Theme Of Turn Of The Screw

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Henry James’ Turn of the Screw is one of the most engrossing ghost stories of all time. On the surface, James creates a typical ghost story with a mysterious mansion, a young, innocuous governess, two seemingly innocent children, and two enigmatic ‘ghosts’. Upon closer observation, the plot may not be as simple as it seems. The ghosts only appear to the Governess, leading one to believe that they are simply a figment of her imagination and not actually ‘ghosts’ as they are originally characterized by the Governess. If the ghosts are hallucinations, the governess maybe suffering from some form of mental illness, more specifically, schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia is a mental illness most commonly associated with hallucinations. People with severe schizophrenia cannot tell what is real from what is not. Schizophrenia symptoms begin
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Grose and Flora first. The governess is taken aback by Flora’s beauty, calling her “ the most beautiful child [she] had ever seen,” (James 7). Then, Miles returns home from school two days later, along with a letter stating that he had been dismissed school for being “an injury” to other students. Off the bat, James reveals the Governess’s compassion for not only the children, but their uncle as well. This could establish the governess as an unreliable narrator, setting the tone for the reader to begin distrusting her perspective. Soon after, the governess sees the ghost, later identified as Peter Quint by Mrs. Grose, for the initial time. Hallucinations are one of the most known symptoms of schizophrenia. The governess keeps the meeting to herself, locking herself in her room to think whenever she can, “There were hours, from day to day--or at least there were moments, snatched even from clear duties--when I had to shut myself up to think,” (James 18). The Governess is withdrawing from friends, like Mrs. Grose and the children, and from social events, such as her clear duties, this is another symptom of
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