The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

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A gaunt woman, and the sister of a Calvinist minister, Miss Gaunt substitutes for Miss Brodie at Blaine in the autumn of 1931. Unlike Miss Brodie’s influence on the classroom, Miss Gaunt’s presence in the classroom subtracts, in her students’ minds, from the sexual significance of things. She becomes like a sister to Miss Ellen and Alison Kerr and advises them to make their arrangement with Mr. Lowther permanent, but due to Miss Brodie’s intervention this does not come to pass.

Miss Gaunt Quotes in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

The The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie quotes below are all either spoken by Miss Gaunt or refer to Miss Gaunt. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Authority and Social Groups Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Harper Perennial edition of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie published in 2009.
Chapter 5 Quotes

In fact, it was the religion of Calvin of which Sandy felt deprived, or rather a specified recognition of it. She desired this birthright; something definite to reject. It pervaded the place in proportion as it was unacknowledged. In some ways the most real and rooted people whom Sandy knew were Miss Gaunt and the Kerr sisters who made no evasions about their belief that God had planned for practically everybody before they were born a nasty surprise when they died.

Related Characters: Sandy Stranger, Miss Ellen and Alison Kerr, Miss Gaunt
Page Number: 115
Explanation and Analysis:

Calvinism is, as Sandy has intuited, an enormous influence on Miss Brodie. Instead of flatly rejecting the belief system, Miss Brodie has perverted it by "electing herself to grace" and taking on a God-like role of determining her own fate and the fate of the Brodie set. 

Here, Sandy wishes that she could believe seriously in Calvinism (which holds that God elects people to Heaven without reference to their earthly conduct) because it would be "something definite to reject." Instead, her most potent belief is in Miss Brodie herself, which leads eventually to her rejection and betrayal of her teacher and her conversion to Roman Catholicism (the one religion that Miss Brodie refused, and one in which your earthly conduct more directly influences the fate of your soul).

In this passage, Sandy also thinks about Miss Gaunt and the Kerr sisters (who take care of Mr. Lowther and are therefore rivals with Miss Brodie for his time and attention). These women are "the most real and rooted" people that she knows, and although Sandy does not necessarily respect their beliefs, she envies their sense of balance and strength. They are the calm foils to the chaos that governs Miss Brodie's life. 

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Miss Gaunt Character Timeline in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

The timeline below shows where the character Miss Gaunt appears in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 3
Authority and Social Groups Theme Icon
Sexuality, One’s Prime, and Spinsterhood Theme Icon
...took a leave of absence, seemingly on account of illness. In her place, the gaunt Miss Gaunt taught her class—far more rigorously and demandingly, to the girls’ shock. Even the sewing teachers... (full context)
Sexuality, One’s Prime, and Spinsterhood Theme Icon
Religion, Predestination, and Narrative Structure Theme Icon
Sandy recalls to herself that, during one sewing class, Miss Gaunt discussed her brother with Miss Ellen and Allison Kerr, who was the minister of the... (full context)
Authority and Social Groups Theme Icon
Sexuality, One’s Prime, and Spinsterhood Theme Icon
Religion, Predestination, and Narrative Structure Theme Icon
Insight, Instinct, and Transfiguration Theme Icon
Sandy further recalls to herself that, to break up the sexless gloom imposed by Miss Gaunt , she hypothesized with Jenny that Miss Brodie was having a love affair not with... (full context)
Sexuality, One’s Prime, and Spinsterhood Theme Icon
Religion, Predestination, and Narrative Structure Theme Icon
...1931, after her two weeks’ absence, Miss Brodie returns to her teaching post, thereby relieving Miss Gaunt of her duties. Mr. Lowther’s singing class goes on as usual, Miss Brodie now playing... (full context)
Chapter 4
Authority and Social Groups Theme Icon
Sexuality, One’s Prime, and Spinsterhood Theme Icon
...Mr. Lowther, and she criticizes them for their inquisitiveness and being “‘too much in with Miss Gaunt and the Church of Scotland.’” (full context)
Sexuality, One’s Prime, and Spinsterhood Theme Icon
...lives, especially since the time of their sister’s death (mentioned only here in the novel). Miss Gaunt , who has in a sense taken the place of this dead sister, encourages the... (full context)
Authority and Social Groups Theme Icon
Sexuality, One’s Prime, and Spinsterhood Theme Icon
Religion, Predestination, and Narrative Structure Theme Icon
...she has: a nightdress allegedly belonging to Miss Brodie stashed under Mr. Lowther’s pillow. At Miss Gaunt ’s urging, Miss Kerr tells Miss Mackay about this discovery, but Miss Mackay shrewdly reasons... (full context)
Chapter 5
Authority and Social Groups Theme Icon
Religion, Predestination, and Narrative Structure Theme Icon
...joke during her childhood, and which she feels deprived of. Sandy thinks that the Calvinists Miss Gaunt and the Kerr sisters are “the most real and rooted people” she knows, which she... (full context)