The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

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The headmistress of the Marcia Blaine School, Miss Mackay strongly disapproves of Miss Brodie’s educational methods, attempting to pump the Brodie girls for incriminating information about their teacher throughout their student years. When Sandy reveals to her Miss Brodie’s interest in fascist politics, Miss Mackay at last has what she needs to force Miss Brodie’s retirement.

Miss Mackay Quotes in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

The The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie quotes below are all either spoken by Miss Mackay or refer to Miss Mackay. 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 2 Quotes

‘The word “education” comes from the root e from ex, out, and duco, I lead. It means a leading out. To me education is a leading out of what is already there in the pupil’s soul. To Miss Mackay it is a putting in of something that is not there, and that is not what I call education, I call it intrusion, from the Latin root prefix in meaning in and the stem trudo, I thrust.’

Related Characters: Miss Mackay
Page Number: 36
Explanation and Analysis:

These lines occur during Miss Brodie's long walk with the Brodie set, before Miss Brodie must meet with Miss Mackay - presumably because Miss Mackay wants to question Miss Brodie's methods of instruction. In these lines, Miss Brodie offers up an aggressive, hypocritical defense of her methods.  

Miss Brodie claims to "lead out" what is "already" in her pupils' souls, and to be opposed to dogmatic, intrusive methods of normal teaching. However, we see that Miss Brodie is being hypocritical in this moment. Earlier, she mentions that she is putting "old heads on young shoulders," which is an intrusive theory of education if ever there was one. Additionally, Miss Brodie's pupils are victim to their instructor's whims - for example, earlier in the text they are taught that Giotto is a better painter than Da Vinci, merely because Miss Brodie prefers the former. In these lines, then, Miss Brodie is entirely wrong about herself and her methods, and she ironically forces her students to accept her incorrect self-assessment.

Finally, we might compare Miss Brodie's etymology of education with Mussolini's title, II Duce, which means "the leader."

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Miss Mackay Character Timeline in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

The timeline below shows where the character Miss Mackay 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
...since they were students at the Junior school, and even their headmistress (later identified as Miss Mackay ) calls them this “in scorn”; the girls moved from the Junior to the Senior... (full context)
Education vs. Intrusion Theme Icon
Insight, Instinct, and Transfiguration Theme Icon
...the garden for a history lesson. On the way, they stop outside of the headmistress Miss Mackay ’s office, where a poster of Stanley Baldwin (a British Prime Minister) is hanging, with... (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 the class are crying at this point over Hugh’s... (full context)
Chapter 2
Authority and Social Groups Theme Icon
Insight, Instinct, and Transfiguration Theme Icon
...she swore to secrecy before telling them about her personal life and professional feud with Miss Mackay . (full context)
Authority and Social Groups Theme Icon
Education vs. Intrusion Theme Icon
...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 to question Miss Brodie’s methods of... (full context)
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Miss Brodie continues speaking of Miss Mackay , defending her own methods, encouraging her girls to study hard for their end-of-term examinations,... (full context)
Chapter 3
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Education vs. Intrusion Theme Icon
Sexuality, One’s Prime, and Spinsterhood Theme Icon
...to London and Italy, praising Mussolini as “‘one of the greatest men in the world.’” Miss Mackay enters the classroom and encourages the girls to have a good year. (full context)
Authority and Social Groups Theme Icon
Education vs. Intrusion Theme Icon
Sexuality, One’s Prime, and Spinsterhood Theme Icon
After Miss Mackay leaves her classroom, Miss Brodie restates that an education is a leading out, calls Mary... (full context)
Authority and Social Groups Theme Icon
Education vs. Intrusion Theme Icon
...1931, when the girls are deciding whether to go to the Modern or Classical side. Miss Mackay , at that point the headmistress, who favors the Modern side, invites Sandy, Jenny, and... (full context)
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Miss Mackay then begins speaking generously of Miss Brodie, with the goal of pumping incriminating facts about... (full context)
Chapter 4
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...because Miss Brodie is no longer a constant presence in their lives, and also because Miss Mackay attempts to break the girls up. She permits Mary, who had wanted to go on... (full context)
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Miss Mackay lays yet another scheme, but this one “undid her.” At the Senior school, there are... (full context)
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Sexuality, One’s Prime, and Spinsterhood Theme Icon
Religion, Predestination, and Narrative Structure Theme Icon
...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 that there is no way to prove... (full context)
Chapter 6
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The headmistress of Blaine, Miss Mackay , never gives up on indirectly pumping the Brodie girls for incriminating evidence on Miss... (full context)
Authority and Social Groups Theme Icon
Education vs. Intrusion Theme Icon
Insight, Instinct, and Transfiguration Theme Icon
...fact of the Brodie set’s intelligence, of course, makes it all the more difficult for Miss Mackay to discredit Miss Brodie. (full context)
Authority and Social Groups Theme Icon
Religion, Predestination, and Narrative Structure Theme Icon
Insight, Instinct, and Transfiguration Theme Icon
That autumn, Sandy returns to Blaine to see Miss Mackay , and tells her that Miss Brodie is still cultivating sets of girls at once... (full context)
Authority and Social Groups Theme Icon
Education vs. Intrusion Theme Icon
...of her retirement, theorizing that the political question was only an excuse, and that what Miss Mackay really disapproved of was her educational policy. Miss Brodie is most hurt and amazed to... (full context)