The Make-Believe Lives of Miss Brill and Mrs. Mallard

The Make-Believe Lives of Miss Brill and Mrs - The Make-Believe Lives of Miss Brill and Mrs. Mallard introduction. Mallard

            Society imposes certain expectations among its members. Men and women are supposed to fulfill traditional roles dictated by their culture. Human growth means they do not only develop and adjust to physical changes, they also have to conform to the expectations of society in every period of their lives. These expectations are unwritten and have been handed down through generations, although through the years, these have constantly changed to reflect the changes in the way people think about things. By following these expectations, one is labeled as “normal”. However, sometimes the aim to be like everyone else pressures some people to conform against their will. They are afraid of being labeled as social outcasts. In the process, they fool themselves into believing that everything is all right, even when they are not. The title character of Miss Brill in Katherine Mansfield’s story and Mrs. Mallard in Kate Chopin’s The Story of An Hour are two women who are forced to make themselves believe that they are living normal lives, yet in the duration of their respective stories are forced to face the realities behind their painted-over existences.

We will write a custom essay sample on
The Make-Believe Lives of Miss Brill and Mrs. Mallard
or any similar topic specifically for you
Do Not Waste
Your Time
SEND

By clicking "SEND", you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy. We'll occasionally send you account related and promo emails.

More Essay Examples on Society Rubric

            Mrs. Mallard is a married woman. Marriage is a social institution that was created to preserve a sense of order in society. In the conventional Western society, a man marries a woman; they stay together and start a family. They live and grow together as a family, with the parents taking care of the children until they grow up and get married in turn. The repetition of this cycle regulates the balance and social order of the state. Sometimes, irregularities happen like when a couple decides they do not want to stay in the relationship anymore. They separate and most often, remarry. Others, meanwhile, stay single, engage in extra-marital affairs or get pregnant out of wedlock. Choosing a different path, however, keeps the balance off thus society either disapproves or condemns these acts, the punishment depending on how the act affects the social order.  So like a traditional woman, Mrs. Mallard got married. And like many married woman, the years of trying to remain a loyal and good wife had worn her down. Upon hearing the story that her husband has died in a train crash, “she wept at once, with a sudden, wild abandonment…When the storm of grief had spend itself she went away to her room alone (Chopin).” The sadness does not last long, however, as Mrs. Mallard begins to feel “something coming to her and she was waiting for it, fearfully. What was it? She did not know: it was too subtle and elusive to name. But she felt it, creeping out of the sky, reaching out toward her through the sounds, the scents, the color that filled the air (Chopin).” Mrs. Mallard tries to suppress it. She becomes afraid because it is against the social rules of convention. It is correct to grieve at a husband’s death, but wrong to feel the unmistakable joy that was overwhelming her then.

            The truth, however, will not be denied even if no one but the only the person knows about it. Eventually, Mrs. Mallard understands the meaning of the feeling which “she was striving to beat back with her will (Chopin).” It is wrapped in one word which she keeps repeating over and over: “free!” At this point in the story, it becomes clear to the reader how, all her married life, Mrs. Mallard has actually been living in a cage. Like many marriages that have lost its element of romance, she has simply been staying in the marriage because it was the right thing to do. But at the news of her husband’s death she realizes that, at last, “she would live for herself. There would be no powerful will bending hers (Chopin).” In a traditional marriage, both men and women believe that men run the relationship and the proper thing for the woman to do is follow her husband’s wishes. For Mrs. Mallard, her husband’s death is not anymore about whether she loves her or not. She only recognizes the freedom that it brought her and it is this stronger feeling that she would like to obey.

            In the case of Miss Brill, she chose to remain single. She has the freedom that Mrs. Mallard does not enjoy. Miss Brill has no man telling her what to do and she spends her time in whatever way she wants. She has created a weekend ritual of going to the park and watching the people there. These regular trips are a fun experience to the old maid: “How fascinating it was! How she enjoyed it! How she loved sitting here, watching it all! (Mansfield).” Miss Brill compares herself to an audience watching a play unfolding before her. However, unlike the usual play, she is onstage with the actors, serving as prop in the performance. However, what Miss Brill fails to acknowledge is that by regarding the world around her as a stage, she is unconsciously referring to her own life as another plot in a make-believe play of life. She is a lonely woman pretending that everything is fine with her life as much as everything looks fine with everyone during that afternoon in the park. Miss Brill’s being an old maid makes her an outsider in a society that believes that marriage is the inevitable path for women to follow. Nevertheless, Miss Brill would like to assert her membership in the same society by going to the park and making herself believe that she is one of the characters in the community that visits the park every weekend.

