Tuesday, September 23, 2008

"Miss Brill" Point of View Essay # 2

by Cynthia R.


Written by Katherine Mansfield, “Miss Brill” is a short story in which the narrator is a nonparticipant who sees into the mind of the major character. The narrator writes through a stream of consciousness point of view in order for the audience to see into the mind of Miss Brill as the story shows how lonely she is in the fake world she has created for herself. Mansfield uses techniques such as interruption, exclamation points, and segments that flow in order to show the way Miss Brill’s mind works and ultimately to convey the point that Miss Brill is lonely no matter how much she tries to fit in.

Beginning with the very first sentence in the text, it is clear that the short story is filled with interruption which is used to show how Miss Brill’s mind works. Through the use of dashes, the narrator inserts bits of information that add to the story and show what Miss Brill is thinking about on a particular subject. When talking about Miss Brill at the park, the narrator says that, “when she breathed, something light and sad- no, not sad, exactly-something gentle seemed to move into her bosom.” The use of interruption shows how the mind works, particularly Miss Brill’s mind when contemplating her true emotions. Not only does this passage show how Miss Brill is beginning to feel but it also foreshadows more sadness that comes later in the story. When the narrator is describing the band, he says, “that what they played was warm, sunny, yet there was just a faint chill- a something, what was it?- not sadness- no, not sadness, a something that made you want to sing.” Even though Miss Brill is surrounded with people and music, lingering behind all of that is something that keeps her from being completely content. As the members of the company gather to sing, it is clear that Miss Brill is very emotional as the narrator says, “Yes, we understand, we understand, she thought- though what they understood she didn’t know.” Miss Brill wanted to fit in with the crowd and to be accepted by them but where they really accepting her, or were they just understanding her desire to not feel lonely but to feel connected to them?

Another technique used to convey Miss Brill’s inner thoughts is the use of exclamation points and question marks. Most often than not, when there symbols are used, they signify a thought on Miss Brill’s part. A perfect example of this is when Miss Brill is looking at the band and thinks, “Wasn’t the conductor wearing a new coat, too?” In this passage and in many others, Miss Brill pays close attention to what the other people in the park are wearing. She mainly criticizes others with an air of arrogance as if she were better than most of them. Towards the end of the story, however, the reader finds out that Miss Brill is far from the wealthy upper-class woman she either portrays or would like to be. While sitting and people-watching in the park, Miss Brill looks at some people and feels that they are,” odd, silent, nearly all old, and from the way they stared they looked as though they’d just some from dark little rooms or even- even cupboards!” This passage is interesting for a couple of reasons. First, Miss Brill criticizes others for looking old when later on in the text, she is referred to as a “silly old thing” with an “old mug”. Second, Miss Brill looks down upon the possible living conditions of the other people in the park when in the end she goes home to “ a little dark room- her room like a cupboard.” Third, the exclamation point is symbolic of the way the human mind works; sometimes one searches for the right word when suddenly it comes to mind like a light bulb going off.

The flow of the words in the text also help show stream of consciousness as the narrator tries to convey Miss Brill’s thoughts and as the author tries to demonstrate how Miss Brill could be lonely while being surrounded by people in the park. One example of this flow is when Miss Brill is watching a couple in the park and the narrator says, “Oh she (the young lady) was pleased to see him-delighted! She rather thought they were going to meet that afternoon. She described where she’d been- everywhere, here, there, along by the sea. They day was so charming- didn’t he agree?” Not only does the text rhyme, but it also has a soft and tranquil flow; like that which a person in love might feel. As Miss Brill continues to watch the people in the park, her thoughts are expressed as the narrator writes, “Oh, how fascinating it was! How she enjoyed it! How she enjoyed sitting here watching it all!” In the first quote, the reader can feel that tranquil feeling Miss Brill gets as she watched the two lovers and in the second quote the audience can sense Miss Brill’s excitement to be people-watching. More important than showing her feelings, these two passages symbolize how needy and lonely Miss Brill truly is. She gets her pleasure not from talking to others but simply from watching them, which alludes to her loneliness. The fact that she criticizes some of them shows that she feels (or wants to feel) in the same place as the wealthier and more upper class people in the park.

