The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

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Miss Jean Brodie Character Analysis

Miss Brodie, with her dark Roman profile, is a charismatic but unorthodox teacher at the Blaine Junior school. She doesn’t instruct her girls in history and arithmetic, say, so much as she shares with them poetry, makeup tips, the virtues of fascism, her own romantic history and the like. Although she is a woman of culture and even has something of an artistic nature, Miss Brodie can also be dogmatic, manipulative, and cruel. Just as the predestining God of Calvinism elects the few to salvation, so does Miss Brodie elect six of her pupils to become her special girls, girls whom she develops culturally and confides in, and who in turn loyally admire her—these six girls make up the “Brodie set”. Miss Brodie’s power over those around her—not just her pupils but also the men in her life—stems in part from her feeling that she is in her prime, that is, at the height of her charisma both sexual and otherwise. Indeed, she loves the Blaine art teacher Mr. Lloyd and he loves her, but, as he is married, Miss Brodie renounces her love for him, becoming intimate instead with the singing teacher Mr. Lowther. Nonetheless, she subtly grooms the instinctual Rose Stanley to have a love affair with Mr. Lloyd as her proxy, and she grooms her favorite, the insightful Sandy, to serve as her informant in regards to the affair. In this way, Miss Brodie plays God, determining the course of fate. But, in the end, all of Miss Brodie’s plots go awry: it is Sandy, not Rose, who ends up sleeping with Mr. Lloyd, and it is Sandy who betrays Miss Brodie to the Blaine headmistress, for Miss Brodie in her enthusiasm for fascism encouraged a Blaine student named Joyce Emily to fight in the Spanish Civil War. So it is that Miss Brodie is forced into retirement, a pale memory in the minds of her special girls save Sandy, who both recognizes that Miss Brodie had an enlarging effect on her, but also doubts whether Miss Brodie was worthy of her loyalty.

Miss Jean Brodie Quotes in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

The The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie quotes below are all either spoken by Miss Jean Brodie or refer to Miss Jean Brodie. 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 1 Quotes

‘I am putting old heads on your young shoulders,’ Miss Brodie had told them at that time, ‘and all my pupils are the crème de la crème.’

Related Characters: Miss Jean Brodie (speaker)
Page Number: 5
Explanation and Analysis:

The novel opens with the "Brodie set," a group of girls joined together by their dedication to an elementary school teacher, Miss Jean Brodie. Although they have aged out of her class at this point in time, the girls are still defined by their relationship with Miss Brodie. Here we see Sandy, the most clear-sighted and analytical of the group, recalling an earlier phrase of Miss Jean Brodie's.  

These lines reveal the almost unnatural, intrusive nature of Miss Brodie's concept of education, which she defines as the process of "putting old heads on...young shoulders." This controlling method ensures that the Brodie set will be educated according to Miss Brodie's whims, as opposed to any curriculum. It also foreshadows Mr. Lloyd's disturbing portraits, in which he literally paints Miss Brodie's head on her pupil's shoulders. 

The second half of her quote, in which she calls her pupils "the crème de la crème," illuminates Miss Brodie's efforts to choose a select group of students and transform them into exceptional young women through the strength of her influence. This desire to shape the Brodie set's fate is a rebellion against Calvinistic belief. Instead of God determining one's fate, as he does before birth in the Calvinist tradition, it is Miss Jean Brodie herself who has the power to choose souls to elevate to the status of "crème de la crème." This, then, is a secular election and salvation, which Miss Brodie controls. 

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‘It has been suggested again that I should apply for a post at one of the progressive schools, where my methods would be more suited to the system than they are at Blaine. But I shall not apply for a post at a crank school. I shall remain at this education factory. There must be a leaven in the lump. Give me a girl at an impressionable age, and she is mine for life.’

Related Characters: Miss Jean Brodie (speaker)
Page Number: 6
Explanation and Analysis:

Although none of them are in her class any longer, Miss Brodie still demands her pupils spend time with her. Here, she has taken the six girls on a walk to discuss the details of a "plot" meant to force her to resign.  

Although it has been suggested that she work at a "progressive school," Miss Brodie is disdainful of the idea of working at a "crank" school. We sense that Miss Brodie does not want to teach at a progressive school because she might blend in with the other eccentrics, whereas she is seen as radical and exceptional at Blaine, or, as she says, "a leaven in the lump." Miss Brodie wants to maintain her authority over her Brodie set, and she also wants to continue to be associated with an exclusive social group, to be in the middle of a dramatic situation.

She speaks to these dovetailing interests in her last two lines here, grandly announcing that the Brodie set will be hers for life. She aims to transfigure these girls into remarkable women. This strident control of her pupils is intrusive and inappropriate, however, despite her claims to the contrary. And for now, the girls simply smile in response, entirely under Miss Brodie's thrall. 

‘But safety does not come first. Goodness, Truth and Beauty come first. Follow me.’

Related Characters: Miss Jean Brodie (speaker)
Page Number: 7
Explanation and Analysis:

Here, the narrative shifts six years into the past, and we see the Brodie set's first impression of Miss Jean Brodie. She has led her class of ten-year-olds out into the garden, where they pass a sign that reads "Safety First." Tellingly, Miss Brodie rejects the sign's message, preferring"Goodness, Truth and Beauty" over safety. These values are certainly more transfiguring and loftier than that of safety. 

In this moment, Miss Brodie frames herself as being at odds with the rest of the teaching staff at Blaine, and her pupils are struck by the idea that adults can differ from one another. Those girls who will be picked for the Brodie set, we conclude, will follow along a path that diverges from those around them. 

