Some reviewers characterize Jennifer Jones' Miss Dove as an aloof robot, devoid of any humanity, and unrealistic. It's certainly easy to agree with this point of view, at the superficial level. Clearly, one of her goals in life is to seem omnipotent in knowledge and graces, and to instill this attitude in her students by example. But, she is not quite unique in this respect. I had a high school teacher who closely resembled Jennifer's characterizations. She was universally respected by her students, but also feared and hated by those not willing nor able to live up to her high standards. To those, she was an unfeeling witch. I suspect that there were those students of Miss Dove who also fell into that category. Like Miss Dove, this teacher was a spinster, who had given up the possibility of an adventurous life with a suitor, and the likelihood of children for a role she considered more important: a chance to indoctrinate a lifetime of children with her knowledge, love of knowledge, and graces. At least outwardly, she refused to have 'pet' students who took her goals seriously. Some came back many years later for advice.
I wonder whether the name Dove is intended to have symbolic meaning? Doves in particular, or sometimes other birds are often symbolic of certain attributes. Among the traditional possibilities are innocence, gentleness, peace, freedom to fly wherever(mostly via books in her case), a link between heaven and earth(as the Holy Spirit, for example), love and fidelity. Perhaps you can see several of these attributes applying to Miss Dove.
One feature of the film you may find confusing is the frequent switching back and forth between the present and past. I counted 10 such incidents. Keeps you awake keeping up with the changes.
The film climax occurs at the end, when her former student Dr. Baker rushes in to her hospital room to tell that his wife(also a former student) had just given birth to twins: 2 more prospective students of Miss Dove. And, oh yes, her biopsy had just been reported as negative. Church bells through out the town clanged and a crowd had gathered under her window to wish her well: the 'terrible' Miss Dove.
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