine Mansfield's Miss Brill Essay
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The narrator in the story “Miss Brill” by Katherine Mansfield, is telling us this story in the third person singular perspective. Our narrator is a non-participant and we learn no details about this person, from a physical sense. Nothing to tell us whether it is a friend of Miss Brill, a relative, or just someone watching. Katherine Mansfield’s Miss Brill comes alive from the descriptions we get from this anonymous person. The narrator uses limited omniscience while telling us about this beautiful Sunday afternoon. By this I mean the narrator has a great insight into Miss Brill’s perceptions, thoughts, feelings, and into her world as a whole, but no real insight into any of the other characters in this story. By using this point of view,…show more content…
The details as told, seem to be coming directly from Miss Brill at times. The narrator gets us settled into the park with Miss Brill and tells us that she sees those around her as “odd, silent, nearly all old, and from the way they stared they looked as though they’d just come from dark little rooms or even-even cupboards!” This tells me that Miss Brill sees herself differently than she sees others, not odd or funny. She is a part of all this life and activity at the park! An actor in the grand play and “somebody would have noticed if she hadn’t been there.” She really loved to be out with others and thought that she was very much a part of the world and not apart from it. Don’t we all feel this way? Some people are truly introverted and care little of interacting, but I think the majority of us strive to become part of the world and at times feel like this life is one big drama and we have a big part. Our role might only be important for one scene, but we feel like the leading man or woman at times. The narrator leads us to what appears to be a fitting climax; a crescendo of music and song, with all players involved. Miss Brill’s dreams of this were quickly shattered. The comments by the young people, “Why does she come here at all-who wants her? Why doesn’t she keep her silly mug at home?” leaves Miss Brill with the cold realization that she is in fact like the odd, old people that she watches in the
The story "Miss Brill" is narrated from a third person omniscient point of view.
This point of view consists on a narrator who detaches emotionally and personally from the story. This way, the narrator is capable of telling facts and events from a number of different perspectives, without affecting the action.
Just because a story is being told from a third person omniscient point of view does not mean that the narrator does not expose the innermost feelings of the main character.
In the story "Miss Brill', it is evident that the narrator is quite aware of her emotions. From the choice of words, the narrator creates a tone in the narrative that elicits moods of loneliness, longing, and sadness.
The main character, who is a lonely, aging expatriate living in Paris as an English teacher, depends on her Sunday afternoons in the park to make her life more livable. She does this by going people-watching, and by creating scenarios in her mind using the people that she sees.
She also seems to display an uncanny amount of affection toward an old necklet in the likeness of a fox, which she speaks to as if it were a living thing. She calls it her "little rogue", and she feels as if this piece of clothing is an actual companion. Keep in mind, that she does not do this the way someone with a mental illness would; she does not directly engage in discourse with this inanimate object. She simply pretends that it is more than just a necklet, and so she carries on this way.
The author is able to describe the emotions that run deep within Miss Brill. On this particular day, something ominous is present in the air, which makes her feel strange, and out of the ordinary. Mansfield describes the emotion as
a the chill from a glass of iced water before you sip.
Moreover, Mansfield enters the psyche of Miss Brill, and tells the audience everything that she is thinking of during her people-watching experiment. We learn that Miss Brill feels, for a rare time, as if she were an actual part of the world; a world created in her imagination. In this world of hers, the people in the park are actually actors in a play, and Miss Brill is in it. So emotional is Miss Brill at this prospect, that she even cries of joy.
All of these feelings are entirely personal to Miss Brill, but the third person omniscient narrator is able to know them and relate them to the reader.
Therefore, while the narrator speaks in third person, detached, and with objectivity, it is still possible to see inside the mind of Miss Brill and learn everything that she is going through. This is an effective narrative technique because it allows us to make our own conclusions since the narrator is neither condemning, nor condoning the actions of the main character, which may lead to bias.