Tuesday, September 23, 2008

"Miss Brill" Point of View Essay # 1

by Jenny L



Set on a “brilliantly fine” day, readers witness the isolation of Miss Brill from her society as she struggles to play a recognizable role in it, despite a seemingly inviting environment. Katherine Mansfield’s short story of an old lady, Miss Brill, characterizes the feeling of isolation and rejection from society. Mansfield employs the use of a stream of consciousness point of view in order to exemplify the brutality of being in isolation and alienation through a relatable Miss Brill as she is confined to her own thoughts and secluded from any outside interactions. Told in such a point of view, Mansfield enhances the feelings of seclusion by allowing readers to only see, feel and hear through the thoughts of a lonely woman.



As Mansfield leads readers on a journey though the thoughts of the aged Miss Brill, her struggles to separate herself from brutal reality and a self deceiving idealism, is evident. In her evasion, she lives in her own thoughts where she shields herself from the harshness of her disconnection from society. Through her detailed recollections of the visitors in the park, her keen attention to the couples that appear, and the capacity in which her imagination takes in order to create company for her misery, it is seen that the feeling of being alone is so powerfully upsetting, that one must struggle to avoid it. Throughout the short story Miss Brill shares no physical dialogue with any of the appearing characters despite the numerous people that walks past. Miss Brill’s monologue continues as she deceives herself into believing “how fascinating it was” and “how she enjoyed it” while in reality, her loneliness is manifesting within herself. Through the use of a stream of consciousness narrative, Mansfield is able to allow readers to pry into the private thoughts of a suffering yet, proud old woman who refuses to accept her solitary state. She refuses to be defeated, and in her resistance she leads herself to self deception.



However, despite being in a “play” that “even she had a part [that] came every Sunday” the performance nonetheless must come to an end. With an “old couple”, “two young girls in red” and “two young soldiers in blue” Miss Brill cannot escape reality as she is forced to face the fact that she is alone. She, among all the “twos” and the “couples”, sits on the bench, behind a mask of thoughts struggling to blind herself from the truth. She wants to be included, play a part, be someone but it is only within her thoughts that she is. The way in which she wants reality to be is, unfortunately not her reality. Although Mansfield places Miss Brill in a fall setting “with a number of people out” and a “band [that] sounded louder and gayer”, where possibilities seem ever present, she never fully allows her to break out of her isolation and interact with others. The confinement to her thoughts disallows her any opportunity of communications with others. It is through this stream of Miss Brill’s thoughts that readers are able to truly emphasize with her and understand the cruelty of living in such a crowded world and yet feel so alone. In many ways, the point of view of Mansfield short story is to help place emphasis on one’s separation from society and the consequences its victims must face. Though the cause of Miss Brill’s loneliness is not revealed through her thoughts, she does expose that “yes, [she has] been an actress for a long time” and in that period she has been in denial of being just like the people who all appear to be “odd, silent, nearly all old, and from the way they’d stared they look as thought they’d just come from dark little rooms or even—even cupboards.” Her thoughts, no matter how much they try to deflect reality, is interrupted as a young couple, ironically deemed as “the hero and heroine”, brings her daydream to a halt. They insensitively push her back into her “cupboard”, asking “Why doesn’t she keep her silly old mug at home?”



As Mansfield’s short story of an old woman’s struggle to stay within the acceptance and inclusion of society comes to an end, it is evident that Miss Brill’s stream of thoughts which helps her to create that fantasy must come to an end as well. In the flow of ideas, one after another, in which she pretends to live a life in which she is not alone, in which she is with the old couple sitting on the bench, or the band playing lively music, it is evident that Miss Brill holds hopes of finding companionship. However this false allusion to reality is destroyed as her thoughts come to a halt. Miss Brill realizes that she is in fact alone. Mansfield captures the feeling of loneliness through Miss Brill, creating a character that expresses a feeling that everyone experiences and is able to use a point of view that constantly hints at the impact of such a feeling as it leaves one with constant thoughts of how to evade such a terrible fate.

14 comments:

Tzivia H said...

Jenny!

I would first like to comment on your style and eloquence of writing. It was apparent that you command a high level of diction and thereby included an intereting array of vocabularly. Beyond that, your thesis statement: "Told in such a point of view, Mansfield enhances the feelings of seclusion by allowing readers to only see, feel and hear through the thoughts of a lonely woman" was strong. So too was the format logical. You introduced the reader to the story, explained how Miss Brill employed stream of consciousness, and then explained how her thoughts (presented through stream of consciousness) deviated from reality. And although it is sometimes frowned upon to include quotes in a topic sentence, I really liked the fact that you noted setting, "brilliantly fine day," in the first sentence. It made the essay much more captivating early on than many comparable academic essays.