            Many times in the story, the feeling of loneliness would creep out, and every time, Miss Brill would try to divert it as something else. When she starts walking, the ermine fur placed around her shoulders, she feels that “when she breathed something light and sad—no, not sad exactly—something gentle seemed to move in her bosom (Mansfield).” Meanwhile, while she listens to the band’s music, she feels “a faint chill—a something, what was it?—not sadness—no, not sadness (Mansfield).” Finally, when she comes home after having eavesdropped upon a young couple making fun of her, “she heard something crying (Mansfield)” while she replaces the fur in its box. Every time, Miss Brill waives away the pangs of loneliness so that she is even able to pretend that the crying comes from inside the fur box.

            The two stories show that it is not being married or single which matters or that one state is better than the other. Mrs. Mallard is married but is not happy with her marriage. When she learns of her husband’s death she feels free for the first time in many years. When, during the ending, she learns that there was a mistake and her husband is alive after all, Mrs. Mallard dies of shock and disappointment. Her dreams, just awakening, are suddenly cut off. Meanwhile, Miss Brill is single but lonely at having no one to share her weekends with. She tries to amuse herself by going to the park and believe herself to be part of the happy community of couples and families of park regulars. However, after overhearing a conversation between a young couple, she realizes that she is unwanted even in the park. Her weekend visits, her only equivalent of a personal connection with others, goes unappreciated.

Ultimately, therefore, what the reader realizes through the two stories is that what matters is not whether one is happy or not with his state in life; otherwise, the individual is forced to keep up an appearance and pretend to be happy and contented just so he could say he is doing the right thing (as in the case of Mrs. Mallard and her marriage) or he is a part of the community like everyone else (as in the case of Miss Brill). To live honestly, regardless of whether it is according to or against the expectations of society, is still the best way to live.

Cited Works

Chopin, Kate. The Story of An Hour.

Mansfield, Katherine. Miss Brill.

Draft

Society expects men and women to fit into traditional roles and comply with certain expectations. These expectations are unwritten and have been handed down through generations. By following these expectations, one is labeled as “normal”. However, sometimes the aim to be like everyone else pressures some people to conform even if they do not want to. They are afraid of being labeled as outcasts. In the process, they fool themselves into believing that everything is all right, even when they are not. These prescribed roles and norms have constantly undergone changes through the years to reflect the changing ways in which men think about things. For instance, divorce and premarital sex are more common and accepted today than it was five decades ago. Katherine Mansfield’s Miss Brill and Mrs. Mallard in Kate Chopin’s The Story of An Hour are two women who are forced to make themselves believe that they are living normal lives, yet in the duration of their respective stories are forced to face the realities behind their make-believe lives. ,

            Marriage is a social institution that was created to preserve a sense of order in society. In the conventional society, a man marries a woman; they stay together and start a family. Their children grow up and get married themselves. The cycle of birth, growth and marriage regulates the balance and social order of the state. Sometimes, people choose not to be part of the cycle. Couples separate and sometimes remarry. Others stay single. Some single women get married out of wedlock. These irregularities keep the social balance off thus society either disapproves or condemns these acts, the punishment depending on how the act affects the social order.  So like a traditional woman, Mrs. Mallard got married. And like many married woman, the years of trying to remain a loyal and good wife had worn her down. Upon hearing the story that her husband has died in a train crash “she wept at once.” The sadness does not last long, however, as Mrs. Mallard begins to feel “something coming to her and she was waiting for it, fearfully. What was it? She did not know: it was too subtle and elusive to name. But she felt it, creeping out of the sky, reaching out toward her through the sounds, the scents, the color that filled the air.” Mrs. Mallard tries to stop the feeling from overwhelming her. It is against the social rules of convention; thus her fear. It is correct to grieve at a husband’s death, but wrong to feel the unmistakable joy that was creeping out from inside her. The truth, however, will not be denied. Eventually, Mrs. Mallard understands the meaning of the feeling of freedom. At this point, it becomes clear to the reader and we understand why Mrs. Mallard is happy with her husband’s death. She has been miserable all her married life. She has been living in a cage. But it was the right thing to do. In a traditional marriage, the man rules the relationship. The woman simply obeys. So Mrs. Mallard stays married in spite the fact that she could not breathe freely in it. With her husband dead, she can do things she couldn’t do before. For Mrs. Mallard, her husband’s death is not anymore about whether she loves her or not. She only recognizes the freedom that it brought her.