Miss Brodie's disregard for her pupil's safety is, on a basic level, both nobly admirable and irresponsible. By privileging loftier ideals over safety, Miss Brodie ends by playing a part, however passive, in the death of Joyce Emily years later.  

Chapter 2 Quotes

‘Miss Brodie says prime is best,’ Sandy said.
‘Yes, but she never got married like our mothers and fathers.’
‘They don’t have primes,’ said Sandy.
‘They have sexual intercourse,’ Jenny said.

Related Characters: Sandy Stranger (speaker), Jenny Gray (speaker), Miss Jean Brodie
Page Number: 15
Explanation and Analysis:

Miss Brodie often tells her pupils that she is in her "prime," by which she means that she is at the peak of her allure, charisma, and influence. A woman's prime, we infer, is the most important and powerful time in her life, personally, professionally, and sexually. Miss Brodie tells her students to anticipate and recognize their primes. Here, Sandy and Jenny, two of the Brodie set, discuss their parents in the context of primes and sexual experience. 

This exchange reveals that Sandy and Jenny have intuited that Miss Brodie's prime is somehow related to sexuality. In trying to define the relation between sex and a prime, they agree that their parents do not have primes. However, they do "have sexual intercourse," which in itself strikes the girls as "a stupendous thought." They are both struck by the fact that Miss Brodie is in her prime, but is not married. She is a spinster at the peak of her sexual charisma, which seems contradictory to Sandy and Jenny. Indeed, Miss Brodie's affairs with married and unmarried men alike will be the among the dramatic centers of the text. 

This discussion of sex is complicated when Sandy speculates on Mr. Lloyd's newborn baby, saying that the infant is proof that Mr. Lloyd "committed sex with his wife." By saying "committed," Sandy further reveals her ambivalence towards sex by framing it with criminal language.

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.

Related Characters: Miss Jean Brodie, Sandy Stranger
Page Number: 30
Explanation and Analysis:

Here, Miss Brodie and her set are out walking. Sandy has an impulse to be kind to Mary MacGregor, who is the slow-witted scapegoat of the group. However, her kind impulse is checked by Miss Brodie's voice. Here, she sees herself and her companions as being a unified body with Miss Brodie "for the head." This moment is linked to the theme of Calvinism and predestination. 

Sandy sees clearly how Miss Brodie is a kind of God for herself and the other girls - she has chosen them and is now shaping them in her own image. She controls their fate with a confidence that suggests predetermination. In fact, it seems to Sandy that God himself has willed them all into existence only so that they might serve Miss Brodie. This moment is shocking and disturbing, as we see what the final goal of Miss Brodie's cherished transfiguration is: small replicas of herself, each girl like a piece of her own body. 

Mussolini had put an end to unemployment with his fascisti and there was no litter in the streets. It occurred to Sandy, there at the end of the Middle Meadow Walk, that the Brodie set was Miss Brodie’s fascisti, not to the naked eye, marching along, but all knit together for her need and in another way, marching along.

Related Characters: Miss Jean Brodie, Sandy Stranger
Page Number: 31
Explanation and Analysis:

During the same walk, Miss Brodie tells her girls that they should not join the Girl Guides, or Girl Scout Brownies. At this refusal, Sandy remembers Miss Brodie's admiration for Mussolini's troops, who had ended unemployment and cleaned the streets. Here, we see her drawing a convincing parallel between Mussolini and Miss Brodie herself. 

Sandy correctly intuits that she is a part of "Miss Brodie's fascisti," a social group "knit together" by their charismatic and powerful leader. Miss Brodie, as we saw earlier, attempts to transfigure her set into imitations of herself, but here we see that there is a militaristic component to her influence as well. Her set is a kind of social protection - girls that she has groomed to do whatever she might require of them.

Directly following this moment, Sandy thinks of defecting from Miss Brodie's ranks and joining the Girl Guides before a "group-fright siez[es]" her, but the idea seems ridiculous. The dangers of Miss Brodie's invasive methods are on display here, and will only grow more apparent when she encourages Joyce Emily to fight in the Spanish Civil War. 

Chapter 3 Quotes

Miss Brodie stood in her brown dress like a gladiator with raised arm and eyes flashing like a sword. ‘Hail Caesar!’ she cried again, turning radiantly to the window light, as if Caesar sat there.

Related Characters: Miss Jean Brodie (speaker)
Page Number: 47
Explanation and Analysis:

Miss Brodie has returned from her vacation to Europe in a state of excitement after being exposed to European culture and fascist politics. Here, she recalls having seen the Coliseum in Rome where gladiators hailed Caesar, and then goes on to perform the action for her pupils to see. This is a telling moment, where Miss Brodie reveals how enamored she is with figures of great authority, and the effects they have on their subjects.

From the details that her eyes were "flashing like a sword," and that she turned "radiantly," we understand how impactful a moment this was for Miss Brodie. She is so dedicated to the memory that she nearly conjures Caesar, who seems to sit in front of the window.

She is in love with the idea of a charismatic, monolithic ruler. She envisions Caesar as an ancestor of her admirable Mussolini, who in turn is the model for her own treatment of the Brodie set, according to Sandy.

The fact that she performs this scene for her students in place of a history lesson only confirms her desire to be in a position of inappropriate authority. In addition to reliving her memory, she is showing them how best to follow a leader—how to be a Brodie set of gladiators. 

This was the first time the girls had heard of Hugh’s artistic leanings. Sandy puzzled over this with Jenny, and it came to them both that Miss Brodie was making her new love story fir the old… Sandy was fascinated by this method of making patterns was facts, and was divided between her admiration for the technique and the pressing need t prove Miss Brodie guilty of misconduct.