While the thesis was strong, you didn't necessarily touch upon purpose until the last few sentences of the last paragraph. You wrote, "Mansfield captures the feeling of loneliness through Miss Brill, creating a character that expresses a feeling that everyone experiences and is able to use a point of view that constantly hints at the impact of such a feeling as it leaves one with constant thoughts of how to evade such a terrible fate." From such, you seem to suggest that Mansfield's purpose was to suggest that loneliness and isolation are mass experienced emotions that deeply impact. This more specific purpose may be helpful to be included in the topic paragraph along with how POV accomplishes it- as thesis usually includes purpose and how it's accomplished, in this case through POV. The only other thing I noticed was in terms of your evidence. Now this might not always be the case mind you, but I find using sentences rather than words of textual evidence makes my arguments stronger based on the fact that it's more of the author's specific ideas. And as a side-note, don't forget to cite textual evidence.

To conclude, I just wanted to note a compelling point you made. You wrote, "It is through this stream of Miss Brill’s thoughts that readers are able to truly emphasize with her and understand the cruelty of living in such a crowded world and yet feel so alone." Upon reading the story, I latched onto Miss Brill's isolation and delusions solely. From her thoughts, I discerned that it was her own delusions that caused her isolation. However, you made an interesting point. Beyond being simply the delusions of Miss Brill it is also the fault of human kind's inate CRUELTY that caused her isolation. It is also external interactions (how others percieve her)rather than simply a miscalculation of the world you note that affects Miss Brill's ability to have relationships.

Ashley A said...

Jenny,

I enjoyed reading your paper because you introduced a lot of new ideas that I had not thought of while reading the story. Although there were many points in your paper I found interesting, I was captivated by your introductory and concluding paragraphs. The concluding sentence of the introductory paragraph not only brought your ideas to a close, but it explained why you felt the narrator’s point of view was that of stream of consciousness. I also liked the second paragraph because it gives insist on how the other characters isolate Miss Brill and how she perceives her isolation. Finally, your closing paragraph also grabbed my attention because you wrote, “In the flow of ideas, one after another, in which she pretends to live a life in which she is not alone, in which she is with the old couple sitting on the bench, or the band playing lively music, it is evident that Miss Brill holds hopes of finding companionship.” I found it interesting that you were able to give specific examples of where Miss Brill tried to include herself in the society she really was not a part of.

A few situations in your paper that I would have changed are your lack of including references to the quotes from the story. I think that page numbers are helpful to readers who may have read your paper and not have read the actual story because it would give them specific pages to refer back to for clarity. Also, there were a few typos that distracted me while reading your paper, such as, “…as Mansfield leads readers on a journey though the thoughts of the aged Miss Brill, her struggles to separate herself from brutal reality…”, I assume you meant to say he struggles instead of “she struggles”. Also, you ended you third paragraph with, “they insensitively push her back into her “cupboard”, asking “Why doesn’t she keep her silly old mug at home?”, personally I try not to end paragraphs with quotes because I feel that some quotes can be explained further to the readers.

Over all, Jenny, I found your paper to be interesting and insightful. Certain points that you brought up, such as when Miss Brill tried to include herself as someone who interacted with other couples and someone that was a part of the band, I did not fully connect that to being Miss Brill’s way of imagining that she too had a role in her community, before reading you paper.

emily said...

Hi Jenny!
What immediately impressed me when I read your essay was your thesis; it was very clear, concise, and I believe accurate. You took a strong stand on your topic, and it was interesting one. I also thought your second paragraph, which was full of analysis, showed your deep understanding of the story and backed up your thesis well.
Although your paper was overall very well written and interesting, there were a few things I would change. To start at the beginning, your first sentence confused me a little; I don’t think the setting is really pertinent to the point of view. You also bring up setting in the third paragraph-“Although Mansfield places Miss Brill in a fall setting “with a number of people out” and a “band [that] sounded louder and gayer”, where possibilities seem ever present, she never fully allows her to break out of her isolation and interact with others.” I think that these are instances where, although you are completely correct in what you’re saying, you’ve strayed somewhat from the prompt. It would have been great if you could have somehow tied the setting back to POV.
As I said before, I thought your analysis in the second paragraph was really good; however, I think it would have been nice to somehow integrate the second and third paragraphs into one another. The second paragraph had no evidence and the third one was mostly evidence. I think your evidence would have been more effective if you had paired your analyses with specific quotes, rather than creating separate block paragraphs for the evidence and analysis. (Not to say that there was no analysis in the third paragraph, but there was very little.)
You also brought up a really interesting point in your second paragraph that I hadn’t thought of-that Miss Brill “lives in her own thoughts where she shields herself from the harshness of her disconnection from society.” I never thought of this logical psychological issue in a character as being a reason for writing in stream-of-consciousness, so thanks for making me think about that.

