Introduction. Through the use of irony, point of view, and the fur collar as a symbol, Mansfield illuminates the loneliness and self discovery in people as they age.
Mansfield portrays Miss Brill as a critical person yet she is oblivious to this, ultimately emphasizing the irony. Irony in the story is brought out through Miss Brill’s thoughts. She is critical of the people in the park who are old and boring yet she is one of them. The author refers to this idea throughout the passage, such as when Miss Brill is complaining about the old couple on the bench. “She glanced, sideways, at the old couple. Perhaps they would go soon.” Miss Brill yearns for this old couple to leave the park so that she can observe something more interesting, but in reality she is just as old and boring as they are.
The fur collar acts as a symbol by working to illuminate the aloneness and self discovery in people as they age. By the way that Mansfield refers to the fur collar, it seems to be more than just a piece of clothing. “She had taken it out of its box that afternoon, shaken out the moth powder, given it a good brush, and rubbed the life back into the dim little eyes.”
The point of view in the story emphasizes the aloneness of Miss Brill. Through Mansfield’s use of third person, the audience sees that she is an outsider, attempting to look in on the youthful world before her that she is no longer a part of. Mansfield tells the story from Miss Brill’s perspective which allows the dramatic irony to flourish. There are many situations where Miss Brill does not completely understand what is going on in the story, but the audience does. When the prostitute is attempting to seduce the man and he blows her off, leaving her standing there, Miss Brill is confused by what has just happened. She does not realize that the woman is a prostitute although it is clear to the audience.
Ultimately, the story looks into the reality of society. People have a hard time accepting change in their lives. Miss Brill has difficulty realizing that her routine every Sunday in the park needs to retire. This is so difficult because of the loneliness she has experienced and her Sunday routine of coming to the park was her way of coping with this loneliness. By the end of the piece, she accepts the fact that it’s time to put her fur collar away. Symbolically implying that her Sunday’s in the park are over. Likewise, through the use of third person and irony it emphasizes the loneliness and self discovery in people as they age. Throughout the short story, Mansfield chooses to show Miss Brill’s lack of judgment. But as the story comes to an end, so do her Sundays in the park. This aspect shows that she has come to the realization that she does not fit in like she used to. She finally accepts that she is no longer a piece of the play in the park; she is merely just a lonely spectator, looking into the youthful lives of others.