Examining the Impact of Social Class in Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw

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Examining the Impact of Social Class in James’s The Turn of the Screw Throughout the latter half of the second millennium, horror fiction, or horror fantasy, began to emerge as an overwhelmingly popular literary tool utilized by various authors across the globe. In the late 18th, 19th and 20th century specifically, gothic horror and horror literature manifested themselves as one of the most desired literary genres, representing some of the most well-known authors and works of the time. The works of Edgar Allen Poe and others were extremely popular among 19th century readers as they brought horror literature to the mainstream and exposed the world to a unique and re-defined form of entertainment. It is safe to say that the “scary story” era blossomed in the 19th and perhaps early 20th century as children, teens, and adults alike searched for a reliable source of entertainment prior to the technological revolution. While one could easily argue that the introduction of television, motion pictures, and the internet has significantly diminished the demand for horror literature if not literature as a whole, a few authors continue to remind us that the genre is anything but dead and horror fiction still retains its status as a staple in American society. Stephen King once again re-invented the genre to accommodate for a rapidly changing, fast-paced lifestyle of the American people. He also inputted not only horror into his novels, but morals as well. What King and other authors have proven, is that the only thing readers love more than a scary story, is a scary story with a lesson. Readers tend to naturally gravitate more towards novels which entertain and inform simultaneously as opposed to ones that solely exhibit one of the two attr... ... middle of paper ... ...defensive in an attempt to protect Flora and Miles at all cost. The impact of Mrs. Gross pushed her into thinking that the apparitions were more and more realistic, and her own desire to prove herself as a member of the upper class ultimately drove her into an everlasting state of psychosis in which she could not recover. In the end, this work is not only meant to entertain, but to inform as well. Thus, James is most likely attempting to satirize the over-emphasis on social class or class relations which characterized the late 19th century. The reader can take away a few lessons from this text, most notably, to be yourself and not strive to be something you are not as it could result in drastic consequences. Works Cited James, Henry. “The Turn of the Screw.” 1898. American Gothic. By Charles L. Crow. 2nd ed. N.p.: Wiley-Blackwell, 2013. 227-89. Web.

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