Good job!

Matt Z! said...

Hey Jenny!

First off, I would like to say that you have superb and evident control over the English language. The vocabulary you used in this essay was exquisite, and often times I found myself silently commenting on how certain words that you used fit the sentence perfectly and portrayed your meaning extremely accurately. Being someone who often times has trouble putting what he wants to say into words, needless to say I was impressed at how easily and clearly you accomplished that. Your opening sentence was phenominal, "Set on a 'brilliantly fine' day, readers witness the isolation of Miss Brill from her society as she struggles to play a recognizable role in it, despite a seemingly inviting environment." The juxtaposition you introduced is intriguing, and is a nice hook. Another example of a quality sentence that hit me as being extremely sophisticated was the first sentence of your last paragraph.

The only thing I would watch out for would be your punctuation and conventions, and things of that nature. Phrases such as "stream-of-consciousness" and "self-deception" tend to look/ work better for me when they are hyphenated. Also, I know Tzivia pointed this out, but don't forget to include the cited page number in parenthesis after you insert a piece of textual evidence.

Excellent job! I thought it was really interesting how you focused so much on the stream-of-consciousness POV. I wrote my essay on limited omniscience, so I found this to be eye-opening and informative. It gave me a broader view of the novel. Also, you stated "In many ways, the point of view of Mansfield short story is to help place emphasis on one’s separation from society and the consequences its victims must face." Again, this was totally different than what I wrote about (which is probably why you scored higher than me, hahaha), and it was extremely compelling.

Kudos!

Stephen said...

Hey, Jenny!
Well, having read your essay, I can say that you have a very graceful writing style. You have a knack for finding just the right words to express an idea. Your concluding paragraph is evidence of this. Also, your succinct analyses of the author's use of POV are very admirable. I didn't pick up on the whole "couples" and "pairs" and "twos" idea until now. Now that I see it, I think that you are spot on!


I did notice a few areas for improvement though. Maybe it's because I'm a structuring guy. In a way, I think that I was knocked a bit off balence when reading your intro and first body paragraph. The second body paragraph had a lot more texual evidence thand the first body paragraph, in a way blurring the lines between the intro paragraph and the first body paragraph. In the first body paragraph, a lot of the sentences seem like assertions to me, rather than evidence to support the assertions made in the intro. Not of course, that I disagree with what you say in the beginning of the first body paragraph- I totally agree! I had a bit of trouble isolating the "point" of the first body paragraph- it was at the end. While your analysis is excellent, perhaps you could structure your essay in a way that presents the analysis in clearly defined segments.

I liked your extension of Miss Brill's idea of the entire scene as a play when you wrote: "However, despite being in a “play” that “even she had a part [that] came every Sunday” the performance nonetheless must come to an end." Somehow, I never put much emphasis on the "play" theme of the short story, and I'm delighted to see it explained so well here.

On a weird tangent, I notice that you use the phrase "it is evident" a few times in the intro and concluding paragraphs. Is this intentional? Just a thought.

Great job, by the way.

Mary N. said...

To begin off, I would like to say that your thesis was very strong. Right away, you informed us of Miss Brill’s struggle with society even if it seemed to be inviting, of the author’s purpose in employing the stream of consciousness, and how the author does it:

“Mansfield employs (here you tell us that “what”) the use of a stream of consciousness point of view in order to exemplify (here you give us the why) the brutality of being in isolation and alienation through a relatable Miss Brill (here you give us the how) as she is confined to her own thoughts and secluded from any outside interactions.”

Clearly, you explain that Mansfield chooses to narrate through a stream of consciousness to show isolation and alienation, and she does this through the thoughts of a relatable character. Very well done, Jenny!

In addition, I am really impressed the word choice throughout your essay. For example, I really liked how you analyzed Miss Brill’s denial of her role in society. You called it a struggle to separate “herself from brutal reality and a self-deceiving idealism.” Self-deceiving idealism completely conveys Miss Brill’s attitude towards herself; it is much more descriptive and weighty than “in denial.” Miss Brill did not just pretend, she lied to herself in order to make an ideal image of herself come alive. You chose your words nicely and appropriately, which definitely gave off a little more “oomph” to your essay as a whole.

