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Muriel Spark’s ‘The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie’

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Introduction

Rachel Hughes Post War Fiction and Film Assessment 2001/02 ASSIGNMENT 1 2. Referring to a film and novel of your choice, explain how successfully they articulate the themes of the period in question. The film and novel pairing I have chosen is Muriel Spark's 'The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie'. I have chosen this because of the large number of references made in the text that can be compared to occurrences that were happening in that period, and that have happened in Sparks own life. Spark was born in Edinburgh in 1918. She was educated at 'James Gillespie's Girls School', which was in Edinburgh also. After finishing school, she left Edinburgh and moved to Africa where she met her husband. Spark then moved back to England, after divorcing her husband Oswald. Shortly after the war she became involved in the literary circles of London. She was then kicked out because she was described as "too adventurous". She was interested in poetry and in 1952 her first book, a book of poetry, was published. Then, in 1961, 'The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie' was published. In the novel 'The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie' the plot involves a young, slightly eccentric in her thinking, complex schoolteacher at an Edinburgh girls' school, 'Marcia Blaine'. ...read more.

Middle

However, this only occurred in the video of 'The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie' and not the actual text in novel form. So, in relation to themes of the period, I think fascism is a very good example because we see the rise of many fascist leaders post World War I and pre World War II, which was when it was set. Also, we see Jean Brodie fall from power, like many of the fascist leaders did. This suggests that the author, Spark, is against fascism. She portrays the fascist ideology as not ending happily. It is hardly surprising that she takes this point of view because Muriel Sparks father was a Jewish engineer during World War II, when Hitler was in control, and Hitler was an anti-Semitist. Muriel Spark's resentment for fascist leaders is shown in the character of Brodie. She rises and she falls. Also in the text, we see her as having a very middle class attitude. Referring to the period in which the novel was set I can see a strong relationship between her attitude and the attitude of those within the 'Bloomsbury Set'.The Bloomsbury Set was the name given to a literary group that made the Bloomsbury area of London their centre of activities from 1904 to World War II. ...read more.

Conclusion

Miss Kay took the girls to the theatre and concerts. Miss Kay, like Brodie, feared that the pupils were not receiving enough of a cultured background from their parents. Both Kay and Brodie wanted a hold over the pupils. It is interesting to see also that a 'Miss Brodie' used to read to Spark as a young child. Another striking similarity to actual event and fictitious plot is that Spark had a young friend who died quite suddenly and tragically, much like the death of Mary in the book. Muriel Spark has successfully blended in facts from the time the novel is set and facts and experiences from her own life into a very creative and expressive novel. She is clever in the way she has made them all blend together and we get an insight into the author's own life for a change instead of just reading a straight forward novel. Through the novel we can understand her beliefs and comprehend her opinions. In answering the question ' how successful is the author in articulating the themes of the time into the novel?' I would say very successful. With fascism, the Bloomsbury set, and Sparks own experiences we see a vast array of political issues, questioning of society and an insight into the authors past. We could call this a political novel, but in a curious way. ...read more.

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