The Turn of the Screw, by Henry James, is an odd story about a young woman who, leaving her small country home for the first time, takes a job as a governess in a wealthy household. Shortly after her arrival, she begins to suffer from insomnia and fancies that she sees ghosts roaming about the grounds. James is a master story-teller and, at times, the complexities of the story make it difficult to follow. The Turn of the Screw is a story within a story, the tale of the governess being read aloud as a ghost story among friends. Harold C. Goddard wrote a fascinating piece of criticism entitled "A Pre Freudian Reading of The Turn of the Screw." When applied to the book, his theory makes perfect sense. Goddard suggests that the governess, young and inexperienced, immediately falls in love with her employer during their meeting. As a result of her unrequited love, her overactive mind creates a fantasy in which the the two ghosts intend to harm the children, in order to make herself a heroine, thereby getting the attention of her employer.
Goddard points out that the young woman is unstable from the beginning. We find out little about her background, except that she is "the youngest of several daughters of a poor country parson" (4). It becomes immediately obvious to the reader that such a drastic change of environment as she experiences is cause enough for her to experience extreme anxiety. Indeed, she tells Mrs. Grose, "I'm rather easily carried away. I was carried away in London!" (8). After her interview with her potential employer, the man from Harley Street and the uncle of her young charges, she goes on and on about the man, praising him and ...
... middle of paper ...
... that haunt the grounds. The story is told through the voice of the governess, which, considering her mental state, makes it difficult to decipher what is actually occurring. There are many questions that are never answered, rather, they are left up to the reader to decide.
Works Cited and Consulted
Freud, Sigmund. An Outline of Psycho-Analysis. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1969.
Goddard, Harold C. A Pre Freudian Reading of The Turn of the Screw. New York: Hillary House Publishers, 1960.
James, Henry. "The Turn of the Screw". The Turn of the Screw and Other Short Novels. New York: New American Library, 1995.
Nunning, Ansgar. "Unreliable Narrator." Encyclopedia of the Novel. Ed. Paul Schellinger. Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn, 1998. 1386-1388.
Wagenknecht, Edward. The Tales of Henry James. New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing Co., 1984.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- 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)
- Welcome to the new world where gender roles are blurred and near invisible. It must seem impossible for such a world to exist yet it can, when men and women can be seen as equals in all fields and gender roles are erased. There is a great disturbance in the force that has lived longer than any human and they call it gender stereotypes over time the name has changed, but the most memorable names for the gender roles or stereotypes are guy and girl codes. These codes now define humans, as a that man in one corner and the woman in another.... [tags: Gender, Male, Female, Woman]
1638 words (4.7 pages)
- Through out the short novella, 'The Turn of the Screw,' by Henry James, the governess continually has encounters with apparitions that seem to only appear to her. As Miles' behavior in school worsens so that he is prevented from returning, and as Flora becomes ill with a fever, the governess blames these ghosts for corrupting the children, Miles and Flora, and labels them as evil and manipulative forces in their lives. But why is it that these ghosts only seem to appear to the governess even when the children are present at the time of the sightings by the governess.... [tags: Turn of the Screw, Henry James]
956 words (2.7 pages)
- The human body and mind are the most complex and intricate tools known to man. The connection between the two are remarkable, the way body feels pain and the mind is able to understand from where and how the pain is being formed, the way the body lags and drops when the mind does not have enough sleep and rest. Most curiously, it is the way our body and mind speak to each other without really knowing. It is the uncomfortable feeling in your chest, the tenseness of your shoulders and the goose-bumps on your arms that are the very basics of human intuition.... [tags: Psycho, The Turn of the Screw]
1560 words (4.5 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)
- 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]
1589 words (4.5 pages)
- 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" (***).... [tags: Henry James Turn Screw Essays]
2390 words (6.8 pages)
- 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.... [tags: The Turn of the Screw Henry James Essays]
1616 words (4.6 pages)
- Fantasy in Theatre In preperation for our performance on the above subject, we firstly listened to several pieces of fantasy music as a guided visualisation in which we were asked to imagine going through different doors and to visualise what was behind them. This then inspired us to experiment with diferent stylistic devices to include in our performance. We were given two pieces of text that was goin to be the scope for our piece of Drama, they were: A Midsummer Night's Dream - A play by William Shakespeare.... [tags: Fantasy Shakespeare Theatre Drama Essays]
1115 words (3.2 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)
- Comparing the Devil in Farewell to Arms and The Outsider (The Stranger)
- Regulation of Conception in Moore's How
- Symbolism in Fuentes' Aura
- Comparing Fuentes’ Aura and Ligotti’s The Last Feast of Harlequin
- Comparing Female Identity in To The Lighthouse, Heat of the Day and Under the Net
- Formal Analysis of Galatea 2.2