Related Characters: Miss Jean Brodie, Sandy Stranger, Jenny Gray, Hugh
Page Number: 75
Explanation and Analysis:

Here, Miss Brodie has just been speaking about a familiar subject - her lost love, Hugh, who died in the war. However, her story is different this time. For "the first time," Miss Brodie tells the girls that Hugh was an artist - a painter, in fact. It is no coincidence that Mr. Lloyd, her most recent passion, is also a painter.

Sandy and Jenny realize that Miss Brodie is making "her new love story fit the old." In this moment, we see Sandy's ambivalent feelings towards Miss Brodie's manner of living. 

First and foremost, Sandy is "fascinated" by Miss Brodie's willingness to treat her own life as a narrative, and to mold the structure to fit her whims. However, Sandy is also struck by a "need to prove Miss Brodie guilty of misconduct." This need will come to motivate many of Sandy future actions - not least her final betrayal of Miss Brodie. Her desire to expose and punish the guilty is also related to her conflicting feelings towards sex and sexuality, as well as her eventual conversion to the Roman Catholic church. Miss Brodie is playing loosely with the facts of her sexual history, and Sandy resents this.

Chapter 4 Quotes

The teachers here [in the Senior school] seemed to have no thoughts of anyone’s personalities apart from their specialty in life, whether it was mathematics, Latin or science. They treated the new first-formers as if they were not real, but only to dealt with, like symbols of algebra, and Miss Brodie’s pupils found this refreshing at first.

Related Characters: Miss Jean Brodie
Page Number: 80
Explanation and Analysis:

The Brodie set has graduated from the Junior school where they were Miss Brodie's pupils, and are now students in the Senior school. This is the period of time when the novel opens. In their beginning weeks with new instructors, the girls are struck by the difference in education they receive. Here, they are treated as students, not as personalities. Instead of intriguing them with sexually charged personal anecdotes like Miss Brodie did, the instructors (especially Miss Lockhart) depend upon the subject matter to excite their pupils.  

The Brodie set initially finds this change "refreshing," but we understand from the quotation that this enthusiasm for Senior school is short-lived. 

This quote illustrates not only the differences between Miss Brodie and her fellow instructors, but also the stress of having to switch social groups. The Brodie set at first appreciates the anonymity of Senior school - they are not pressured to be personally intriguing, and neither are they expected to obsess over a charismatic teacher. But the novelty of this soon wears off, and the girls become wistful for the strong authority of Miss Brodie, and the familiar roles they played under her control.

‘Phrases like “the team spirit” are always employed to cut across individualism, love and personal loyalties.’

Related Characters: Miss Jean Brodie (speaker)
Page Number: 82
Explanation and Analysis:

Senior school is in many ways designed to pull the Brodie set apart. Miss Brodie is no longer a constant in their lives, the girls are studying different subjects, and, intriguingly, Miss Mackay has conspired to put the girls in different "houses." These houses often compete against one another in teams. Miss Mackay separates the girls in hopes that their newfound team spirit will dissolve their bonds with Miss Brodie, as well as with one another.

However, when they were in Junior school, Miss Brodie always told her girls that "'the team spirit'...cuts across individualism, love, and personal loyalties." This lesson is first and foremost in the set's mind, and so all of them save Eunice Gardner (a natural athlete) avoid competitve games.

It is deeply ironic that Miss Brodie maintains her authority over her set by making claims about individuality. Instead of allowing them to splinter off, like Eunice, and become different people, she manipulates them into staying linked to one another, and to her. 

It was twenty-five years before Sandy had so far recovered from a creeping vision of disorder that she could look back and recognize that Miss Brodie’s defective sense of self-criticism had not been without its beneficent and enlarging effects; by which time Sandy had already betrayed Miss Brodie and Miss Brodie was laid in her grave.

Related Characters: Miss Jean Brodie, Sandy Stranger
Page Number: 91
Explanation and Analysis:

Related to the fact that Miss Brodie could not respect the guilt-based religion of the Roman Catholic Church, she lives her life with a "defective sense of self-criticism." This means that Miss Brodie does not feel guilt - she does not reproach herself for making immoral choices. Here, we see Sandy considering this trait of Miss Brodie's, and coming to appreciate it in a way that she had not been able to do as a girl. 

Sandy, we remember, spent her adolescence obsessed with Miss Brodie, but also disturbed by her willingness to bend the truth of her life and manipulate her students. Miss Brodie's inability to feel guilt, when combined with these other failings, gave rise to Sandy's "creeping vision of disorder." Miss Brodie was a chaotic force, and Sandy, who as a girl was drawn to control and cool, analytic thought, found this chaos unsettling. 

However, "twenty-five years" later, after the damage has been done on both sides (Sandy betrayed Miss Brodie, and Miss Brodie stunted the development of many of her pupils), Sandy realizes that Miss Brodie's refusal to self-criticize had "benefic[ial] and enlarging effects." This is a bittersweet moment. It highlights Sandy's constant consideration of Miss Brodie, as well as the deeply complicated legacy - both positive and negative - that Miss Brodie left behind. 

Chapter 5 Quotes

‘Do you know, Sandy dear, all my ambitions are for you and Rose. You have got insight, perhaps not quite spiritual, but you’re a deep one, and Rose has got instinct, Rose has got instinct.’

Related Characters: Miss Jean Brodie (speaker), Sandy Stranger, Rose Stanley
Page Number: 114
Explanation and Analysis:

Miss Brodie is speaking to Sandy in the fall of 1931. Sandy is in her early teenage years and Miss Brodie is in the heyday of her affair with Mr. Lowther. The Brodie set is maturing into themselves, and Miss Brodie here takes it upon herself to claim that, out of all the girls, she only has "ambitions" for two of them: Sandy and Rose. She chooses these two girls because she feels they represent the two greatest characteristics a woman can have: insight and instinct. 

