Personal Study Alice King
The techniques used to characterise/portray the main character ‘Miss Jean Brodie’ in the novel ‘The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie’ by Muriel Spark.
In ‘The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie’ by Muriel Spark th characters are all portrayed very skilfully and cleverly throughout, especially Jean Brodie. She is the main character in the book and her role in the novel is an elementary school teacher and leader of the ‘Brodie Set’- six girl pupils of Miss Brodie called Sandy, Monica, Rose, Jenny, Mary and Eunice. All of the Brodie Set have their own individual styles, personalities and special qualities which makes them all so unique and they are repeated throughout the book. They are noticed by everyone else in the school as being very different from the other pupils and stand out because of their uniqueness and their close relationship to the teacher. The author uses clever techniques in the book which are very effective such as contrast and repetition. Themes such as betrayal and manipulation occur in the book also. The structure of this novel is complicated but very clever as flash forwards and flash backs are used are used which keep the reader in suspense. Even though this is a short concise novel there is so much in it which makes it so enjoyable and exciting to read.
... of Miss Jean Brodie, Muriel Spark,1961, The Penguin Group, USA, page6) This Bibilcal reference from the book of proverbs identifies with Miss Brodie. ... can see a parallel between the aspects of Miss Brodies’ character structure and the aspects of the texts structure ... protagonists being aware of their roles as manipulators of characters and events, and the narrator commenting on the ...
The novel is set in the 1930’s at a Private girl’s school called Marcia Blaine in Edinburgh. Miss Brodie is a teacher at the school and teaches the lower school pupils. The ‘Brodie Set’ are in her class and they are known as the Brodie Set because of their close connections with Miss Jean Brodie. Jean finds out early on in the book that there is a plot to force her to resign but she is determined to stay. She is such a big influence on the girls and they all look up to her. Miss Brodie wants them to follow in her footsteps and take her advice when she gives them it. Throughout the novel Miss Brodie’s past and present lovers are revealed. Hugh was her first lover at the of 1918 but dies the week before the Armistice. Mr Lloyd – a married art teacher- and Mr Lowther – another teacher at school- are both whom she falls for; she has an affair with Mr Lloyd. She also very much admires fascists in particular Hitler and Mussolini. Later in the book when the girls leave school and move on with their lives, Miss Brodie starts to decline as she doesn’t have the girls involvement in her life nearly as much as she used to and is eventually forced to resign. When she dies Sandy, who has become a nun publishes a book entitled ’The Transfiguration of the Commonplace.’ The novel ends with Eunice laying flowers on her grave and Monica wonders about who betrayed who.
The characterisation of Miss Brodie is very cleverly done. She comes across to the reader as an eccentric, egotistical and idealistic lower level teacher. She comes across to the reader as an eccentric, egotistical and idealistic lower level teacher. She approaches the girls in two different ways, sometimes she is very caring towards them and other times she uses them by trying to manipulate them ; for example she tries to get Rose go become Mr Lloyds lover. She is willing to treat the students like puppets ,rather than people. She is however a big influence on the girls and wants them to be just like her:
“ What were the main influences of your school days..? “
“There was a Miss Jean Brodie in her Prime.”
This shows how much Miss Brodie meant to the girls and how much they looked up to her and depended on her. Also it shows how important she was in the girls’ lives.
As a human with a certain compassion for those who are less fortunate than myself, I believe it is my innate responsibility to ensure that low-income school children receive the same educational benefits through my methodology of teaching. My past experiences in the field of education such as a piano teacher, a Spanish tutor, and childcare food program representative demonstrates my love for ...
Miss Brodie refers to the girls as the ‘crème de la crème’ which shows how she thinks they are so wonderful. Miss Brodie isn’t a very reliable teacher as she ignores the school curriculum and the head teacher, Miss Mackay by not teaching regular subjects. She elaborates on various topics which are of great interest to her. This shows that she is unconventional and is an independent thinker who does not like to follow rules. For example her lover Hugh. A technique used is flashbacks which occurs when she tells her class about Hugh. This technique is effective as it shows how close Miss Brodie feels to the set as she can talk about something so personal to her. Throughout the book she sabotages the school teaching policy and Miss Mackay’s authority. It is realised in the book that Miss Brodie doesn’t trust any of the other staff:
“Never quite realised that Jean Brodie’s confidences were not shared with the rest of the staff and that her love story was only given out to her pupils.”
This shows the comfort and trust she has around her pupils and that she doesn’t have a close relationship with other members of staff.
One of the techniques the author uses is repetition. Throughout the whole book each of the girls’ qualities and the way Miss Brodie identified them is repeated. Monica Douglas, ‘a prefect and math expert’ ; Rose Stanley, ‘ famous for sex’ ; Eunice Gardner, ’glamorous’ swimmer and ‘spiritedly gymnastics student’ ; Sandy Stranger ‘notorious’ for her almost non existent eyes’ ; Jenny Gray, Sandy’s best friend known for elocution and plans to become an actress ; Mary Macgregor, the ’silent lump, a nobody whom everyone could blame. This technique is used because it shows how well Miss Brodie knows them and what they are like and it is as if she wants everyone to know that and shows how proud she is on them. This tells us that Miss Brodie sees them as people, not just pupils, and her relationship is more than professional. It is also used to show the individual aspects of each of them.
One of the most important themes in the novel is betrayal. She is attached personally and inappropriately to the Brodie Set. She takes them on outings and invites them to dinner. However throughout the novel she is abusive to Mary Macgregor. She calls her a ‘stupid lump.’ This shows an unpleasant side to her character – that she is a bully and that she wants to control the girls. By doing this she both betrays her responsibility as a teacher and denies Mary’s humanity. She also betrays her responsibility as a teacher because she doesn’t teach what she is supposed to. The girls notice that she betrayed them, and at the end of the novel Monica ponders about who betrayed who:
Pre sonal Writing: My First Impression of My Teacher Miss Vicki My first impression of Miss Vicki was a highly figure towering over me. Her voice boomed and the earth shook whenever she marched. She seemed like such an unapproachable and distant person. That was in the first year of High School. She was my Literature teacher then. During my first year in school, she struck terror in my heart. And ...
‘Miss Brodie thought it was you who betrayed her.’
This shows that the girls were well aware of everything but they didn’t really know who betrayed who.
This theme is very effective in the novel and it is another aspect which the reader thinks more about.
Overall the novel was a thought-provoking and exciting novel packed with lots of different meanings. The fact that the novel was a short concise book didn’t take the exciting impact of it away. The characters were all portrayed superbly and the techniques used by Spark were all so effectively used which made the novel so enjoyable to read.