Also, the way you integrated direct quotations from the short story into your essay is so effective. These direct quotations flowed well into your essay. For example, in your second paragraph, you started off with the following statement:

“However, despite being in a “play” that “even she had a part [that] came every Sunday” the performance nonetheless must come to an end.”

I absolutely love the way you strategically placed this quotation here. It shows the audience here that the “play” Miss Brill acts in is “put on” every Sunday as she visits the park every Sunday. It really emphasizes the fact that Miss Brill is an actress in a real society. You went beyond and concluded that the performance must end, as all performances eventually do, and made it into the topic of your sentence paragraph. Jenny, you continued on to develop the paragraph well, giving specific examples from the short story that were never off-topic and were always worthy. Your analysis shows depth beyond the literal text itself.

Your essay was really well done. One thing you could do explain why Miss Brill is struggling to play a “recognizable role” in society. You wrote, “…readers witness the isolation of Miss Brill from her society as she struggles to play a recognizable role in it, despite a seemingly inviting environment.” Here, you tell us that she struggles to play a role, but you didn’t discuss why. Elaboration would connect the readers more to Miss Brill if they knew why she was so isolated. You pointed out many, MANY, great ideas. Just a little more elaboration on them would make them even more outstanding. For example, in paragraph one, you wrote:
“In her evasion, she lives in her own thoughts where she shields herself from the harshness of her disconnection from society. “

Here, you should give a brief “why.” Why is Miss Brill shielding herself from the harshness of her disconnection from society?

Overall, I really enjoyed reading your essay. You brought up points that I never saw in the story, and I thought you analyzed them really well. Your writing style is definitely different from mine, and you really showed me how you didn’t need to stick to a formulaic style (as I mostly do) to write a phenomenal essay.

Andy V. said...

Hey Jenny,

Your essay is enjoyable to read and gives much more insight to Ms. Brill. After reading your essay it allowed me to see the deeper meaning in her denial for loneliness. You gave very strong evidence, such as all the quotes of all the groups and pairs together whiles she “acts” along with them. Your diction is also is impressive and makes me a little envious.

It is difficult for me to comment on what need to be fixed, that has not been stated by others already. The first body paragraph is lacking textual evidence compared to the second paragraph. The first body paragraph makes a strong statement that doesn’t stick to me well. It doesn’t persuade me that Miss Brill was in denial because there was a lack of evidence from the text.

Over all however it is a great essay. Your second body paragraph gives strong evidence and allows me to realize and convince me that the pairs of people are stated to show the loneliness of Miss Brill. Your last paragraph ties together well.

Keep up the amazing work.

Kayla P said...

Jenny!

Your essay was such a pleasure to read. You had total control over your use of vocabulary, and everything tied in nicely. I enjoyed your style because it flowed so well. I also found it interesting how you incorperated a quote into your thesis.

I thought a few of the sentences were a bit structurally awkward. For example, you wrote "Throughout the short story Miss Brill shares no physical dialogue with any of the appearing characters despite the numerous people that walks past." I'm sure it was a minor typo on your part, but I believe it would be "the numerous people that walk past," instead of people that walk past. A few small issues like that were the only thing that distracted me from your essay.

Your essay, which was written in a different point of view than I had used, really made me see how stream of consciousness really fit the story as a whole. Before it didn't make sense to me, but after reading this, I had more of an "ah ha!" moment. So, good job. I thought it was a lovely essay.

Kristen W. said...

Jenny,
I thought you did a great job on this paper! Everything flowed so well, and the structure of the essay itself was very organized. I liked how you blended your quotations in as well. I didn't feel a point where I was lost or felt as if I was trying to figure out your point. Also, the quotes you used really gave a lot of evidence to what you were trying to prove. The vocabulary you used really just added to it as well. Great diction.

I agree with Kayla, some of it was a bit awkward. It didn't pull me away from the reading at all though. It was just something that was a bit bothering but can easy be fixed. Also I noticed the paragraphs were a bit unbalanced. I noticed some of the paragraphs would have more detail and evidence than others. For example, the first body paragraph didn't really make me truely believe in what you were saying.

I have a difficult time describing HOW authors accomplish things in their writing. Your essay definately gave me a clearer picture on what I should be writing about in mine. Your essay was great!

Awesome job!
-Kristen.

Vanessa G. said...

Hello Jenny lam! I want to congragulate you on your most obvious excellent essay--which you deserve the grade you received! I know, read me your essay on the phone the night before the essay was due and I told you I loved it. :)

But, now, I get to read it in depth.