Sandy has insight, which Miss Brodie defines as intellectual ability and analytical penetration. Rose, on the other hand, has instinct, which here means physical appeal, grace, and erotic power. Miss Brodie conceives of herself as having both insight and instinct, and so we might see her trying to recreate the whole of herself in two spiritual daughters, each of whom is half of her.

It's a mistake, of course, that Miss Brodie should place so much trust in Sandy and Rose. Eventually, Rose will cast off her influence and Sandy will betray her.  

She [Sandy] began to sense what went to the makings of Miss Brodie who had elected herself to grace in a particular way and with more exotic suicidal enchantment than if she had simply taken to drink like other spinsters who couldn’t stand it any more.


It was plain that Miss Brodie wanted Rose with her instinct to start preparing to be Teddy Lloyd’s lover, and Sandy with her insight to act as informant on the affair. It was to this end that Rose and Sandy had been chose as the crème de la crème.

Related Characters: Miss Jean Brodie, Sandy Stranger, Mr. Teddy Lloyd
Page Number: 116
Explanation and Analysis:

Here, Sandy has a revelation about Miss Brodie's self-elevation as well as Miss Brodie's grand plan for Sandy and Rose. Miss Brodie is a glamorous woman, committed to the idea of a life transfigured and elevated by passion and extraordinary actions. To this end, Miss Brodie has "elected herself to grace" so that she might best control and determine her own fate as well as the fates of her set. She wants to plot the lives of her students like a novelist, or a predestining God.

However, Sandy sees that this control and manipulation is merely an "exotic" version of common actions taken by "other spinsters." While those less imaginative women might "take to drink" to numb the bleakness of their daily lives, Miss Brodie instead finds escape and fantasy in her plans for herself and her girls. The method is different, but the root causes are the same. 

We also see the first explicit sketch of Miss Brodie's plan for her two most promising girls - the insightful Sandy and the instinctive Rose. Miss Brodie wants Rose to begin an affair with Mr. Lloyd - to act as Miss Brodie's erotic proxy. Sandy's job will be to inform Miss Brodie about the affair in satisfying detail. Although she pretends to have elevated ambitions for the "creme de la creme" of her girls, Miss Brodie's actual plan is a sordid, disturbing anticlimax. 

Chapter 6 Quotes

By the time their [the Brodie girls’] friendship with Miss Brodie was of seven years’ standing, it had worked itself into their bones, so that they could not break away without, as it were, splitting their bones to do so.

Related Characters: Miss Jean Brodie
Page Number: 123
Explanation and Analysis:

Although she has long since stopped being their teacher, Miss Brodie still maintains an impressive influence over her girls. Here, these lines reveal just how impossible and painful it would be for the members of the Brodie set to reject their association with Miss Brodie. 

We see that doing so would be so difficult primarily because being a member of the Brodie set is the main way in which these girls identify themselves. Miss Brodie has shaped their choices for so long that they are more like her than they are themselves. As such, it would be like "splitting their bones" to break free from her. 

Additionally, they would lose their friendships within the group. Miss Brodie's influence is such that none of the Brodie set have been able to assimilate with their other classmates, or make new friends. So it would not just be with Miss Brodie that they would split, but with one another as well. Seen in this light, we can understand the Brodie set as a unified body - if one of the girls were to "break away," it would be as absurd and violent as a person's arm deciding to abandon the rest of the body. 

She [Miss Brodie] thinks she is Providence, thought Sandy, she thinks she is the God of Calvin, she sees the beginning and the end. And Sandy thought, too, the woman is an unconscious lesbian. And many theories from the books of psychology categorized Miss Brodie, but failed to obliterate her image from the canvases of one-armed Teddy Lloyd.

Related Characters: Miss Jean Brodie, Sandy Stranger, Mr. Teddy Lloyd
Related Symbols: Mr. Teddy Lloyd’s Portraits
Page Number: 128
Explanation and Analysis:

Mr. Lloyd has become a secondary figure of obsession for Sandy, mainly because he is so clearly infatuated with Miss Brodie, a feeling with which Sandy can't help but empathize. The portraits that Mr. Lloyd paints of the Brodie set have one thing in common: they all look like more like Miss Brodie than their true subjects. Sandy reports this to Miss Brodie, who is predictably pleased with the information. She called herself Mr. Lloyd's Muse, and goes on to speculate on when Rose will take her place as the artist's muse, a veiled reference to the affair that Miss Brodie is attempting to orchestrate. 

Here, we see Sandy grapple openly with a way of understanding Miss Brodie and pinning her down. Sandy is known for her "insight" - her ability to analyze clearly and deeply - and here, we can read her attempts to define Miss Brodie as a way of wrestling control away from her teacher. If she can classify Miss Brodie, then Miss Brodie will lose some of her magnetic power. 

First, Sandy thinks that Miss Brodie has put herself in the position of God. She controls her pupil's fate like the Calvinist God of predetermination, or like an author manipulating characters into pleasing and dramatic narratives. Sandy's next idea - that Miss Brodie is an "unconscious lesbian" - may well be a psychological projection. Sandy herself seems to have homoerotic feelings for Miss Brodie. Her thoughts then become more vague, as she cycles through "many theories" in an attempt to define Miss Brodie. Sandy is ultimately unsuccessful, however, as none of her analytical thinking can erase Miss Brodie from Mr. Lloyd's canvases, and by extension, from his mind as well as Sandy's. 

