What Is the Setting of “Miss Brill” by Katherine Mansfield?

The setting of the short story “Miss Brill” by Katherine Mansfield is the public gardens of an unspecified French town. Every Sunday, Miss Brill walks to the gardens to sit on a bench and watch people go about their business. On this particular day, there is a band playing, and Miss Brill imagines that all of the people are actors performing on a stage, accompanied by the music.

Eventually, a young boy and girl come and sit down on the bench next to Miss Brill, who imagines the young couple as the hero and heroine of the play. However, Miss Brill’s daydreaming is destroyed when she overhears the girl and boy making fun of Miss Brill’s fur scarf. The couple’s comments sadden Miss Brill, and she leaves the park. Not even stopping at her favorite bakery, she flees to her small and dark room. There, Miss Brill puts away her favorite scarf in a box under her bed. The narrator suggests that Miss Brill heard someone begin to cry when she did so.

Katherine Mansfield published “Miss Brill” in November 1920. The story examines the themes of loneliness, illusion versus reality, youth and age and the feeling of rejection.