The Governess's Desire in Henry James's The Turn of the Screw

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The Governess's Desire in Henry James's The Turn of the Screw

Henry James's The Turn of the Screw paints a landscape that is ripe for psychoanalytic analysis. He has chosen language and syntax that symbolize his main character's psychological fragmentation and her futile attempt to mend herself. Many of Lacan's theories emerge as the Governess reveals her motivations through her recollective narrative.

The Governess enters the Imaginary Stage of Lacan's psychoanalysis theory when she sees herself in the mirror on her first night at Bly. She recalls,"the long glasses in which, for the first time, I could see myself from head to foot..." and as her idealized image gazes back, the Governess has now symbolically split from her mother and is now her own Self, or so she subconsciously thinks. How can she reconcile how she perceives herself and with what can never be? Lacan says that fragmented selves try to locate meaning outside of themselves, and the Governess subconsciously tries to accomplish self-healing by conjuring up ghosts.

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