"The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie" by Muriel Spark and "The Girls Of Slender".

Essay by witnooA-, January 2004

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In the novels The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and The Girls Of Slender Means the author Muriel Spark uses narrative structure as a means of control over her events. Her technique is manipulated in an expert fashion, and contributes to the depth and meaning of the book.

Throughout The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie the author toys with the reader, changing their perceptions of who is truly the main character. At the beginning of the book we are led to believe that the main character is Miss Brodie; after all, the book's title contains her name, and we at first believe it is an eponymous novel, with the heroine as Miss Brodie, an adult among children, a school teacher in a class of twelve-year-old girls. Spark is conveying the message that life is not as simple as it might seem, thus there is a discrepancy between appearance and the true reality, and that it is her novel, and she is in control, and ergo our assumptions can be incorrect.

This is largely shown in the narrative structure. One of the twists in the structure is the frequent leaps into the future and, perhaps the most significant, is the leap into the future when we learn that Sandy will betray Miss Brodie. The Writers subtle contradiction of the reader's assumption that Miss Brodie is the eponymous character is made here, and we see it develop in that we see the story through the eyes of the Brodie Set, primarily Sandy. We learn nothing of Miss Brodie except that which the girls see and hear. This enforces the writer's control.

This juxtaposition of timescales is also present in The Girls of Slender Means, where we learn in a flash forward that Nicholas Farringdon has died, and then learn about his involvement...