Handling of Time in Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

Topics: Jean Brodie, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Muriel Spark Pages: 7 (2839 words) Published: January 24, 2011
One of Spark's best-known and most critically acclaimed works, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961) centers on morality, manipulation, and betrayal at a school for girls in Edinburgh, Scotland, during the 1930s. Praised for its structural complexity, the novel juxtaposes past, present, and future events as well as fantasies as it documents the decline of the title character—the teacher Jean Brodie—and her effect on her students. Mary Schneider has stated: "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie has long been recognized as a brilliantly woven novel, complex in its narrative techniques and themes." The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is a novella by Muriel Spark, appearing first in The New Yorker and later published by Macmillan in 1961. By far the best-known of her books, the bizarre, unforgettable character of Miss Jean Brodie helped make Spark an internationally famous, and a leading figure in modern Scottish literature. It was adapted into a stage play in 1968, a film starring Maggie Smith in 1969, and a TV serial in 1978. PLOT SUMMARY

In 1930s Edinburgh, six ten-year-old girls are assigned Miss Jean Brodie as their teacher: Sandy, Rose, Mary, Monica, Eunice, and Jenny. Miss Brodie, intent on their receiving an education in the true sense of the word educere, to lead out, would give her students lessons on art history or her love life and travels. Under the mentorship of Miss Brodie, the girls begin to stand out from the rest of the school as distinctively Brodie. In the Junior School, they meet the singing teacher, the short Gordon Lowther, and the handsome, one-armed Teddy Lloyd, a married man with six children. These two teachers form a love triangle with Miss Brodie, each loving her, while she only returns the affections of Teddy. Miss Brodie never acts on her love, except once to exchange a kiss which Monica witnesses.Dick Reed as Teddy Lloyd and Lauren Bloom as Jean Brodie in the theatrical version of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie During a two week absence from school, Miss Brodie enters into a love affair with Lowther instead of Lloyd, on the grounds that a bachelor makes a more respectable paramour. During these two years in the Junior School, Jenny "was accosted by a man joyfully exposing himself beside the Water of Leith". Soon the girls are promoted to the Senior School, where, though dispersed, they retain their identity as the Brodie set. Miss Brodie keeps in touch with the girls after school by inviting them over as she would when they were her students. Miss Mackay, all the while, is trying to separate the Brodie set and find good reason from the girls to fire Miss Brodie. When the Kerr sisters, also teachers at the school, are employed as Mr. Lowther's housekeepers, Miss Brodie tries to take over their duties. She moves in with Lowther, and embarks on the task of fattening him up with extravagant cooking. The girls, now thirteen, visit Miss Brodie in pairs over at Lowther's house, where all Miss Brodie does is ask about Mr. Lloyd in Lowther's presence. It is at this point that Mr. Lloyd asks Rose, and occasionally the other girls, to model for his art. Each face he paints ultimately resembles Miss Brodie, details which her girls report to her and which she is thrilled to hear. One day when Sandy was over visiting Lloyd, he kisses her for peering at him with her little eyes. Before the Brodie set turns sixteen, Miss Brodie tests them to discover which of her girls she can really trust, ultimately choosing Sandy as her confidante. Miss Brodie, obsessed with the notion that Rose should have an affair with Lloyd in her place, begins to neglect Lowther, who ends up marrying Miss Lockhart, the chemistry teacher. Joyce Emily steps briefly in the scene, trying unsuccessfully to be included among the Brodie set. Miss Brodie took her under her wing separately, however, encouraging her to run away to fight in the Spanish Civil War, to fight on the Franco...
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