The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

Topics: Narrator, Fiction, Narrative / Pages: 7 (1743 words) / Published: Dec 4th, 2013
‘Form is inseparable from content in a work of literature’. How do the formal qualities of narratives shape the reader’s experience of their contents?

German philosopher, Immanuel Kant, has supported the statement “Form is inseparable from content in a work of literature”. He strongly believed that “‘Form’ without ‘content’ is empty; ‘content’ without ‘form’ is blind.”1 (page 157) It can be argued that the formal qualities in literature are a key aspect in contributing to the reader’s overall experience. E. M Forster has suggested that the generic structure of a novel should entail a beginning, middle and an end.2 In Muriel Spark’s novel ‘The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie’, the author has challenged this traditional format through illustrating events in an anachronical form and through the inclusion of a universal omniscient narrator, which has resulted in a build up of suspense, reinforced the novels thematic richness and enabled the reader to recognise the development of characters throughout. Reflecting upon Forster’s belief, I would have to disagree with this and feel that Spark’s structure has successfully enhanced the reader’s appreciation of the novel as a whole. On general terms, it seems clear to me that the form of literature is a tool used by authors in order to display the content within the novel in a certain fashion. This will result in the reader interpreting the text in a specific way, driven by the writer. This reflects Kant’s opinion when focusing on the divorce of ‘form’ with ‘content’. In any novel, and in every aspect of life, time is of paramount importance. In Spark’s novel, this facet is manipulated in such a way to be unfamiliar to the reader, yet still providing structure. Despite foreshadowing events of the story, the reader has become intrigued to find out the reasons as to why certain events occur. Time as a general concept, can be used by writers to emphasise events and regardless of the malleability of time as a

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