Escaping the Governess in The Turn of the Screw
At the end of The Turn of the Screw, great ambiguity exists surrounding Miles's death because serious questions remain about the credibility of the Governess who was the original author of the story. The ambiguity lies with the question of whom Miles was saved from at the end of the novel: the Governess or Quint. At the end of the novel the Governess holds Miles dead body in her arms and says, "...he has lost you for ever... We were alone with the quiet day, and his little heart, dispossessed, had stopped" (***). The "he" in "he has lost you for ever" could refer to Quint or the Governess. Additionally, the phrase "heart dispossessed" implies that some being lost possession of Mile's heart upon his death. Hence, someone was attempting to possess or had possessed Mile's heart during his life. At the end of the novel, there are only two beings in addition to Miles present: the Governess and possibly Quint. The Governess wants to believe that Quint is real and she is a maternal figure trying to save Miles from Quint's grasp, who may have introduced Miles to sexual information. The truth, however, is that Quint only exists in the mind of the sexually deprived Governess who creates Quint to help herself cope with her longings for relations with the master, who might be represented by Miles. Moreover, since the social position of the Governess forces her to live away from all men, her motherly feelings towards Miles blur together with her longings for the master. Upon critical examination it can be concluded that upon his death Miles is not saved from Quint, but from the erotic longings of the Governess.
The Governess characterizes Quint, who is only her hallucin...
... middle of paper ...
...e. As a result of the Governess's social position she is isolated from any males with the exception of Miles. Therefore, when Miles dies she is losing the object she uses for her sexual fantasies. The ambiguity about whom the "he" refers to is an essential part of the story. The story could never have been told without the ambiguity. The original author of the story is the Governess who is in denial that her motherly feelings for Miles have blurred with her own sexual desires that the social position of a Governess prevent her from fulfilling. She truly believes that her hallucination, Quint, is real. For this reason the truth about the Governess is not readily apparent through reading her story, but, after critical examination one must take the additional step and critically examine her story if one wants to find the truth hidden within her denial.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Something is amiss in Bly. The nameless Governess has always been a person of interest in literature. She has been analyzed time and time again from a trusting standpoint; taking everything she says at face value. Taken with no thought of deception and that ghosts are real and the Governess’ is attempting to protect Miles, not harm him. Also from a psychological or Freudian perspective indicating she was mentally disturbed and kills Miles. Whether the Governess was simply a confused youth, thrust into a position beyond her ability and is further saddled with the tasks of protecting her two charges with ghosts or a manipulative shrew who means nothing but harm to those around her because her... [tags: The Turn of the Screw]
1182 words (3.4 pages)
- One of the most critically discussed works in twentieth-century American literature, The Turn of the Screw has inspired a variety of critical interpretations since its publication in 1898. Until 1934, the book was considered a traditional ghost story. Edmund Wilson, however, soon challenged that view with his assertions that The Turn of the Screw is a psychological study of the unstable governess whose visions of ghosts are merely delusions. Wilson’s essay initiated a critical debate concerning the interpretation of the novel, which continues even today (Poupard 313).... [tags: The Turn of the Screw Essays]
1116 words (3.2 pages)
- 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.... [tags: James Turn of the Screw Essays]
574 words (1.6 pages)
- The existence of the ghosts in The Turn of the Screw has always been in debate. Instead of directly discussing whether the ghosts are real or not, this essay will focus on the reliability of the governess, the narrator of the story. After making a close examination of her state of mind while she is at Bly, readers of The Turn of the Screw will have many more clues to ponder again and to decide to what extent the governess can be believed. While critics like Heilman argue that there are problems with the interpretation that the governess was psychopathic, textual evidence incorporated with scientific research show that the governess did go through a period of psychical disorder that caused he... [tags: The Turn of the Screw Essays]
2431 words (6.9 pages)
- 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]
1288 words (3.7 pages)
- The Turn of the Screw "I must take my horrid plunge" from the opening line sets the tone of the passage. The novel's gothic form is revealed very early on in the passage. There is a distinctive differentiation between horror and terror derived from the studies of Radcliffe. "Terror" is when one induces to action and "horror" is when one is "powerless" and "freezes" as a result of it. The Governess' horrid plunge is a forced action, as she is powerless to combat the supernatural forces that oppose her.... [tags: Gothic The Turn of the Screw Henry James Essays]
1071 words (3.1 pages)
- Sexual Passion in The Turn of the Screw In a criticism on Henry James’s story The Turn of the Screw, Strother Purdy suggests that large amounts of sexual passion may be assumed to exist underneath the surface of the narrative. Purdy says that under a Freudian interpretation of the story, the sexual element is easily recognized and is used as the whole source of the action. According to this theory, the governess wishes to impress her master because she is in love with him and, therefore, exceeeding her authority with the children.... [tags: Turn of the Screw Essays]
430 words (1.2 pages)
- Henry James was one of America's most brilliant and fascinating writers. He uses language to tap into the reader's subconscious and always has them wanting more. This sensation is no more prevalent than in his thriller The Turn of the Screw. In this intense psychological thriller, the main character releases her own sexual frustration into the illusions of two ghosts that haunt a quiet country manor. The Freudian Id plays out in the fantasies of Peter Quint and Mrs. Jessel and the governess's own repressed feelings overrun her every thought.... [tags: The Turn of the Screw Henry James]
1676 words (4.8 pages)
- The Shifting Narratee in The Turn of the Screw In the essay "Introduction to the Study of the Narratee," Gerald Prince discusses the interpretative value of thinking about to whom a narrative is addressed. First, he establishes what a "zero-degree narratee" (or possessor of a minimum number of specific narratee characteristics identified by Prince) is and is not: A narratee is not the actual reader, the implied reader, or the ideal reader. The narratee is beholden to the narrator, because, "Without the assistance of the narrator, without his explanations and the information supplied by him, the narratee is able neither to interpret the value of an action or to grasp its repe... [tags: James Turn of the Screw Essays]
908 words (2.6 pages)
- 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]
717 words (2 pages)