Miss Minchin (Maria 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 former maidservant Becky.
Role in the 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 was rejected by the Seminary and 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.