The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie: A Novel
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At the staid Marcia Blaine School for Girls, in Edinburgh, Scotland, teacher extraordinaire Miss Jean Brodie is unmistakably, and outspokenly, in her prime. She is passionate in the application of her unorthodox teaching methods, in her attraction to the married art master, Teddy Lloyd, in her affair with the bachelor music master, Gordon Lowther, and—most important—in her dedication to "her girls," the students she selects to be her crème de la crème. Fanatically devoted, each member of the Brodie set—Eunice, Jenny, Mary, Monica, Rose, and Sandy—is "famous for something," and Miss Brodie strives to bring out the best in each one. Determined to instill in them independence, passion, and ambition, Miss Brodie advises her girls, "Safety does not come first. Goodness, Truth, and Beauty come first. Follow me."
And they do. But one of them will betray her.
experimental re-enactment but it so delighted her friends that she repeated it. Miss Brodie came up behind her on her fourth performance which had reached a state of extreme flourish. “What are you doing, Sandy?” said Miss Brodie. “Only playing,” said Sandy, photographing this new Miss Brodie with her little eyes. The question of whether Miss Brodie was actually capable of being kissed and of kissing occupied the Brodie set till Christmas. For the war-time romance of her life had presented to
Brodie set who, after two years at Miss Brodie’s, had been well directed as to its meaning. “Phrases like ‘the team spirit’ are always employed to cut across individualism, love and personal loyalties,” she had said. “Ideas like ‘the team spirit,’” she said, “ought not to be enjoined on the female sex, especially if they are of that dedicated nature whose virtues from time immemorial have been utterly opposed to the concept. Florence Nightingale knew nothing of the team spirit, her mission was
attack because the teachers themselves seemed so perfectly indifferent to her brood. By the summer term, the girls’ favourite hours were those spent unbrainfully in the gymnasium, swinging about on parallel bars, hanging upside down on wall bars or climbing ropes up to the ceiling, all competing with agile Eunice to heave themselves up by hands, knees, and feet like monkeys climbing a tropical creeper, while the gym teacher, a thin grey-haired little wire, showed them what to do and shouted each
with avenging purple and gold as if the end of the world had come without intruding on every-day life. “There’s another portrait,” Jenny said, “not finished yet, of Rose.” “He has been painting Rose?” “Yes.” “Rose has been sitting for him?” “Yes, for about a month.” Miss Brodie was very excited. “Rose didn’t mention this,” she said. Sandy halted. “Oh, I forgot. It was supposed to be a surprise. You aren’t supposed to know.” “What, the portrait, I am to see it?” Sandy looked confused, for
behalf. “It is for the sake of you girls—my influence, now, in the years of my prime.” This was the beginning of the Brodie set. Eunice Gardiner was so quiet at first, it was difficult to see why she had been drawn in by Miss Brodie. But eventually she cut capers for the relief and amusement of the tea-parties, doing cart-wheels on the carpet. “You are an Ariel,” said Miss Brodie. Then Eunice began to chatter. She was not allowed to do cart-wheels on Sundays, for in many ways Miss Brodie was an