In our review of narcissistic behavior in the Prime Miss Jean Brodie film we will show movie clips to illustrate traits and behaviors of the narcissist, school mistress Miss Jean Brodie, and her victims, Sandy, Monica, Jenny, and Mary. We also cover the movie’s soundtrack, the storyline, some of the main narcissistic traits and behaviors in this movie, how to recognize them, and some quotes.
For our other movies about narcissists and linked reviews, go to: movies-about-narcissists
It is known of Jean, a teacher at a conservative school in Edinburgh, Scotland, that she deviates from the curriculum and indoctrinates her students with her political convictions, including her fascination with fascist leaders such as Franco and Mussolini. She also doesn’t make a secret of her personal life, being convinced she is in the prime of her life.
Jean spends extra time with four favorite girls of her class, known as the “Brodie set”. They frequently have picnics on the school’s premises, visit museums, and attend cultural events, all of which greatly upsets the strict Miss Mackay, the principal of the school.
Jean has an affair with the music teacher and choir director, Gordon, but still feels for and wants to keep her options open for her ex-lover, Teddy, an art teacher who is married. Mackay and many of the other teachers want Jean to stop teaching at their school. Jean brags to her girls that she will only stop teaching if she is assassinated.
When the four Brodie girls move on into their senior years, Jean begins to exert a strong influence over some younger students, especially Clara, who is a lot like Jenny. While Jenny, Monica and Mary get closer to Jean, Sandy becomes more distant from them.
Jean attempts to trick Jenny and Teddy into having an affair and she wants Sandy to spy on them. However, it turns out that Sandy is already having an affair with Teddy, which she terminates when she finds out he is still obsessed with Jean.
Mary, who has been indoctrinated by Jean to believe that Franco is fighting for a good cause, goes to Spain to join her brother in fighting for Franco. Mary dies during an attack when her train crosses the frontier. After Sandy hears the sad news she exposes Miss Brodie’s political indoctrination of the girls before the school’s board of governors, who then decide to fire Jean.
In one of the last scenes of the movie we see how Sandy finally confronts Jean with all her evil doings, including her indoctrination of Mary and her resulting death. Jean doesn’t apologize one bit. To the contrary, she accuses Sandy of coldly judging and destroying others. Sandy sharply replies by stating that Jean has falsely claimed to be an admirer of conquerors and leaves the classroom. Jean, being distraught, follows Sandy and yells “Assassin! Assassin!”
School mistress Miss Jean Brodie played by Maggie Smith
Her students, especially the four girls of the “Brodie set”:
- Sandy, played by Pamela Franklin
- Monica McLaren, played by Shirley Steedman
- Jenny, played by Diane Grayson
- Mary McGregor, played by Jane Carr
Narcissistic Traits and Behaviors of Miss Jean Brodie
Miss Jean Brodie’s narcissistic character traits are almost too many to mention. She is a classic, textbook example of narcissism all the way around! Below we will list a couple of her many narcissistic behaviors in greater detail. Here are some of the highlights.
After Jean is exposed by Miss Mackay about her secret affair with Gordon, Jean becomes more and more lonely, one of the key characteristics of most narcissists, especially when they get older.
First, Jean loses Gordon, who gets engaged to another teacher, Miss Lockhart. Then she loses the loyalty of Sandy, who exposes her for her lies and shameless denial of her role in the death of a dear fellow student. Finally she loses her job and with it, the company and friendship of the very few who still sympathized with her at school.
Another key trait of many narcissists, exemplified by Jean, is favoritism, also known as the “golden child syndrome.” Jean gives Jenny preferential treatment and often praises Jenny’s beauty while talking to Sandy. The unspoken message to Sandy is: “Jenny is … [something very positive], and you are not…”
All Narcissistic Traits Categorized in 12 Groups around a Clock
We discovered that each narcissistic trait and behavior can be categorized under one of twelve main groups, which we call The Twelve Faces of the Beast ™ of Malignant Narcissism.
In our video course Mastery Over Madness – Part 1, we explain the narcissistic traits of each of these twelve groups and how they relate to what we call The Six Axes of Evil ™.
The twelve groups and the six axes of evil, including the four classic defense mechanisms, are all charted on a clock. For more information on how to recognize all narcissistic traits and behaviors and how to access our video course, go to: Course Mastery Over Madness – Part 1
How to Recognize Jean’s Narcissistic Traits and Behaviors on the Clock
Jean’s emotionally incomplete life, fragmented relationships, breakups, and a more and more lonely and empty life (mentioned above) are characteristics of the 2 o’clock group.
Constantly concerned, if not obsessed, with lining up and maintaining “narcissistic supply” is another characteristic of narcissists. Jean is no exception. Not only is she using the four senior girls, her “Brodie set,” and already lining up fresh junior girls, she is also securing her “supply” when she is still feeling for her ex-lover Teddy while secretly having an affair with Gordon and wanting to keep all her options open.
The frantic need for narcissistic supply (those who provide a constant source of adoration, admiration, approval, attention, labor, money, etc) is one of the core narcissistic traits of the 8 o’clock group. Together with those of the 2 o’clock group these traits are part of the 2-8 axis of evil.
By spending a lot of time with the girls in activities such as having picnics and going to theaters, concerts and museums, Jean is spoiling the four girls. Jean also uses the girls, especially Sandy, as “flying monkeys,” a term used in popular psychology to describe those who do the narcissist’s bidding, including inflicting harm or torment to the narcissist’s victim(s).
“No more secret service!” –Sandy
The activities of flying monkeys may involve spying, spreading gossip, threatening, and terrorizing. Employing “flying monkeys” and spoiling are among the narcissistic behaviors that are part of the 4 o’clock group.
On the flip side of the 4 o’clock group (i.e. being frequently pampered, pandered, and otherwise indulged and entertained), narcissists are often extremely bored and need constant drama, varying all the way from glee to great anger, in one form or another.
“I will only stop teaching if I am assassinated!” –Miss Brodie
Boredom, drama, glee, and strong anger are narcissistic behaviors of the 10 o’clock group. Together with those of the 4 o’clock group these traits are part of the 4-10 axis of evil.
“Allow me in conclusion to congratulate you warmly on your sexual intercourse, and your singing.” –Miss Mackay reading Miss Brodie’s letter
“I will not resign and you won’t dismiss me!” –Miss Brodie
“If scandal is to your taste Miss Mackay, I shall give you a feast!” –Miss Brodie
“… Mr Lowther is teaching me to play the mandolin. Good day, Miss Mckay.” –Miss Brodie
“Little girls, I am in the business of putting old heads on young shoulders, and all my pupils are the crème de la crème. Give me a girl at an impressionable age, and she is mine for life.” –Miss Brodie