This is my entry in the Dueling Divas Blogathon, hosted by Lara at Backlots. Click Here for more delicious diva behavior.
And now, let the battle begin. Ladies, try to keep it clean.
In this corner, Jean Brodie
Jean Brodie is a teacher at the Marcia Blaine School for Girls in Edinburg. Assembling a group of impressionable admirers, the Brodie Set, who she calls the creme de la creme of her students, she proceeds to influence them with her views on learning, life, love and global politics. Miss Brodie dallies with the married music teacher, but allows herself to be courted by the very ordinary, but very eligible music teacher. She encourages her girls to experience the beauties of life in the forms of art, nature and the flesh.
Strengths: Utterly charismatic, stunning in fashionable clothes, enthusiastic and a woman of elevated taste.
Weaknesses: Arrogance, pride, narcissistic and morally dangerous. Worst of all, a phony. She does not have the courage of her convictions.
In this corner, Sandy
Sandy is one of Miss Brodie's inner circle - and her confidant and spy. She is not the prettiest, but Miss Brodie praised her for her insight. She had no idea how right she was.
Strengths:Clear-eyed, clear-thinking, exceedingly smart, morally straight
Weaknesses: Her youth, her sneakiness, her seeming coldness
The Brodie vs. Sandy duel has 2 outcomes for me, each dependent on my age at the time I viewed their story.
As a young, impressionable girl, I adored Miss Brodie. Her artistic flair, her liberal view of love and bravery seemed brave. I loved that she took on the headmistress, Miss Mackay, tweaking her nose at every turn. I viewed Sandy's "betrayal" as one borne of jealously - a peahen's envy of the peacock's brilliance. A bright and shiny object, Miss Brodie decries the ordinariness of Sandy and her ilk. Her sacking by the headmistress seemed another example of those without imagination crushing the artistic soul.
Now that I am older and wiser, I see the mortal danger of Miss Brodie. She is a fraud. She encourages her protege, Jenny, to have an affair, but she keeps the art instructor at arms length all the while cultivating a respectable relationship with a most ordinary man. She encourages poor Mary McGregor to follow her brother and fight with Franco. This sends Mary to her death. All the while Miss Brodie stays put in the safety of her tenure.
It is the ordinary, unextraordinary Sandy who sees, step by step, the danger of this teacher. The lives and the futures of the Brodie girls were entrusted to Jean Brodie. Instead, she played out her foolish, selfish fantasies and used her girls as props. She cared not for their future in the real world. Mary's death was the last straw for Sandy. Via the very willing Mrs. Mackay, she put a stop to Jean Brodie's influence.
Watch the great confrontation between these 2 heavyweights:
Maybe Sandy's motives were not so pure. Maybe she was jealous of the art teacher's unending devotion to Jean Brodie even though he bedded young Sandy (a crime in itself) and maybe she was hurt because Miss Brodie preferred the lovely Jenny. It could never be black and white between those two and Sandy could never forget the great joys of being part of the Brodie Set, but in the end she did the right thing. She was ready to face the world as a responsible, if much less glamorous, adult.*
Therefore, the winner, ultimately, must be: Sandy
Jean Brodie ignored the cardinal rule of the fight: "Protect yourself at all times." She let the person of her undoing into her inner circle.
Maggie Smith won a well-deserved Oscar for her towering and compelling performance. However, Pamela Franklin as Sandy was her equal every step of the way. When compiling the names of those who were overlooked by Oscar, Pamela Franklin's name belongs on that list.
* in Muriel Spark's novel of the same name, Sandy eventually becomes a nun.