Henry James's Turn of the Screw was written in a time when open sexuality was looked down upon. On the surface, the story is simply about a governess taking care of two children who are haunted by two ghosts. However, the subtext of the story is about the governess focusing on the children's innocence, and the governess trying to find her own sexual identity. Priscilla L. Walton wrote a gender criticism themed essay about the Turn of the Screw, which retells certain parts of the story and touches on the significance they provide for the sexually explicit theme. Walton's essay is accurate because James purposely put an undertone of sexuality and identity confusion in the Turn of the Screw.
The governess made it clear that she was longing for a romance or a mate. One day she was walking around thinking about the master of Bly and she saw Peter Quint on top of a tower. James made sure to name the type of tower Quint was standing on- crenelated structures. These were structures on top of castle walls meant to protect the inhabitants. It's ironic that Quint was standing on the exact thing meat to protect, as if to say it would not stop him from defiling Miles.
The governess said that Quint's figure was, “very erect, as it struck me” (pp.40-41). The governess constantly made sexual innuendos that led the readers to believe she was sexually frustrated, or at least had sex on her mind a lot. The governess mentions Quint's long gaze at her and said she stared just as hard back at him. In the time this story was written, men and women were not equal. The governess's strong will defied the tradition role of women to be the prey, and rather yet put her on Quint's level of authority.
Miss Jessel and Peter Quint kept appearing to the gove...
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...e female roles she was witnessed in her life, and she reverts back to being an innocent little girl by running back to Mrs. Grose for security.
After Flora leaves her, the governess focuses all her attention on Miles. The reader already has some knowledge upfront that Miles has some negative quality to him, so his sexually seems less of a secret than Flora's. He was sent home from school for saying inappropriate things to boys that he likes. There is a strong possibility that Quint taught him about homosexuality in the past. However, Miles is also seen in a heterosexual light by the governess. “We continued silent while the maid was with us- as silent, it whimsically occurred to me, as some young couple who, on their wedding journey, at the in, feel shy in the presence of the waiter. He turned round only when the waiter had left us. 'Well- so we're alone!'” (p.113).
The classic ghost story, the Turn of the Screw, is filled with loose-ends and ambiguity. Are the ghosts real or imagined? Is the Governess a heroine or anti-heroine? Are the children really as innocent as they seem? In the novel, Henry James rarely provides an in-depth character that the reader actually gets to know. From the young romantic governess, to the intelligent ten year old, James keeps his characters morally ambiguous in order to further the “Unsolved mystery” style.
Interpreting The Turn of the Screw by Henry James from a Marxist point of view brings about serious social class distinctions and consequences of violation within that code. Miles and the unnamed Governess’ relationship demonstrate the wrongdoing of social and legal norms. The Governess’ indeterminate social status leave her as a forbidden woman in Victorian society taking on the role of primary caretaker to children, while Miles embodies the character of the absent master to whom the Governess feels intimately attracted. Mile’s union with rebellious, symbol of threat, Peter Quint, ultimately possesses him and lead to the breakdown of the social hierarchy. The Governess and Mile’s connection display the inappropriate boundary crossed between professional duties and desirable futures as a sexually active individual. Through the two characters moments alone, the rising apprehensions end in the governess’s infringement of social status as she employs to a mysterious sexual relationship with Miles.
When facing the truth, often the mind cannot comprehend events that are dear to you and your beliefs. In The Turn of the Screw, Henry James’s critically acclaimed novella, he presents a point of view that provides visuals and insight into the narrator’s mind. The story fundamentally deals with supernatural forces. However, through different interpretations, the reliability of the narrator can be questioned. Her own confessions thought process and concrete that is hidden by Henry James. When the book was published during the Victorian era, little to no emphasis was based on the idea of mental health. The majority of readers claimed this as a ghost story with nothing more. When researched and analyzed, it is clear that the story is a mentally
In the famous novel, The Turn of the Screw, Henry James tells a story of a governess who
The Turn of the Screw by Henry James has been the cause of many debates about whether or not the ghosts are real, or if this is a case of a woman with psychological disturbances causing her to fabricate the ghosts. The story is told in the first person narrative by the governess and is told only through her thoughts and perceptions, which makes it difficult to be certain that anything she says or sees is reliable. It starts out to be a simple ghost story, but as the story unfolds it becomes obvious that the governess has jumps to conclusions and makes wild assumptions without proof and that the supposed ghosts are products of her mental instability which was brought on by her love of her employer
...t want to be the only one who does. It is another feeble attempt to prove her sanity to herself and to others. However, because she “is so easily carried away”, she soon believes that the children do in fact see the ghosts by reading into their every remark and behavior. By piecing all of this together, the governess proves to herself that she is not insane. The governess in The Turn of the Screw, is a highly unreliable narrator. From the beginning of the story, her energetic imagination is displayed to the reader. With this knowledge alone, it would not be irrational to conclude that she had imagined the appearances of Peter Quint and Miss Jessel. However, these facts in addition to her unsubstantiated inferences allow the reader to intelligently label the governess as an unreliable narrator. Works Cited Poupard, Dennis. “Henry James.” Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism: Volume 24. Ed. Paula Kepos. Detroit: Gale research.; 1990. 313-315.
