The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is a novel by Muriel Spark, published in 1960. The novel is about a school teacher Jean Brodie who is a charismatic but cruel and has unorthodox thinking. She elects 6 students of young girls, Monica Douglas, Rose Stanley, Eunice Gardiner, Sandy Stranger, Mary Macgregor and Jenny Grey, and took them under her wings to educate them with unconventional mode of teaching. The novel ‘The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie’ is set in 1930 autumn in Edinburgh, Scotland. The plot of this novel revolves around Miss Jean Brodie, comprising her “The Brodie set” (The group of six young girls selected by Miss Brodie defined as The Brodie Set). However, Miss Jean Brodie successfully dominate these students and won their trust and sympathy, in this way all the student became loyal to Miss Brodie.
Miss Jean Brodie:- Miss Jean Brodie is such a character who appointed as school teacher in Marcia Blain School to teach but instead of teaching she as an eccentric spinster and school teacher, made a fine art out of private judgment of characterization and specializes in organizing the lives of The Brodie Set. Instead of teaching school subject, she shares her incomplete love life, romantic struggle and unfulfilled desire with Hugh Carruthers with ‘The Brodie Set’. She presents herself as tragic heroine in front of them. She actually wanted to transform them into “Cream de la Cream” (a thing of particular kind) of society. She imbuing the special girls with the sense of affection and loyalty. Miss Brodie manipulate them with the virtue of fascism and groom them into “Cream de la Cream”. Not only that but as a willing escort, she initiated them into the world of art by telling them of the feast of Italian Renaissance painters.
Miss Brodie not only overpower the six young girls but the male around her, she managed to dominate and manipulate the two men, that is Mr. Lloyd and Mr. Lowther. These two men were affectionate towards Miss Brodie. Miss Jean was self- righteousness person who was an unparalleled in effectiveness. Through the novel, the narrator has showcases, how the unconventional and inappropriate way of teaching method ruin the lives of the Brodie set. The narrator has also highlighted the personal obsession of a self- righteous teacher who neglects the truth and took wrong turn to guide the students, specially The Brodie Set.
Sandy Stranger:- She is not only the central figure of the Brodie set but also the main protagonist of the novel, has small eyed known for her clarity of vowel sound, she is Miss Brodie’s fevourite and most intimate confidant. Sandy is highly imaginative and deeply interested in analyzing human behavior. She has got insight as Miss Brodie tells her. Among the Brodie Set, Sandy is the one who took keen interest in Miss Brodie’s love affairs. She is the character who perceive hidden aspects of Miss Brodie’s personality. She is the one who looks through Mr. Lloyd’s portrait and identifies striking similarities in all of them. Soon her discovery reinforces her suspicious regarding the true nature of her teacher’ affection and establishes the fraud and humbug that Miss Brodie’s indigestion. Very soon she managed to, understand that Brodie set had been deceived by into believing Miss Brodie’ grand passion for Mr. Lowther and it was Mr. Lloyd who really had into her heart. Therefore, she decides that she will not always fall for Miss Brodie’s future plan regarding the members of the Brodie Set.
Although, Miss Brodie who drives pleasure, power and boundless confidence that her special girls as her life but Sandy is the one who finally not only exposes but weakens and betrays the egocentrism of her teacher. This clash between an unparalleled teacher and a student diverge the ideologies, and as a result she became the reason of Miss Brodie’s fascist tendencies to the head mistress. Though, Sandy is seen to molded out justice.
In contrast to the centrality of Miss Brodie and Sandy, the other characters are peripheral, as they only serve to highlight the interaction between the two main protagonists. The girl in Brodie set- Monica Douglas, Rose Stanley, Eunice Gardiner, Sandy Stranger, and Mary Macgregor and Jenny Grey, symbolically emphasize the strength of Miss Brodie’s personality. They are figures who represents flexibility and conformity to Miss Brodie’s visions of them in the future. Apart from the Brodie Set, Mr. Lloyd the art master and Mr. Lowther the singing master are the only two males that we encounter directly by the author. They are shown as the satellites of Miss Brodie who only serves to fulfill her emotional and physical needs.
Therefore, the author of this novel Muriel Spark chooses to describe Miss Brodie and her brood throughout this novel. Sparks manner of characterization is both witty and sardonic, and it conveys the author’s capacity to observe and analyze different levels of human relationships.
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