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I expect you to remember, Sara Crewe - you are not a princess any longer.
~ Miss Minchin, to Sara.

Maria Minchin, or better known as Miss Minchin, is the main antagonist of Frances Hodgson Burnett's novella A Little Princess. She is the the headmistress of seminary for young girls in London. She is greedy and cruel, shows kindness only when she can gain by it, and regularly abuses her sister Amelia, and her maidservant Becky.

Novel

Miss Maria Minchin

Maria Minchin the Headmisstress of girls' seminary from Shokojo Sara.

When Sara Crewe and her wealthy father arrive at Minchin's school, she welcomes them. Hoping Sara's father will bring prestige and wealth to the school, Miss Minchin follows his instructions to treat Sara like a princess. However, she quietly begins to resent Sara for her intelligence and forwardness. This begins when Sara reveals to the French teacher that she is already fluent in the language, and speaks it better than Miss Minchin herself.

When Sara celebrates her birthday party, Mr. Barrows, Captain Crewe's solicitor, arrives to tell Miss Minchin that Crewe has died of an illness abroad, and his diamond mines have proved worthless. Sara has no money and no other relatives, meaning that Minchin will not be repaid for all the money she spent making her comfortable. Her first reaction is to throw Sara into the street. Barrow, however, urges her to consider keeping Sara as a servant. Since she is Sara's only guardian, Miss Minchin confiscates Sara's possessions and makes her work as a maid, for no money to repay the school.

Meanwhile, a friend of Captain Crewe, Mr. Carrisford, moves in next to the school, hoping to find his late friend's daughter, not knowing she is so close. His servant Ram Dass watches Sara and takes an interest in her. She sends her an anonymous gift of fine clothes.

Minchin changes her attitude when she sees Sara's gift. Thinking she has a rich relative somewhere, her treatment of Sara improves. When Ram Dass' pet monkey visits Sara in her attic room, Sara goes to Mr. Carrisford's House to return him. Talking to Carrisford, he discovers who she is and vows to adopt her. Miss Minchin arrives to take back, only to find her restored to wealth, causing much embarassment and confusion to her.

Shirley Temple Film

In the 1939 film starring Shirley Temple, Miss Minchin is called Amanda, and is played by Mary Nash. Unlike in the novel, Sara's father is lost fighting in World War I, and is returned suffering from amnesia, not remembering himself or Sara. Thinking her father dead, Miss Minchin reduces Sara to a live-in slave until the end of the film, when she learns that he is still alive. When he recovers his memory, Minchin is arrested. In this version, Minchin has a brother instead of a sister, a former Music-Hall singer named Bertie.

1985 Anime

In the 1985 anime, Miss Minchin is severe headmistress of the seminary where Sarah is sent to. After a misunderstanding where Minchin believes that Sarah purposely undermined her, she subsequently holds an intense grudge against the girl. However, she is very willing to use the noble, talented Sarah for the sake of the appearance of her seminary and herself. When Sarah is no longer wealthy, Miss Minchin stops masking her hatred, and takes every opportunity to break Sarah further.

1995 Film

In the 1995 film directed by Alfonso Cuaron, Miss Minchin is played by Eleanor Bron, and her school is in New York instead of London. When Sara and Captain Crewe travel from India to Minchin's school, Miss Minchin welcomes Sara a new student, but begins to dislike her for her imagination and independent spirit. As in the 1939 film, Sara's father goes missing in the war, and his wealth is lost. Minchin takes Sara's things away and makes her work as a maid. Captain Crewe however, is suffering from amnesia and is taken into the house next to the school, mistaken for another soldier.

When Ram Dass sends Sara and Becky gifts, Minchin accuses her of stealing, locks her in the attic and calls the police. Escaping into the house next door, Sara finds her father and tries to make him recognize her. Miss Minchin comes in with the police and recognizes Captain Crewe. When she realizes he has lost his memory she pretends not to know him and tells the police to arrest Sara, choosing her revenge over the truth. Fortunately, as Sara is being taken away, Captain Crewe recovers his memory. At the end of the film, Headmistress Minchin is reduced to working as a chimney sweeper, as the assistant to a young sweep she once kicked out of her house.

Although she is crueler in this version than in previous ones, this film gives her some sympathy, hinting that she had an unhappy childhood. When Sara confronts her asking if her father ever called her a princess she storms out of the room, only to be revealed quietly crying outside.

Other versions

In the 2009 live action Japanese Drama, Shokojo Seira, Mimura Chieko, the director of the live action version plays Maria Minchin the headmistress. When Seira travels from India to Japan, she enrolls her as a student in Millenius academy. When Seira is celebrating her birthday party, Mimura Chieko calls solicitor of Seira's father, meaning that Seira lost all her wealth and father, Chieko ruins Seira's party and makes her a maid. As series goes further and time goes when Seira goes to church as Kurisu (live action version of Mr. Carrisford) escorts Seira to mansion. Director Mimura Chieko goes to mansion where Seira is restored to wealth, she tries to take Seira away but refuses. Chieko and her younger sister Emiko are causing terrible complaints by not bringing Seira back. In the end, Mimura Chieko is forgiven by Seira. Seira plans to be new headmistress and successor to her, in the future.

In the Philippine live action Movie, Minchin works at her seminary. Towards the end of the film, she feels sorry for Sara.

Stage

In the stage musical, she didn't redeem herself, because she seem to be too cruel and selfish, like in the andrew Lippa Musical, she refuse that Pasko let a gift for Sara (That Gift was Sara father letter), and destroy Sara African doll that her father give her and she give it to Becky , but the doll won't burn protected by the spirit magic, at the end she was arrested by the queen and put in jail.

Trivia

  • Unlike the irredeemable Agatha Trunchbull from Matilda, Miss Minchin has act of redemption towards the end of the book, drama and anime.

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