The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

Let’s just start like this.  This book was written in the 1960’s about the 1930’s.  Two time periods in which women were deciding what they wanted out of life.  1930’s is post-suffragette for quite a few years in the UK, women worked outside of the home.  It is also a time between wars, so life seemed carefree.  1960’s, I like to think of as a time when women were finding their voice and feminism was resurfacing from getting a “Mrs. degree” to discovering their own independence.  SEX was the focus and it is prevalent throughout.

Miss Jean Brodie was a woman of the 60’s trapped in the 30’s, misunderstood, lonely and desperate.

  1.  Misunderstood- Think about it, she was the most colorful person at the school.  They couldn’t get rid of her because of tenure and she wanted her “girls” to flourish under her rule.  But, how often did she really put the “Brodie Set” in a box?  She had an image in her mind of what each girl would be when she reached her “prime” and Miss Brodie exploited their innocence by continuously feeding that.  Which of course, backfired in the end.
  2. Lonely-  Any woman that has to surround herself with girls between the ages of 12 and 16 all the time must be lonely.  Reminiscing about an old flame that “supposedly” died in war and telling the story to her pupils clearly has a touch of loneliness in it.  Also, did she have any adult friends?
  3. Desperate-  How long does one’s “prime” last?  From a stint with the Art teacher to a love affair with the Music teacher (she didn’t want to marry), what constitutes the end of your “prime”.  Does the institution of marriage end one’s prime, or is it old age?  I think she was so desperate to stay in this “prime” state that the girls she took on and taught kept her in that pendulum of youth that she coveted, however, when she was betrayed by her lovers, the girls she held dear to her heart and eventually the school she broke.

The question is this though, who does your heart go out to?  Miss Brodie’s girls for being impressionable and young, having someone speak into their lives the possibilities.  Staying positive and feeding them new ideas.  Or Miss Brodie, scared of living the life that she wanted for her girls, afraid to fully commit to the dreams that she filled their heads with.

I must admit it took me awhile to get into this one (and it is incredibly short), but I did and found it as a nice little breakaway.


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