The more she [Sandy] discovered him [Mr. Lloyd] to be in love with Jean Brodie, the more she was curious about the mind that loved the woman. By the end of the year it happened that she had quite lost interest in the man himself, but was deeply absorbed in his mind, from which she extracted, among other things, his religion as a pith from a husk.

Related Characters: Miss Jean Brodie, Sandy Stranger, Mr. Teddy Lloyd
Page Number: 132
Explanation and Analysis:

Despite Miss Brodie's plans for Rose and Mr. Lloyd to have an affair, it is actually Sandy who begins sleeping with Mr. Lloyd. She does so for several reasons. Mr. Lloyd and Sandy share an obsession with Miss Brodie, which Sandy can use to manipulate Mr. Lloyd (every time she points out that he has accidentally painted Miss Brodie, Mr. Lloyd kisses her). Also, Sandy has long wanted to thwart Miss Brodie's deterministic plans, and becoming Mr. Lloyd's lover in Rose's place is an efficient way of derailing Miss Brodie's attempts to manipulate her life. 

However, as her affair with Mr. Llody continues, Sandy loses interest in "the man himself." Instead, she is consumed by her efforts to understand "the mind that loved [Miss Brodie]." Again, we see "insightful" Sandy throwing the full force of her analytical powers into trying to understand Miss Brodie and the effects she has on people. 

In the course of her study of Mr. Lloyd, Sandy "extract[s]" his religion. Mr. Lloyd is a Roman Catholic. Eventually, Sandy becomes a Roman Catholic nun. Sandy may take an interest in Roman Catholicism for a number of reasons. Perhaps she feels guilty about her affair with Mr. Lloyd and thinks that she can most effectively repent as a Roman Catholic. Or, more persuasively, perhaps she is defying Miss Brodie’s influence by turning to Roman Catholicism, a faith where one cannot just dismiss one’s own guilt as Miss Brodie seems to do. Another option is that in becoming Roman Catholic she becomes like the man whom Miss Brodie loves. Or perhaps it is some messy combination of all of these things.

‘What were the main influences of your schooldays, Sister Helena? Were they literary or political or personal? Was it Calvinism?’


Sandy said: ‘There was a Miss Jean Brodie in her prime.’

Related Characters: Sandy Stranger (speaker), Miss Jean Brodie
Related Symbols: “The Transfiguration of the Commonplace”
Page Number: 137
Explanation and Analysis:

As an adult, Sandy is a Roman Catholic nun, well-known for her book, "The Transfiguration of the Commonplace." In the second chapter of the novel, a young man who admires her work comes and speaks with her. The novel ends on their interaction, as he asks her about her early influences.

Although the young man offers up several possibilities, Sandy responds with a single influence: "a Miss Jean Brodie in her prime." It is a tremendous irony that Sandy - who cut so violently against Miss Brodie's plans for her, and who went so far as to betray Miss Brodie - names her old teacher as her single, formative influence. The very fact that Sandy rejected the influence so aggressively is the purest proof that Miss Brodie's influence endures. 

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Miss Jean Brodie Character Timeline in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

