Summary of Plots
May 27, 2011 in First Year
The story is about Miss Brill, a middle-aged English teacher in an unnamed French vacation town. It follows her on a regular Sunday afternoon in the park, which she spends walking and sitting in the park, wearing an old but beloved fur. She sees the world as if it were a stage, and enjoys watching the people around her, often judging them condescendingly. However, she then overhears a young couple’s cruel remark about herself, and the story ends with her realizing that she is not really needed in the busy world, and she thinks that she heard the fur crying. Mansfield’s personification throughout the passage reveals a sense of loneliness belonging to Miss Brill for she not only fabricates a connection with the other park goers, but also personifies her inanimate piece of clothing by conversing with it as well as feeling for it.
“The Tell-Tale Heart” is a first-person narrative of an unnamed narrator who insists he is sane but suffering from a disease (nervousness) which causes “over-acuteness of the senses”. The old man with whom he lives has a clouded, pale, blue “vulture-like” eye which so distresses the narrator that he plots to murder the old man, though the narrator states that he loves the old man, and hates only the eye. The narrator insists that his careful precision in committing the murder shows that he cannot possibly be insane. For seven nights, the narrator opens the door of the old man’s room, a process which takes him a full hour. However, the old man’s vulture eye is always closed, making it impossible to “do the work”.
On the eighth night, the old man awakens and sits up in his own bed while the narrator performs his nightly ritual. The narrator does not draw back and, after some time, decides to open his lantern. A single ray of light shines out and lands precisely on the old man’s eye, revealing that it is wide open. Hearing the old man’s heart beating unusually and dangerously quick from terror, the narrator decides to strike, jumping out with a loud yell and smothering the old man with his own bed. The narrator dismembers the body and conceals the pieces under the floorboards, making certain to hide all signs of the crime. Even so, the old man’s scream during the night causes a neighbor to report to the police. The narrator invites the three arriving officers in to look around. He claims that the screams heard were his own in a nightmare and that the man is absent in the country. Confident that they will not find any evidence of the murder, the narrator brings chairs for them and they sit in the old man’s room, right on the very spot where the body is concealed, yet they suspect nothing, as the narrator has a pleasant and easy manner about him.
The narrator, however, begins to hear a faint noise. As the noise grows louder, the narrator comes to the conclusion that it is the heartbeat of the old man coming from under the floorboards. The sound increases steadily, though the officers seem to pay no attention to it. Shocked by the constant beating of the heart and a feeling that not only are the officers aware of the sound, but that they also suspect him, the narrator confesses to killing the old man and tells them to tear up the floorboards to reveal the body.