The fact that a rogue is a wild animal which lives all alone, and whose company is unwanted, mirrors Miss Brill’s own life as well as it shows the close relationship to her fur. The way she treats her fur is symbolic for Miss Brill’s perception of her situation defining hers and the lives of everybody around her. All in all Miss Brill’s life is very strictly organised and “her regular weekly activities characterize Miss Brill implicitly as a person addicted to routine, and who doesn’t allow the outer world to disturb a mode of existence based on deeply ingrained habit”.
Every Sunday when she passes the bakery she buys a slice of honey cake because it is her “Sunday treat”. Whenever there is an almond in the slice she feels “like carrying home a tiny present – a surprise – something that might very well not have been there”. The “almond Sundays” mean a highlight in her week and once more it becomes obvious how empty and sad Miss Brill’s life is.
Although she already lives the clichi?? of an old spinster, Miss Brill fears being alone because she is used to be there for other people.
Her position as a teacher and especially her regular meetings with the old invalid gentleman four times a week seem to be an escape from isolation. Miss Brill does not want her protege to know anything about her real life and therefore she answers his question by stating “Yes, I have been an actress for a long time.
” Miss Brill creates her own world of illusion, where she feels important and superior, because in reality there is scarcely anybody who notices and needs her. Her fear of being alone might also be the reason for her opinion that she and the other persons in the park “were all on stage”.
This idea gives Miss Brill the feeling of security and belonging to a group, because she is sure that “somebody would have noticed if she hadn’t been there; she was part of the performance, after all”. She dreams the life she would like to live, but despite her own opinion she does not belong to the other visitors, and when it becomes obvious “what other people actually think of her, Miss Brill’s true separation from her fellow human beings becomes almost brutally apparent, and the essential loneliness of her character is underlined.”
The two young lovers make the ultimate insult upon Miss Brill, not only by calling her a “stupid old thing”, but they ridicule her companion, the fur, by comparing it to “a fried whiting”. After listening to the conversation of the couple – and the rhetorical question “who wants her” aroused by the young man – she suddently realises her own sad and isolated situation. On her way home Miss Brill does not go to the bakery as usual which signifies no less than breaking her routine.
She puts the fur back into the box without having another glance at it and “when she put the lid on she thought she heard something crying. “It seems that on the one hand Miss Brill is definitely a sadder person, but on the other hand not more realistic. Nevertheless she tries to compensate the sad epiphany she has gone through by keeping up her illusion. Thus, the ending of the story is ambivalent and open.
The nameless captain is the protagonist of Joseph Conrad’s short story “The Secret Sharer”.
Appointed to the command only two weeks ago, he feels insecure about his position as captain and is alienated by the rest of the crew because of his youth and inexperience. He has not integrated himself into his new role yet is aware of the fact that “all these people had been together for eighteen moths or so, and [his] position was that of the only stranger on board”. His journey on the ship stands for the journey through life in general. Although he is new on board he already built up a close and emotional relationship to his ship.
One can see that in the comparison of the ship to a companion when the captain speaks of his “hand resting lightly on [his] ship’s rail as if on the shoulder of a trusted friend.” A very subtle, but nevertheless important symbol is the scorpion. When the first mate discovers the scorpion in his cabin this leads to a fuss. The first mate is very fascinated with the scorpion and does not stop wondering how it got there. Especially the question “how on earth it managed to drown himsefl in the inkwell of his writing desk” is of great importance for the chief mate, although the mystery is not solved in the course of the story.
The scorpion stands for danger and ambivalence. Furthermore, the scorpion is a premonition of Leggatt’s arrival and the consequences of a possible detection by the crew. The mate’s speculations concerning the scorpion, however, can also be applied to Leggatt One night the captain wanders the deck and notices the naked stranger in the sea close to the ship. At their first encounter the captain thinks that Leggatt “was complete but for the head. A headless corpse! “. The headless corpse can be seen as evidence for the lack of identity, because it can be symbolic for the self-confidence and rationality of Leggatt.
To the captain Leggatt seems “as if he had risen from the bottom of the sea” and also “silvery, fish-like”. Until Leggatt is identified as “a well-knit young fellow of twenty-five at most”, they both have a wrong impression from each other. While the captain thinks of Leggatt as a kind of phenomenon, Leggatt does not realise that he is rescued by the captain of the ship himself. That is why their first meeting is very pure and innocent, until they really start talking and revealing who they are.
From the beginning on Leggatt is very mysterious, which is rooted in his strange emergence at night, and furthermore stands for purity, purification, and an absolutely sinless and immoral state. Another important stylistic device within “The Secret Sharer” is myth – in classical as well as in biblical sense – which is reflected in the conflicts on board the Sephora. The fear of being driven off the face of the earth as well as the struggle in the storm, which is compared to the biblical story of Cain and Abel, contain references to the bible.
After Leggatt killed the other man, the first thing he hears is “the voice of the old man”. The name of captain of the Sephora is never mentioned, Leggatt always refers to him as “the old man”, which evokes the association of the captain being a father figure or maybe even a kind of god to him. Almost immediately, the Captain and Leggatt seem to understand each other perfectly, they built up a “mysterious communication”. The clothes worn within the story are also of great symbolic value. The sleeping-suits worn by both the captain and Leggatt, represent their assimilation.
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