The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

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“The Transfiguration of the Commonplace” Symbol Analysis

 “The Transfiguration of the Commonplace” Symbol Icon
But this “affair” is so strong that every face Mr. Lloyd paints, be it Rose Stanley or even his own children, seems to resemble Miss Brodie. In this sense, Mr. Lloyd’s portraits symbolize the power of Miss Brodie’s influence on those around her, a power exerted on her lovers and students alike: just as Mr. Lloyd transfigures everyone into a Miss Brodie, so too does Miss Brodie attempt to transfigure her special girls into copies of her. This is especially the case with Rose, whom Miss Brodie plans to have a love affair with Mr. Lloyd as her, Miss Brodie’s own, proxy. However, Miss Brodie’s plan for Rose fails, and Miss Brodie’s influence over her special girls dissipates as they mature and pursue interests and careers independent of her. At last, only Mr. Lloyd and Sandy remain imprinted with Brodie’s image, and their common obsession with her draws the two of them into a love affair.

“The Transfiguration of the Commonplace” Quotes in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

The The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie quotes below all refer to the symbol of “The Transfiguration of the Commonplace”. 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 6 Quotes

‘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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“The Transfiguration of the Commonplace” Symbol Timeline in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

The timeline below shows where the symbol “The Transfiguration of the Commonplace” appears in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
Religion, Predestination, and Narrative Structure Theme Icon
Insight, Instinct, and Transfiguration Theme Icon
...middle age, is a nun called Sister Helena. She has published a famous psychological treatise, “The Transfiguration of the Commonplace,” and is therefore allowed, as no other nuns are, to have visitors. A young man... (full context)
Chapter 6
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
...Brodie girls contact Sandy after she has become 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... (full context)