The timeline below shows where the character Miss Jean Brodie appears in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Authority and Social Groups Theme Icon
Sexuality, One’s Prime, and Spinsterhood Theme Icon
...fence…between the sexes.” The girls belong to the “Brodie set,” named after their former teacher Miss Jean Brodie . This is what they have been called ever since they were students at the... (full context)
Education vs. Intrusion Theme Icon
Sexuality, One’s Prime, and Spinsterhood Theme Icon
Religion, Predestination, and Narrative Structure Theme Icon
Even when they are students at the Junior school, the Brodie girls are recognizable as Miss Jean Brodie ’s pupils because they were “vastly informed on a lot of subjects irrelevant to the... (full context)
Authority and Social Groups Theme Icon
...have adapted to the other authority figures at the school, yet remain unmistakably influenced by Miss Brodie . They are famous schoolwide in the sense that they are held in suspicion and... (full context)
Authority and Social Groups Theme Icon
Sexuality, One’s Prime, and Spinsterhood Theme Icon
Insight, Instinct, and Transfiguration Theme Icon
...“small, almost non-existent, eyes” and famous for her vowel sounds, which long ago so enraptured Miss Brodie that she asked Sandy to recite a stanza from Tennyson’s poem “The Lady of Shalott.”... (full context)
Authority and Social Groups Theme Icon
Education vs. Intrusion Theme Icon
...their bicycles while the other three boys defiantly remain. The teacher turns out to be Miss Jean Brodie herself. She excuses the boys, walks a way with all of the girls, but soon... (full context)
Authority and Social Groups Theme Icon
Education vs. Intrusion Theme Icon
As they walk together, Miss Brodie invites the six girls to supper, and insists that Jenny come even though she has... (full context)
Authority and Social Groups Theme Icon
Sexuality, One’s Prime, and Spinsterhood Theme Icon
Rose asks who is responsible for the plot, and Miss Brodie says that they would discuss that together at supper, assuring the girls nonetheless that those... (full context)
Education vs. Intrusion Theme Icon
Insight, Instinct, and Transfiguration Theme Icon
The narrative shifts to six years before. Miss Brodie is leading her new class of ten-year-old girls to the garden for a history lesson.... (full context)
Authority and Social Groups Theme Icon
Education vs. Intrusion Theme Icon
Outside, Miss Brodie then instructs her girls to hold up their books as if doing their history lesson,... (full context)
Authority and Social Groups Theme Icon
Education vs. Intrusion Theme Icon
Sexuality, One’s Prime, and Spinsterhood Theme Icon
Next Miss Brodie tells the girls that her prime has truly begun and that they themselves must be... (full context)
Education vs. Intrusion Theme Icon
Sexuality, One’s Prime, and Spinsterhood Theme Icon
Later that same autumn, during the hour for English grammar, Miss Brodie also tells her class about a man she had been engaged to (later identified as... (full context)
Authority and Social Groups Theme Icon
Education vs. Intrusion Theme Icon
As Miss Brodie is telling the story of her fiancé, Miss Mackay approaches. Several of the girls in... (full context)
Chapter 2
Authority and Social Groups Theme Icon
Sexuality, One’s Prime, and Spinsterhood Theme Icon
Religion, Predestination, and Narrative Structure Theme Icon
Mary Macgregor, though she lives to be twenty-four years old, never realizes that Miss Brodie only shares her love story with her pupils. A year after World War II began,... (full context)
Sexuality, One’s Prime, and Spinsterhood Theme Icon
Sandy Stranger, while Miss Brodie’s pupil, also has a feeling that her childhood is supposed to be the happiest time... (full context)
Authority and Social Groups Theme Icon
Sexuality, One’s Prime, and Spinsterhood Theme Icon
...title “The Mountain Eyrie.” The notebook holds a story written by Sandy and Jenny about Miss Brodie’s dead lover Hugh, whom the girls have imagined to be alive. In the story, Hugh... (full context)
Sexuality, One’s Prime, and Spinsterhood Theme Icon
...an art gallery together to see the statue of a naked Greek god, speculate that Miss Brodie will escort them, and agree that she (Miss Brodie) is above sex. It is soon... (full context)
Education vs. Intrusion Theme Icon
Insight, Instinct, and Transfiguration Theme Icon
The narrative shifts to Miss Brodie’s classroom. It is close to the end of the school day, and Miss Brodie is... (full context)
Sexuality, One’s Prime, and Spinsterhood Theme Icon
Miss Brodie invites Sandy to recite some poetry with her famous half-English vowels, and the narrator informs... (full context)
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One day after singing class, Miss Brodie gathers her class about her and tells them, “‘You girls are my vocation… I am... (full context)
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Back at the classroom, Rose Stanley reports to Miss Brodie that she (Rose) has ink on her blouse; Miss Brodie sends her to have it... (full context)
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This is in 1931, during the first of two winters that the girls spend with Miss Brodie , who has already selected her favorites, the girls who would make up the Brodie... (full context)
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...that she joins the Brodie set at all. Eventually, though, she amuses her peers and Miss Brodie herself by doing cartwheels on the carpet. Miss Brodie calls her “‘an Ariel’” (a spirit... (full context)
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Some twenty-eight years after she did the splits in Miss Brodie’s apartment, Eunice, who has become a nurse and married a doctor by now, tells her... (full context)
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The narrator says that it is now time to discuss a long walk Miss Brodie leads her favorites on through the old parts of Edinburgh, one Friday in March. Sandy... (full context)
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...poor posture. When an impulse to be kind to Mary comes over her, Sandy hears Miss Brodie’s voice, which “arrested the urge.” Sandy understands then that the girls are a body with... (full context)
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The Brodie set and Miss Brodie arrive at the Meadows, a large public park, where they pass a group of Girl... (full context)
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The girls and Miss Brodie pass through the slums of the Old Town, then to the great square of the... (full context)
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...War? Calvinism (a branch of Christianity)? Sister Helena responds that it is none other than Miss Jean Brodie . (full context)
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...to the long walk Sandy and the rest of the Brodie set are having with Miss Brodie through Edinburgh. As they pass St. Giles’s Cathedral, the narrator explains that the girls, brought... (full context)
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The walk now has brought the girls and their teacher to Chambers Street. There Miss Brodie explains that she and Miss Mackay are scheduled to meet, presumably because Miss Mackay wants... (full context)
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The walk continues. Rose Stanley points out a French car; Miss Brodie chastises her for having a mind “‘full of motor cars’” and for not paying attention... (full context)
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Miss Brodie continues speaking of Miss Mackay, defending her own methods, encouraging her girls to study hard... (full context)
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...walkers arrive at the end of Lauriston Place, they see a line of unemployed men. Miss Brodie explains the men were waiting for their share of money from the labor bureau, which... (full context)
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The long walk is over. Sandy decides not to go to Miss Brodie’s for tea, but instead takes the tramcar home. Later, however, when she thinks about Eunice... (full context)
Chapter 3
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The narrator says that Miss Brodie is not unique at this point in her prime, and that there are “legions of... (full context)
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The narrative reopens in 1931, a year into Miss Brodie’s prime. For the girls in the Brodie set, sex is at this time the be-all... (full context)
