Is Henry James' The turn of the Screw a traditional ghost story? Essay

Is Henry James' The turn of the Screw a traditional ghost story? Essay

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Is Henry James' The turn of the Screw a traditional ghost story?

Ghost stories are found way back in history, some dating back to the
Victorian times. The Victorians were known to be greatly interested in
ghosts and the supernatural and showed this fascination through
telling ghost stories.

The telling of ghost stories was used as a way of entertainment
especially around Christmas time and it was also very common for upper
class Victorians to participate in seances where they would try to
make contact with the ghosts/spirits of their dead loved ones. However
this was not the only reason, in the later Victorian age, with many
people having a great mixture of beliefs there was a disaffection with
organised religion and more towards scientific influences and
discoveries. Therefore this could mean that Victorians societies
interest in the supernatural was just a move away from religion and
the idea that God provides all the answers.

In this essay I will look at Henry James' 'The Turn of the Screw'
which was written in the Victorian era. The question I will be looking
to answer is, does James' 'The Turn of the Screw' fit into the
traditional mode of a ghost story or does he do something different
and more sinister?

The story is initially about a lonely governess and her new job
looking after two young children. The story is set in a large house
named Bly which is isolated in the countryside. The governess starts
to form a strange relationship with the children and in many ways
becomes too attached, finding it hard to separate herself from them,
enchanted by their surposide innocence.

Life at Bly runs smoothly until the governess receives a letter from
Miles' school informing her that he has been exp...


... middle of paper ...


...e contaminating
and corrupting of the idea of innocence by the governess and not by
the apparitions. There seems to be answers for the happenings at Bly
however these answers appear to lie in the mental state of the
governess. She seems to have developed delusions, resulting in the
obsession with the ghosts and their relationship with the children.
This climaxes in Flora's exit to London with Mrs Grose and Miles'
death. The role of the governess in Miles' death is not clear, was he
smothered by his affection? Or did he die of another cause?

This story twists the truth to the extent that the true answer to what
is going on is never actually revealed. All traditional aspects of
this story are contorted, making it seem far more untraditional, the
storyline is designed to make the reader think and ask themselves
questions to which there is no clear answers.

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