In both Miss Brill and A Rose for Emily the women prominently featured in the story share the common trait of choosing to segregate themselves from society. The methods the two use to accomplish this goal differ in the sense that Miss Grierson literally separated herself from society at a physical level and only allowed her servant, Tobe, to be in the same house as herself. This differs from the methods used by Miss Brill who uses a more psychological approach to mentally distance herself from the world around herself. She sees the world as a play happening around her with the people she sees daily as characters and thinks of herself as an audience member to it. Both of these women are using different means to accomplish the same goal of distancing themselves from a society that, at the time, was very against the idea of women being their own person. This was due to the ideals of the time, being the late 1800s and early to mid-1900s, such as the idea that women should not pursue a career but instead pursue a husband and hope to be a good housewife among other things. This is especially easy to see in A Rose for Emily where Emily was widely gossiped about for having not married a man when she was young which was very uncommon and viewed negatively by the others in the story. For these reasons, Miss Brill and Miss Grierson chose to use their own means to distance themselves from the unforgiving society and circumstances that they were in.
While there are a lot of similarities between Miss Brill and Miss Grierson, there were also clear differences between the two, such as the circumstances surrounding their reasoning for cutting off the rest of the world. In A Rose for Emily the events that led to Emily secluding herself are explicitly stated in the story through statements such as After her father’s death she went out very little; after her sweetheart went away, people hardly saw her at all. (Faulkner 226). This, coupled with her age and the changing times most likely made Emily feel trapped in the sense that she was too old and traditional to live a conventional life. This differs from Miss Brill due to there not being an explicit moment in the story that explains why she acts the way she does and leaves the reader to make assumptions based on outside information. However, we do know that whatever may have caused her to act this way has induced Miss Brill into have a skewed perception of what is happening in the world around her. This is best shown when she says Yes, I have been an actress for a long time.” (Mansfield 248) eluding to her having kept up the present act she has been doing for quite some time. This, along with her describing her time at the park all both lead to the conclusion that, like Miss Grierson, she too is suffering from some sort of delusion from an event that has happened. While they differ in substance, the outcome is the same, both women are social pariahs that do not adhere to what women should be at that time.
Mental illness is also a common theme between these two characters, but although they both suffer from a type of illness, they are very different from each other in that regard. The most obvious case of mental illness is shown with Miss Brill who believes the world around her to be a play that she is observing. This is shown to be the case by the flashy and descriptive language used throughout her visit to the public gardens up until the point the young couple she observes begins to speak negatively about her and breaks her from her false world. She also likely deviated from her usual routine of getting a cake after watching the people at the public gardens due to the comments made by the young couple snapping her back to the reality she has been desperate to escape from. The fur she was wearing is also representative of her inner feelings when she thought she heard something crying (Mansfield 248) it was how she felt about the situation seeing as how the fur was almost an extension of her own self due to how much she liked it and was proud of it. Worse off is Miss Grierson, who is extremely anti-social and has necrophiliac tendencies as shown with her inability to part with the corpses of her father and Homer Barron. This displays obvious faults in her ability to make sound and rational decisions and is conveyed clearly when in Miss Griersons house the townspeople noticed that in the second pillow was the indentation of a head. (Faulkner 231) meaning that she had been sleeping with the corpse up until the day she died. Whether it be Miss Brill not fitting in living in France or Miss Grierson not fitting in with her time period, the end result of them losing their mental faculties due to separation from society is the same.
Although Miss Brill and Miss Grierson both suffer from some type of isolation, they were quite different is ways they isolated themselves. The way the story talks about Miss Brill it is very obvious that she has been isolated for a while. The way Miss Brill talks to her coat it is obvious that she is also talking about herself stating that she is rubbing the life into it.(Mansfield 245) while Miss Brill is doing that she is picturing a conversation of her with the coat. Miss Brill did get this coat from a box that was probably in storage but she is also been in some type of storage as well, a storage that is lonely and alone. Miss Brill and Miss Grierson are both going through rough isolation that they cannot overcome and are overlooked as crazies. Miss Grierson was so isolated in her room that it was stated, no one had seen in forty years.(Faulkner 230). Both Miss Brill and Miss Grierson refuse to let go of the past, also refuse to adapt and change. While they differ in substance, the outcome is the same they are both isolated characters and it affects them to adapt to their society.
The similarities between Miss Brill and Miss Grierson are very a like due to the fact they both suffer and are examples of extreme isolated people. The only differences between the two are that they each try to control the situation that they might be in. For an example Miss Brill uses denial to help her control her situations, while Miss Grierson on the other hand tries to appropriate the people. As it is obvious that they both suffer from extreme loneliness but since they tries to control the situations of their lives they deal with situations the way they can. If you try living life as a fantasy you will never learn how to suffer from real events such as break ups, lost, or even death. Even if you do not suffer you will not experience what a true life is and people in our society will judge people that try to live in fantasies. It is very easy to escape reality when times get tough but a person is not really a person until they go through a tough experience, which is what makes everyone different. Living in a fantasy life may affect the way you communicate with people, this may lead to be anti-social and it can lead to a mental disorder that will affect a person health.