Comment on the Muriel Sparks' handling  of time in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.

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lynnebh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Although the novel follows chronological time (beginning in 1930), Spark makes use of all three time periods - past, present and future -- to tell her story. There are many flashbacks and flashforwards in the novel.  In this way, the reader has the advantage of knowing the outcome of a character's life, and then going back to learn of events that led up to that outcome. Also, the grown-up girls assess Miss Brodie from a mature perspective that they did not have when they were growing up as one of the Brodie set, so the reader has the advantage of seeing how the girls reacted to Jean Brodie when they were girls and when they were adults. This gives readers an in-depth look into Miss Brodie's motives and psyche. Readers may smile at the naive Miss Brodie's fawing over Hitler and Mussolini, until one sees the long-reaching evil effects this has on some of the girls who actually act upon Miss Brodie's idealism.

There is a good discussion of this here on eNotes at the link below. See the link below under "style" for more information.

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The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

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