Discuss with reference to style, language and narrative techniques, the main themes inherent in Muriel Sparks "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.

Essay by sileas451College, UndergraduateC, April 2004

download word file, 8 pages 4.4 1 reviews

Downloaded 82 times

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark is a novel carefully constructed through the use of distinctive narrative techniques, style and language. These all contribute to the portrayal of the novels main political themes and ideas. One of the most significant passages in the novel is the walk through Edinburgh, where Miss Jean Brodie takes her pupils through the Old Town. This passage is important in the sense that it gives a clear example of Spark's clever use of narrative and language. This relates to the overall theme of the rest of the novel. However, it also displays a distinct style of writing which subtly etches the idea of fascism into the main structure of the narrative.

It is through the novel's third person narrative that Spark is able to blend together reality and fantasy so subtly. The narrative takes us without warning into Sandy's own fantasy world.

This is done suddenly, yet Spark integrates it into the narrative naturally by making no distinction between Sandy's fantasy character, Alan Breck from Robert Louis Stevenson's Kidnapped, and Sandy herself. There is no indication that the character Alan Breck isn't in fact one of Spark's own characters. It is only the setting of this fantasy, the 'ship's roundhouse', coupled with the over dramatisation of the prose that tells the reader that this is all in Sandy's head:

"...he cut off one of the silver buttons from his coat. 'Wherever you show that button', he said, 'the friends of Alan Breck will come around you'. (Taken from extract)

The idea of Sandy creating an imaginary scene in her head involving characters from a novel giving her a silver button, of all things, to show when she needs help is amusing. Spark includes it in the narrative as if it were real.