'The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie unfolds several dimensions of the female role. Set in Edinburgh in the 1930s, we are presented with a protagonist whom is a striking female role model in her domineering, manipulating and sexual powers, powers which we see her use to obtain her desired plans for her 'Brodie set,' the 'creme de la creme.' We see Miss Brodie play a God like figure in the novel, leading, teaching and imposing her opinions on them in hopes they will become like her. She strongly echoes Mussolini the Italian fascist, and we also see several contridictions in her character in terms of believing education is 'to lead out' but actually carrying out actions to draw them in and never let them go. This literature subverts conventional ideas of gender; this all woman narrative novel gives us great scope for interpreting it as a text with lesbian thematic implications, as her pupils are strangely obsessed with their glamourous school teacher. There are also several texts referred to within the primary text which bring out ideas of woman. This essay will explore these ideas and will speak the voice which Miss Brodie is trying to say; Miss Brodie, or essentially, the author, Muriel Spark.
Our protagonist Miss Jean Brodie (immediately drawing attention to 'Miss;' every time her name is mentioned it promotes spotlight on her unmarried status)is a repellent and omnipotent woman of her time. This literature subverts a conventional idea of woman because unlike many literature texts, the central purpose of woman does not focus around them serving men, but to be powerful and dominating. Miss Brodies' characteristics are swallowed by the readers as shocking and unusual; echoing that the text itself and it's ideas of the authoritative woman are different and unusual. The idea of woman in this text is certainly not innocent or fragile. The glamourous yet classy school teacher mirrors a God like figure in the novel; she quotes; 'O' where shall I find a virtuous woman, for her price is above rubies.'(The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Muriel Spark,1961, The Penguin Group, USA, page6) This Bibilcal reference from the book of proverbs identifies with Miss Brodie. 'Virtuous' meaning strength and efficiency is ultimately what makes her so great, and there is imagery in this quote of her being a rare gem, who dares to be different, as she is worth more than rubies. The Bible is saying that the best woman are those who do not live by their accustomed position; that the rare ones who risk being dangerous and free ( 'Safety does not come first' page 10) are the finest. We can see a parallel between the aspects of Miss Brodies' character structure and the aspects of the texts structure-both go against the usual means of the status quota of woman, stand out and make strong points. Ruth Whittaker says in 'The Faith and Fiction of Muriel Spark:'Sandy sees the set as a body with Miss Brodie for a head. There is, as David Lodge points out, ' a biblical parallel with the churches and the body of Christ.' It shows an individual planning of peoples' lives.' It is an analysis of the temptation to play God in a world where his absence laves a dangerous void...one of the ways in which Spark makes this increasingly secular statement is by transferring her attention from Gods' patterning in the world to mens' designs for one another.As an analogy, she concentrates reflexively on the formal design which constitutes a novel, her protagonists being aware of their roles as manipulators of characters and events, and the narrator commenting on the novels' structure.' (The Faith and Fiction of Muriel Spark, Ruth Whittaker, The Macmillan Press ltd, 1982, Hong Kong.page 106)Whittaker believes that Miss Brodie is attempting to play God in a dangerous and controlling way; she is a feminist manipulator who uses her charm in a frightening manner; 'give me a girl at an impressionable age, and she is mine for life.'(page9) By taking in the girls as 'hers' she is subjecting...
Bibliography: ascism in Italy, Bolton King, London, Williams and Norgate LTD, 1931The Faith and Fiction of Muriel Spark, Ruth Whittaker, The Macmillan Press LTD, 1982, Hong KongThe Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Muriel Spark,1961, The Penguin Group, USATheorizing Muriel Spark, Patricia Dunker. Palrave, New York, 2002http://victorianweb.org/authors/tennyson/frauenhofer.html)
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