Deconstructing Henry James' The Turn of the Screw

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Deconstructing Henry James's The Turn of the Screw

To those readers uninitiated to the infinite guises of critical literary theory, Henry James's The Turn of the Screw might be interpreted as a textbook case of an anxiety-ridden Governess fleeing an unpromising reality and running right into the vaporous arms of her imaginary ghosts. But to the seriously literate, the text is more than the story does or does not tell; it can be read in light of many - not just one - literary theories.

Modern in the sense that ambiguity seems to be the text's organizing principle (a conventional, formalist reading), the text also contains numerous binary oppositions that structuralists might point out as defining the langue of gothic ghost stories or of Jamesian novels or the parole of excitable young ladies. But strict formal and structural readings of this text are incomplete in and of themselves because they do not question their own premises or conventions. No reading of the text would be adequate without at least a nod to deconstructionism.

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