Everything You Need to Know About Miss Jean Brodie


in a paragraph. . .

from The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
Muriel Spark

Then suddenly Sandy wanted to be kind to Mary Macgregor, and thought of the possibilities of feeling nice from being nice to Mary instead of blaming her. Miss Brodie's voice from behind was saying to Rose Stanley, "You are all heroines in the making. Britain must be a fit country for heroines to live in. The league of Nations. . . " The sound of Miss Brodie's presence, just when it was on the tip of Sandy's tongue to be nice to Mary Macgregor, arrested the urge. Sandy looked back at her companions, and understood them as a body with Miss Brodie for the head. She perceived herself, the absent Jenny, the ever-blamed Mary, Rose, Eunice and Monica, all in a frightening little moment, in unified compliance to the destiny of Miss Brodie, as if God had willed them to birth for that purpose.

She was even more frightened then, by her temptation to be nice to Mary Macgregor, since by this action she would separate herself, and be lonely, and blamable in a more dreadful way than Mary who, although officially the faulty one, was a least inside Miss Brodie's' category of heroines in the making. So, for good fellowship's sake, Sand said to Mary, "I would be walking with you if Jenny was here." And Mary said, "I know."

The novelist says nearly nothing at all about Miss Jean Brodie and yet reveals everything in the course of this. In a very real sense, Miss Jean Brodie is an antichrist because she usurps the place at the head of the body, and this usurpation is accompanied by all the features of any coup--cold-bloodedness, cruelty, and a sense of superiority.

With short deft strokes we are given a clear image of the lay of the land and of the reign of Miss Jean Brodie. And it isn't a comfortable picture because it is very easy to place ourselves in the picture are Miss Brodie, Sandy, or Mary. Like Sandy, we aspire to good but never make it there because one voice or another draws us back to the ultimately self-centered reality we've fabricated, and so the cycle of cruelty continues.

Amazing the way in which the truths of Christ are explored and spelled out in fiction, is it not?

Bookmark and Share



About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on May 9, 2006 2:30 PM.

Aiding and Abetting was the previous entry in this blog.

Charles Williams Quotation is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

My Blogroll