The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

Topics: Jean Brodie, Fiction, Narrative Pages: 4 (1547 words) Published: June 28, 2008
In The prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Muriel Spark uses certain narrative techniques which reflect the ways of manipulation used by the title character of her novel. On one hand, an omniscient third person narrator is a way for the reader to experience all the character's thoughts and views so that as the novel proceeds, the reader can observe the different views of Miss Jean Brodie by every girl from the set and analyze all the different aspects of Miss Brodie's character. On the other hand, the narrative techniques in the text, such as the specific focalization aspects and the constant use of analepses and prolepses in a visibly authoritative manner, contribute to the impression that the reader's judgements are in fact manipulated by the narrator, although it could seem that there is no particular attitude to characters and events suggested by means of narration. Obvious to the reader right from the start is the fact that Spark uses many time shifts which keep the reader's attention focused. The time scheme of fast forwarding and rewinding causes the novel to seem more fictional. In The prime of Miss Jean Brodie, the narrator begins in 1936 but soon jumps back to 1930, and then forward again to 1943, the year of Mary Macgregor's death. She then returns to 1939 and then back to 1931. The narrative then jumps forward to 1959 and then returns to 1931. A specific example of this obscure time structure is on page 26-27, "It was twenty-eight years later…It is time now to speak of the long walk…" (Spark [1984]: 26-27). In this particular quotation, Spark begins with the girls at a young age. She then jumps forward to when Eunice is older and living her own life, before going back to the time when the girls are young. Although confusing at times, this format incorporates the past, present and future of the girls in order to show Miss Brodie's influence on them as adults simultaneously with their relationship as teacher and pupils but it also affects the reader's...

References: Spark, Muriel
1961 [1984] The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin Books.
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