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This short story The Furnished Room is written by American poet William Sydney Porter. William Sydney Porter is known by his pet name O. Henry. He was born in Greensboro in 1862. He moved to New York where Henry’s most intensive writing period occurred, he wrote 381 short stories. His short stories are famous for their surprise ending and witty narration. Mostly, his stories are about the ordinary people of New York and deal with the individual aspects of life.

In The Furnished Room, the writer uses suspense throughout the story. Suspense is a state of mind where the reader of a story is kept in a waiting condition. This state keeps the reader in waiting mode and the reader is curious about what will happen next.

The story starts with the description of homeless people, who move from one place to another. They don’t have a home. At last, they have to leave their rented house. Because it is not their own house. This state of the people creates a dark setting for homeless people. The reader is kept in suspense about the nameless man who is looking for a room. We do not know his name. Then the writer establishes the suspense regarding the home that the nameless man wants to rent. Then the writer creates suspense regarding whether he is successful to find a house or not.

At last, after his twelfth attempt, he is successful in finding a house. The landlady came and ushered him inside. She showed him a separate room. The young man is quite tired and pays ”for a week in advance” and immediately monopolizes the room. At this point, the man’s room is just referred to as ”the room.” After the custody of the room, the writer calls it ”The Furnished Room.” Then, we come to know that this particular room is important because of the title of the story.

The suspense is significantly increased when we come to know that the young man is trying to find his love. His lover’s name is Eloise Vashner who has a dark spot near her left eye. He asked about her the lady but she said she didn’t know Eloise. The suspense also increased when he visited many theatres but all his efforts were futile. The readers are still in suspense. If the man is successful in finding his love, or will it be a tragic discovery? Given the bleak mood, setting, and situation, the suspense is heightened by the likelihood of something tragic to come.

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The suspense is increased in the latter part of the story. When the young man rests in ”the furnished room” he suddenly becomes aware of a “strong, sweet scent of mignonette,” a scent that his beloved loves the most. Then he noticed how the room was misused. He asked Mrs McCool to tell me about who was in my room before I came here. Then she told him about the people who live there. After hearing that, he went to his room. All his hopes are gone. His face is full of tears. He took the blanket. No air would be able to enter his room. He turned the gas on. Then he committed suicide in the same room where his lover committed too.

Symbolism was a late nineteenth-century movement. Symbolism means using objects or words to represent abstract ideas. An action, place, word, person, or object can be used as symbolic meaning. Symbolism is also used to give new and more significant meaning to different objects, and ideas. Symbolic meanings are different from their literal meaning.

Modernism comes with its style of writing, which mainly focuses on reality and individualism. Modern writers presented their writing creatively and indirectly. And Modern writers used symbolism as an innovation. They left much more in the reader’s mind than earlier writers. Writers imagined reality in multiple layers. Symbolism also creates complexity. That’s why symbolism become an important feature for modernists.

Miss Brill is a short story written by Katherine Mansfield in 1920. This story is written in the third person limited omniscient point of view. Symbolism plays a very important role in Mrs Brill. This can easily be seen in the relationship between Miss Brill and her “alter-ego”, the fur. On a literal level, Miss Brill’s fur is just fur. But this fur has also hidden meaning. This fur is a symbol of Miss Brill herself. Miss Brill lives for the days that she spends in the park, this can be seen when she rubs “the life back into [her fur’s] dim little eyes”. This quote reveals that the tours to the park help to “rub” life back into Miss Brill. Miss Brill’s fur is the most important symbol of this story. The fur represents Miss Brill’s individuality and sense of pride. She loves her fur, she feels special when she wears her fur. She is excited when she brings it out of its box. At the start of the story, her coat is soft and new which means she is happy with her imagination. But at the end of the story, her fur becomes shabby and rough because reality hits her hard. She leaves her fur into the box, “without looking”, and “she thought she heard something crying.”

Miss Brill’s life is full of loneliness. She is all alone. She desires friendship. That’s why she thinks everyone at the park, is an actor or actress including herself. The young woman in the ermine toque also becomes a symbol of Miss Brill’s loneliness when the woman is rejected by her male companion. The shabbiness of the woman’s ermine toque symbolizes that of Miss Brill’s fur.

The music which is played in the park, symbolizes the feeling of happiness and sadness that Miss Brill feels. However, Miss Brill is helpless to challenge her feelings of sadness until the children make fun of her. This drives Miss Brill back to her dark room which is symbolized by the small box that she throws her fur into at the end of the story. Miss Brill buys a ”honey cake” every Sunday, and sometimes her slice contains an almond. This almond shows the surprising pleasures in her life. Because of her ability to appreciate such small pleasures, Miss Brill has been able to maintain a generally optimistic attitude despite her harsh reality of poverty and loneliness.

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