In conclusion, Mansfield’s narrator uses stream of consciousness to let the audience in on Miss Brill’s inner thoughts. Mansfield uses interruption, questions, exclamations, and a different types of flow to show how Miss Brill’s mind works and ultimately to demonstrate how lonely and needy she is. In the last sentence of the story, Mansfield writes, “But when she put the lid on she thought she heard something crying.” This line demonstrates not only that Miss Brill finally understands that she is lonely but that she is finally accepting it and will stop trying to portray someone she is not. Ultimately, this alludes to a bigger idea that sometimes people have a need to feel connected to and accepted in society, only to realize that they may not be and having to face it.

15 comments:

Tzivia H said...

CYNTHIA D, hello, hello,

The first thing I latched onto in your paper (and this I've seen quite infrequently) was your inclusion of the techniques the author employed. You noted interruption, punctuation, cadence, etc to convey the stream of consciousness of Miss Brill. The description of the techniques allowed you to delve much deeper into the text. Your textual evidence was well integrated as well, I especially liked the fact that you infused them into your own sentences. IE "While sitting and people-watching in the park, Miss Brill looks at some people and feels that they are, 'odd, silent, nearly all old, and from the way they stared they looked as though they’d just some from dark little rooms or even- even cupboards!'"

Your thesis too was strong in that you included technique and purpose. You really were able to effectively assert the techniques and use the following paragraphs providing evidence to attest to them. In terms of purpose however, you became much more broad by the end of the essay. You wrote, "Ultimately, this alludes to a bigger idea that sometimes people have a need to feel connected to and accepted in society, only to realize that they may not be and having to face it." This need for inclusion and acceptance you touched upon is very insightful and it may have made your paper stronger to include that in the topic paragraph with your thesis. IE how does POV in Miss Brill attempt to convey Mansfield's idea that humans have an inate desire to be accepted? etc. The essay would be even more complex and developed if written in such a way. Also, don't forget to cite textual evidence.

To conclude, I wanted to discuss a point you made concerning the cadence of speech. You wrote, following two distinct quotes with two distinct tones, "In the first quote, the reader can feel that tranquil feeling Miss Brill gets as she watched the two lovers and in the second quote the audience can sense Miss Brill’s excitement to be people-watching...She gets her pleasure not from talking to others but simply from watching them, which alludes to her loneliness." This is a new angle you've highlighted to attest to Miss Brill's isolation. Rather than simply discussing her action of people-watching as evidence to loneliness, you also noted the tone she used to describe her escapades- excitement. The cadence of her speech was a compelling way to further attest to her isolation.

Stephen said...

Hey, Cynthia!
So I just read your essay, and, well...what can I say? You nailed it on the head! What struck me the most, as Tzivia mentioned (I'm SORRY, Mr. G, it seems like I'm borrowing people's ideas...but it really did strike me...) was your focus on the "nitty gritty" of the work, your focus on "how the author worked" to achieve her goal, rather than "what she did." The reason I particularly applaud this focus is because I had trouble narrowing in on "How did the author do this" rather than "what the author did" in my own essay. Your method of cutting down on the fluffy stuff in the introduction and getting down to business, again, stands in contrast to my verbose style, and for that, again, I tip my (metaphorical) hat. I also love your integration of your texual evidence in seamless sentences: When talking about Miss Brill at the park, the narrator says that, “when she breathed, something light and sad- no, not sad, exactly-something gentle seemed to move into her bosom.”


With these praises having been said, let's get into the good stuff! (Ripping the essay apart!...just kidding) I want to call attention to your 3rd paragraph, where you talk about the use of exclamation and question marks. While the writing style is great, I sometimes had trouble grasping what you were talking about. You cited an example of Mansfield's use of the exclamation point in her writing, but only elaborated on the exclamation point's purpose at the end of the paragraph. Perhaps the structure of the explicating passage can be rearanged to explain the evidence before you additionally comment on the irony. Also, I want to call attention to the concluding paragraph. I had some slight trouble following the last one or two sentences. You wrote: "This line demonstrates not only that Miss Brill finally understands that she is lonely but that she is finally accepting it and will stop trying to portray someone she is not. Ultimately, this alludes to a bigger idea that sometimes people have a need to feel connected to and accepted in society, only to realize that they may not be and having to face it." I think that some work may need to be done to make it less "run-on ish," and to simplify the complex idea that you are concluding with.