James, Henry. The turn of the screw and other short fiction. Bantam classic ed. Toronto: Bantam Books, 1983. Print.
Turn of the Screw written by Henry James tells the story of a governess and her recollection of events at the country home of Bly. The story begins at a Christmas gathering where everyone is sharing different ghost stories around the fire. One man has a manuscript or diary of a former governess which details her experience at a “haunted house (302).” The audience begs for him to read it, and so he does. As soon as he begins to read the story, the book’s point of view shifts to the governess’s. Over the course of the governess’s interviews with her employer, she immediately falls in love with him. In an attempt to win her master’s approval, she becomes extremely protective over the children. She views herself as their guardian or rather their “hero” in shielding them from the ghosts that she assumes the children are communicating with. The question that strikes every reader is whether the ghosts perceived by the governess are real or not. This also questions the credibility of the governess’s narration. In reading Turn of the Screw, the governess is proven to be an unreliable narrator through her recollection of events at Bly. Because of the governess’s loves for the master and quest for heroism, her insanity is exposed through her hallucinations.
The Turn of the Screw by Henry James is usually read as a ghost story in which the central character, the governess, tries to save the souls of two children possessed by evil. However, the short-story can be also analyzed from many different perspectives, as we come upon a number of hints that lead to various understanding of certain scenes. One of the possible interpretations is the psychoanalytical one, in which we interpret the events either from the point of view of the governess or from the perspective of the two children. I will concentrate on the problem of the governess who, restricted by her own problems and moral dilemmas, projects her fears on her pupils and in this way harms the children. What causes her moral corruption and gradual maddening lies deep in her psyche. Both the Victorian upbringing and the social isolation of a poor village tell her to restrict her sexual desires evoked by the romance reading. The result is tragic. The governess becomes mad and the children psychologically destabilized and scared of the adults. The story ends with the governess strangling the boy in a hysteric fit. The Turn of the Screw is a very popular work of literature, with reach history of critical interpretations where not much can be added, therefore my essay is mostly based on The Turn of the Screw. A History of Its Critical Interpretations 1898 1979 by Edward J. Parkinson.
I will argue that it is the narrative frames enclosing The Turn of The Screw that are largely responsible for the reception the book has received. They serve two main purposes; one, to build up an element of suspense and tension before the governess's account actually begins, thus heightening the potential for horror and terror in the text; and two, to cast uncertainty on the reliability of the narrators and hence to increase the ambiguity and scope for interpretation of the text. In fact, I will argue that these frames do not assist the reader in interpreting the action, but are actually used by James to deliberately confound the reader and foster an ambiguous atmosphere.
There are many different ways to interpret The Turn of the Screw, by Henry James. Many critics over the past century have voiced their opinions about the story. Each critical analysis of the story disagrees with the beliefs expressed in another. Robert B. Heilman is a critic who wrote in the mid-twentieth century. He interprets The Turn of the Screw to be a representation of the conflict between good and evil. Heilman's points are clear and obviously well thought out, but there are flaws in his argument that make his interpretation questionable.
Chapter Six is an important section of The Turn of the Screw, as it involves many of the themes of the story, as well as reflecting its general narrative structure. James' novel is phenomenally complex; it has an incredible ambiguity to it, which allows for some very outlandish and far-fetched ideas to be formulated. A 'theme' can almost be drawn from almost every other sentence, if one so desires. It is deciding which issues have a little more to them than there may seem at first and which are what they appear, nothing more, which is difficult. As with many books of its ilk, over-analysing is a serious essay writing hazard.
Henry James’ the Turn of the Screw, written in the Victoria era, tells a ghost story of a governess’s experience with two children in the house. By presenting the story in a symbolic way, the ambiguous narrative of the ghost story suggests an inner conflict of immorality and innocence in the governess. It also seems to imply a loss of insanity and a tragedy as a result of the oppression of desire. This paper will argue that chapter 23 is the most crucial part of the story, because it is the first moment the Governess found the weakness of the ghosts and has a real confrontation with the ghost indirectly through Miles. Miles’ suggestion of going out drives her to the wall, which leads to the tragic end that the only way for governess to protect Miles is to hold him in her, even it is too tight to kill him. The paper will first analyze important scenes in chapter 23. Then it will reveal the symbolic meanings and the latent conflicts in the story, which is significant to their “battle” in chapter 23 and the ending.
Throughout The turn of the Screw by Henry James, the theme of ambiguous issues is constantly leaving the reader on their own. The ambiguity and uncertainty within this text causes the readers to come up with their own theories as to what the text really means. The ghost story perspective only adds to the infuriating vagueness. The title itself is about all of the twists within this story and basically foreshadows the confusion that the text will cause.
Women, in all classes, were still living in a world which was misogynistic and male-dominated. Their purpose in life was to produce male heirs and maintain the home by hiring and overseeing servants. It was also taboo for one to marry significantly below one’s social class. This is one reason that Jane is not a conventional heroine for the society of her time. Although, as a governess, she is not considered to be as low as a housemaid, she is still part of the hired help in the house. This is why it is unconventional for her and Mr Rochester to be in a relationship. Yet this is not as peculiar as how Jane Eyre ends their relationship due to her sense of betrayal. It would have been considered extremely foolish for a working-woman’s sense of betrayal to end and turn down a man of great wealth.