Essay on The Turn of the Screw: An Ambivalent Text?

Essay on The Turn of the Screw: An Ambivalent Text?

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“The Turn of the Screw is essentially an ambivalent text. Its narrative prompts divergent, even opposite readings, but does not reconcile them. What happens remains irrevocably uncertain” The former recorded statement will be debated to establish its validity, in addition to doing so it shall be illustrated my means of closely analysis the text as well as referring to a key passage within the novella.

In order to debate the statement provided it is firstly important to determine whether or not The Turn of the Screw is in fact an ambivalent text. This will be established by means of critically analysing the novella nonetheless, it is possible to agree with the statement provided after reading The Turn of the Screw. The term ambivalent- having mixed feelings about someone or something- can be considered an appropriate term to describe the novella as it helps the reader come to terms with the text. A brief outline of the story tells us of a tale in which a young woman is hired as a governess to take care of a gentleman’s seemingly innocent nephew and niece. As the Tale progresses we learn that the governess begins seeing ghosts one of which being he predecessor Miss Jessel.

In an attempt to make sense of the ambivalence within The Turn of the Screw it is vital to first illustrate such ambivalence within the text itself. The first example being whether or not the governess actually sees ghosts and if not are they are a mere figment of her imagination. Important to note here is the fact that the governess serves as both narrator and protagonist. This raises uncertainty as the ghosts are only visible to her throughout the text, therefore leaving us as readers with mixed feelings as to the credibility of the governess as a...


... middle of paper ...


...ames wrote the novella one will never know.

In summation it is possible to state that the ambivalence of The Turn of the Screw is never reconciled, instead it leaves the readers imagination take hold. It is not possible to decipher the text, nevertheless one is able to understand and enjoy it. In addition Henry James has made the above arguments - presence of the ghosts, their moral depravity and their design on the children, a mere function of hearsay leaving the reader to think what they will.



Works Cited

• James, Henry. The Turn of The Screw. Penguin Classics. Penguin Publishers, 1994
• http://www.shmoop.com/turn-of-the-screw/governess.html
• http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/screw/quotes.html
• http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/screw/summary.html
• http://www.cummingsstudyguides.net/Guides4/TurnScrew.html
• http://www.henryjames.org.uk/tots/synop.htm

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