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After Miss Mackay leaves her classroom, Miss Brodie restates that an education is a leading out, calls Mary “‘stupid’” for not knowing what... (full context)
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Even before the official opening of her prime, Miss Brodie’s colleagues at the Junior school had been turning against her—all save Mr. Gordon Lowther and... (full context)
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Miss Brodie’s class has up to this point had only one opportunity to size up Mr. Lloyd... (full context)
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...religious awe, only a “very artistic attitude,” which surprises the religious girls. He turns to Miss Brodie to see if she approves of this attitude, and she smiles “as would a goddess... (full context)
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...this that Monica Douglas reports to the Brodie set that she saw Mr. Lloyd kiss Miss Brodie . The other girls don’t really believe her, however, and question her over details, like... (full context)
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All through the term till Christmas, the Brodie set continues to question whether Miss Brodie is capable of being kissed and kissing They decide, at last, to keep the incident... (full context)
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The other Junior teachers have begun to say good morning to Miss Brodie more graciously at this time as well, but still with an edge of scorn. The... (full context)
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Singing lessons with Mr. Lowther are different now, for Miss Brodie seems agitated before, during, and after them; she also wears “her newest clothes on singing... (full context)
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The narrative shifts back in time: Sandy knew about the kiss even before Miss Brodie tells her about it one day after the end of the war in the nineteen-forties.... (full context)
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During this post-war meal with Sandy, Miss Brodie also recalls the time when in the autumn of 1931 she took a leave of... (full context)
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...when Miss Gaunt mentioned that Mr. Lowther was not at school that week, ill like Miss Brodie . (full context)
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...to break up the sexless gloom imposed by Miss Gaunt, she hypothesized with Jenny that Miss Brodie was having a love affair not with Mr. Lloyd but Mr. Lowther, and Jenny in... (full context)
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The narrative returns to the nineteen-forties, to the meal Miss Brodie and Sandy are sharing at the Braid Hills Hotel. Miss Brodie goes on to tell... (full context)
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Back in 1931, after her two weeks’ absence, Miss Brodie returns to her teaching post, thereby relieving Miss Gaunt of her duties. Mr. Lowther’s singing... (full context)
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...decide whether they will study on the Modern or Classical side at the Senior school. Miss Brodie , insisting the girls’ make the choice of their own free will, insinuates a strong... (full context)
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...set considers going on the Modern side. Eunice is too pious at this time for Miss Brodie’s liking. When she opts to go to a social gathering rather than accompany Miss Brodie... (full context)
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The narrative rapidly shifts forward to a few weeks before Miss Brodie’s death. She is in a nursing home and learns then from Monica Douglas that Sandy... (full context)
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...too low for her to go to the Classical side, which makes her despondent given Miss Brodie’s preference for the Classical. Despite Miss Mackay’s appeals, Sandy and Jenny also opt for the... (full context)
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Miss Mackay then begins speaking generously of Miss Brodie , with the goal of pumping incriminating facts about her out of Sandy, Jenny, and... (full context)
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...altogether. Sandy even confides in her imaginary partner that the two need to look into Miss Brodie’s “‘liaison with Gordon Lowther.’” Sandy and Jenny also begin composing a fictionalized love correspondence between... (full context)
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...Sandy even goes so far as to ask Jenny to keep it a secret from Miss Brodie . Her reasons for this request are motivated by something that happened earlier that day:... (full context)
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During the last few months of her teaching the Brodie girls at Blaine, Miss Brodie makes “herself adorable”—no bickering and no irritability save with Mary. Class is often held outside... (full context)
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...in the Scottish region of Fife, Sandy and Jenny complete their fictionalized love correspondence between Miss Brodie and Mr. Lowther. At the mouth of a cave, they have written the last of... (full context)
Chapter 4
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By the time the chapter opens, Miss Brodie’s girls have become students in the Senior school, “a new life altogether”; the Senior school... (full context)
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...been nicer to Mary.’” The narrator immediately shows us once more the scene in which Miss Brodie , dining with Sandy at the Braid Hills Hotel, wonders if it was Mary who... (full context)
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The Brodie set might easily have lost its identity at this time, both because Miss Brodie is no longer a constant presence in their lives, and also because Miss Mackay attempts... (full context)
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However, Miss Brodie has trained her girls, perhaps in preparation for their separation, to think that team spirit... (full context)
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On most Saturday afternoons during this period, Miss Brodie entertains her set over tea. She tells them that her new pupils do not have... (full context)
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...tells us that, since moving on to the Senior school, Sandy and Jenny’s interest in Miss Brodie’s love life has moved from being absolutely sexually charged to being “a question of plumbing... (full context)
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One Saturday over tea Miss Brodie tells the girls that Mr. Lowther’s housekeeper has left him, and that she disliked the... (full context)
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In addition to hosting tea on Saturdays, Miss Brodie also sets aside an hour during which she has Sandy and Jenny teach her the... (full context)
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...strangeness” in the young women’s minds. For now, though, the girls are so dazzled that Miss Brodie struggles to retain influence over her set. She knows that her main concern is ensuring... (full context)
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In the spring of 1933, Miss Brodie’s Greek lessons with Sandy and Jenny come to an end. The Kerr sisters have begun... (full context)
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Up to now, Miss Brodie has visited Mr. Lowther at his house in Cramond on Sundays. On that day she... (full context)
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...attitude of self-forgiveness, and only in retrospect recognize its amorality. However, even later on, after Miss Brodie has died, Sandy comes to recognize that “Miss Brodie’s defective sense of self-criticism had not... (full context)
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...it becomes clear that the Kerr sisters have permanently taken up housekeeping for Mr. Lowther, Miss Brodie fancies that her lover is getting thin because of their skimpiness in caring for him—in... (full context)
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Miss Brodie exults in her victory over the Kerr sisters. She attributes it, in a discussion with... (full context)