In the case of Miss Brill, she is single and has the freedom that Mrs. Mallard does not enjoy. Miss Brill has no man telling her what to do and she spends her time in whatever way she wants. She has created a weekend ritual of going to the park and watching the people there. These regular trips are a fun experience to her. She pretends she is onstage with actors in a play, watching and being part of the performance at the same time. However, what Miss Brill fails to acknowledge is that by regarding the world around her as a stage, she is unconsciously referring to her own life as another plot in a make-believe play of life. She is a lonely woman pretending that everything is fine with her life. This can be interpreted as a metaphor of who Miss Brill is in relation to her community. She is an outsider in a society that believes that marriage is the inevitable path for women to follow. Nevertheless, she stubbornly asserts her membership by going to the park and making herself believe that she is one of the characters in the community that visits the park every weekend.

            The feeling of loneliness would creep out again and again, however, although every time Miss Brill would try to divert it as something else. When she starts walking, the ermine fur placed around her shoulders, she feels that “when she breathed something light and sad—no, not sad exactly—something gentle seemed to move in her bosom.” While listening to the band’s music, she feels “a faint chill—a something, what was it?—not sadness—no, not sadness.” And, when she comes home after having eavesdropped upon a young couple making fun of her, “she heard something crying.”

            The two stories show that it is not being married or single which matters or that one state is better than the other. Mrs. Mallard is married but is not happy with her marriage. When she learns of her husband’s death she feels free for the first time in many years. When, during the ending, she learns that there was a mistake and her husband is alive after all, Mrs. Mallard dies of shock and disappointment. Her new dreams are suddenly cut off. Meanwhile, Miss Brill is single but lonely at having no one to share her weekends with. She tries to amuse herself by going to the park however on the particular weekend of the story, she hears a couple talking about her and she learns that her presence is a nuisance to them. She is not wanted in the one place where she feels she belongs and is a part of something like a community of people.

It is not being married or single that matters. This is the lesson of the two stories. It does not matter whether one is happy or not with his state in life because otherwise, the individual is forced to keep up an appearance and pretend to be happy. To live honestly is still the best way to live.

Outline

I.                   Thesis: Miss Brill and Mrs. Mallard are two women who are forced to make themselves believe that they are living normal lives, yet in the duration of their respective stories are forced to face the realities behind their make-believe lives.

A.    Society imposes certain expectations among its members.

B.     One is labeled “normal” if one follows them.

C.     People sometimes have to conform against their will.

II.                Mrs. Mallard stays married even if she is not happy anymore.

A.    Marriage was created to preserve a sense of order in society.

1.      Men and women marry then start a family.

2.      Choosing a different path disrupts balance so it makes society disapprove.

3.      Like a traditional woman, Mrs. Mallard gets married.

B.     For Mrs. Mallard, her marriage felt like living in a cage all those years.

1.      The years of trying to remain a loyal and good wife had worn her down.

2.      She weeps at the news of her husband’s death, but not for a long time.

3.      She tries to suppress the feeling of freedom because it is against the rules of convention.

4.      She eventually recognizes the freedom her husband’s death bestows on her.

III.             Miss Brill chose to remain single, is a free woman, but lonely.

A.    She is a free woman.

1.      She has no man telling her what to do and she spends her time in whatever way she wants.

2.      Her weekend trips to the park delight her.

B.     She is actually a lonely woman pretending that everything is fine with her life.

1.      Being an old maid makes Miss Brill an outsider of her community.

2.      She asserts her membership in society by believing that she is one of the characters in the community that visits the park every weekend.

3.      Every time the feeling of loneliness creeps out, she would try to divert it and pretends it is something else.

IV.             It is not being married or single which matters.

A.    Mrs. Mallard is married but unhappy while Miss Brill is single but lonely.

B.     To live honestly with one’s self is the best way to live.

.

 

Haven’t Found A Paper?

Let us create the best one for you! What is your topic?

By clicking "SEND", you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy. We'll occasionally send you account related and promo emails.

Haven't found the Essay You Want?

Get your custom essay sample

For Only $13/page

Eric from Graduateway Hi there, would you like to get an essay? What is your topic? Let me help you

logo