Discuss the notion of realism in "The Prime of Miss J. Brodie".

Essay by jessicagUniversity, Master'sA-, February 2003

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Realism is a very prominent feature in this novel. The use of such historical dates and references gives the book as well as the characters a very real touch, making the characters lives and surroundings so real that you begin to wonder if these people, from Miss Brodie to Mary McGregor, really existed.

The setting is Edinburgh early 1930s, only a few years after Spark's childhood. Firstly we must ask why Edinburgh? The setting compliments the theme of fascism. Known as the "Athens of the north" allows versatility and is full of culture, art, and architecture. Since Spark loved the above mentioned it is only natural to wonder if it is not because she found the city more than sufficient regarding her interests that the character Miss Brodie would alike. The city of Edinburgh is a perfect place for a woman such as Brodie to root herself or rather be rooted by Spark.

It is a city of contradictions (old/new, catholic/protestant, rich/poor) as is Brodie a bundle of contradictions. It is a city rich in culture where religion is very important: an excellent environment to expose and contrast some of Miss Brodie's traits. So with her extensive knowledge of the city and it being her birthplace it is easy to understand why Spark would favour this great city over another.

Giving the teacher in her prime the name "Brodie" is an ingenious technique. "I am the direct descendent, do not forget, of Willie Brodie..." This links her with a character who is part of the Towns heritage and who is also a bundle of contradictions(if not the greatest of all). Deacon Brodie had two mistresses, five children, and dies at the end, and coincidentally or not Miss Brodie has two lovers, five girls (except for Mary who was...