Thanks for reintroducing me to the realm of more explicating and less analyzing (though analyzing has its place). As I said before, you helped me to look at explication assignments as what they are: narrowing in on "HOW" the author achieves something. It's a lesson that I needed, and that I hopefully, will take to heart.

emily said...

Hey Cynthia!

I really liked how specific you made your thesis in this paper by talking about about stylistic techniques. I thought the structure was also very logical-you went from one specific stylistic element to another without straying off topic, which made your thoughts exceedingly clear.

There are not too many things about your paper that I'd change, however there are a couple. First of all, I think it would have been effective to include the author's purpose in the first paragraph; while you do explain why the author uses the techniques she does, you keep it within the contexts of the story, talking specifically about Miss Brill. You do mention author's purpose in the last paragraph-"Ultimately, this alludes to a bigger idea that sometimes people have a need to feel connected to and accepted in society, only to realize that they may not be and having to face it." However, I would have liked to have seen more connection to this purpose throughout the essay.

Also, when you talk about interruptions in the story, I think it would have been better if you had explained more WHY the author uses these. You say in the second paragraph that "the use of interruption shows how the mind works;" but I'm still left wondering why exactly this is relevant-perhaps it makes Miss Brill more relatable to the reader? I'm not sure exactly what you want to convey here, so I wish you had expanded a bit more.

I would like to conclude by saying that I really appreciated your focus on stylistic elements; this is always something I have trouble with. Rather than talking just about content, you zoned in on techniques the author used, which was really interesting and difficult, I think, to do. You broke down the point of view and got more in depth with it, and I found it sort of eye-opening in terms of really understanding what stream of consciousness is.

Ashley A said...

Cynthia,

I liked how you approached the story and saw the narrator’s POV from the techniques Mansfield used. Your introductory paragraph clearly stated your ideas as to how Mansfield portrayed the stream of consciousness POV, by specifically pointing out which techniques she used, such as “…interruption, exclamation points, and segments…”. I also liked how you concluded the introductory paragraph with, “…Miss Brill is lonely no matter how much she tries to fit in” because it immediately establishes the idea that Miss Brill will continue to try and fit into her society all throughout the text, however, resultantly she will not be able to. In addition, in the second paragraph, you incorporated textual evidence quite nicely and your comments on Mansfield’s use of dashes exemplified Miss Brill’s denial of being alone.

In order to improve your paper, I would not have used “…how Miss Brill’s mind works…” and “…how the mind works…” as often as you did because it became a little distracting. To refrain from repetition, you could have said Miss Brill thinks, or something that would have conveyed the same meaning without using the same worlds. Also, in the third paragraph, you explained a passage where Miss Brill was watching other people in the park, however, I felt that by saying “…first, second, and third…”, it made the ending a little choppy.

Finally, your concluding paragraph provided a great summation of your ideas. Specifically, you commented on “the fact that she criticizes some of them shows that she feels (or wants to feel) in the same place as the wealthier and more upper class people in the park,” and I had not made that connection prior to reading your paper. I think that the evidence you found and the way in which you explained it lead me to understand your thoughts as to why Miss Brill criticized others, because all along she longed to be in their situations.

Mary N. said...

Cynthia, your introduction was great. You included Mansfield’s usage of the stream of consciousness point of view, why the author chooses to write through that, and how the author does it. You definitely covered everything briefly in your introduction to show what you were going to discuss in your next few paragraphs.

“The narrator writes through a (you give us the what here) stream of consciousness point of view (you give us the why here) in order for the audience to see into the mind of Miss Brill as the story shows how lonely she is in the fake world she has created for herself. (you give us the how here) Mansfield uses techniques such as interruption, exclamation points, and segments that flow in order to show the way Miss Brill’s mind works and ultimately to convey the point that Miss Brill is lonely no matter how much she tries to fit in.”

The one thing that I see you do (which I do, too!) is you do not elaborate on how lonely she is. You write in your introduction above that the p.o.v. shows the audience “how lonely she is in the fake world…” Instead of writing “how lonely she is,” you should write WHY she is lonely and to what extent.

