Hills Like White Elephants and Miss Brill (1) In this paper we will compare and contrast short stories Miss Brill by Katherine Mansfield and Hills Like White Elephants by Ernest Hemingway. Even though that they are being written in different style, both short stories revolve around the same theme of sexual frustration and social inadequateness, which turns itself into a boredom. Both, Mansfield and Hemingway refrain from imposing their points of view upon readers, while hoping that stories symbolism is going to be properly interpreted. This points out to the fact that Mansfield and Hemingway were very confident in their writing skills, because they allow readers the freedom of interpretation, while making sure that this interpretation would not deviate much from what both authors had on their mind. Both stories are written in third person, where the role of narrator is mechanistic. He is omnipotent and inactive, at the same time, which reflects atheist attitude, on the part of Hemingway and Mansfield. We can also say that both authors actively deployed an absurdist style of writing in analyzed stories, because the classical elements of plot in them are non-existent. Miss Brill is basically a meditation on surrounding reality, which begins and ends, without being caused by any objective factors.
We cannot define an apogee on Mansfields story. The main feature of Miss Brill, as storys main character, is her inability to adapt to a conventionally accepted style of acting. The same can be said about American and Jig, from Hills Like White Elephants these characters have their own ideas of what represents the proper way of conduct, which they try to impose upon each other, although Jig does it in typical womens style by pushing her companion to embrace the feeling of guilt. Both stories are filled with symbolical references. White elephants, in Hemingways story, represent something unwanted and impractical, which American associates with Jigs child. In fact, the bulk of Hills Like White Elephants symbolism is contained between the lines. The seemingly banal objects of conversation, such as beer, convey a message of deep psychological incompatibility between the characters.
Through history women have fought for equal rights and freedom. This tension is derived from men; society, in general; and within a woman herself. In the nineteenth century, women in literature were often portrayed as submissive to men. Literature of this period often characterized women as oppressed by society, as well as by the male influences in their lives. This era is especially interesting ...
American and Jig grow weary of each other, as story proceeds. Mansfields story manifests psychological incompatibility of Mrs. Brill with people that surround her, during her walk, because she cannot relate to them as to three-dimensional individuals. Instead, she thinks of them as abstract symbols of old age, youth and sexuality. Just like American in Hemingways story, Miss Brill strives towards a psychological comfort, by distancing herself from what is going on around her, while assuming the role of unemotional observant. She clearly associates such comfort with a fur, which she likes to stroke when her loneliness becomes unbearable: Miss Brill put up her hand and touched her fur. Dear little thing! It was nice to feel it again (Mansfiled).
The characters of American, Jig and Miss Brill are similar in their decadent attitudes.
It is quite easy to identify two stories as being written just before the outbreak of WW1. Modern critics often make a mistake by analyzing literary works out of historical context. However, it is much easier to find a hidden meaning of Hemingways and Mansfields stories by studying authors biographies, then by simply trying to guess what was on their mind, when they were writing them. Mansfield was being diagnosed as nymphomaniac, while Hemingway was a self-admitted alcoholic. In another words, they both sought a social withdrawal, by indulging in anti-social activity. Therefore, it is no surprise that the characters of their stories express the same attitudes.
Decadence derives out of peoples inability to see purpose of their own existence. Miss Brill is best characterized as a person, whose sophistication prevents her from assuming an active stance in life. She feels as being out of place, while observing people going about their business. American and Jig in Hemingways story, also feel being out of place. It is not by pure accident that author places them in Spain. However, there is a broader meaning to this. Later in his life, Hemingway grew very critical of consumerism and American style of life, in general. This is why; we can say that Jig and American represent hedonistic style of living, which became a trademark of decadents.
Financial abundance is perhaps the most sought-after purpose of modern men. We spend a significant part of our lifetime doing jobs and chasing profits even if it is against our own will. In the context of the money driven world, we even have a notion that money would endow us a certain sense of strength—a resounding name in literature contests that notion. Ernest Hemingway, a household name for ...
Normal people do not engage in sex for the sake of sex, even though that the hawks of political-correctness tell us otherwise. Sex is just one of the aspects of love. Apparently, there is no love between Jig and American; nevertheless, it did not prevent them from engaging in sex. As true hedonist, American does not want to deal with consequences of his lifestyle, while trying to comfort Jig with cheap rationalizing. This is why, the concept of being out of place has a metaphysical meaning, in regards to American and Jig they ceased to represent any value for civilization, because their instinct of death is stronger than their instinct of life. (2) Along with many similarities between the two stories, there are also many differences.
The most important of them is structural. Hills Like White Elephants is written in the form of dialogue, while Miss Brill is basically a psychological insight on persons one day of life. The choice of literary style in two stories is defined by authors desire to have their stories being both: short and informative. Mansfields writing style is best characterized by its excessive sophistication, which makes Miss Brill almost unreadable. Yet, Hemingways story is even more sophisticated, in the true sense of this word, despite his simple style of writing. It is obvious that Mansfield was having a hard time, while trying to stay focused on the main idea of her story.
THEME of 'Miss Brill " In the story 'Miss Brill,' an old, lonely lady spends her Sunday observing people in a park. Although ignored by everyone around her, Miss Brill manages to convince herself that she is really an integral part of the scene and would be missed if she weren't there. Her illusion is shattered by a chance remark at the end of the story, and she returns home, clearly devastated by ...
