Summary and analysis of the characters of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

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, and 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 a 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), Mr. Lloyd (art master) and Mr. Lowther (a singing teacher). 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. Therefore, the author of this novel Muriel Spark chooses to describe Miss Brodie and her brood throughout this novel.

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 Jean Brodie is an indomitable personality resist all those who question on her unorthodox methods.

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 not only ruin the lives of the Brodie set. The narrator has 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:- One of the members of The Brodie Set, 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. Also, she became able to understand that all along, 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, It is Sandy, who now 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.

Later in her life, Sandy became a nun and took orders and recalls how their walks opened the windows of her mind to other people’s Edinburgh quiet different from hers, on being asked about the biggest influence in her life, she remembers as a Miss Jean Brodie’s Prime.

Rose Stanley:-  Another member of the Brodie Set, Rose is an appealing blond and famous for sex in later year at the Marcia Blaine School. Even though she has no curiosity about sex whatsoever, she never talks about it and does not indulge in it presumably until marriage. Miss Brodie, especially undertakes two members from the Brodie Set in whom she sees the potential to fulfill her personal dreams one of them is Rose Stanley with Sandy. It has been clear through the novel that Miss Brodie wants Rose to as her instinct to portray her as Mr. Lloyd’s lover and Sandy as an informant. However, Mr. Lloyd has no sexual interest in Rose and Rose merely poses for him, because she needs money to fund her addiction to the cinema. But everything was not according to the plan and Sandy became the lover of Mr. Lloyd and Rose as an informant of Miss Brodie. After graduating from Blaine, Rose marries well in contrast, Sandy shakes off Miss Brodie’s influence as a dog shakes pond water from its coat.

Jenny Grey:-  Jenny Grey is popular for her beauty, grace and historical capabilities is one of the members of The Brodie set. She is the best friend of Sandy since childhood, they together wrote a fictionalized love corresponds between Miss Brodie and Mr. Lowther. However, as the girls grow old they seem to have differences and hence they fell apart, while growing separately Jenny enrolls at school of dramatic art to become an actress.

Mary Macgregor:-  Another member of special girls, she is silent lump, an insipid personality, although she is a member of The Brodie set, she is considered by everyone at Blaine from Mr. Lockhart to Miss Brodie rather stupid and disagreeable. She as a member of Special set is a scapegoat for Miss Brodie, the girl whom she can blame everything on and even Sandy treats her condescending and cruelly. Nonetheless, Mary remembers her years as a member of the Brodie set to be the happiest in her life.

Eunice Gardiner:-  She is a gymnast and a member of the special girl set, famous for her glamorous swimming. Eunice is at first who feels strange when she joins the special group but later, she becomes very entertaining for other member and fits in the group. After graduating, she became a nurse and marries to a doctor.

Monica Douglas:- One of the member of Special girls, She is popularly known for her mathematical ability and quick anger. After graduating from Blaine, she goes into science and marries to a man who later demands separation because she throws live coal on his sister.

Mr. Teddy Lloyd:- He is an art master in Blaine school is a good looking and well- shaped and a sophisticated man with red and gold hair. He is in love with Miss Brodie and she loves him too. But when he married, Miss Brodie announces her love for him altogether, bestowing is instead on Mr. Lowther. However, she arranges a plot where Rose has to portray as Mr. Lloyd’s lover in her place. How strong is Mr. Lloyd’s love for Miss Brodie is that in turn, the people he paints, all resembles with Miss Brodie herself. Ultimately, Miss Brodie’s plan fails, it is Sandy instead of Rose, who is having affair with Mr. Lloyd.

Mr. Gordon Lowther:-  He is the singing master of Blaine school has also soft feelings for Miss Brodie. His charm is golden lock hair that fell on his brows and one hand lost in great war. He competes with Mr. Lloyd for her love. When Miss Brodie declares her love for Mr. Lloyd, she became intimate with Mr. Lowther and they started sharing bed together. However, at the end Mr. Lloyd ended up marrying with Miss Lockhart instead of Miss Brodie.

Miss Lockhart:- She is a science teacher at Marcia Blaine school and an opposite personality in compare to Miss Brodie. Unlike her, she as a teacher dedicated herself teaching her subject rigorously. She doesn’t regard the girls as personalities but as a student, which is highly appreciable. Eventually, she married to Mr. Lowther.

Apart from the above mention characters, there are Joyce Emily Hammond, a rich and delinquent girl sent to Blaine at last resort. She was also wanted to be a part of Miss Brodie set but the other girls resist her.  Miss Ellen and Alison Kerr, the two sewing teacher at Blaine, soon they begin housekeeping at Mr. Lowther’s home.

Overall Spark’s characters in the novel seems to be interiorized, that means they are all involved in a search for the self that acclimatize their both personal and social claims. All the characters is written in third person and focuses on the view held by the central figures of the novel Miss Brodie and Sandy. Through them the author accentuates the contradictions and later the conflicts that arise when both perceive the role that a teacher should and does play in the moulding of pupils. Both the characters represent the different version of similar experience and the unresolved conflicts that results give the novel shades of the “Nouveau Roman”.

Nouveau Roman (a style of avant-garde French novel that came to prominence in the 1950s. It rejected the plot, characters, and omniscient narrator central to the traditional novel in an attempt to reflect more faithfully the sometimes random nature of experience).


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