Pensive Faust Wellington Book club Message Board › The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Discussion Questions
1. What is Miss Brodie's "prime"? What does she mean by the term and why is it so significant—she announces it to her class and refers to it time and again? It also brought up in the last line of the book.
2. Do we ever learn why she selects the particular girls she does as her Brodie girls? Talk about the girls, their relationships with one another, and their relationship with the school. Are they individuals...or conformists?
3. What is Miss Brodie's purpose in creating the Brodie set? Is it purely educational...or something else? What does she want for (or from) them? In what ways, if at all, does the Brodie set change over the years? Do the girls alter their feelings for Miss Brodie by the time their schooling ends?
4. What do you think of Miss MacKay, the headmistress, who continually attempts to undermine Miss Brodie? At the end, she says to Sandy, "I'm afraid she put ideas into your young heads." Why has that bothered her for so many years? Is that not precisely what education is about, at least Miss MacKay's own philosophy of teaching? Is Miss MacKay a watchful headmistress doing her job? Or is she inhibiting a vibrant, creative teacher?
5. Speaking of the philosophy of education: according to Miss Brodie, she and Miss MacKay differ on the correct method of education. Discuss the following passage and decide whom you agree with:
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.... I call that intrusion.... Miss Mackay's method is to thrust a lot of information into the pupil's head; mine is a leading out of knowledge, and that is true education as is proved by the root meaning [of the word].
6. We know Miss Brodie only through the eyes of the girls, primarily Sandy. How does their perception of her change by the time they are 17 years of age...and also when they are even older?
7. Muriel Spark wrote with a great deal of wit, and her humor is particularly evident in this novel because we view the adult world through the eyes of innocents. What are some of the sections you find particularly funny?
8. Is Miss Brodie a good person? Is she a good teacher? Try, in fact, to explain the enigma that is Miss Jean Brodie? What, for instance, is her background—do we ever find out?
9. What about Teddy Lloyd and Gordon Lowther, Miss Brodie's two love interests? What does she want with them? She refuses Lowther's entreaties to marry her—why? And more mysteriously, she encourages Rose to have an affair with Lloyd—why, again?
10. When she is finally betrayed, was the one who did so right or wrong? What prompted the girl tell Miss MacKay what she told her? Was it a betrayal?
11. In the final analysis, how do you come to think of Miss Brodie? Is she a noble figure? A tragic one? A visionary? Is she silly? Is she dangerous or well-meaning? What impact did she have on her girls, lasting or short-term?