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Sandy begins to consider not only the question of Miss Brodie’s desirability from a man’s perspective, but also whether she could sexually surrender herself to Mr.... (full context)
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During the girls’ visits to Cramond, Miss Brodie asks them many questions about Mr. Lloyd, including about his wife Mrs. Deirdre Lloyd and... (full context)
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While the Brodie girls never discover evidence as to whether or not Miss Brodie stays the night with Mr. Lowther, Miss Ellen Kerr supposes she has: a nightdress allegedly... (full context)
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...the summer of 1933, Sandy and Jenny are at Mr. Lowther’s house at Cramond while Miss Brodie prepares a great ham. She asks them, as she often did, about Mr. Lloyd, and... (full context)
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...to run along the beach. When they return to Mr. Lowther’s house, they listen to Miss Brodie speak of her forthcoming holiday to Germany, for she admires Hitler, the Chancellor of Germany... (full context)
Chapter 5
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...Rose Stanley in her gym tunic. Strangely, Rose’s face in the portrait resembles that of Miss Brodie . Mrs. Deirdre Lloyd, also present and dressed fashionably like a peasant, tells her husband... (full context)
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...the girls a set despite their emerging individuality; she retorts, “‘We’d look like one big Miss Brodie ,’” and gazes at Mr. Lloyd insolently. He laughs, kisses her “long and wetly,” and... (full context)
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...request that Sandy call them by their first names. Mrs. Lloyd asks Sandy to bring Miss Brodie to tea, but Teddy is resistant to the idea. Mr. Lloyd then asks Sandy about... (full context)
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...back to around the time when Miss Ellen Kerr discovers what she believes to be Miss Brodie’s nightdress in Mr. Lowther’s house. Mr. Lowther over the past two years has considered marrying... (full context)
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Miss Brodie confides most of this in her girls as they grow from thirteen to fourteen, fourteen... (full context)
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In fact, in the autumn of 1935, while the two golf together, Miss Brodie tells Sandy that all of her ambitions are fixed on her and Rose. She asks... (full context)
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...to their conduct on earth. Sandy also senses Calvinism to be a formative influence on Miss Brodie herself: instead of being or not being elected by God to salvation, Miss Brodie “had... (full context)
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Sandy also develops what she thinks of as Miss Brodie’s plan, unfolding over many years: Rose with her instinct is to have a love affair... (full context)
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It was some time, however, before these things would come to pass. In the interim, Miss Brodie discusses art with Sandy and Rose and tells Rose that she has to realize the... (full context)
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Sandy feels warmly toward Miss Brodie when she sees how misled she is in her idea of Rose, who is not... (full context)
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Miss Brodie also rallies her special girls around her each time her teaching methods are opposed by... (full context)
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The morning after Miss Brodie makes this announcement, however, it is reported in the newspaper The Scotsman that Mr. Lowther... (full context)
Chapter 6
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...Miss Mackay, never gives up on indirectly pumping the Brodie girls for incriminating evidence on Miss Brodie , but now, seven years into their friendship with her, the girls cannot incriminate their... (full context)
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One of Miss Brodie’s greatest admirers is Joyce Emily Hammond, a very rich and delinquent girl sent to Blaine... (full context)
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...set’s intelligence, of course, makes it all the more difficult for Miss Mackay to discredit Miss Brodie . (full context)
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...with the idea of inducing Mr. Lloyd to kiss her again. The girls also visit Miss Brodie in small groups and all together. So they have little time for Joyce Emily. (full context)
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Miss Brodie , however, does make time for Joyce Emily. The Brodie girls resent this, but are... (full context)
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...and “merry carnality,” makes a good marriage soon after she leaves school and “shook off Miss Brodie’s influence as a dog shakes pond-water from its coat.” (full context)
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Miss Brodie will never know how easily Rose shook off her influence. She still confides in Sandy... (full context)
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...Sandy notices that the image emerging resembles Rose but even more than that it resembles Miss Brodie . Sandy has become very interested in Mr. Lloyd’s mind, “so involved with Miss Brodie... (full context)
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Sandy has told Miss Brodie —and Miss Brodie loves to hear it—that all of Mr. Lloyd’s portraits reflect her. Miss... (full context)
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...a long time at that point to a successful businessman. The two women agree that Miss Brodie was dedicated to her girls, and Sandy explains that Miss Brodie was forced to retire... (full context)
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...her sister-in-law, which caused her husband to demand a separation. The two instead talk of Miss Brodie : Sandy explains that Rose never did sleep with Teddy Lloyd, that Miss Brodie did... (full context)
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...to the summer of 1938, after the last of the Brodie girls have left Blaine. Miss Brodie has gone to Germany and Austria for the summer, while Sandy reads psychology and goes... (full context)
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...Lloyd paints Sandy a little. She tells him that he is making her look like Miss Jean Brodie in the portrait and he begins a new canvas, “but it was the same again.”... (full context)
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In September, Miss Brodie and Sandy meet at the Braid Hills Hotel, where Miss Brodie discusses Hitler, quite sure... (full context)
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Mr. Lloyd continues painting accidental portraits of Jean Brodie , even though he recognizes as Sandy does that she is not to be taken... (full context)
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The following autumn, Sandy meets Miss Brodie several times, discussing Mr. Lloyd as usual, how his portraits all reflect the lover who... (full context)
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That autumn, Sandy returns to Blaine to see Miss Mackay, and tells her that Miss Brodie is still cultivating sets of girls at once precocious and out of key with their... (full context)
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...studio and sees the portraits “on which she had failed to put a stop to Miss Brodie .” Sandy is “fuming…with Christian morals” at this point. (full context)
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It is in the end of the summer term of 1939 that Miss Brodie is forced to retire, “on the grounds that she had been teaching Fascism.” Sandy has... (full context)
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Miss Brodie writes to Sandy to tell her of her retirement, theorizing that the political question was... (full context)
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...Sister Helena of the Transfiguration and published “The Transfiguration of the Commonplace.” Jenny writes that Miss Brodie is past her prime and obsessed with the question of who betrayed her. Jenny also... (full context)
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...her formative influences from her schooldays—literary? political? personal? Calvinism? Sister Helena responds, “‘There was a Miss Jean Brodie in her prime.’” (full context)