To start things off, I want to comment on your thesis statement in your introductory paragraph. Just by reading it, you provide me with the topic of your essay--therefore, I immediately know what you are going to write about. That's a plus! I agree with your choice of point of view in which the author writes the story in--although I chose omniscient and nonparticipant. I see where I went wrong because the stream of conciousness basically sums it all up. I also love your use of vocabulary...nice!

I also like how you ended your second body paragraph with a quote...I would've never been able to pull that off. Speaking of body paragraphs, they are very detailed and your use of textual evidence proves the points that you are trying to make and you nailed it, in my opinion. Also, I agree with Kayla when she says your essay flows nicely, fluidly. It's not chunky or stative.

Minor little grammatical errors were the only problems that I noticed in your essay. I don't think there really is a need to point it out, but here it is: ". She refuses to be defeated, and in her resistance she leads herself to self deception." There is no need for the comma usage since it's only two ideas brought to attention. I really can't think of anything to further improve your essay.

Now I see why you used stream of conciousness point of view. As I mentioned before, I used two different point of views and now that I think of it, I realize that it would have made more sense to just use stream of conciousness. Also, I see that I didn't really focus on how the author played out her purpose through the point of view, I focused more on what was being said. But, reading your essay helped me see the light. Thanks Jen!

Mario P. said...

First let me say how much I love your writing style here, Jenny. It is very well constructed and flows incredably. I had a hard time finding things to critique, but this is what I came up with:

1) There were a few errors here and there that were grammar related, but I didn't really noticed them, not until I was actually searching for something that was wrong.

2) There was lack of evidence, which is not to say it wasn't there. I just feel there were certain times where you could have used the text more, and convinced my better.

All in all though, I say you did a good job, and fully seserved your 8.

Michaela I. said...

Hey Jenny,

I was impressed specifically with how you opened your paper. It shows variation and development of style. You didn’t open with the generic line: “In the story Ms. Brill, the author…”. Since I tend to do this I admire how you were able to come up with an engaging opening statement. I also thought your thesis, “Mansfield employs the use of a stream of consciousness point of view in order to exemplify the brutality of being in isolation and alienation through a relatable Miss Brill as she is confined to her own thoughts and secluded from any outside interactions”, was strong and specific. The “stream of consciousness” was supported well with the evidence concerning her “self deception” and the idea of “being in a play”. Overall I thought you had relevant evidence and wrote your paper in a stylistically mature way.

As for areas for improvement, first your paper lacked proper citation as Ashley. The lack of page numbers after the quotes may confuse your reader or hurt your credibility. Again agreeing with Ashley, I too noticed that the third paragraph used quotes that went unexplained. You ended the paragraph with a quote so it kind of left me hanging.

Overall the essay was very well written as far as style and the development of the thesis. I would only suggest working on the problems that I and the others pointed out.

Pretty Lady said...

Hey girl hey! =)

Jenny, I absolutely loved how you opened up your essay: "Set on a 'brilliantly fine' day, readers witness the isolation of Miss Brill..." Not only is it ironic (like the actual title of the essay), but it's different! Throughout the essay, I enjoyed your word choice and thought your sentence structures were well flowing. Your third paragraph was my favorite; well-thought out and lots of insight.

What I believe you could work on would be to incorporate more evidence into your essay. Perhaps trying to do the typical 5 paragraph essay could be a start (so last year, I know.. LOL). And I think that your evidence is loosely used.. perhaps you could use more textual evidence that supports your thesis and topic, rather than evidence that just fits into one sentence. Your third paragraph is a great example of this: you start by saying that her performance "must come to an end" and then supports your ideas with “'yes, [she has] been an actress for a long time” and in that period she has been in denial of being just like the people who all appear to be “odd, silent, nearly all old, and from the way they’d stared they look as thought they’d just come from dark little rooms or even—even cupboards." A third paragraph more in depth would have been much better for your essay as well.

I definitely learned a lot from your opening paragraph. The first sentence portrays the beginning of an interesting essay; it's not the usual boring stuff Master G gets (myself included!)... I think I might learn from you and add a little something, something to the openings of my essays!

=)

CarlaC said...

Jenny congratulations this was a really great paper and it gave me some insight on how to write mine. I feel that you really had a really strong and perfectly choosen diction. I feel you were truly on point with your essay you presented your thesis and proved it to the reader and i felt you did go in depth with your explanations. The only thing i would have to say is i feel the paper was missing a bit of a flow. I feel it was slighty abrupt. But even so the paper completed its purpose and was a solid piece of work.