Manuela is a spirited and independent teenager sent to a boarding school when her mother dies. The Prussian principal runs the school with an iron hand, believing that discipline and hunger strengthen a girl's character. Like the rest of the girls, Manuela develops a crush on Elizabeth Von Bernburg, a young teacher who believes it's important to be the children's trusted friend. Manuela's mistake is to announce her love in front of guests and students at a party following a school play. How will the principal discipline Manuela, and how will Fraulein Von Bernberg, Manuela, and the other girls react to the principal's decisions?