Gender in Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and the Importance of Being Earnest

Gender in Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and the Importance of Being Earnest

  • Submitted By: nkp1988
  • Date Submitted: 03/03/2009 7:33 PM
  • Category: English
  • Words: 2540
  • Page: 11
  • Views: 1295

Literature can create and consolidate dominant ideas; but it can also criticise and undermine them.’  Explore the implications of this statement in relation to gender.

The traditional roles assigned to both the male and female gender are subject to serious criticism and reconsideration in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and The Importance of Being Earnest. In The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Spark explores the female desire for liberation, continuing, like many novelists before her, the use of female characters who go beyond acceptable social norms in order to gain a sense of autonomy. Miss Brodie serves as an embodiment of this desire, and assuming the role of mentor teaches her set to think outside the confines of traditional views of womanhood. In The Importance of Being Earnest, Wilde achieves a kind of inversion that transforms the play of comedic events and wit into one of deeper implications. By juxtaposing his criticism of superficial Victorian values with the portrayal of gendered stereotypes, Wilde altogether manages to question and destabilize the very notion of fixed gender identity.

Rather than looking at The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie as a character study of the title figure, we can also observe the influence she has in her tutelage on the ‘Brodie set’. The girls are presented with a form of radicalism that goes against the conformity that society expects of them. In realizing that their lives are in a period of flow, Miss Brodie emphasises their indeterminability, and provides a coherent discourse and model of rebellion against both the social and sexual codes of Victorian womanhood. Sandy remarks that she “wouldn’t like to have sexual intercourse” and her friend Jenny agrees “Neither would I. I'm going to marry a pure person". Miss Brodie to them represents an unviolated state of womanhood, who even when presented with nude statues in a museum “would[n’t] notice that it was naked. . . . she just wouldn't see its thingummyjig.” Just...

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