The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
Jean Brodie is Anything But a Failure
Dame Muriel Spark wrote The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie with the intention not to depict a weak and failed character, but to shed light on the empowered female form that lived first through Jean Brodie, and through her, the empowered female form became the ‘crème de la crème’, which were the Brodie set. Miss Brodie, though betrayed by her protégé, was far from a failure, as each of the minds of the people that were in contact with her were so greatly wrapped up in her existence. Miss Brodie’s legacy is reflected in the female lives that she influenced, including the girl that betrayed her in the end. The student that betrayed Miss Brodie could be the central element in why Brodie cannot be considered as a failure. Miss Brodie, who takes dull ordinaries and transfigures them, wants only to transform the mundane lives of her chosen girls and give them lessens that will prepare them for the real world. Brodie transforms the minds of the girls first and in her absence they think and talk primarily of her. Brodie talks of her prime thoroughly to her set, and though at that time her prime is well past its start, it is far from over. In her last attempts to make her prime live on, she adopts these six girls and her prime lives on vicariously through them. Most of all, Brodie made the girls feel chosen (83). The protégé that betrayed Miss Brodie, Sandy Stranger, can be seen as interchangeable with her teacher: Sandy and Brodie are referred to as ‘a leaven in the lump’ by Brodie (throughout the book, also specifically page 119), or also, Sandy can be seen as the girl with the most yearning to please her teacher, “If the Brodie Set must hold their heads high, Sandy held her head the highest (35). It is Sandy that develops ‘relationships’ with the subject of whatever or whoever is holding Brodie’s attention; first when Brodie is reading Jane Eyre Sandy loves Rochester, when Brodie idolizes...
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