Major Theme in Miss Brill Story

Ceferina Hidalgo

Central Theme in Miss Brill Story

The central theme portrayed in the story of “Miss Brill” is the theme of loneliness. Miss Brill is a lonely person who lacks a companion to drive the loneliness away. She finds comfort in her far; she values it because it comforts her. “Dear little thing! It was nice to feel it again” (Mansfield, 2015). [U1] It shows how valuable the fur is to her because she has no one by her side to give her comfort like her fur. Miss Brill treats the hair like her cat pet. She feels that rubbing the coat gives it life, like when someone rubs a cat, making it feel livelier. Miss Brill would have made it sit on her lap and caressed it like a real cat if the coat were her pet. Sundays were Miss Brill’s day to unwind because she would typically go to the park and watch and listen to people’s lives though she would not actively take part in their conversations. Hers was to observe; it made her feel contented. Observing and listening is Miss Brill’s way of dealing with the issue of loneliness.

Sundays are good days for Miss Brill because she has the chance to listen to the band playing music. Miss Brill feels that the band plays the music to a family to listen and enjoy its beats, and she feels like she is a part of that family that listens to the crew. “It was like someone playing with only the family to listen” (Mansfield, 2015). [U2] Listening to the band helps her to feel comfort by driving out her loneliness. However, Miss Brill acts like a spectator at the park because she does not like interacting but listens and observes. The lack of companionship in her life makes her adopt coping mechanisms such as listening and watching. She has spotted on the bus that the conductor has worn a new coat. Her power to observe things around her tells so much about her loneliness. If she had company, she would be busy holding conversations with her companions rather than looking at people and pretending to be part of them.

On the bus, Miss Brill is quite disappointed that the ladies who hold their conversations on that particular day are quiet and seem busy. She notices that one is doing embroidery. Miss Brill feels disappointed because listening to these ladies ‘ conversation makes Miss Brill think she is part of their lives while, in reality, she is not. She also has developed a negative attitude towards women on the bus who have male acquaintances because she is lonely. They seem to have a life that she admires and cannot have, which makes her feel jealous.

           Miss Brill anticipates the Sundays because they give her a chance to contact people. After all, she is lonely at home. Watching people’s lives excites her because Miss Brill thinks she is part of those who comfort her in her mind. Her behavior of watching and eavesdropping on people’s conversations shows how lonely she is because she does not have anyone she can hold a conversation with by herself[U3]  (Mansfield, 2015). She is also not social because she likes spending time alone and observing people rather than being friendlier and trying to talk to them to deal with loneliness in her life. Two young lovers comment on how her fur coat is funny because it resembles fried whiting. The fur looks funny to the couple. However, it means much to Miss Brill because it is her source of comfort because of her loneliness and lack of companionship. Thus, the theme of loneliness is the central theme in the story because of the actions portrayed by Miss Brill in her quest to drive the loneliness away.


Mansfield, K. (2015). Miss Brill. Penguin Books.

  [U1]Miss brill treats her fur as something valuable and delicate because it means more to her than her coat. The loneliness that surrounds her life makes her see the coat as a companionship, more of a pet.

 [U2]Listening to the band makes Miss Brill feel she is part of the family listening to the bar because the band plays the music to a family. The feeling of wanting to belong also shows how Miss Brill is lonely. She tries to associate herself with the things she loves to make her feel wanted and belonging.

 [U3]At times, people like listening to other people’s conversations to feel they are part of their lives. Miss Brill has this tendency because it makes her think she belongs. It is also a way she tries to cope with her feelings of loneliness.

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