See Mr. White
See Sergeant-Major Morris
Sergeant-Major Morris is the catalyst for the story: he brings the monkey’s paw to the Whites’ home. He is “a tall, burly man, beady of eye and rubicund of visage,” whose eyes get brighter after his third glass of whiskey at the Whites’ hearth. Morris is both familiar and exotic. Morris and Mr. White began their lives in approximately the same way; Mr. White remembers his friend as “a slip of a youth in the warehouse.” But in his twenty-one years of travel and soldiering, Morris has seen the world and has brought back tales of “wild scenes and doughty deeds; of wars and plagues and strange peoples.” Morris also carries with him the monkey’s paw, which changes all the Whites’ lives . . . Read More
W. W. Jacobs’ short story opens with Mr. White and his son Herbert playing a game of chess. Mrs. White is knitting by the fire. Mr. White loses the game and becomes agitated and exasperated. Soon, there is a knock at the door and the Sergeant-Major enters. They share a few drinks and the Sergeant-Major tells them some tales about his trips to India, where he obtained a monkey’s paw. The paw is magical, allowing three men three wishes each. One man has died and the Sergeant-Major has used up his three wishes. He tosses the paw into the fire, but Mr. White snatches it out and keeps it for himself. The Sergeant-Major tells them that a fakir has put a spell on the paw ‘ ‘to show that fate ruled people’s lives.” Those who tamper with fate “did so to their sorrow.” But Herbert coaxes his father to wish for something modest, like 200 pounds. His father does so, while Herbert plays dramatic chords on the piano in accompaniment. They all go to . . . Read More
Katherine Mansfield, born Kathleen Mansfield Beauchamp in 1888 in Wellington, New Zealand, lived a short life, but she established a literary reputation at a young age. Her first published book, In a German Pension, was published in 1911, when she was only twenty-two years old. She became friends with some of the great literary figures of her day, including D.H. Lawrence and Virginia Woolf, and married the writer and critic J. Middleton Murry.
Her stories are full of detail and small, albeit significant, incidents in her characters’ lives. In an often-quoted letter published in The Letters of Katherine Mansfield, she says of “Miss Brill”: “I chose the rise and fall of every paragraph to fit her, and to fit her on that day at that moment.” Katherine Fullbrook notes in her biography titled simply Katherine Mansfield that”while the surface of her stories often flash with sparkling detail, the underlying tones are sombre, threatening, and . . . Read More
Europe between the Wars
In the 1920s, Europe was rebuilding after World War I, the most destructive and deadly war in history. As the economy grew, spurred on by the advances in medicine and technology gained during the war, a newfound era of wealth and cultural growth permeated many Western European countries. France, especially, became a haven for expatriate artists and writers from England and the United States drawn to its affordable living conditions. The values of the “Jazz Age” spread to the continent, where the dismantling of strict Victorian protocol resulted in the rise of controversial art like Expressionism and Surrealism and explicit literature from writers like James Joyce.
“Miss Brill” is set during this tumultuous time period, when the sight of an older, single woman wearing an outdated fur stole represented a genteel world forever obliterated by the atrocities of trench warfare, the promise . . . Read More
Katherine Mansfield’s “Miss Brill” presents the interior monologue of a woman on a Sunday trip to the park whose pleasant illusions are shattered when reality infringes on her thoughts.
“Miss Brill” is set in the “JardinsPubliques,” the French term for “public garden,” or park. Miss Brill, through her name and the indication that she tutors students in English, is revealed to be a nonnative of France, and thus an outsider from the start. These factual references reinforce her emotional isolation, which she attempts to overcome by pretending that she is a cast member in a stage production. The pleasant weather, its crispness perfect for her fur collar, echoes Miss Brill’s good mood as she sits in the garden listening to the band and watching the people. When her illusion of understanding with the others in the park is shattered by the comments of the young couple, however, . . . Read More
Katherine Mansfield’s “Miss Brill” presents an afternoon in the life of a middle-aged spinster. On her usual Sunday visit to the park, she imagines the she and the people in the park are characters in a play. Contributing to her good mood is the fact that she is wearing her prized fur stole. Anticipating the conversation of two strangers who sit down next to her, Miss Brill’s vivacious mood is shattered by the couple’s ridicule for her and her fur. She returns to her tiny apartment and places the fur back in its box, imagining that she hears it crying.
Alienation and Loneliness
Though Miss Brill does not reveal it in her thoughts, her behavior indicates that she is a lonely woman. She thinks of no family members during her Sunday outing, instead focusing on her few students and the elderly man to whom she reads the newspaper several times a week. Even her name, Miss Brill, suggests an isolating formality; . . . Read More
Miss Brill is a middle-aged, unmarried English woman who lives alone in a small apartment in France. She teaches English to students and reads the newspaper to an elderly man several times a week. One of her prized possessions is a fur necklet that she wears on a Sunday visit to the town’s park. The story takes place during one of these Sunday visits in which she eavesdrops on people’s conversations and listens to the band. Miss Brill is an astute observer of others, noticing that the other people sitting on the park benches seem “odd” as if they had “just come from dark little rooms.” She fails, however, to realize that she is one of them. Enchanted by the crisp air and the advent of the Season, Miss Brill compares the park to a stage, and the people—including herself—as actors and actresses in a play. The metaphor takes on the proportions of an epiphany in which she believes that she has . . . Read More
The Jardins Publiques (Public Gardens) in a French town on an early autumn Sunday afternoon is the setting for ‘ ‘Miss Brill.” The air is still, but there is a “faint chill, like a chill from a glass of iced water before you sip,” so Miss Brill is happy to have worn her fur stole. The stole, in accordance to the fashions of the times, was constructed so that its fake eyes and nose could be attached to its tail, securing it around the wearer’s neck. It is the first time she has worn it in a while. When preparing for her stroll in the park, she gives it a “good brush,” “[rubs] the life back into the dim little eyes,” and teasingly calls it her “little rogue.”
Miss Brill watches the people in the park with delight. The band sounds ‘ ‘louder and gayer” to her than it has on previous Sundays. She listens to the concert from her” ‘special’ seat” and is . . . Read More
With a child-murderer in their midst the people of a German city are gripped by fear. The police crack down on known criminals in an effort to find the killer. This disrupts crime in the city, and so, the criminal fraternity set out to find the offender themselves. They track him down and the police arrive just in time to save him from death at the hands of a kangaroo court.
M is an extended meditation on evil and its presence within society. It is also an exploration of the reactions of society to this presence. Human beings are shown as being fascinated by evil. Lang points to the vicarious pleasure we gain from reading about it: newspaper sales, for example, take off in this city with a child murderer on the loose. The magazine salesman who comes to Elsie’s mother’s door functions within the plot as a means of increasing suspense during the tense opening minutes of the film, . . . Read More
Lola receives a phone call from Manni asking for her help to replace 100,000 Marks that he has misplaced on the subway. The money is for his gangster boss, who is certain to kill Manni if he doesn’t receive it. Lola has 20 minutes to find the cash and reach Manni before he resorts to robbing a supermarket. The film portrays three varying narrative timelines of events where small choices made by Lola impact not only on Manni’s own fate but also all on those with whom she comes into contact.
Tykwer’s fourth feature was a huge success in Germany and sparked what was considered to be a new era of German cinema. Functioning at an extremely high pace, the film reflects restlessness in a German society that had been through enormous change and that was preparing to embark on a new century. Heavily influenced by American and British genre cinema, Tykwer set out to create a film that . . . Read More