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Eng 101 - a Cup of Tea and Miss Brill

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Ashlyn Frizzell

Professor Monica Angelucci

English 101

4 Nov 2018

Comparison

        Throughout the short stories I have read by Katherine Mansfield I have learned that they have similar elements, but different themes. In this essay I will be comparing and contrasting Mansfield’s two short stories A Cup of Tea and Miss Brill to show how her story writing hooks you with her dialogue and creative themes, as well as the differences between the two short stories.

        In Katherine’s short story Miss Brill her creative dialogue makes her writing so intriguing. She uses figurative language to create a fun and serious tone throughout the story. For example, she uses personification to add life to the band in the line, “what they played was warm, sunny, yet there was just a faint chill” (Miss Brill, 3). She describes the band in such a unique way that it makes you feel them playing. Another element of figurative language that she uses are similes. As she is describing the sky as powdered with gold and spots of light, Mansfield creates a vivid picture of what the atmosphere is like (Miss Brill, 1).  

        Similarly, in Katherine’s A Cup of Tea, she uses figurative language to set the mood and tone of this story as well. To be different from Miss Brill she uses figurative language a little different by creating the setting through her words. She uses words such as warmth, softness, light, and a sweet sent to describe her room where Rosemary and Miss. Smith are having tea (A Cup of Tea, 4). When she uses dialogue like that, it makes the audience feel as if they can feel what they’re feeling within the story; she makes you feel as if you are there with Rosemary and Miss. Smith.  Another phrase that stood out to me greatly was, “Rain was falling, and with the rain it seemed the dark came too, spinning down like ashes. There was a cold bitter taste in the air, and the new lighted lamps looked sad. Sad were the lights in the houses opposite. Dimly they burned as if regretting something. And people hurried by, hidden under their hateful umbrellas” (A Cup of Tea, 2). In this quote she uses a few figurative language elements such as similes and personification just like in Miss Brill. 

        Another literary element Katherine Mansfield uses to create her meaningful short stories are the makeup of her characters. Throughout her short story Miss Brill, the type of person Miss Brill is slowly starts to unravel. At first it seems as if Miss Brill is going out for a day and into town. Her quote, “Miss Brill was glad that she had decided on her fur”, shows what she was wearing that day (Miss Brill, 1). It then changes as to how she listens to other people’s conversations and pretends to input her opinion. When an old couple is not talking in front of her, she gets upset because she looked forward to listening to them (Miss Brill, 1). At the end of the story it reveals how she is in fact anti-social and does not put herself out there to interact with others.

        Unlike Miss Brill’s character reveal, in her short story A Cup of Tea, Rosemary is a young, brilliant, and exquisitely well-dressed woman and lets us know that right away (Mansfield, 1). She describes Rosemary as wealthy and a bit self-conscious when describing the lilacs and how they have no shape. Her true character shows when her husband makes the comment, “but she’s so astonishingly pretty” towards Miss. Smith, the homely girl who Rosemary invited for tea (A Cup of Tea, 6). When that is said her confidence plummets and immediately gives Miss. Smith a present of money to leave and then asks her husband if he thinks she, herself, is pretty. As you can see by comparison the two main characters have two completely different personality characteristics and how they are as humans.

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