Your evidence really supported your thesis. You clearly chose your quotations well, as they were solid and were obvious to the readers. In addition, you nicely merged your quotations into your essay. You took the quotation and analyzed it, which works great because we can see the scene you were writing about, and we could see the points you were making about it.

Going off about your analysis, you are very in depth in your fourth paragraph:

“While sitting and people-watching in the park, Miss Brill looks at some people and feels that they are,” odd, silent, nearly all old, and from the way they stared they looked as though they’d just some from dark little rooms or even- even cupboards!” (You provide us with the passage here to provide evidence that you analyzed. Great pick, also!)

(Here you begin to give us your analysis) This passage is interesting for a couple of reasons. First, Miss Brill criticizes others for looking old when later on in the text, she is referred to as a “silly old thing” with an “old mug” Second, Miss Brill looks down upon the possible living conditions of the other people in the park when in the end she goes home to “ a little dark room- her room like a cupboard.” Third, the exclamation point is symbolic of the way the human mind works; sometimes one searches for the right word when suddenly it comes to mind like a light bulb going off.” (It’s absolutely superb that you quoted another part of the story to exemplify your analysis. Very well done!).

Reversing back to improving by a little more elaboration: that is the only thing you need to do basically. The only thing I see that you need to do is to provide a bit more elaboration on your analysis, like I stated above. In another example, you write that, “She gets her pleasure not from talking to others but simply from watching them, which alludes to her loneliness.” Here, you could provide a brief “how” just watching people makes her lonely.

All in all, your essay has a really great foundation. You analyzed every passage you provided in your essay deeply and thoroughly. I have to repeat that the quotations you chose to include were very, very impressive. You clearly chose them well, and you clearly decided to choose them as they strongly supported your thesis. In addition, I really like how you compared a quotation written at the beginning of “Miss Brill” and a quotation written at the end. You definitely showed me that the right quotations don’t just provide evidence; they could be strong and solid points to start analyzing from.

NICE JOB!

Matt Z! said...

Hey Cynthia!!!

You had a really good thesis statement! It was really specific and insightful, and "convey the point that Miss Brill is lonely no matter how much she tries to fit in" is really impactful. Also, the sentence "The use of interruption shows how the mind works, particularly Miss Brill’s mind when contemplating her true emotions." explains really nicely why the POV has such a great impact on the story. You also compounded analysis and a great similie in "the exclamation point is symbolic of the way the human mind works; sometimes one searches for the right word when suddenly it comes to mind like a light bulb going off." that conveyed your point pretty nicely. Other instances where you had a great analysis come to mind, like your explanation of "She described where she’d been- everywhere, here, there, along by the sea. They day was so charming- didn’t he agree?”, and your closing sentence was really good.

The only thing that I would suggest working on would be to try and integrate pieces of text into your own sentances more. It seemed like sometimes, in order to fully explain a section, you would need to quote multiple sentences at a time. This is perfectly fine, obviously, but it seemed to me that the textual evidence was a little disconnected sometimes, such as in "When the narrator is describing the band, he says, 'that what they played was warm, sunny, yet there was just a faint chill- a something, what was it?- not sadness- no, not sadness, a something that made you want to sing.'" I think it would help your essays flow a little more if you cut out some of the extraneous parts of the textual evidence and blend it into your own surrounding sentence a little more. Also, don't forget to cite textual evidence! :)

Overall, excellent essay. I'm extremely impressed by your use of diction. I have trouble putting what I want to say into words sometimes, and you really hit the nail on the head with some of your analyses. As I mentioned before, I was impressed by your use of a similie to explain the point of view. As for me, I'm going to learn from your example and I'm going to try and not forget the more creative side of writing, even when I'm writing an intellectual analysis.

Great job!

Andy V. said...

Hey Cynthia,

The opening paragraph is great. It clearly gives the basic run-down of how the point of view been used as well as what reason Mansfield uses the point of view he chose. It is a very well built and structured essay that clearly introduces a theme with a strong amount of quotes from the text and support. I especially liked the third body paragraph, in which easily shows the “two passages symbolize how needy and lonely Miss Brill truly is.” Each topic that supports your thesis is strongly supported and very convincing.

The problem I had with the essay is that is difficult to find why Mansfield, uses exclamation points and question marks. It was difficult for me to find out why Mansfield uses the points and marks in the story rather than how he uses it. The only other problem I have is that you didn’t cite the quotes.

