Narration in The Turn of the Screw Essay

Narration in The Turn of the Screw Essay

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Narration in The Turn of the Screw


Henry James makes the governess the narrator because she keeps the
readers’ interest by also being involved in the story as a main
character. However, being involved on this personal level, it can make
the governess exaggerate at times and be over-emotional. Her
determined and curious nature makes her an ideal candidate to explore
the mysterious happenings, however her imagination keeps the reader in
suspense, as we are never sure how much she has exaggerated the story.
This also adds tension as the full picture is never revealed. This
choice of narrator is therefore challenged by Susan Hill’s description
that a narrator should be ‘unimaginative and straightforward’ as the
governess’ increasing exaggeration, hysteria and ambiguity make her
less than straightforward.

The governess’s character is established at the beginning of the novel
when she meets the master. Her impressionability is displayed when he
immediately charms her. She has little experience at being a governess
as it says she is ‘The youngest of several daughters of a country
parson’, which also indicates her simple country background. Her
naivety also makes her very romantic and imaginative. James writes
that she has ‘…come up to London from the country’ which hints that
the governess is very determined and eager for the job. Her trusting
nature is also revealed when she doesn’t question the master’s bizarre
rule; ‘that she should never trouble him again.’ She doesn’t question
him, as she is enthralled and under his spell, hinting at her
infatuation. This also could mean that the narrative would be biased
in his favour.

The governess first sees Peter Quint at dusk in the first few weeks of
her gove...


... middle of paper ...


...ry tragic and ambiguous
circumstances. It is very intense at the end, because it is just the
governess and Miles, and the governess is trying to force a confession
out of him. When he does confess, Peter Quint appears and the
governess immediately tries to protect the boy, seeing herself locked
in a battle of good versus evil, where she is good and Peter Quint is
bad. There are also several alternative reasons for Miles’ death open
for interpretation to the reader; either the governess smothered him,
shock (from seeing Quint), or Quint is involved somehow. The line
‘Peter Quint- you devil’ is in addition ambiguous. Miles is either
confessing that Peter Quint is a devil, or that he sees the governess
as tormenting him. James ends the story in this way because it leaves
the reader questioning how the boy died, and the narrator’s sanity is
also questioned.

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