Readers get the impression that Miss Brills thoughts come as a result of her pointless idleness, therefore, they cannot be considered seriously. Mansfields character is presented to us as overeducated woman, who want to give her hormonal inadequacy an esthetical sounding. Hemingway, on the other hand, uses a very simplistic language, in his story: I wanted to try this new drink. That’s all we do, isn’t it – look at things and try new drinks?. I guess so (Hemingway).
Nevertheless, it does not undermine the overall quality of his work. We can despise American for his nihilistic attitude, but we cannot say that this character does not seem to be very realistic.
People like Miss Brill are rarely found, while American and Jig act in the same way that almost every American couple does. The settings in two stories are also different. Hemingways characters are shown at the train station in Spain, while Miss Brill meditates, while being in one of Paris parks. Hemingway attaches more symbolical meaning to the elements of landscape, while for Miss Brill, it is people who constitute a landscape: Two young girls in red came by and two young soldiers in blue met them, and they laughed and paired and went off arm-in-arm. Two peasant women with funny straw hats passed, gravely, leading beautiful smoke-colored donkeys. A cold, pale nun hurried by. A beautiful woman came along and dropped her bunch of violets, and a little boy ran after to hand them to her (Mansfield).
Even though that Mansfield shows these characters in motion, they are more static then hills in Hemingways story, because white elephant is associated with birth and development, while people that surround Miss Brill are mentioned only to emphasize her social alienation. She cannot relate to them, this is why she is only able to think of them as one-dimensional manifestations of certain ideas that exist independently of Miss Brill. The clear point of view, on the part of author, can be seen in Hills Like White Elephants. Hemingway does not leave a doubt that, even though that narrator is absent in his story, American is a negative character. This is because his behavior is not worthy of a responsible man, as Hemingway viewed it. Americans pathetic attempts to sound reasonable only add grotesqueness to the whole situation.
Katherine Mansfields short story Miss Brill outlines an old womans lack of understanding for a world that she observes so intimately. The story is told from the point of view of an aging insignificant character, who on this particular Sunday is cruelly forced to see herself in a different light. This essay will study Miss Brills forced development, and the conflict (s) she must face in this story. ...
Miss Brill, on the other hand, does not provide us with clear idea of what authors personal attitude towards her main character might be. The one thing is obvious though Mansfields story is being inspired by autobiographical considerations. Miss Brill is shown as someone who does not fit into society, no matter how hard she tries. However, we do not know whether it is because there is something wrong about her or about the society. Author simply refrains from letting us know her personal position towards Miss Brill. Mansfield most certainly feels sympathetic towards her, but we do not know whether she does it out of pity or because she thinks that Miss Brill is so much above everybody else.
(3) There are more similarities about Hills Like White Elephants and Miss Brill than it is generally assumed. At the same time, we can also point out to undeniable differences in style and thematic construction. However, the real reason why these two stories could be compared, in the first place, is because they represent European psyche, at the time of decline of Europe. White people had lost their former psychological qualities that enabled them to exercise their undisputed authority, throughout the world, for hundreds of years. These qualities used to rest on notions of willpower, intelligence and beauty. At the beginning of 20th century, European intellectuals, such as Mansfield and Hemingway, only had an intelligence remaining, which they did not know what to do with.
This is why both analyzed stories are marked with utter hopelessness. Hills Like White Elephants and Miss Brill are nothing but expression of inner psychological frustration, on the part of authors, who were able to discuss a complicated philosophical issues, without knowing how to chop firewood or how to prepare a simple meal. Hills Like White Elephants and Miss Brill contain authors subconscious longing towards ethical clarity. Both, Mansfield and Hemingway were searching for the lost purpose of living. Mansfield did it through participating in sex orgies, while Hemingway simply went to the war as pilot, while hoping to be killed in combat. This is why, in order for us to understand a true meaning of just about any work of literature, we need to be aware of authors biographical details.
Ernest (Miller) Hemingway 1899-1961 Entry Updated: 08/01/2001 Birth Place: Oak Park, Illinois, United States Death Place: Ketchum, Idaho, United States Personal InformationCareerWritingsMedia AdaptationsSidelightsFurther Readings About the Author Personal Information: Family: Born July 21, 1899, in Oak Park Illinois, United States; committed suicide, July 2, 1961, in Ketchum, Idaho, United States ...
Hemingway, Ernest Hills Like White Elephants.
1999. MoonStar.Com. 17 Apr. 2007. http://www.moonstar.com/~acpjr/Blackboard/Common/S tories/WhiteElephants.html Ernest Hemingway. 2007. Wikipedia. 17 Apr.
2007. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernest_Hemingway Katherine Mansfield. 2007. Wikipedia. 17 Apr. 2007. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katherine_Mansfield Mansfield, Katherine Miss Brill. 2000. Short Stories.
17 Apr. 2007. http://www.eastoftheweb.com/short-stories/UBooks/M issBril.shtml Abstract: This paper discusses similarities and contrasts differences between short stories Hills Like White Elephants by Ernest Hemingway and Miss Brill by Katherine Mansfield. Outline: Similarities Differences Conclusion.