All in all, the essay was great. The essay clearly states right from the beginning what you were going to expand on. Each topic you chose to expand on is strongly supported with persuasive quotes from the text. In many of the paragraphs it clearly depicts why Mansfield wrote the way he did and what message it sends to the readers. Your last paragraph ties it all together and explains again what all of this show of Miss Brill.

The essay is very well structured and persuasive, and actually gives me a better idea how to improve my essay.

Keep up the great work!

Kayla P said...

Cynthia,
What a wonderful essay. You had a lovely flow, and your thesis was really interesting. I thought it was a really cool way of looking at the story as a whole.

The main thing I would fix in your essay would be supporting your ideas more. For example, in your second paragraph you wrote "Beginning with the very first sentence in the text, it is clear that the short story is filled with interruption which is used to show how Miss Brill’s mind works" I'm not entirely sure what the first sentence was, so I can't really be sure of what you were referring to. Perhaps you could inculde the part you were reffrencing.

Your essay made me want to pay closer attention to the use of punctuation. I thought it was so cool that you paid attention to that. I agree with you now that it did play a part in the essay as a whole. Good job.

Kristen W. said...

Cynthia!

I loved reading your essay. It kept me interested the whole time. I loved how you looked at the story and your ideas on it. Your introduction paragraph was great. You came straight out and said exactly what you were going to talk about. If I were a person who disagreed on what you were saying, you definately would have changed my mind. You expressed your details and your opinion on the story in such a persuasive manor.

One thing I think should be added is a bit more details. You did refer to the text, but often times I found myself wishing you actually put the quote from the story that you were talking about. The idea and your view was great, but I think a little bit more of an analysis would have put you over the top.

Reading your paper made me want to focus more on small details. I never really thought about the punctuation throughout the story. Your eye for that detail really caught my attention and I thought that it was a great topic to focus on. Your paper was structured well and it really helped me figure out what that i need focus more on smaller and deeper meanings rather than just the surface.

Great writing!
-Kristen.

Vanessa G. said...

Cynthia, your essay is an eyeopener--like a lightbulb over my head! I just finished going over it and I enjoyed the read at the same time. Wonderful, wonderful job.

First, I would like to comment on your thesis statement. Just like I thought for Jenny's essay, I immediately know what you are going to write about in your essay, just by reding your thesis. You tell me the author's techniques on how Miss Brill's mind works. Sometimes it can be difficult to do, especially with a difficult prompt topic.

You also paid close attention with what was going on in the mind of Miss Brill. The way her mind works, as you mentioned in your essay, is significant in portraying how and why the author chose to function her mind in that manner. Did I mention your textual evidence fits perfectly in the locations you put them. You make perfect sense of them.

I noticed some grammatical errors in your essay, too, but they are very minor. ".” Miss Brill wanted to fit in with the crowd and to be accepted by them but where they really accepting her, or were they just understanding her desire to not feel lonely but to feel connected to them?" You wrote "where they really accepting her" when it should have been "were they really accepting her". No biggy, it doesn't change my opinion on your essay.


By reading your essay, I say to myself "Darn, why didn't I think of that". For example, you wrote, " Through the use of dashes, the narrator inserts bits of information that add to the story and show what Miss Brill is thinking about on a particular subject". This is one of the things I noticed while reading Miss Brill, but I failed to add it to my essay--simple things like that.

Mario P. said...

Cynthia, I must applaud you on your essay, it was very well written and extremely informative. If there was only one thing you could do to make the paper better (which hasn't been said by someone else, I hope) is that your paper seemed very formulaic. Maybe I have a biased opinion here but this paper really contrasts Jenny's, but I seemed very bored here. The style was so informative, that I felt I was reading an essay or something from a text book. Which in and of itself is an accomplishment. I just feel that it lacked style, but it was still very well written.

Mels1619 said...

Cynthia...This is essay is outstanding. I see now that you really learned from Ms. Pettit about mentioning the techniques and then elaborate them.
I would like to start by commenting on your thesis. You answer the prompt correctly and even mentions what techniques Mansfield used; "Mansfield uses techniques such as interruption, exclamation points, and segments". You also did not just mentioned these techniques but you mentioned why Mansfield used them.

