Henry James ' Turn Of The Screw Essay

Henry James ' Turn Of The Screw Essay

Length: 1041 words (3 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Better Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

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 developing around the ages of 16-30, and can be triggered by highly stressful situations and more often surfaces during times when the body is undergoing hormonal and physical changes like those that occur during teen and young adult years. Symptoms of schizophrenia may include, but are not limited to, hallucinations, delusions, depression, withdraw from family, friends, and social events, and poor executive functioning, such as the ability to understand information and use it to make decisions. The Governess exhibits many of these symptoms (“Schizophrenia Symptoms…” WebMd.com)
The book begins with a group partygoers telling ghost stories around a fire on Christmas Eve, a man named Griffin had finished his tale and the guests were discussing it when Douglas comments about the nature of the ghost interacting with a child. He replies “If the child gives the effect another turn of the screw, what do you say to t...


... middle of paper ...


... her uncle and the Governess is alone with Miles. She questions him about a missing letter, and when Miles admits to taking it, a hallucination of Peter Quint appears through the window. The Governess jumps up and holds Miles closely. The governess holds him and describes that “his little heart, dispossessed, had stopped,” (James 87). This final psychotic event depicts the Governess hallucinating the ‘ghost’ of Peter Quint, and one final delusion, Miles heart stopping.
The Governess displays symptoms of a severe psychological disorder. Unfortunately, she lives during a time when not much was known about psychology, and less known about how to treat them. Whether or not the ‘ghosts’ are real, the governess still displays symptoms of a psychological disorder. Though, throughout the novel, James portrays the Governess as suffering from a relentless case of schizophrenia.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Henry James' The Turn of the Screw Essay

- Henry James' The Turn of the Screw Peter G. Beidler informs us that there have been “hundreds” of analyses of Henry James’ spine-tingling novella, The Turn of the Screw (189). Norman Macleod suggests that James himself seems to be “an author intent on establishing a text that cannot be interpreted in a definite way” (Qtd in Beidler 198). Yet, the vast majority of analyses of The Turn of the Screw seem to revolve around two sub-themes: the reality of the ghosts and the death of Miles both of which are used to answer the question of the governess’s mental stability: is she a hero or a deranged lunatic....   [tags: Henry James Turn Screw Essays]

Better Essays
1589 words (4.5 pages)

Things are Not What they Seem to Be in Henry James’s The Turn of The Screw

- Hidden subjects, the corruption of innocence, gender, and the destructiveness of heroism, can all be argued to be the main theme of The Turn of The Screw but only one can really bring the truest theme out of the story by Henry James. Many argue that there is no theme, or more than one but I believe that Forbidden subjects is truly the source that really captures what the story is all about. We can easily come to this conclusion by looking at the items in the story and piecing them together. For example, the young male child named Miles suddenly gets kicked out of school, but the reason for the expulsion is never uncovered....   [tags: The Turn of The Screw, Henry James]

Better Essays
1615 words (4.6 pages)

Ghosts in Henry James Turn of the Screw Essay

- The Turn of the Screw: Ghosts Lawrence Kramer poses some interesting ideas about Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw mainly by discussing the ghosts in the story. He refers to the ghosts as revenants; “a specter, a ghost, a phantom, one who haunts, who returns, who walks again.” First, he implies that these revenants can only work when a person believes they exist. There must be something that makes a former person want to return to the living world from a state of death. However, this longing by the former person is not enough to make it a worthy revenant....   [tags: Henry James Turn Screw Essays]

Better Essays
633 words (1.8 pages)

Narrative Frames and Ambiguity in Henry James' The Turn of The Screw Essay

- Narrative "frames" and Ambiguity in The Turn of The Screw            Since it was written, Henry James' The Turn of The Screw has been acclaimed by numerous critics to be one of the most immaculate, engrossing and terrifying ghost stories ever produced. Harriet Waters Preston described it as, "a sheer mortal horror, like the evil dream of a man under the spell of a deadly drug"1, and Gertrude Atherton said, "[it] is the most horrifying ghost story ever written!"2 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....   [tags: Henry James Turn of the Screw]

Better Essays
2219 words (6.3 pages)

Writings in Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw Essay

- Writings in Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw Leon Edel, in his biography of Henry James, tells of an instance after Alice James’ death when Henry James discovered a collection of letters he had written to her.  James, aware that researchers would be all too interested in the details revealed in the correspondences to his sister, destroyed them.  Writers who gain notoriety within their own lifetime become aware that every written word will be inspected. James knew that documents relating to an author can be important to prove intention in the author’s work, as well as to look at personal relationships, friendships, or simply to acquire the details of a specific event.  He was fully infor...   [tags: Henry James Turn Screw Essays]

Free Essays
6355 words (18.2 pages)

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James Essays

- The Turn of the Screw This novel was, surprisingly, interesting. The intensely complex and intricate (if not confusing!) sentences, upon first thought, made me expect an experience of complete, utter, and total confusion; however, they served not only to keep my interest in the novel – for I had to concentrate to grasp the full, rich meaning of his thoughts – but also to create in me a sense of enjoyment, that of being enriched with the experiences of the main character so that my life and that character's became inseparable, only it occurred not only with the main character, but with the entire plot at once – all characters, all scenes (to which I shall come late), all conversations......   [tags: The Turn of the Screw Henry James]

Better Essays
717 words (2 pages)

Essay on An Unrequited Love in The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

- An Unrequited Love in The Turn of the Screw by Henry James In "The Turn of the Screw" by Henry James, the main character, the governess, is so deluded and lonely that she will do anything necessary to reduce these horrifying feelings and not feel them. She decides that the way to do that is to possibly find love and instead she seems to have found a strange infatuation with her employer. But, sadly because she is located in a country house in Essex, such a longing is not possible to define. When the governess realizes this, she seems to apparently replace her unreciprocated feelings in the shape of ghostly spirits....   [tags: Turn Screw Henry James]

Better Essays
1245 words (3.6 pages)

Downfall of the Governess in The Turn of the Screw by Henry James Essay

- Downfall of the Governess in The Turn of the Screw by Henry James In the governess's insane pseudo-reality and through her chilling behavior, she managed to bring downfall to Flora and Miles, the children of Bly. With compulsively obsessive actions, irrational assumptions, and demented hallucinations, the governess perceived ghosts bearing evil intentions were attempting to corrupt and destroy the children she had taken the role of care for. In reality, the governess herself brought tragedy to the children through her own selfishness and insanity....   [tags: American Literature Henry James Turn Screw Essays]

Better Essays
1288 words (3.7 pages)

Henry James ' Turn Of The Screw Essay

- 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....   [tags: Schizophrenia, Psychosis, Henry James]

Better Essays
1041 words (3 pages)

Essay about Deconstructing Henry James' The Turn of the Screw

- 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....   [tags: James Turn of the Screw Essays]

Better Essays
550 words (1.6 pages)