I believe your essay was excellent but it lacked entertainment. You included more of the technical skills that Mansfield used and why (which was what the prompt asked for), but i believe that an essay should also carry a flow that entertains the audience and makes them wanting to keep on reading. Perhaps this is where you fail.

In overall, the techniques you mentioned and their purpose helped me to see that I should focus more on that on my essays. I may lose track of the actual topic and end up summarizing the story instead of evaluating it. But reading your essay, it taught me that I should focus on answering the question "So what?"

Thanks for helping me and once again, Congratulations for your essay!

Michaela I. said...

Hey Cynthia,

To start, I was the one who “peer-graded” your paper and I gave you an 8 too! The paper was very well written in the sense that the thesis was relevant and answered the prompt. I also liked that you connected the type of narration back to specific writing techniques the author uses including, “interruption, exclamation points, and segments that flow in order”. Technique can sometimes be overlooked and by including it you show close attention to detail in your writing. While reading “Ms. Brill”, I didn’t even really notice Mansfield’s writing techniques that you mentioned, so after reading your paper my view of the story was enhanced. Overall your essay answered the prompt very well.

The areas in which improvement is necessary include: citation and style. Your paper lacked citation which is a necessary part of any essay. Also you seemed to focus a lot on answering the prompt and although that is great, style in your essay seems to have been a bit neglected. You just need a little sentence and word variation. For example you can use another word in place of “show”. One last thing is that you repeated yourself a bit in your conclusion by stating, “Mansfield uses interruption, questions, exclamations, and a different types of flow to show how Miss Brill’s mind works and ultimately to demonstrate how lonely and needy she is”. I just thought it was to similar to the sentence in the first paragraph: “Mansfield uses techniques such as interruption, exclamation points, and segments that flow in order to show the way Miss Brill’s mind works and ultimately to convey the point that Miss Brill is lonely no matter how much she tries to fit in.”. Even when taking these areas of improvement into consideration, your essay was well-written.

Pretty Lady said...

Deeds!!
Awesome job! (Ms. Pettit would be proud of all the different techniques you can easily pinpoint.. lol).
I really liked the fact that your essay was interesting to read from beginning to end (I almost didn't go ADD on you.. LOLOL). Your evidence always agreed with your thesis/topic. Also your thesis was straight forward and on point--you hit the target. (After reading your first paragraph I knew exactly what I did wrong in mine--so thanks!)

Throughout your whole essay, there are two things that I saw you could improve on. First, your use of evidence is great, but you seem to not know how to infuse it into the essay. (An easy way to think of it is: Forget all the Pettit taught us last year about giving an introduction before the evidence, and elaborating the evidence... just write and incorporate the quotes into your essay so that is supports what you are saying.) In the second paragraph for the quote: "'“when she breathed, something light and sad- no, not sad, exactly-something gentle seemed to move into her bosom'" I think you dragged out the explanation a little too much... perhaps you could find a way to put the evidence into your explanation so that it's doesn't drag on. And the second improvement could possibly be to not write so staccato-ish (I don't know if that can be used as an english vocabulary... however in music it means that you play in a abrupt, quick way--makes the music sound short and detached.) What I'm trying to say is that perhaps the "first she did this.. then she did this... thirdly she did this... and lastly she did this" isn't needed and by not using it your sentences would flow easier.

Overall, loved your essay; it's a great essay for demonstration. I liked your sequence of showing evidence and the sequence of the paragraphs--each flowed into the other.

And because we are all friends, may I comment on Mels comment: "Perhaps this is where you fail." And you think I'm harsh!!!! HAHAHAHA! <3
Guys, don't worry, I'm 100% sure she did it unintentionally!

Good job Deeds!

CarlaC said...

Hi Cynthia great paper like jenny's it stated a clear thesis and gave eveidence and depth to back it up. I feel though that your opening paragraph could be alot stronger though as you went in to the next paragraph you got back into the flow of things but in a paper every paragraph should be as strong as the one before it. Like in many works of literature the first sentence or paragraph is what helps the reader decide if this piece could be something that they could really connect to. I feel that since the rest of your paper is at such a great level that your opening could be just as good. With that aside it was a really great paper and a solid job.